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Chapter VII Dapecol (A.T.E.)



Now we had a new ball game! Now it can be “revealed” that the letters (B.T.E.) at the heading of the previous chapter mean “before the escape”, while those above (A.T.E.) are to denote what happened after the escape.

Earlier I mentioned Lieutenant Yuki’s policy of relative permissiveness, which was based on his theory that you can trust the Americans. He had sold his superiors on the idea — to the extent that small working details were being allowed to go out into different areas of the colony with virtually no regular supervision and with very little checking by the guards. This enabled some of our people to “appropriate” food items — such as various kinds of fruits — and even chickens, which were cooked for their noon meal right on the job. Of course, some of these activities were quite risky, but there were those who were willing to take such risks in order to supplement the meager diet. Also, there were those who had been thinking for some time about the possibility of escape, and wanted to get themselves in good physical condition — just in case. On the ship from Manila to Davao there had even been some talk (of which I was dimly aware) of us Americans trying to take over the ship and head for Australia. We had personnel who undoubtedly could have handled the ship, but the odds were so great against our being able to seize the ship without too much bloodshed that the idea had to be abandoned. But the thought of escape was constantly in the minds of many of our fellow-prisoners — especially those who were professional military people. Evidently some in this category couldn’t forget the following words from the Code of conduct for members of the Armed Forces of the United States: “If I am captured I will continue ‘to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape”.

I never discussed (B.T.E.) the matter of escape with anybody, and I am glad it was not mentioned to me; I felt, and still feel, that this was an individual matter that must be decided by each person for himself. As far as possible reprisals were concerned, I did not hold it against a man for trying to escape — if he felt compelled to do so, and if his planning was such that he had a reasonable chance to make his way. In my own case, I might have been tempted — except for three considerations — not necessarily in order of their importance: First, my physical condition was not conducive to such an ordeal. Second, I was not essentially, or primarily, a military person. Third, since I was the only active Protestant Chaplain on mainside,
I felt that this was where my presence and ministry were needed — not just on Sundays, but throughout the week – in various capacities.

This escape (by ten men) was the only real attempt that I was aware of at Dapeccl — up until that time — about the first of April, 1943. Also, it was the only really successful escape that I knew of in the Philippines. There were several individuals and smaller groups that did get away, but these were either apprehended, with brutal results, or they failed to survive the rigors of that forbidding environment.

I knew five of our ten escapees: three young Marine officers and
quite a famous Army flier. The marines had brought me fruit while I was in the hospital; for this I am eternally grateful. The other one of the five, whom I knew was Commander M.H. McCoy, U.S.N., who was the senior member of the group. The other five members were army personnel, headed by a Major Mellnik; I was not acquainted with any of the five.

The first account of this dramatic event was related in a book titled “Ten Escape from Tojo”, co-authored by Commander McCoy and Major Mellnik, and published by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. (New York-Toronto) in I944 — only a matter of months after these brave men returned to the States. This story was told while the thrilling and incredible events events were fresh in the minds and hearts of the authors. While considerable background was given on Corregidor, Bataan, Cabanatuan, and Dapecol, the details of the events after leaving camp necessarily were limited. Evidently at that time it was felt by the powers that be that this was necessary for reasons of security and possible reprisals. Enough was told in this first book, however, to indicate that elaborate, ingenious, long- range preparations had been made, without which this daring and dangerous mission could not have been successful.

The other book written by one of our escapees was authored by Col. (then Lieutenant) Jack Hawkins. This book, which bears the title “Never Say Die”, was published by Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia. Jack was not bound by the limitations placed on the earlier book, which could not include many of the experiences of our ten fellow-prisoners — after they left Dapecol. In “Never Say Die” Hawkins is able to tell all, and does a splendid job of it. I say this, not just because he is a friend of mine, although I am proud to have this fine Marine officer as a friend.

Although the story of this dramatic escape is not mine to tell, I can assure you that the long, careful and very secret planning involved was a revelation of imagination, ingenuity, organization, and implementation; faith and courage also were very important requirements for this hazardous venture. Here is a list of some articles which had to be procured, taken out the gate, and stashed away in a safe place in the jungle, to be available at the appointed time: compass, sextant, chronometer, navigation tables, protractor, dividers, chart of the Southwest Pacific, pencils. Some of these items had to be hand-made. Each man had to have a change of clothing, blanket, shelter tent, mosquito net, canteen, mess kit, and food for five days. Medical supplies had to include quinine, sulfa drugs, first-aid kit, water purifier, and any other medicines they could get their hands on. Other equipment included bolo knives, field glasses, file, hammer, pliers, matches, cooking-can with handle. This indicates the kind of meticulous planning required for prisoners to effect an escape that had a chance to result in survival. That this attempt did prove to be a success testifies to the fact that, as far as possible, nothing was left to chance. Among other things, each man was chosen for certain basic qualities, such as character, physical fitness, desire and courage. Also, they were chosen for certain knowledge and/or technical skills required to do the job, and each man was assigned specific responsibilities. They were able to enlist a couple of Filipino ex-convicts still living in the area as advisors and guides, who were invaluable.

How in the world they were able to keep all their plans and preparations secret is a miracle in itself; but they did, and were able to carry out their plans, which had necessarily to be altered some in their execution to a successful conclusion. It is a thrilling story, which I hope many of my readers will be able to pursue through Colonel Hawkins’ book, which I hope is still in prints I doubt, however, that ‘Ten Escape from Tojo” is still being published. We were glad to hear (after reaching the States) that all ten of our compatriots had reached home safely — by a very circuitous route. Home to one of the group became the Philippines, since he found romance enroute and decided to settle down there.

