Sunday, December 24, 2023

Who Bombed Pearl Harbor

O
n December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous "day in infamy" speech describing Imperial Japan's "dastardly attack" on Pearl Harbor and condemning Tokyo's "surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area."

Immediately following the speech, the U.S. Senate declared war on Japan. A state of war with Germany was declared December 11, hours after Germany had declared war on the United States.

There was no official, national remembrance of the tragedy at Pearl Harbor until 1994. The 103rd Congress passed a joint resolution in 1994 designating December 7, 1993, as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day." President Bill Clinton signed it into law (Public Law 103-308) on August 23rd. The law states: December 7 of each year is designated as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day" and the President is authorized and requested— (1) to issue annually a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities; and (2) to urge all Federal agencies, and interested organizations, groups, and individuals, to fly the flag of the United States at halfstaff" each December 7 in honor of the individuals who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

Historians will wonder why the law identifies the nonexistent Japanese "Air Force" as the aggressor and is not specific about the number of casualties at Pearl Harbor. At the time, Japan did not have an independent Air Force. It was the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service that attacked Hawaii. In addition, unlike in President Roosevelt's speech, there is no mention of Japan's other lightning strikes throughout the Pacific on December 7th. These attacks famously destroyed the American Asiatic Fleet and the Army's Far East Air Force while cutting off U.S. outposts in the Pacific from the mainland and resuplly.

The Proclamations
The first proclamation was issued by President Clinton on November 29, 1994, 53 years after the Pearl Harbor attack. His 1994 proclamation, as all that followed, did little to enlighten Americans about the day's history. Notably, it began the "tradition" of not identifying who "attacked" U.S. Forces in Hawaii that day. All that we learn is that the attack "involved America in a worldwide battle against the forces of fascism and oppression."

In an examination of the 30 Pearl Harbor Presidential proclamations made since 1994, 11 have no mention of Japan. In other words, the "enemy" who attacked the American territory is not identified. It could have been any of the Axis powers. Thailand had a modern, able air force, albeit no aircraft carriers.

President George W. Bush (43) recognized Japan in only two of his eight Pearl Harbor Day commemorative statements. His administration had a close relationship with Japan and notably squashed a joint congressional resolution remembering the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII and the defeat of Japan. President Biden, who lost his uncle and a cousin to the Japanese, has mentioned Japan in only one of his three statements. Here is the link to this year's Proclamation. (I have a memo outlining all 30 statements. If interested, email me.)

California Governor Gavin Newson's 2023 Pearl Harbor Day proclamation clearly mentions Japan. His grandfather, Arthur Menzies, was a soldier on Corregidor with the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment (AntiAircraft) K Battery and endured a hellship and nearly four years in Japanese POW Camps. He was not on the Bataan Death March as some reports say. Sadly, while experiencing a flashback in 1973, he threatened to kill Newsom's mother and her twin sister. When he realized that they were not Japanese prison guards, he turned the gun on himself.

Missing
I have not found any member of congress, even members of the Veterans Affairs Committees in the House and Senate who have publicly remembered Pearl Harbor Day. If you find one, please tell me.

Also missing in the proclamations is mention of all the other attacks Japan made that day throughout the Pacific, especially against the American territories of Wake Island, Guam, Midway, and Howland Island. I leave to my loyal readers to figure out how many other Americans died that day in battle (tell me if you run the numbers). President Roosevelt, in contrast, was quite clear in his speech to Congress that December 7th was a day of multiple Japanese attacks in the Asia-Pacific (territories in continental Asia were bombed as well as islands in the Pacific).

To be sure, Pearl Harbor saw the greatest number of casualties and Medal of Honor (MoH) honorees among the American territories in the Pacific attacked that day. For their actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 15 sailors in the U.S. Navy (from seven ships and one Naval Air Station) and 1 Marine were awarded Medals of Honor. The 16 recipients held a wide range of ranks, from seaman to rear admiral. Eleven (69%) received their awards posthumously.

The first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II was killed on Midway, December 7, 1941. First Lieutenant George H. Cannon, USMC, from Michigan, remained at his post until all of his wounded men were evacuated, though severely wounded himself. His selfless action and concern for his men was an inspiration.

When war began, the American Embassy rushed to burn documents before the Kempeitai arrested and interned them. Niles W. Bond was a consular officer in Yokohama, Japan from 1940-1942 and was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His accounts of the time make interesting reading.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

December 14, 1944, Palawan Massacre

Plaza Cuartel Park
main square next to
the Palawan Survivors
Memorial (POW Camp 10A).
Palawan
It was not rain that dampened their skin. It was airplane fuel. Buckets of it were tossed on the 150 emaciated POWs hunched down in narrow air raid trenches. The Japanese guards quickly followed with torches to light the men on fire.

The trench with the officers was the first to be set ablaze. The POWs in two other trenches tried to escape. But if grenades did not stop them, then the machine guns that had been positioned outside did. Wounded survivors were tortured by having their fingers and toes set afire. Their begging to be shot provoked more laughter from their tormentors.

If a man somehow made it past all the attacks, he was hunted down and killed. Of the 30-some who tried to escape the conflagration, only 11 actually were able to swim across the bay to be rescued by Filipino guerillas.

Such was the December 14th afternoon at Puerto Princesa, on the Philippine island of Palawan facing the South China Sea. The POWs had been there since August 1942. They were Marines, soldiers, tankers, and airmen captured months before when Bataan and Corregidor fell.

With only hand tools and one wheelbarrow they cleared the jungle and broke up the coral to build an airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army. Today, the airstrip they constructed rests below the Antonio Bautista Air Base, an important anchor of the U.S.-Philippines alliance and focal point for joint maneuvers with Japan.

