From those that were there… (5)

American helmet, grenade rifle & flag taken by a Japanese photographer, April 1942

American helmet, grenade rifle & flag taken by a Japanese photographer, April 1942

 

William Burton Clark – US Army, Staff Sergeant/ New Mexico National Guard/200th Coast Artillery

William Burton Clark

William Burton Clark

Mr. Clark was at Clark Airfield when the Japanese attacked 8 December 1941 manning his 3-inch antiaircraft gun and spent 33 months as a POW.  In his Veterans History Project audio, he gave a 92 minute interview.  He spoke of the attack of Pearl, as seen from the Philippines, appeared to be a conspiracy.  In his talk of the trek to San Fernando, “I went down on that march and 2 angels picked me up.  At the camp, a grave detail of 250 men worked every morning.”

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Ralph Levenburg – from Clinton, Iowa – US Army Air Corps/17th Pursuit Squadron –

Ralph Levenberg

Ralph Levenberg

“When the surrender came on April 9, everyone accepted that as a relief – until it soaked in what surrender really meant.” [As to the Japanese guards enduring the severe discipline of their superiors for a minor infraction.]  “The officer removed a small sword sheath from his belt and began beating this guard in the face murmuring comments to him the whole time.  The [enemy] guard never wavered until he dropped completely unconscious.  His face was just absolutely like he’d been run over by a tractor.”

Alf Larson – from Minnesota – US Armycapturenews

“Guys around me dropped, but if you tried to help them, you’d get beat up or killed.  After a while you just went blank and you became a machine, a walking machine.”

 

Kermit Lay – from Altus, Oklahoma – H Company/31st Infantry, Lieutenant

Lt. Kermit Lay

Lt. Kermit Lay

He remembered the hopelessness of trying to get a group of POWs to drag a semi-conscious officer along the road.  “It made them a target of the enemy soldiers assigned to shoot stragglers.  When the guard got to us, he rammed his bayonet right through Captain Miller.  Naturally we dropped him and ran up and got into the middle of the column.”

Albert Brown –  from Nebraska – US Army

Albert Brown

Albert Brown

During his 3 years as a POW, Albert Brown suffered a broken back and neck, a bayonet wound and a dozen tropical diseases.  But Brown survived and documented it all, using a nub of a pencil to scrawl details into a tiny tablet he concealed in the lining of his canvas bag.  When he was freed, a doctor told the 40-year-old artillery officer to enjoy life while he could, because he would not live to be 50.  When Mr. Brown passed away in 2011 – he was 105 years old!  “Doc’s story has as much relevance for today’s wounded warriors as it did for veterans of his own era,” said Kevin Moore, co-author of the book, “Forsaken Heroes of the Pacific War: One Man’s True Story.”

Albert Brown w/ a ROTC group in 2005

Albert Brown w/ a ROTC group in 2005

Click on images to enlarge.

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updated Military Humor – Budget cuts

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Tankad

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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Henry Alcones – Santa Rosa, CA; Filipino Guerrillas & US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan Death March Survivor

Geoffrey Campbell – Rotorua, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44136

Ernest Garceau – Newport, NH; US Army, WWIIimg_96953714425802

Gordon Harris – Peachland, BC, CAN; RAF & 8th Gurkha Rifles, WWII, CBI

Carl Monteleone – WPalm Bch, FL; US Navy, WWII

Robert Oakley – Dallas, TX; US Navy Intelligence, State Dept., Ambassador

Bert Rownd – Little Rock, AR; US Coast Guard & Navy, WWII

Ronnie Shaffer – Marshalltown, IA; USMC, Vietnam

John Wargo – Springfield, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Washburn – Trumbull, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 22, 2014, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 55 Comments.

  1. That first photo is so captivating. The old doughboy (Brodie) helment, what looks to be a M1 Garand and American cars in the background. It is sad when you think of what had happened…

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    • I wonder if the Japanese photographer realized he was displaying an actual tribute to those in the march? Maybe he had seen enough cruelty himself as a correspondent?

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  2. All storys illustrate the horrors and resilience of the soldiers during their forced marches.
    To imagine the thinking when helping stragglers, anticipating the consequences.
    Albert Brown certainly went on to become a great survivor considering his disabilities.
    Emu

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  3. Nice to hear the comments of individual men serving in the war effort.

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  4. Further reminders of how cruel we can be yet in some cases how resilient – amazing stories GP.

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  5. I have been fascinated by the longevity of some of these veterans of three and a half years life-zapping living. As we know, many died at the time and many others died or suffered during the remainder of their short lives, but what about those who made it to ninety or more? None of them should really have made old bones. Did their bodies/spirits gain an extra resilience from have been through?

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    • Good question, Hillary – one I’ve often wondered about myself. With being shot, bayoneted, starved, etc, etc – what kept the human body sustaining so long? Today it takes medications, surgeries, teams of doctors, etc. to get our bodies living as long. It had to be that generation that coined the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!”

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  6. This is wonderful. When I saw your featured image, I got goosebumps! Thank you.

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  7. Thanks for all the work you put into this and helping us remember what was given so that we might enjoy our freedoms. Hopefully this remembering will help anyone that reads to not be apathetic about world events.

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  8. Unimaginable horrors people can inflict on one another…

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  9. So much sadness for our men and country and it still is going on in the world. Merry Christmas to you.

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  10. great G – and thanks for the laugh with the tank and the ads – oh that about sums it up – ha!

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  11. I wish I could find Mr. Budge, the medic. He was such a great human being. Thank you for these Bataan posts! Such incredible history. Merry Christmas~

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  12. 105! There is no way to figure out how long we’ll live. What a life this man had.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Absolute Heroes all of them. Humbling to think about the sacrifice these men made for us all.

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  14. Is it your opinion that war dehumanized those Japanese or were they just like that?

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    • During the war, the soldiers on both sides did many acts they would be ashamed to have their own families know about. The Japanese looked at war differently than than the Western world and looked at Americans as mercenaries – soldiers who need to be paid to fight for their country. War does strange things to everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. gp, Hard to absorb the horror. Had to read it all twice. Phil

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Just unspeakable pain they all went through. Those that survived probably had nightmares for years. I was glad that Albert lived to 105 and proved the Dr wrong!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The treatment of their own guard, and his endurance, explains much about their attitude to their prisoners

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  18. This is a great series you’re doing. It’s good to remember these men.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Andrew. Wish I could do them all, but even the Veteran’s Project doesn’t have them all. And I believe the readers had enough – it’s time to move on.

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  19. 105–What a triumph!

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  20. Well done Albert Brown. It’s always nice to see a doctor proved wrong I this way. And yes, sponsored military vehicles are the way to go!

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  21. Frozen in time…

    Liked by 2 people

  22. When you see photos that were taken of the death march it is a wonder that anyone survived and it is even more of a wonder that anyone ever forgave the Japanese.

    Liked by 1 person

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