As soon as he could, after reaching the States, Jack Hawkins paid a visit to my wife in Coronado, and told her of our association both at Gabanatuan and Dapecol.’ This call, which was made during a busy schedule, is something I appreciated (and still do) beyond words. Jack also made it a point to call on the Chief of Navy Chaplains in Washington, and told him of our association as POWs, and of my service at Cabanatuan and Dapecol. / Evidently, out of this report came the citation, which led to my being awarded the Bronze Star medal during a ceremony while I was a patient at the San Diego Naval hospital in 1945. This was something I had not expected, but which I did appreciate, and still treasure. However, and I hope this is not false modesty, I firmly believe that there were many (and this applies to all wars) whose activities were not out in the open, but were of great significance to Him who sees all. Those who served well and unselfishly, though unnoticed, must not be overlooked nor forgotten; this should apply to civilians as well as the military; after all is said and done, perhaps it is the wives, sweethearts, mothers and fathers who should have most of the medals pinned on them.

As I have indicated earlier, the matter of escape always was a prime subject of thought and discussion. Now, after an eminently successful (as far as we knew) escape from within our own camp, there was not only thought and discussion of an hypothetical question, but there was an actual occurrence which sometimes evoked rather heated discussion and bitter debate.

I think the camp was rather evenly divided between those who thought that escaping was not only a privilege and a right, but even a duty, and those who thought that such action in our situation was not justified — or even selfish — because of possible reprisals from our captors.

As far as reprisals were concerned, evidently among the first things the Japanese command thought of was to vent their spleen on young Lieutenant Yuki, whom we saw no more after the escape. At first, they may have had him out (with numerous guards) scouring the countryside for the vanished Americans. There were various conjectures as to what might have happened to the too-friendly Lieutenant, who, in the view of his superiors, was responsible for this catastrophe which caused them to lose a lot of face. Anything could have happened to him — from demotion to death — demotion to death — or, a fate even worse than death. It was evident that some of us Americans were quite concerned about the fate of one of our captors, who seemed to like Americans, and who was more like Americans than the others.

I am sure that our escapees had thought a lot about the matter of reprisals as they considered the question of escape.- Jack Hawkins, in his* book, indicates that it was an agonizing decision to make — knowing of the actions and reactions of which some of our captors were capable. Jack brought out the fact, however, that as bad as things were at Dapecol, Major Maeda didn’t (comparatively) seem to be as sadistic as was Colonel Mori at Cabanatuan. In fact, the execution squads of ten each were not formed at Dapecol, as at Cabanatuan.

The foregoing should not be interpreted, however, as meaning that we were not apprehensive about what might happen to us as a result of this terrible loss of face on the part of the Japanese. Those of us in barracks in which escapees had lived became particularly anxious about rumored threats concerning special treatment from our captors. The Japanese command assumed that many of us knew about the escape plans, and that some of us must have helped our fellow-Americans do this dastardly deed to them. They simply could not imagine how ten of us could plan and carry out such a maneuver without all (or at least some) of us being involved. We were puzzled, too, but, as far as I know, nobody among our two thousand prisoners had been aware of what was going on; if anyone had been, he had an extremely unusual ability to keep his mouth shut.

The escape did not affect us as much as might have been the case, but the results were bad enough; the most noticeable change, which affected all of us, was the cut in our already meager rations. In fact, ultimately we were reduced to only two “meals” a day, which meant about two-thirds as much food — or about 1200 calories a day; this, as may be generally known, is strictly a starvation diet. It had been about three months since our first shipment of Red Cross packages, so, except for the most miserly hoarders, all this food was gone. Also, now (as a result of the escape) there was much less opportunity for members of work details to scrounge food for themselves, and/or to bring items in to friends, who were confined to the camp, including the hospital, whose census began to grow again. These developments resulted from the fact that some of the more independent work details were eliminated altogether, while now there was very strict supervision of those remaining. Even if and when food was procured on the job, it was almost impossible to bring it in past the guards, when returning to camp. So, our food situation was pretty bleak. This was compounded by the fact that our second (and last) Red Cross shipment was not to materialize for almost another year. This was a far cry from the theoretical weekly parcel — to supplement our needs. During about one hundred and fifty weeks of imprisonment, we received, including the extra cans and some bulk food, the equivalent of no more than eight or ten parcels — one in fifteen — at the most.

There was one later development that did help a little, although, by ordinary standards, it wouldn’t have been very significant. We were able, after much negotiating, to secure the use of a plot of ground (within the inner confines) on which we could have individual or small- group vegetable gardens. We were entirely on our own here, but of course we were under the watchful view of the tower guards. In spite of the fact that tools and seeds were very scarce, and fertilizer non-existent, some of our people were able to win against the worms, insects, etc. — to the extent that they did supplement their diet enough to at least compensate for the extra energy expended. I shared somewhat in the “farming” of a small plot with three or four others — including Marion, my late Kentucky Colonel friend. As I recall, our principal crops were such things as Okra, string beans and squash.

Some of the above items we ate raw; others we either donated to the general mess — to go into the “collective” soup, or we ourselves cooked it over little outdoor fires. This kind of cooking caused us to coin (or, at least use) a word, which came into general use among us. The word was “quan” which became not only a verb, but a noun. If we were able to get something to cook, we would say, “let’s quan it”, or “we have (or had) a quan”, which could include most anything. If we were going to boil some old, worn-out coffee grounds, or some ersatz coffee, made from parched rice,’ we would say, “let’s quan some coffee”. The word (if it is a word) came to be used almost as “gismo”, which is an expression used in the Navy, for just about anything for which you don’t have a name.
One of the other manifestations of the displeasure of our hosts on losing some of their guests was the ban against wearing any kind of footwear on leaving the inner confines of the can?). This resulted, of course, in the members of the remaining work details marching to and from, and pursuing their work, completely barefooted. Many, if not most, after a few months, hardly had shoes worthy of the name. There were no shoes available until late in the< game, when a limited supply of G.I. shoes was included in a supplementary Red Cross shipment. There were many pairs of “go-aheads” whittled out of wood by individuals, who fastened a piece of leather or other material onto the wood to go over the instep of the foot. One of our Mexican-American lads, who by the way, was in High school in Santa Paula while I was a pastor there, set up a cobbling shop of sorts under the main hospital building. Here, with the barest minimum of tools, he plied his trade (his father had a cobbler shop in Santa Paula), and prolonged the life of some shoes that ordinarily would be thrown away. Among other things, my young Santa Paula amigo got hold of some discarded belting, which he used for half-soles. The last, a few tools and tacks, etc. must have been part of the equipment used by some Filipino convict before we appeared on the scene. Evidently our sub-command was able to secure permission for the “Santa Paula kid” to be assigned to this job, which was a godsend to many of us. I will have occasion to mention this lad again before my story is finished. Suffice it to say now that he did survive, and I hope he has been enjoying life in Santa Paula, or elsewhere, ever since.