It may be by coincidence that the Japanese selected December 14th to murder the POWs. And maybe not. For on December 14, 1799, George Washington died at his Mt. Vernon home after five decades of service to his country.

To learn more about the Palawan Massacre read Last Man Out or As Good as Dead.

Most important, please leave a tribute or a flower at the Find A Grave site for the Palawan Massacre. Most of the men are buried in a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Missouri. Click here for the virtual memorial.


Never Forget

Sunday, September 10, 2023

EVENTS OF INTEREST TO THE POW/MIA COMMUNITY


POW-MIA_flag.jpg 
3
Do not forget National POW/MIA Recognition Day Friday, September 15, 202

Annually, the Secretary of Defense holds a ceremony at the Pentagon remembering POW/MIAs. Rarely do members of Congress attend (they are all invited and they all have a POW/MIA flag planted at their office doors on the Hill.). Thus, ask your congressperson and senators to join the Friday ceremony at 10:00am on the River Terrace Parade Field at The Pentagon. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Defense Department website.


The Defense Department POW/MIA Recognition Day Website highlights recovery stories and you can download from the site the annual Recognition Day Poster poster.

For past POW/MIA Posters and to order free copies of this year's poster see here on  the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) website. The DPAA also has National POW/MIA Recognition Day 9-page Tool Kit to help you conduct a meaningful memorial ceremony for POW/MIAs.



EVENTS OF INTEREST


>1898: U.S. IMPERIAL VISIONS AND REVISIONS SYMPOSIUM. 9/8-9Join the National Portrait Gallery on September 8 and 9 for the 2023 Edgar P. Richardson Symposium, organized around the landmark exhibition 1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions, the Smithsonian's first major exhibition on U.S. imperialism and the pivotal conflicts of 1898. The symposium will convene over 40 scholars and artists from Cuba, Guam, Hawai‘i, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States for two days of panels, roundtables and gallery talks, and a keynote address by 2022 Pulitzer Prize Winner Ada Ferrer. The keynote address will take place Friday, September 8 at 5pm, and will be followed by an audience Q&A and public reception. The Museum's Portal Website will soon post the conference.


>MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER OF THE NAVY, JAMES M. HONEA. 9/12, 1:00pm (EDT), ONLINE. Sponsor: US Navy Memorial. Speaker: James M. Honea, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. Discusses the Navy's recent Three Calls to Action: 1) Warfighting Competency, 2) Professional and Personal Development, and 3) Quality of Life. 


>THE USS HOUSTON: A SURVIVAL STORY. 9/14, 7:00-8:00pm (EDT), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Loudoun County Public Library. Speaker: John K. Schwarz, Executive Director USS Houston (CA-30) Survivors’ Association and Next Generations®. 

 
>ROAD TO SURRENDER WITH EVAN THOMAS. 9/14, Noon (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Alexander Hamilton Society. Speaker: author Evan Thomas, writer, correspondent, and editor for 33 years at Time and Newsweek
PURCHASE BOOK 
 
>VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ON WORLD WAR II. 9/16,10:00am-1:00pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Friends of the National World War II Memorial. Speakers: “The Partnership: George Marshall, Henry Stimson, and the Extraordinary Collaboration That Won World War II"with author Edward Aldrich; “A Woman's View of the Pacific Ocean Theater” with Lorissa Rinehart who writes about women, art, war, and their points of intersection and is author of First to the Front: The Untold Story of Dickey Chapelle, Trailblazing Female War Correspondent; and “The Merchant Marine in WWII” with Dave Yoho served in World War II in the Merchant Marine and later built a highly successful career as an entrepreneur and business leader. Moderator: best-selling author and Friends’ Resident Historian Alex Kershaw. 


>OCCUPATION: THE LEGACY OF THE ASIATIC PACIFIC WAR. 9/16, 9:00am-5:00pm (CDT), In person and online. Sponsor:  The Admiral Nimitz Foundation.  Speakers: Richard B. Frank, internationally recognized leading authority on the Asia-Pacific War; Dr. Xiaobing Li, professor of the Department of History and Geography and the Don Betz Endowed Chair in International Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO); Ricardo Trota Jose, professor of history at the University of the Philippines, Diliman; Mindy L. Kotler is founder and director of Asia Policy Point. Special guest, Marie Vallejo, author of Dauntless, a book about the First and Second Filipino Regiments. 

>. WAR CRIMES - FROM WWII UNTIL TODAY: 6TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON WWII IN THE PHILIPPINES. 9/23, 10:00am-4:00pm (PDT), In person, Facebook Live. Sponsor: Bataan Legacy Historical Society in partnership with the University of San Francisco's Philippine Studies Program, Memorare Manila 1945 and USF Kasamahan. Speakers: James Zarsadiaz, Director, Philippine Studies Program, University of San Francisco; Prof. Mark Hull, Professor of War Crimes, U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth; Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Neil F. Ferrer; Father Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., President, University of San Francisco; Benjamin Hall, Fox News State Department Correspondent, Eyewitness to War Crimes Today (Via Zoom); Jose Custodio, Fellow, Consortium of Indo Pacific Researchers; Christopher Capozzola, Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richard Frank, Pacific War historian, author, Tower of Skulls; Marie Vallejo, author of Dauntless, a book about the First and Second Filipino Regiments; Kate LaFerriere, daughter of Frank Innis, former civilian POW in Los Banos; Cynthia Bonta, survivor of the Los Baños massacre, mother of California Attorney General Rob Bonta; and Richard Foye, author of Foye And The Filipinos Bailout, Escape, And Rescue Of A Navy Fighter Pilot In World War Two Luzon, is the son of Ensign William Foye, an F6F Hellcat Pilot and a member of the Air Group Twenty assigned to the USS Enterprise (CV6). 