So, the reprisals for the escape were not all that might have been expected — considering the magnitude of the loss of face on the part of our captors. However, in addition to what I have related above, there was a general tightening of security, and a closer general check on us. From their standpoint they could not afford to let such- a thing happen again … it might have meant that the camp commander would lose more than his face next time … it could have meant “back to the salt mines”.

One of the specific things they became more strict about was the early morning “tenko”, or roll call. Heretofore, only an occasional roll roll call was conducted; otherwise each of our barracks leaders reported his men present. This was in line with former Lieutenant Yuki’s policy of trusting the Americans, which had back-fired on him. Our barracks leaders could not afford to report anything but an accurate daily count of the bodies present in their respective domiciles; they were held responsible by the Japanese, who would have been sure to figure that the barracks leaders were in cahoots with the missing men had that fact not been reported. On week days these reports were made quite early, but on Sundays (they did let us off, for the most part, on Sunday) the schedule was a bit more leisurely and flexible. This, however, was not connected with the escapes, although it did take place early on a Sunday morning. All ten escapees had received official permission to leave the camp at the usual time that morning –thus were reported present. Two quite independent work details were involved in the escape. Five of the escapees were members of the plowing detail, and they “needed” to go out to their “head-quarters” to take care of and move their animals to new pasture — plus mending the harness, etc., which they “expected” would take them all day.

The other five were members of a coffee growing detail, and they “needed” to go out to their “headquarters” to finish building a shack, which was essential for shelter, and for storing tools, etc. The Japanese evidently figured the Americans were to be commended for being willing, and even anxious, to put in “overtime” — even to the point of giving up their Sabbath rest”!

Well, to make a long story short — not that it was easy or uncomplicated — the two groups got themselves and their gear together — at the appointed time and place — and took off on a great and precarious-adventure. This meant that they had a twenty-four hour headstart (there was no night bed-check), since they were not reported missing until the next morning.

Now, the roll call or tenko was a definite part of the Tegular routine. Seven days a week; at six a.m. we were rousted out and lined up in front of our respective barracks — to be ready for the Japanese tenko team, which required us to count off by tens in Japanese.’ So, each of us had to learn to count to ten in that language, since we did not have the same place in line each morning. I suppose I could now do the full count (with a little help), but “ichi, ni, san” (1, 2, 2) are the numbers that come to me most readily. Perhaps I should have been interested in learning more Japanese,  but I have indicated earlier that I had established a pretty strict policy against fraternization, which would have been required in order to learn more of the language. Besides, I must confess that I just wasn’t interested; this was true of most of the Americans that I knew. We found that the Japanese were much more anxious to learn English than we were to learn Japanese.

Included, also, in the tightening-up process was the matter of more frequent and stricter inspections; some of these inspections were announced beforehand, while others were of the surprise variety. Usually, I had time to hide the items I didn’t want them to see. About the only items in this category were those kept in my trusty underarm zipper case, which included my New Testament, notebooks, and pictures of my family. Several times I hid the under-arm case, which, in a sense, probably had become my security blanket. I hid it a few times behind the altar in the little Catholic chapel, which had been built behind barracks row. My Catholic chaplain friends agreed that, under the circumstances, this wouldn’t be too contaminating! On one occasion, however, my Testament was left out in plain sight, so the inspectors took it for censoring. I have always hoped, that while they had it, some of them might have read the “word” and profited by it. Stranger things have happened, and God does move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform! I was quite apprehensive about this, my most valued possession, being returned. By this time (this was later in the game) I had acquired another Bible, which was included in some books in a supplementary Red Cross shipment; but I certainly wasn’t about to part with this treasure — if I could help it. In due course, however “T.N.T.” was returned — with their stamp of approval in the form of a sticker with Japanese characters pasted on the inside cover. I have wondered if they realized what explosive dynamite they were handling! Perhaps one of their number, who had come under Christian influence had helped them identify this “dangerous” book! Seriously speaking, this can become a dangerous book — otherwise it would not have been gathered up and burned on so many occasions down through the – last two thousand years.

Another aspect of their inspections again indicates their only consistency being found in their inconsistency; sometimes they would be very methodical and meticulous, while on other occasions they would be quite casual and even careless. This may have depended on who was doing the inspecting, and on what they were specifically looking for at a given time.

Another rather amusing facet of their minds, make up, and philosophy we found on various occasions to lie in the fact that when they couldn’t see something — it just wasn’t there! This was true, for instance, if you had something hidden behind an improvised curtain — or a door — if you had one handy. On several such occasions they would just pass up such things — without even looking. Of course, you couldn’t always count on this, but to our way of thinking, they did have an oblique way of looking at and doing certain things. I realize, of course, that it would not be fair to judge the Japanese people, or even all their military personnel, by those in charge of us; after all, they weren’t going to assign their best troops or highest caliber officers to ride herd on a couple of thousand (now less ten) Americans — well removed from hearing shots fired in anger. Although many of us (including some chaplains), because of being starved and brutalized, yielded to the temptation to condemn and cuss all “Japs”, in our more sober moments we realized that it was not the Japanese people but the power of the military, which was primarily responsible for this situation. It is a fact, however, that the way is not always made easy for us to maintain Christian attitudes; after all, as I have said earlier, a hungry and beaten man is hardly a normal man.