>WWII: AIR WAR, THE PACIFIC THEATER: ONLINE CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSE. September 4–November 6, ONLINE. Sponsor: National WWII Museum and Arizona State University. Speaker: John Curatola, PhD, Military Historian at the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy. 

>EXHIBIT OPENING: THE PRICE OF UNPREPAREDNESS: POWS IN THE PHILIPPINES DURING WORLD WAR II9/30, 10:00-11:30am (EDT), IN PERSON ONLY*. Sponsor: MacArthur Memorial. Speakers: Dr. Frank Blazich, Jr., Curator of Modern Military History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and author of Bataan Survivor: A POW’s Account of Japanese Captivity in World War II; Mary McKay Maynard, she and her family spent two years hiding from occupying Japanese forces in the jungles of Mindanao before being rescued by the USS Narwhal as chronicled in My Faraway Home: An American Family’s WWII Tale of Adventure and Survival; and MacArthur Memorial Archivist James Zobel  *For the virtual option Email macarthureducation@norfolk.gov  and ask to be added to the post-event email list. This list will be used to send a one-time email with a link to the digital exhibit guide and a recording of the exhibit opening event.


>VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY DENIS MCDONOUGH. 11/6, 12:30-2:00pm (EDT), IN PERSON (LUNCH AND FEE) AND ON C-SPAN. Sponsor: National Press Club. Speaker: Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough delivers an update on the state of America's veterans and their families, and on the implementation of the PACT Act.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

August 15th and Beyond

On August 15, 78 years ago, Japan's Emperor Hirohito broadcast to his subjects "that our empire accepts the provisions of their [the Allies] Joint Declaration [of the Powers, Potsdam Declaration]." The fighting was to stop. Whether he believed this was a surrender or not, is still subject to debate. What the Japanese people heard that day was a recording of his statement made the night before. The Emperor's voice maintained its divine distance from his subjects as he explained "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest." He concluded by asking the nation "to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable."

Memories have faded and most Americans are surprised to learn that Japan was an enemy during WWII. One result of this fugue is that governments East and West find little opposition to their rewriting of WWII history and its aftermath. Generally, this has not been for the better and always for personal political gain. Worse, Washington counts many of these countries as allies and remains silent.

These revisionist histories have undermined the values that have shaped the postwar "liberal democratic order."  Authoritarian regimes now erode individual freedoms, human rights, and humanitarian cooperation. Glorifying strongmen, dismissing war atrocities, identifying perpetrators now as victims, and co-opting the victor's history as one's own is upending the legacy and lessons of WWII. A new "glorious history" is being promulgated in Poland, Hungary, China, Japan and other places. Unashamedly, the Polish government claims that Poles were uninvolved with the persecution of Jews and a Japanese diplomat praises the "Bushido Spirit" of the famed Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team to their sons.

Thus, it is welcome that this fall there are a number of seminars and conferences examining the immediate postwar period

In Japan, the revisionist, denialist history has become normalized by two decades of conservative nationalist governments. Western Alliance Managers consequently do not recognize that nationalist populism has consumed the body politic and they have concluded incorrectly that Japan is "stable" and "unscathed from the populist wave" around the world. Little attention is given to how Japan's official war apology has been diminished, voting districts are unconstitutional, or to Japan's well-funded history disinformation campaign. 

Prime Minister Kishida's 
address at the Seventy-Eighth National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead yesterday repeated his predecessor Abe's 2015 statement that makes no mention of apology or remorse to Japan's victims. He, like Abe and Suga before him, promises only: "We will not forget, even for a moment, that the peace and prosperity that Japan enjoys today was built atop the precious lives and the history of suffering of the war dead." Ceremony photos and documentsKishida marks 78th anniversary of World War II end without mentioning Japan's wartime aggression, Associated Press, Aug. 15, 2023.

As a new book by a Brookings scholar supports this celebratory view of contemporary Japan, The author sees the Japanese government as having reinvented itself to encourage more political engagement with the world and a greater military presence in the region. This is a new self-confidence that will award Tokyo with credibility and global leadership. To be sure, I have not read the book (then again neither have the folks who recommend it on the dust jacket). I have, however, heard this argument repeatedly over the decades that Japan has changed and it is in our image. Someone once observed that Western efforts to "fix" Japan always result in the tutor being broken-hearted.
See: Japan’s Quiet Leadership Reshaping the Indo-Pacific by Mireya Solis, (release August 24, 2023).

Or watch the book talk: Japan's Quiet Leadership: Reshaping the Pacific, Wednesday, September 6, 89:30-10:30am EDT, Washington, DC, Hybrid. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Mireya Solís, Director - Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies; Kurt W. Tong, Managing Partner - The Asia Group (grandson of Philippine internee Rev Walter Curtis Tong); Yuichi Hosoya, Director of Research, API & Professor, Keio University; Demetri Sevastopulo, U.S.-China Correspondent, Financial Times.

But not everyone forgets: Memorial service for POWs in Yokohama passed down to next generation, August 12, 2023, Mainichi Shimbun

Here are a number of talks and conferences this fall that examine Japan's Pacific War and its aftermath. I hope you can attend in person or virtually. 

A. Friday September 8
MJHA Distinguished Annual Lecture
Tessa Morris-Suzuki on Writing War: History in Occupied Japan and its Echoes for Today

Hosted by The Modern Japan History Association
Speaker: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Professor Emerita of Japanese History, Australian National University https://researchprofiles.anu.edu.au/en/persons/tessa-morris-suzuki . 

Date/time and registration information:
Online, free.
Saturday, September 9, 2023 | 9:00-10:30 AM Australian Eastern Standard Time
Friday, September 8, 2023 | 7:00-8:30 PM (EST)
https://mjha.org/Distinguished-Annual-Lecture 

As the world edges into a new Cold War, rising political tensions in East Asia are reflected in growing conflict over memories of history, and particularly of the history of the Asia-Pacific War. Increasing nationalism in all the countries of the region finds expression in rewritings of that history. In Japan, a central feature of recent waves of historical revisionism has been a focus on the shaping of historiography in the post war occupation period. The period from August 1945 to May 1952 was the era when historians first struggled to give meaning to the disastrous events of the war which had ravaged East Asia during the previous decade or more. The diverse ways in which they did this has had an enduring effect on the way in which the war is remembered to the present day. In the context of contemporary controversies over history, it is important to return to that occupation era and to reassess the possibilities and limitations of the way in which the history of the war was written by those who had just experienced it in their own lives.

B. Saturday September 16
Annual Symposium
Occupation: The Legacy of the Asiatic Pacific War 

Hosted by The Admiral Nimitz Foundation.  
Speakers:
 Richard B. Frank, internationally recognized leading authority on the Asia-Pacific War; Dr. Xiaobing Li, professor of the Department of History and Geography and the Don Betz Endowed Chair in International Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO); Ricardo Trota Jose, professor of history at the University of the Philippines, Diliman; Mindy L. Kotler is founder and director of Asia Policy Point. Special guest, Marie Vallejo, author of Dauntless, a book about the First and Second Filipino Regiments.

Date/time and registration information:

In person and online. Fee.
Saturday, September 16, 2023, 9:00am-5:00pm (CDT)
https://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/event/2023-admiral-nimitz-symposium

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation is excited to welcome you back to this year’s Annual Symposium. The focus this year will be on Japan's occupation of Asia. Titled, “Occupation: The Legacy of the Asiatic Pacific War,” the symposium will explore the nuanced ramifications of the Japanese occupation.

C. Saturday September 23
6th Annual Conference on WWII in the Philippines
War Crimes - From WWII Until Today

Hosted by: Bataan Legacy Historical Society in partnership with the University of San Francisco's Philippine Studies Program, Memorare Manila 1945 and USF Kasamahan
Speakers: James Zarsadiaz, Director, Philippine Studies Program, University of San Francisco; Prof. Mark Hull, Professor of War Crimes, U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth; Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Neil F. Ferrer; Father Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., President, University of San Francisco; Benjamin Hall, Fox News State Department Correspondent, Eyewitness to War Crimes Today (Via Zoom); Jose Custodio, Fellow, Consortium of Indo Pacific Researchers; Christopher Capozzola, Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richard Frank, Pacific War historian, author, Tower of Skulls; Marie Vallejo, author of Dauntless, a book about the First and Second Filipino Regiments; Kate LaFerriere, daughter of Frank Innis, former civilian POW in Los Banos; Cynthia Bonta, survivor of the Los Baños massacre, mother of California Attorney General Rob Bonta; and Richard Foye, author of Foye And The Filipinos Bailout, Escape, And Rescue Of A Navy Fighter Pilot In World War Two Luzon, is the son of Ensign William Foye, an F6F Hellcat Pilot and a member of the Air Group Twenty assigned to the USS Enterprise (CV6).

Date/time and registration information:
In person, Facebook LiveTaped, fee
Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 10:00am - 4:00pm (PDT)
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/war-crimes-from-wwii-until-today-tickets-636013321967

The conference aims to present the war crimes the invading Japanese perpetrated upon soldiers and civilians in the Philippines. A compelling discussion on war crimes in the Philippines and its effects on subsequent generations as well as similarities in today's world.

D. Thursday December 7 to Saturday December 9
16th International Conference on World War II
Finding Hope In A World Destroyed: WWII Liberations & Legacies

Speakers: [there are no affiliations listed on the website and your editor simply did not have the energy to track everyone down]: Jason Dawsey  ; Francine Hirsch  ; Robert Hutchinson  ; Günter Bischof  ; John Curatola, Military Historian at the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy; Rana Mitter, University of Oxford; Yuma Totani, University of Hawaii; Yoshikuni Igarashi, Vanderbilt University; William Hitchcock  ;Blanche Wiesen Cook  ;Jeremi Suri  ;Lizabeth Cohen   ; Krewasky Salter, Pritzker Military Museum & Library; Marcus Cox  : Kara Dixon Vuic  ; David Davis  ;Jeremy Black   ; Robert Citino, National WWII Museum; Richard B. Frank, Pacific War historian, author, Tower of Skulls;  Craig Symonds, Distinguished Visiting Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History for the academic years 2017–2020 at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island; Trent Hone, a Vice President with ICF and an award-winning naval historian, author of Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898–1945; Allan R. Millett   ;Keith Lowe   ;Ronald Spector, professor emeritus, George Washington University; John McManus  : Conrad Crane  ; Steph Hinnershitz  ; Catherine Musemeche  ;Dave Gutierrez  ; Jim McNaughton  ; Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD,   ;William Hitchcock  ;Jeremi Suri  ;Major General Peter Gravett  ;Cameron McCoy  ;Robert Edsel  ;Alexandra Richie  ;Wendy Lower  ; Paul Hilliard  ; Kirk Saduski   ;Donald L. Miller  ; John Orloff