Another personification of the pressure applied by our captors was seen in “running Wada”, the dog-trotting interpreter, who became even more ‘ overbearing, and just plain “snotty”. Perhaps I should have been able to use a more delicate word, but I don’t know of any other expression that would describe this American-hater quite as well. So, you see, some chap- lains are human, too! ‘Again, they don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian. This applies not only to abnormal situations, but also to the so-called normal life situations, which all of us must face. After all, we have never (as Christians) been promised “flowery beds of ease”, or a con- tinuous Sunday school picnic, “must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease?”

Speaking again of our “beloved” interpreter, he was the kind of despicable character that engendered and intensified hatred on the part of many Americans for all “Japs”, who, in the language of many, were always referred to as “the Goddam Japs”. Although 1 did not participate in this (out loud) I will have to confess that my attitude was not exactly a Christian one at times, and I did use the term “Japs” — as did everybody else. I am glad to say, however, that, over quite a period of time back in the States I gradually broke my habit of using the shorter term — at least, in public.

I don’t claim to have the highest Christian attitude toward the Japanese nation — or, more properly its war lords — especially when I think of what they did to many of my friends, and their families. I was one of the fortunate ones, but all of us bear scars from modern wars. If General Sherman was right — and I believe he was — when he said “War is hell” a hundred years ago, then it is compounded hell now. Undoubtedly many of our present national and international problems can be traced, directly or indirectly, to the hell of war, and its ghastly aftermath. The same can be said — as far as smaller groups and individuals are concerned. However, war itself, should not be used as an excuse for all our ills; war is simply a manifestation of a universal deadly and insidious disease, which we used to call “sin”. Perhaps I had Better change the subject, since I do not aim to preach to a captive or unsuspecting audience. Later I may try to publish a book of sermons as I preached them during those three years; naturally, they would have to be called “Barbed-wire Sermons”.

Still another manifestation of putting on the pressure was the insistence now that we either safute (if covered) or bow (if uncovered) ,to every Japanese we encountered anywhere. As far as possible, I always made it a1 point to have something on my head when I was away from the barracks. The idea of bowing has never appealed to me; in fact, to bow to anybody but God Almighty is repugnant to me, and I avoided it whenever possible. It was difficult enough to have to salute our captors, and I’m sure I was never sincere about it; but it was the lesser of two evils

As far as our religious services were concerned, we had to do everything the hard way. They did issue a decree that no preaching would be allowed; this probably would not have cramped the style of the Catholic chaplains too much, but for some of us Protestants preaching is the very essence of our services. Consistent with their consistency being found in their inconsistency, the Japanese didn’t seem to follow up and try to enforce this “no preaching” edict. But, just in case, and also as somewhat of a smart-alec, I would read my Scripture, and say something to the effect that “if I were preaching today, I would take the following text and theme” — and then proceed to hold forth with my New Testament as before. As I have indicated, this did not require any particular courage, since, as far as we could tell, this edict was not enforced — nor followed.

Speaking of services, Easter was as late (April 25) in 1943 as it ever can be: It will not (according to the Common Book of Prayer table) be that late again until 2033; some of my younger readers, if any, might live to celebrate this great Festival (on earth) then, If so, perhaps they might remember how we held our services in 1943 — within a barbed-wire enclosure – outdoors — with none of the usual ecclesiastical equipment.

One of the items included in each Red Cross parcel we had received two or three months previously was two tiny cans of grape jelly. Looking forward to the Easter season and a communion service on Maundy Thursday, I asked a few of my regular “parishioners” to join me in saving one can of this jelly. For the observance of this Sacrament the service was held out- doors in the cool (if any) of the evening. For the wine we melted the grape jelly and diluted it with water; for the bread I had one of my friends on the mess hall staff make some thin pancakes out of rice, beaten into a kind of flour. These we broke up into small pieces. I asked the communicants to » bring their canteen cups, and into each cup was poured a small amount of the wine. So, the elements were provided — even if in an improvised situation and manner.

By that time I had acquired — from somewhere — a copy of the Common Book of Prayer — legitimately, I hope. This provided the ritual from which the Methodist service is taken — so, I was orthodox in this respect. For the communion meditation I emphasized the fact that the place and the manner in which the communion elements are received are secondary to that which is in our hearts. I also pointed out that we receive these elements, not because we belong to a particular church, nor because we feel ourselves to be worthy, but that we come repenting of our’sins, and with a desire to lead a new life by the help and power of the Holy Spirit. Thus this Holy Sacrament can and should mean a new commitment and a deeper dedication to Him who was- so committed and dedicated that He gave His life willingly that we might have the life more abundant — both now and forever.

Because of our work schedule and other limitations, we did not hold Good Friday services — except in our own hearts and in private devotions. We did have a sunrise Easter service, however — even though we didn’t have a mountain top to go to; but that did not keep us from having a mountain top experience right where we were. As Jesus said, “God is a spirit, and-they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in, truth.” It is very possible that many of us have paid too much attention to the outward manifestations of worship, while neglecting the most important aspect, which must come from listening to “the still, small voice”, while realizing what it means to “be still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10) We are also told that “thou shalt keep Him in perfect peace — whose mind is stayed on Thee – because he trusteth in Thee”. (Isaiah 26:3)

For both Easter services my general theme was “What if Christ had not Risen?” I acknowledged that many things were not as they should be today, and, of course, it wasn’t hard to make that point. I went on to say, however, that if the influence of Christ were removed, the world would become a madhouse overnight, and as bad as conditions are now, there are some hopeful signs. For the scripture lesson I read the following .familiar verses from the 24th chapter of Luke: “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came upon the sepulchre, bringing the spices, which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and they entered in, and found not the body of*the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining gar- ments; and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen; remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee.” (Luke. 24:1-6) Since we did not have hymn books, and the few strictly Easter hymns are not very familiar or singable, I heisted the tune for “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, Let Angels ProstTate Fall”, and another familiar hymn or two — and we had a glorious Easter day — in spite of, or perhaps because of, all that was so different from what we had been used to. We realized anew that Christ’s resurrection power is universal, and is available wherever you are — no matter what the circumstances: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:32) Here is an anonymous quote, which was meaningful during the Easter season: “If life is a comedy to him who thinks, and a tragedy to him who feels, it is a victory to him who believes!”

Previously I have mentioned some of the frustrations, which characterized many of us; these frustrations continued to grow and be manifested in various ways — in addition to those directly connected with food — or the lack of it. We must continue, however, to be reminded that a hungry man is not a •normal man. Not many of us have really learned the answer to the basic question asked by Jesus: “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than rai ment?” Also, not many of us have really considered the admonition to “consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and yet, God feedeth them — how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you, with taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? Consider the lilies of the field — how they grow; they toil not, they spin not; and yet, I say unto you that Solomon, in-all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothe the grass, which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? , And seek ye not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.” (Luke 12:23-29)

But we were human, and of doubtful mind, so, all of us were frustrated to varying degrees, and this was manifested in various ways. The physical basis for most of this frustration was hunger, although the surroundings, the treatment, loneliness (while lacking privacy), homesickness, a feeling Oft the part of many that we were being forgotten by our country, lack of mail — these things all took their toll.

I have marveled, under the circumstances, that there were so very few cases (to my knowledge) of mental breakdown — to the point that an individual had to be isolated. I suppose that none of us was completely normal (who is?), but I recall needing to visit but one man’in what amounted to a cage. Incidentally this individual (an Army officer) was -a classic example of a quarter-horse — one who sets a terrific pace for the short distance, but fades before reaching the home stretch. I recall first seeing this handsome, glamorous looking fellow at Cabanatuan, with his fine military bearing, strutting all over the place in his still shiny officer’s boots. I don’t want to ridicule the poor fellow, but you might have thought that he had been commissioned by the Japanese to run the camp, or something; he seemed so self assured, and even cocky. It may have been that he had the idea that this thing would end soon, and that he would go back to the States as a conquering hero, or he may have been just putting on a good front. It is difficult and tricky to probe a man’s mind, or his motives, but it sometimes is an interesting study in what makes a man tick. Here was an extreme example of those who put up a good front for six months, and then, as the road got rougher and longer than was anticipated — they faded. One hesitates to cite such examples, for most of us probably at times came near to the point of giving up, and we would not dare to presume to judge. I mention this case merely as an interesting (to me) phenomenon, and to indicate that we saw men at their best, and at their worst. We were surprised and disappointed by some, from whom we expected more, and we were pleasantly surprised by others, from whom we hadn’t expected so much. A man’s family background or wealth did not mean much, if anything at all, in our situation. One’s rank, education, his affiliations, including church membership, were not the final factors in determining his worth — in such circumstances. It was an interesting study in human nature, and I must have been exposed to a refresher course in several different and important subjects during my three years of schooling out there.

To me, another interesting and surprising thing was that, in spite of all our frustrations, there were no outright suicides that I knew of. Some of the seemingly foolhardy escape attempts, which resulted in death, may have been in that category indirectly, but when you have that many men existing as we were, a certain number of suicides might be expected. This lack of such an extreme measure must be attributed to a man’s will to live, which is a very strong urge, indeed.

It is rather amusing now to recall what a dominant part food played in our thinking, talking, and planning; no matter what subject might initiate a group discussion, food (not sex) would become the topic of primary concern. It was a vicarious thrill to talk about favorite dishes, and exotic eating places — until this became a veritable obsession with many. You should have seen some of the conglomerate recipes kept in notebooks for that specific purpose. Whether any of these “books” were ever published or not — I never learned; I rather doubt it. Also, I doubt that very many of us ever carried out our threats to quan up this and that at home; I know I didn’t. My wife was not favorably impressed with my idea of making coffee in an old rusty tin can, either, and I’m sure never insisted on it much. That “home cookin'” was plenty good for me.

Other frustrating factors that I have mentioned did contribute to doubts, discouragement, irritability, heated arguments, a few fights, and even hopelessness. I was reminded at such times of an incident I had read about before the war, which involved the late Dwight t. Morrow, who was our Ambassador to Mexico. The Honorable Mr. Morrow was to be the main speaker at a large banquet in New York. The program began and proceeded with the usual so-called jokes by the master of ceremonies. The affair continued with remarks by lesser dignitaries, with the Ambassador sitting there until at least eleven o’clock. After a long and flowery introduction, he was finally presented to the assemblage. Mr. Morrow, a wise man, whom some of us preachers might well emulate, stood up and made his speech with the following single sentence: “Ladies and gentlemen, hope is greater than history”; then he sat down. When we realise that this was during the great depression, we recognize that this was a great speech.

Hope was the one thing we had to cling to, and, as I have mentioned earlier, this was the general theme that I aimed to keep before myself and my parishoners. I remember using such texts as “the God of hope”, and “we are saved by hope”, etc. If I had had a concordance with me I could have found many more such references, but it was evidently a good thing that 1 had to dig these, and other nuggets, out of the gold mine of my New Testament and Psalms — without “modem” machinery.

To combat discouragement, among other things I recalled the following very meaningful and helpful passage of Scripture from the prophet Habakkuk:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, 1 will joy in*the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet line hind’s feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Also, I found great encouragement and inspiration from phrases in some of the great hymns. From “A Mighty Fortress is our God” I recalled the following: “The
body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His Kingdom is forever”.
From the old hymn “God Will Take Care of You” I remembered the verse and chorus: “Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you.”


Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.”


“God will take care of you, through every day.
O’er all the way; He will take core of you,
God will take care of you.”

As I have mentioned earlier, many of the old hymns, whose words I scarcely realized I had remembered, came back to me, and were priceless as aids in private devotions, as well as in our divine services. These, together with the Scriptures, which include words for any and all occasions, not only helped to keep me going, but at times contributed to a sense of Spiritual, and even physical exhilaration, about which I almost hesitate to write, for fear of being misunderstood. However, at such times the spirit and presence of God were so real that, in a very definite sense, this kind of experience compensated for other things, and filled a specific personal need. I’m sure that I was being provided an opportunity for needed growth, and I trust that I took some advantage of that opportunity.