Panel of particular interest (December 7):
Aftermath in Asia
Chair: John Curatola, Military Historian at the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy
“The War That Never Really Ended: WWII’s Long Legacy”: Rana Mitter, University of Oxford
“Justice in Asia and the Pacific Region, 1945-1952: Allied War Crimes Prosecutions”: Yuma Totani, University of Hawaii
“Japan’s Decade After Defeat: Occupation and Democratization”: Yoshikuni Igarashi, Vanderbilt University

Date/time and registration information:
In person only in New Orleans, LA, fee
https://www.nationalww2museum.org/programs/16th-international-conference-world-war-ii

The International Conference on World War II is the premier adult educational event bringing together the best and brightest scholars, authors, historians, and witnesses to history from around the globe to discuss key battles, personalities, strategies, issues, and controversies of the war that changed the world. The agenda, speakers, and times are not yet set.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

12th AMERICAN POW DELEGATION TO JAPAN

2023 POW FRIENDSHIP VISITATION PROGRAM

PARTICIPANT/POW CONCISE PROFILES  

FEBRUARY 11 TO 16,  2023

This past February, the Japanese  government again invited children of POWs of Japan to the country to work on reconciliation and their parent's ordeal with Imperial Japan's armed forces. This was the first trip that included a daughter of a female Army officer, a nurse on Corregidor. It is also the first trip that highlighted a POW camp where POW slave labor was for a company, Ube Industries, owned by the current Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. His great grandfather founded the conglomerate.

They met with the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. They also visited with Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, president of the America-Japan Society, who helped initiate the program in 2009 while he was ambassador to the United States. Sadly, he was unwilling to host a program for his visitors with his members or at the Nakasone Peace Institute where he is president.

This may also be the last trip the Japanese feel necessary to host. Its multi-million dollar kakehashi program to bring Americans to Japan is focused on Japanese-Americans, high school students, and cultivating the next generation of American Japan experts. As American policymakers are now reluctant to mention that Japan was an enemy or an unrepentant perpetrator of war atrocities, it seems likely that this reconciliation program will disappear. 

The following children visited Japan. For fuller biographies of their POW parent, see this LINK.

Ms. Margaret A. GARCIA , 72, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the daughter of CPL Evangelisto “Evans” R. Garcia (June 19, 1913 – January 29, 2011), a corporal in New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery. They were the first to fire on the invading Japanese on December 8, 1941. He fought in the Bataan Peninsula and endured the Bataan Death March. He was sent to Japan in 1943 to be a slave laborer in Mitsui’s Omuta coal mine outside Nagasaki. Today, the mine is a UNESCO World Industrial Heritage site.

Ms. Sandra Harding, 70, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the daughter of two U.S. Army officers who were prisoners of war of Japan surrendered in the Philippines: Lt. Earlyn Black Harding (September  8, 1918 – August 16, 2007) and Lt. Col. Harry J. Harding (March 22, 1919 – October 30, 1987). Lt. Black was an Army Nurse on Corregidor who was interned at Santo Tomas in Manila. Lt. Col. Harding was with the 63rd Infantry Regiment (Philippine Army) on Panay. He was sent to Japan and imprisoned in Kobe House POW Camp, Zentsuji, and Rokuroshi. Ms. Harding was an elementary school art teacher for the Santa Fe Public Schools and recently retired as a freelance graphic artist.

Mr. Thomas J. Hoskins, Jr., 75, lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the son of Staff Sergeant Thomas J. Hoskins (April 6, 1918 – April 18, 1995) who was a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His father operated one of the two working radar units in the Philippines when Japan attacked on December 8, 1941. As a POW, his father was forced to build an airfield on Palawan Island in the Philippines. He was taken to Japan to be a slave laborer in various Kawasaki area POW camps near Tokyo. After the war, his father continued to serve in the military until his retirement in 1959 as a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

Ms. Linda McDavitt, 76, lives in Austin, Texas where she is President/CEO of the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation and Sail Training Commander of the Austin Yacht Club. She is the daughter of Capt. Jerome A. McDavitt (February 10, 1912-May 3, 1982) the 24th Field Artillery Regiment (Philippine Scouts). Surrendered on Corregidor, he was sent to Japan in 1944 where he was the POW commanding officer at the Hiroshima #6B - Omine POW camp that provided slave labor for a coal mine owned by Ube Industries. He was one of 89 Texas Aggies (graduates of Texas A&M) involved in the defense of Bataan and Corregidor.

Ms. Lorna Nielsen Murray, 64, lives in South Jordan, Utah. She is the daughter of PFC Eugene P. Nielsen, (January 23, 1916 - February 3, 2011) a member of the 59th Coast Artillery who fought on Corregidor. Nielsen was one of only 11 survivors of the 1944 Palawan Massacre of 139 American POWs. They were on Palawan Island in the Philippines to build an airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army. Today, this airfield is the foundation for the island’s Antonio Bautista Air Base. On November 22, 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris laid flowers at the memorial to the victims of this Japanese war crime. Ms. Murray is also a cousin to Lt. Col. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the famed “Tokyo Doolittle Raiders” and one of the eight who were captured by Japan. He was one of the four POWs who survived.

Dr. Gail Yoella Small, 68, lives in Reno, Nevada and is the daughter of Major George Small (February 28, 1908 – December 15, 2007) who was with the Chemical Warfare Service, 7th Chemical Company, Aviation, at Clark Field in the Philippines. After the Far East Air Force in early December 1941 was destroyed, he was assigned as an officer with the 31st Infantry Division, Company F of the 2nd Battalion that fought on Bataan. He survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O’Donnell, and the Cabanatuan POW Camp in the Philippines. In Japan, he was imprisoned at Osaka POW Camp 2-D UMEDA, Zentsuji, and Rokuroshi. 

Ms. Karen Brady Smith, 73, lives in Kent, Washington. She is the daughter of Major Jack E. Brady (February 26, 1921 – August 11, 2008) who was a member of the 228th Army Signal Company in the Philippines. He survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O’Donnell, and Cabanatuan POW Camp. He was on one of the first hellships, Tottori Maru, to Japan, enduring a 38-day journey via Formosa, Mako, and Korea to Japan. He was held at the Omori POW Camp in Tokyo, used as stevedore for Nippon Express and worked at an iron smelter in Iwate at Sendai #10-B for Tokyo Shibaura Denki K.K. (Tohoku Denki Seitetsu Kabushiki Kaisha)

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Convening on the history of the POWs of Japan

13TH ANNUAL AMERICAN DEFENDERS OF BATAAN AND
CORREGIDOR MEMORIAL SOCIETY CONVENTION

May 4-6, 2023


Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown

2600 Louisiana BLVD NE

Albuquerque, NM


Special hotel rate available by April 6, 2023

Call 24 hrs. a day at 1800-325-3535 and ask for the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society (ADBC-MS) Rate or LINK (suggest you call to see if you can retain the conference rate after the deadline)


Find registration form HERE.

You can email in a pdf of the registration form and call in your registration fee by emailing Ms. Judy Pruitt, pruittja13@aol.com   



Thursday, May 4, 2023

  • 2023 POW/Japanese Friendship Trip to Japan discussed by the seven “children” of eight POWs.

  • John Duresky talks about the book: Relentless Hope: A True Story of War and Survival by David L Britt, with John Duresky and Vickie Graham  (ISBN 978-1-09838-539-2, august 31, 2021). The story of US Army 1st Lt. Chester K Britt who served at Ft Wint in Subic Bay and then in the Battle of Bataan. He was from La Crosse, Wisconsin.

  • William Dalness and Josh Kefauver discuss their relatives in “Two Wars Two Generations.” Harold Elmore "Swede" Dalness, 31st Inf (PA) who fought in the Battle of Corregidor as an officer with the Provisional Battalion of the 4th Marines and was a POW of Imperial Japan and his namesake, Harold Edward Dalnes, a sailor aboard the USS Cyclops that disappeared in the Caribbean Sea during WW I.


Friday, May 5, 2023

  • Chris Schurtz, Grandson of Major Paul W. Schurtz (515th Coast Artillery, died aboard the Oryoku Maru) discusses memorials across New Mexico remembering the Battle of Bataan and the Bataan Death March.

  • Paul Ruiz tells the stories from his father MSGT Joe Ruiz (U.S. Army Philippine Scout, POW, Guerrilla Fighter) about the war in the Philippines.

  • Gregory Kupsky, Ph.D., Senior Historian on the WWII Team in the Indo-Pacific Directorate at Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency gives an update on the disinterments of Unknowns from Manila American Cemetery and the  National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl, Hawaii)


Saturday, May 6, 2023

  • Thomas H. Begay, U.S. Marine, Navajo Code Talker at Iwo Jima talks about The Navajo Code Talkers: Their Code Was Never Broken Presenter:  

  • The Next Generation: The Grandchildren of Bataan and Corregidor Veterans. Panel led by the grandchildren of Agapita Silva (200th Coast Artillery)

Banquet-Speaker: author Steve Moore discusses his book As Good As Dead: The Daring Escape of American POWs From a Japanese Death Camp about the Palawan Massacre.

National Former POW Recognition Day

This Easter Sunday, April 9th, is the 81st anniversary of the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines and the beginning of the infamous Bataan Death March. Less than half of the men on Bataan would survive WWII, the majority dying as POWs of Imperial Japan. President Joe Biden's cousin, John Robinette, a tanker from Ohio, was on the Bataan Death March and died as a POW of Japan in the Philippines.

The man most associated with this history is Georgian, Major General Edward Postell King, USA (July 4, 1884 – August 31, 1958). He is today's Department of Veterans Affairs' "Veteran of the Day." A version of the biography below is reprinted on the VA's website.

Post a remembrance to his Find  A Grave site.

In the early morning hours of April 9, 1942, General King surrendered, in violation of direct orders, his command on the Bataan Peninsula to the invading Imperial Japanese forces. His was a rational, moral decision. Not doing so, he had concluded, would have led to the pointless slaughter of his sick, starved and exhausted soldiers, dozens of female military nurses, as well as the civilian population under his control.

A decorated artilleryman, King made the moral choice to risk his career and reputation by refusing to sacrifice his men for no military gain. His men had fought for 93 days under siege conditions with antiquated weapons, dwindling resources, and no hope of rescue. The approximately 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans) under his command were the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender to the enemy. King emphasized to his men that he "surrendered them," they did not surrender.

The General pleaded with the Japanese that those under his command would be treated in accord with the 1929 Geneva Conventions. He got no promise or assurance. Nor did he get a surrender agreement or document. Instead, the Japanese considered his surrender, and any others, individual ones.

The Japanese soldiers, understanding their commanders’ intentions, proceeded to loot their captives of any belongings, kill those they found with anything Japanese, and pull gold teeth out of the soldiers’ mouths. The surrendered were then forced on the infamous Bataan Death March up the Peninsula in the tropical heat to a make-shift POW camp 100 miles north. Food and water was withheld, stragglers shot, random soldiers beheaded or bayoneted, the sick left to die on the road, and the less nimble run over by tanks to be forever embedded in Bataan’s East Road.

For the next three and a half years, General King and the men and women of Bataan were POWs. General King endured abuse, starvation and forced labor as a POW in the Philippines, Formosa and Manchuria. His men were sent across the Japanese empire in hellships for slave labor. The military nurses were put in squalid civilian internment camps in the Philippines. By war’s end in August 1945, more than half of the men he surrendered on Bataan had perished in captivity.