Heated arguments of various sorts became increasingly numerous as time wore on, and as we became down and out because of the various frustrations with which we were constantly confronted. Many of these arguments were over quite inconsequential things, which were easily escalated in our seemingly endless isolation. More and more time, however, was spent, especially by the military professionals, in discussing the war situation. Some of these discussions became very pessimistic; there were those who couldn’t see any successful conclusion to the war in the Pacific — as far as our country was concerned. The thinking of these pessimists had to be colored somewhat by our own predicament, but they also were influenced by their theories that it would take so long to do this, and so many months or even years to do that, etc. While I certainly knew less than nothing about such things, and tried to keep my mouth shut, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask a question, or even make a statement, now and then. For instance, when one of our highly trained and respected naval officers would say, “It just has to take so many months, or even years to build carriers, battleships, cruisers, etc. —” then I would say, “How do you know it takes that long now? Maybe they’ve learned to build them faster”. I’m sure that didn’t impress the military experts much, but subsequent events proved how little they realized how the country had mobilized after Pearl Harbor, and learned to do some things as they had never been done before.

I mentioned earlier that a certain number of fights broke out between individuals.  I don’t recall any instances where group was pitted against group.  These individual battles usually were of the impetuous variety, and didn’t last very long; perhaps this was partly because there wasn’t a lot of this kind of excess energy walking around.  On the other hand there were some grudge fights, resulting from irritations of long-standing, that could have gotten out of hand had not peacemakers intervened.  One noteworthy example in this category involved two young officers living in the barracks next to my “home”.  One of the characters in this donnybrook was a rather small, hot-tempered, big city Army second lieutenant, while the other combatant was a big, rather overbearing Navy ensign from one of our most rural states.  Evidently these two gladiators were mutually allergic from the first, and this allergy became more and more unbearable … especially on the part of the lieutenant.  The boil came to a head one day when the lietenant called the ensign a “big, country SOB”.  The resulting mutually friends, some of whom probably were enjoying it, decided, everything considered, that the hostilities should cease.  The consensus was that the ensign didn’t object to being called “big”’ in fact he was rather proud of his physique.  However, when he was called “country” – well, that was more than the guy could stand, so he reacted accordingly!

The few foolhardy escape attempts were, no doubt, due largely to frustration; one such case ended in tragic and sadistic torture. This incident took place not far from our barracks when a hot-headed Texan, whom I knew slightly, tried to grab a guard’s rifle, and would have been successful (momentarily) had not another nearby guard intervened. We wondered at the time why they did not shoot the man on the spot; that . would have been much more merciful than what occurred subsequently. They took the poor guy to a guardhouse across -from the barracks,’ and that was the last any of us ever saw of him. That night, however, there was no mistaking what ultimately took place in that torture chamber; the horrible, almost animal-like screams evidently produced by indescribable sadism, which all of us could hear, were something never to be forgotten. I suppose our captors, to some extent, accomplished their evident purpose … that of impressing upon the Americans the folly of such actions.

Some of our frustrations were not expressed outwardly, but were of the inward variety, which, in a sense, are the most devastating kind, since they are visceral and more lasting. Such experiences can produce scars, which are never really healed, and may even become infectious. The hatred engendered among us was so intense that it ate at the very guts of some individuals, and I’m afraid that very few, if any of us, were entirely free of these wounds. As I have said before, “They don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian”. ’This, of course, applies not only to a situation such as ours, but also to the typical journey of life. It wasn’t easy to preach “love your enemies”, or to live it, but I don’t imagine it was real easy for Jesus to love His enemies, either; but He did — and He was able to pray, while hanging on a cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Again in 1943, Mother’s day and my birthday (the 39th) were just a day apart. This was the second time around for these special days away from home. Now I was as old as Jack Benny! The Mother’s day congregation was about as large as that on Easter; our mothers and the mothers of our children were very much in our thoughts and prayers always — and especially on their special day. For this occasion I wrote the following, which I used as the basis for my message:


“M stands for mothers everywhere;
O is for others, for whom she lives..
T is for her tenderness so rare;

  H is for her heart, from which she gives.
E is for her eagerness to share;
R is for her righteousness divine,

     Which causes her to ever bear
Her burdens … and yours … and mine.”

For the Scripture reading I used the beautiful passage beginning with the 10th verse of Proverbs 31: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” I will trust my readers to read the balance of these words of wisdom — preferably in the King James version.’ Instead of singing “Faith of our Fathers” we sang “Faith of our Mothers, living still, in Spite of Dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word. Faith of our Mothers, Holy faith, we will be true to Thee ’til death.”

After a year of imprisonment the Japanese government evidently decided that they were supposed to compensate us. This seemed rather odd to us, since they had disregarded all other rules of the game. However, they did begin to dole out so much a month to each of us according to rank. This paper money was the virtually “worthless invasion scrip that the Japanese had printed in Manila. It eventually became so worthless that it would have taken a wheelbarrow full of the stuff to buy a loaf of bread, if the bread were available. In our situation, of course, there was nothing to buy, so the money never really entered into our camp economy, as far as becoming the medium of exchange was concerned. Subsequently, however, the Japanese brought something into camp, which many of us desired, leaf tobacco. This tobacco had evidently been looted from Bodegas (warehouses) in the Philippines, and represented practically the only item we could buy with our-“pay”. Once in a while a few coconuts were brought in with the periodic deliveries of tobacco, which usually coincided with pay day. The prices were fixed to correspond with the number of pesos we had received, so it was an even trade. In this way, although our captors got their money back, they apparently could report that the American prisoners under their tender care were even being paid — because of the generosity of the Emperor, no doubt!