A native of Georgia, King received a law degree from the University of Georgia. He began his military career in 1905 as a second lieutenant in the Georgia National Guard. During WWI, he earned a Distinguished Service Medal as a Chief Assistant to the Chief of Artillery. Recognized as a leader, after WWI he attended and taught at both the Army and Navy War Colleges. He was sent to the Philippines in 1940 where he became General Douglas MacArthur’s second ranking ground general in the United States Army Forces in the Far East.

King assumed command of the American-Filipino forces on Bataan on March 21, 1942, shortly after General MacArthur was evacuated from the Philippines to Australia. He oversaw a tenacious and courageous final defense of the Peninsula. Although he expected to be court-martialed after the war, he was not. Neither was he invited to be on the deck of the USS Missouri for Japan’s formal surrender or promoted.

He received the Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; World War I Victory Medal; American Defense Service Medal with "Foreign Service" clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service star; World War II Victory Medal; and the Philippine Defense Medal with service star.

General King never received any decoration or recognition for his good judgment or gallantry on Bataan. His troops, however, widely admired and revered him. He passed away peacefully at his home in Brunswick, Georgia on August 31, 1958.

✮And for you military history buffs, April 9th is also the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's 1865 surrender to General Grant at Appomattox.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Is Congress listening?

On March 8, 2023, the Veterans Affairs Committees of the House and Senate held their annual joint hearing for To Receive Legislative Presentations of Veterans Service Organizations. Last year, Ms. Jan Thompson, president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, testified in person. This year, as in all past years she submitted a STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD (see below).

Unlike all previous years, both the House and Senate Committees refused to post that the ADBC-MS was to give testimony for the record and, most important, refused to post the text of the testimony. Inexplicably, the rules changed, although no one could give your editor a coherent reason why. Sheepishly, staff told us that the testimony would appear in the Committee print--a printed record of the hearing. If true, this will happen months from the hearing date.

Interestingly, the House Veterans Affairs Committee did list on its Committee Repository website for the hearing, another organization's Statement for the Record: Laura Lehigh as Independent Citizen Advocate for DIC Surviving Spouses Rank-Based Dependency and Indemnity Recipients Group.

UPDATE (4/12/2023) - The Clerk of the House Veterans Affairs Committee admitted that it was an oversight not to post the ADBC-MS testimony on the hearing website repository page. It appear the House committee did not change its posting policy. The clerk for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee apparently neglected to share the testimony with his counterpart at the House committee. You can find the testimony HERE

Why the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee would block our testimony in this passive aggressive manner we do know. Soon after the hearing, the Committee staff took another unusual position, that of objecting to and blocking a proposed gold medal bill for the men and women who fought in the early defensive battles of WWII in the Pacific. They were vague as to why other than they had problems with the "findings" or statements of fact and noted that they cannot block a bill. But the reality is that their objections did stop the bill from being introduced. The "findings" were written by a committee of world class, American historians of the Pacific War.

I guess the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee got tired of the ADBC-MS asking for the same things every year.  Or maybe they did not again want to hear that there are veterans they were leaving behind and forgetting. Or maybe it is too unbelievable that Japan was once our enemy and considered more brutal than the Nazis. Or maybe Japan's history disinformation campaigns, which are now being directed at POWs, are successful.

AMERICAN DEFENDERS OF THE PACIFIC
THE YEAR FOR A CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL

Chairmen Tester and Bost, Ranking Members Moran and Takano, and Members of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees, thank you for allowing us to describe how Congress can meet the concerns of veterans of World War II in the Pacific.

The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) was founded in January 1946 at the Fort Devens, Massachusetts hospital by former POWs of Imperial Japan. The ADBC represented the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Pacific who participated in the early resistance to, and defensive battles against, the armed forces of Imperial Japan from December 8, 1941, to June 9, 1942. Nearly all the survivors endured nearly four years of merciless imprisonment by Imperial Japan.

Our subsequent Memorial Society now represents their families and descendants, as well as scholars, researchers, and archivists. Our goal is to preserve the history of the American POW experience in the Pacific and to teach future generations of the POWs’ sacrifice, courage, determination, and faith—the essence of the American spirit.

Background
Eighty-one years ago today marks the fall of the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia) to Japan and the capture on Java of a West Texas National Guard Battalion as well as two American aviators and one sailor too seriously wounded to be moved. Barely a week before, the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) went down in the Battle of Sunda Strait marking the decimation of the United States Asiatic Fleet that had commanded the United States Navy and Marines in the region since 1902. American forces on Wake Island and Guam had surrendered in December 1941.

In April, after 99 days of constant warfare and no hope of resupply, the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines was surrendered and the infamous Bataan Death March began. Less than one month later, on May 6th, the Fortress Island of Corregidor and its associated commands defending Manila were surrendered. The rest of American and Filipino units throughout the Philippines were surrendered on June 9th. And on June 7th, Japan invaded Alaska’s Kiska and Attu islands in the Aleutians, imprisoning 42 Native Americans, 8 Navy weathermen, one female school teacher, and killing three men.

I testify today to encourage your efforts to remember these American men and women who gave their all under desperate conditions to demonstrate determination and resourcefulness against a ruthless enemy and a long-decided U.S. and British policy of prioritizing the war in Europe. The result was that most of these soldiers became POWs of Japan who suffered some of the War’s worst consequences. One-third did not return home.

For all, the homefront was their third battle--after surviving warfare in the Pacific and enduring atrocities as a POW. Forced to sign gag orders about the horrors they witnessed and unable to explain the after-effects of torture, abuse, starvation, and trauma, the POWs of Japan first focused, as do today’s veterans, on obtaining healthcare, disability benefits, survivor benefits, caregiver support, mental health access, and education.

The fourth and final battle for the American POWs of Japan is for them not to be forgotten: both by their country and the Japanese. Current and future generations can be inspired by their “victory from within.” As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in August 1943, when the outcome of WWII was still uncertain, “The story of the fighting on Bataan and Corregidor—and, indeed, everywhere in the Philippines–will be remembered so long as men continue to respect bravery, and devotion, and determination.”

Our asks
To ensure that the sacrifices and unique history of our fighting men and women in the Pacific during 1941 and 1942 are not forgotten I ask Congress to:

1. Award, collectively to the American defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, as defined in U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich’s and Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez’s forthcoming Congressional Gold Medal bill. This group represents every U.S. state, territory, tribe, and military service. It is the most diverse World War II Congressional Gold Medal cohort.

2
. Ask the Government of Japan, to create a central government-funded memorial in Japan, as none exist, for the Allied POWs of WWII at the Port of Moji on Kyushu, Japan where most of the “hellships”–floating dungeons where POWs were denied air, space, light, sanitation, and food–first arrived in Japan to unload their sick and dying human cargo. This memorial should be selected from a world competition. Currently, the only monuments at Moji are to Japanese war horses, Japanese soldiers, and bananas.

3. Instruct the U.S. Department of State to prepare a report for Congress on the history and funding of the “Japan/POW Friendship Program.” This visitation program began in 2010. The report should include (i) how other Allied POW reconciliation programs initiated by the Government of Japan in 1995 compare both in funding and programming and (ii) how the U.S. program compares with other “Kakehashi” people exchange programs in the United States funded by the Government of Japan starting in 2015.

4. Ask the Government of Japan to continue and institutionalize the “Japan/POW Friendship Program” established in 2010. Initially established as a reconciliation visit to Japan for former POWs modeled after ones established in 1995 for British, Dutch, and Australian POWs, the program has included widows and the elderly children of POWs. The program needs to transform into a permanent educational, remembrance, and exchange initiative encompassing history, justice, and democracy. It needs to be permanent, not merely a yearly, diplomatic “deliverable” subject to Japan’s budget whims.

Thus far, there have been 12 trips, one each in the fall of 2010 through 2019. In 2015, there were two trips. In 2016, 2018, and 2019, due to the advanced age of surviving POWs, only widows and children participated in the program. No trips were held in 2020, 2021, or 2022. A four-day trip for 7 children of POWs was held in February this year. In all, 46 former POWs, all in their late 80s or 90s, as well as nine widows and 25 children in their 60s and 70s have made the trip to Japan. A number of the caregiver companions were wives, children, and grandchildren.

5. Ask the Government of Japan to publish in Japanese, English and other languages on the website of the Foreign Ministry of Japan the 2009 Cabinet Decision offering a formal apology to all the prisoners of war of Japan and the text of Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki’s May 30, 2009 speech to the convention of the ADBC offering an apology to the POWs:

I would like to convey to you the position of the government of Japan on this issue. As former Prime Ministers of Japan have repeatedly stated, the Japanese people should bear in mind that we must look into the past and to learn from the lessons of history. We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of wars, those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, in the Philippines, and other places.

6. Ask the Government of Japan to honor its 2015 written promise to include the “full history” of Japan’s UNESCO World Industrial Heritage properties of the Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining. The history of POW slave labor at many of the Heritage sites is not included at those locations or at the Tokyo Information Center.

7. Amend title 36, United States Code to include National Former POW Recognition Day among the days the POW/MIA flag is required to be displayed. This is April 9th, which is the anniversary of the Bataan Death March. The President is already required to issue a proclamation for this remembrance day.

High price of freedom

By June 1942, most of the estimated 27,000 Americans ultimately held as military POWs of Imperial Japan had been surrendered–they did not surrender. By the War’s end, roughly one-third or more than 12,000 Americans had died in squalid POW camps, in the fetid holds of “hellships,” or in slave labor camps owned by Japanese companies. Almost one-third (or 4,000) died from friendly fire in unmarked hellships sunk by American planes and submarines.

Surviving as a POW of Japan and returning home was the beginning of new battles: finding acceptance in society and living with serious mental and physical ailments. In the first six years after the war, deaths of American POWs of Japan were more than twice those of the comparably aged white male population. These deaths were disproportionately due to tuberculosis, suicides, accidents, and cirrhosis. In contrast, 1.5 percent of Americans in Nazi POW camps died (the mortality rate for POWs of Japan was 20 times greater). In the first six years after liberation, the mortality rate of those who survived the Japanese POW camps was three times the rate of the Nazi POW camp survivors.

Eighty-two years after the start of the War in the Pacific, it is time to recognize the Americans who fought the impossible and endured the unimaginable in the war against tyranny in the Asia. The American men and women in the early months of the war in the Pacific fought with limited and outdated weapons and no hope of reinforcement or resupply.

In return for their sacrifices and service, they ask that their government keep its moral obligation to them. They do not want their history ignored or exploited. What they want most is to have their government stand by them to ensure they will be remembered, that our allies respect them, and that their American history is preserved accurately for future generations.

Ms. Jan Thompson
President, American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society
Daughter of PhM2c Robert E. Thompson USN, USS Canopus (AS-9)
Survivor of the hellships Oryoku Maru, Enoura Maru, and the Brazil Maru
Survivor of the POW Camps Bilibid (Philippines), Fukuoka 3B (Japan), & Mukden (China)
https://www.adbcmemorialsociety.org/