Since, under the above arrangement, our lower-ranking people would have been getting less than those of higher rank, we of the Navy (including our Marines) decided to share and share alike. So, when a delivery arrived we pooled OUT money, bought as a group, and divided the spoils equally. In this way the lowest ranking seaman got as much as the highest ranking commander. One of the moving spirits in this sharing arrangement was my friend, Commander Allan McCracken, whom I have mentioned earlier as the author of “Very Soon Now, Joe”. I was proud to be the Commander’s assistants in this project, and also valued his friendship. This former skipper of one of our ships, which fought against tremendous odds, was one of the most respected individuals among us. The officers and men who had served under him were loud in praise of their skipper, whom they would have followed anywhere. When he became ill and was in an extremely weakened condition over a long period of time, members of his former crew ’took care of their commander as a mother would take care of her baby. This was an inspiring scene to witness, and this concern probably was responsible for my friend’s survival.

Speaking of the tobacco, which helped to answer a craving in the case of many, the product varied considerably in quality and strength. Some of it had been stored for some time, and had been the victim of whatever eats tobacco leaves. Some of it was rather yellowish, sticky and strong, while other batches were of a somewhat milder variety. Some of the leaves lent themselves quite well as cigar wrappers, so, ci^ar-making became one of the local industries — for home consumption only. Some of the brethren became rather proficient at cigar-rolling, which required very little equipment; this became somewhat of a hobby for a certain number. Most of the weed went into cigarettes and pipes; especially the former. The big problem here was to secure paper and pipes, since cutting the tobacco into fine pieces was a comparatively simple, if tedious, process. Time, though, was not exactly of the essence here.

The shortage of paper, as I have mentioned earlier, was always a pressing problem, and had even become an item involved in barter. Had it not been for the propaganda sheets the Japanese brought in, the inveterate cigarette smokers really would have been “up the creek”. It seemed that the habit even became intensified in the case of some nicotine addicts. This craving seemed more pronounced than that of former heavy users of alcohol, which was not available. Some of the cigarette smokers turned to pipes. Yankee ingenuity came into play here, and saved the day. Some of the best hardwoods in the world are to be found in the Philippines, and certain of our enterprising Americans soon discovered they had the material here for some of the most unusual and fanciest “jobs” you ever saw. To work this extremely hard wood into pipes — one-piece productions in most cases, was a tedious task, which required patience and skill. Knives sharp enough for carving were hardly available, so most of the wood had to be scraped into shape with pieces of glass, etc. To make a hole in the stem, usually a piece of wire was sharpened as an auger, and the boring, which sometimes took weeks, began. If certain of these unusual creations ever got back to  the States, they should have been placed on exhibit.

American ingenuity manifested itself in many ways, and would have become more evident if there had been a chance to take advantage of more opportunities. I have mentioned earlier what an efficient job of operating our prison farm could have been done by our people. Among other things, I suppose our captors were afraid of losing face if the Americans should do too good a job. Also, we had a notion that they felt they could handle us better when we weren’t eating too well. As far as the ingenuity bit goes, a Japanese camp commander at Cabanatuan was reported to have said, “If we don’t watch these Americans more closely they will build a railroad right through the camp, and take off.”

Memorial day, 1943, my second away from home, was hardly the strenuous experience of the previous year, which found us on that hot, dry and exhausting road from Cabanatuan City to Camp Cabanatuan. Although we didn’t have a formal commemoration, many of us had our private thoughts and lifted our silent prayers. Many of our number had passed on to their reward during that year, and we remembered them, together with others who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country through the years. We thought of such hymns as Kipling’s “God of Our Fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine: Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget.” Also, we remembered “0 beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.’ America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood’– from sea to shining sea.”

As I look through my poor old, beaten-up notebook, I find the following additional “letter” written to Rosie June 26, 1943: “Well, Rosie, it has been about six months since I last wrote. I should have written sooner, but I was in the hospital for three months with beri-beri, which almost got the best of me. However, I have been gaining steadily since coming back to the main compound. The hospital experience was really a nightmare. Some of my friends figured I might not make it, but by the Grace of God, I’m still around. I got down to 125 pounds, but am back up to about 140 now. The suffering was intense – something I had never really experienced before.- While still in the hospital we got Red Cross packages containing various’ food items, which bolstered our meager diet a lot — for awhile. This has been one real highlight of our stay here, which is getting pretty monotonous — to put it mildly.

Things are pretty rugged here, Rosie, but I think we can see some daylight now, and I’m sure that I have been spared to do some things that need to be accomplished. Needless to mention how I miss you and the boys. Plenty of details later. Love. Earl.”

Fourth of July came and went — without any parades or bands — or speeches, and so the long, hot summer wore on. That near the equator there really are no seasons; it’s just hot, rainy and muggy all year long. The monotony of it all continued to escalate more and more as the marathon aspects of the race became increasingly apparent. As I have indicated earlier, it was a wonder that more of our people didn’t simply go all to pieces. But, there was that will to live, regardless of the odds; also, the intense desire for the approval of one’s fellows was stronger than I had ever realized it could be. A man will endure unbelievable pressures rather than run the risk of allowing his peers to have any reason for thinking that he “can’t take it”.

There were a few things that did tend to break the monotony of our routine existence. After the escape our captors relieved our musicians (those who had played for the Christmas program) of the instruments they had been allowed to use. After several months these instruments were loaned again to our group, and an occasional musical program was allowed. Perhaps the camp commander, who apparently wasn’t anxious for our morale to be too high, figured it wasn’t so safe for it to become too low, either.

A show that mother nature presented each night was an interesting phenomenon. The “sound” for this show came from the jungle, whose perimeter was no more than a quarter of a mile from OUT barbed-wire enclosure. From this sound stage, after darkness fell, came noises from monkeys, parrots and other tropical creatures that almost gave you the reeling of visiting the San Diego Zoo. About dusk each evening a happening occurred with such regularity that you could just about set your watch by it — if you had a watch left. At a low enough altitude, to make the grotesque features of these creatures plainly visible, a “flock” of a couple hundred huge fruit bats would fly directly over our compound. Their wing-spread must have measured three to five feet. These nocturnal mammals came (to feed on tropical fruit) from the same direction, bound for the same area of the jungle night after night. We never saw them leave their feeding grounds, but their flight toward the jungle was something that we looked forward to after supper. I suppose some of us thought about their comparative freedom — in contrast to our being fenced in.

In spite of some breaks from the day to day monotonous routine, there were long, lonely stretches during which all .of us — not excluding a certain chaplain — who, in varying degrees, became homesick and discouraged; also, at time.s, isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, there was an increasing sense of forsakenness among us. This did not necessarily mean that we had lost faith in our country, or our God, but we were mortal beings, subject to the infirmities of the flesh; hence we.were prone momentarily to forget the greatness of our land, and the mightiness of the Almighty. Although I had not yet heard the hymn which has become so popular since the war, my sentiments during the trying times could have been expressed by singing: “0 Lord, my God, when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed — then sings my soul, my Savior — God, to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art!”

Another prayer-hymn, which is much older, became my prayer — through these familiar words: “Guide me, 0 Thou great Jehovah; Pilgram through this barren land; I am weak, but Thou art mighty; hold me with Thy powerful hand; bread of heaven, feed me ’til I want no more.” Many other hymns of prayer and praise, as well as numerous precious promises from both Testaments, sustained me and were my meat and drink during those dark days, and those long and darker nights. Earlier I have mentioned some of the most helpful and familiar passages — such as the 23rd, 46th and 139th Psalms — plus such New Testament passages as the Lord’s Prayer, the 11th chapter of Hebrews, II Cor. 4, and many others. Through such helps to meditation and devotion … in these strange circumstances I was enabled to enjoy a closeness to our Heavenly Father and my brethren that made some of the hardships not only bearable, but even exhilarating — in a sense that would be very hard to explain. Nevertheless, these experiences were very real; I feel that they filled a timely need for me and I hope that this has been translated into helping others to bear their burdens — thus fulfilling the law of Christ, which is the law of love.

From time to time I have mentioned some of the texts and themes which I used in my preaching behind barbed-wire. Reference to a few others may be in order here. For one three week period I concocted a series on “Some Common Things of Life”. The first in this series was on “Water”; for the Scripture 1 used the story of the Samaritan woman at the well — found in John 4:1-26.
For the text I used the following words from the 13th and 14th verses: “Who
soever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. It wasn’t hard to get the attention of my parishioners on this subject, since most o’f them had been as thirsty as I had — and some of them probably had suffered even more from this agonizing experience. So, I believe this was a timely subject, for which I had plenty of material; I trust that it was used effectively.

The next message in this series on common things (which became very uncommon to us) was on “Food”; for this basis element I used scripture readings from the 6th chapter of Matthew and the 12th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The text was in these words: “And he said unto His disciples, therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment”. We had all been hungry, and our stomachs were far from full at the time of this message, so this was not a theoretical or unrelated theme.

The third and last in this series of “Barbed-wire Sermons” was on the subject of “Salt”, a very uncommon and scarce item most of the time out there. During this service the Scripture reading was from Matthew 5, while the text was taken from these words in the 13th verse of that chapter: “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men”. Anybody should have been able to hold the attention of these men on this subject, which concerned us all, since all of us had had, and would have had the experience of eating watery rice with no salt.
Incidentally this desirable item became one of the principal commodities of trade among us, since it was only occasionally that we had an adequate supply of this ingredient, which we so often take for granted — as is the case with water and food. If this series was as meaningful to my parishioners as to their chaplain — then it was worthwhile.

Our seventeenth wedding anniversary on August 22 was the occasion of these thoughts, written for Rosie to read “sometime”; Well, my dear, it has been some weeks since I last wrote, and I can’t let another anniversary pass without telling you how much I am thinking of you these days, and especially today………These last two years have, humanly speaking, been a-nightmare; they have been so unreal, and a veritable hell on earth — in that I have been forced to be away from those  I  love more than life itself. I am sure, however, that I have needed to learn some of the lessons I trust I am learning — the hard way. I am definitely hoping that life can really begin at forty. We have very little to go on here, of course, and have been repeatedly disappointed; but I am glad to say that I am still the eternal optimist. In spite of a very meager rice diet, I am holding my own now. My feet are still pretty sensitive — as a result of my bout with beri-beri, but I do not expect them to become completely normal until I’ve been on an adequate diet for a while.  All I need is to get out of here, and back home!  This is a very monotonous existence; nothing much different happens from day to do.  However, I have some very good friends – and I have you – which makes all the difference in the world; and “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. They are still allowing me to carry on somewhat as a chaplain; it has been quite an experience; Just preaching out of my New Testament, which has undoubtedly been good for me – and I hope for my parishioners. A few letters have been allowed to come through; I would give plenty to get one of yours, but I know it is not because of any neglect on your part. I get so homesick and lonesome at times that I can taste it!

I hope you have received at least one of my checked cards by now.  As rugged as it might be for me here, the suspense for you is probably even greater.  I pray constantly that it might not be too great a strain on you, and the rest of the family.  I suppose there are plenty of details from here that you would be interested in, and you will be the first to hear – when there is an opportunity.

I think so often of our fine boys, who are also a constant inspiration and incentive for me to do my best to be the kind of father I ought to be; I hope they won’t grow away from their Dad.  Well, sweetheart, it will soon be chow time – and I hear we have a little meat in the soup for a change – and that is something!  I hope your part in our anniversary is as good as could be expected – under the circumstances – and that next year we can be with each other, where we belong.  More later – Love, Earl.”

Although we had many wants and a certain number of needs (there is a difference), there was always much to be thankful for.  We wqere reminded of this anew when Thanksgiving rolled around.  Thanksgiving, `1943 (my third away from home) was no exception, although our hosts didn’t exactly provide us with turkey and all the trimmings.  In fact, if we had anything extra on the menu, it was something that our cooks  had been able to scrounge and/or hoard for that special day.  Although I did not conduct a special service on that day, I did have a Thanksgiving service the Sunday before.  I read from several Psalms of Thanksgiving and praise, while my message was based largely on the following verses I wrote for the occasion:


What is there to be thankful for
This year in the midst of strife?
What good is there in the midst of war
When there is no normal life?

It is but natural that we ask
Because things are so strange
While we’re engaged in this grim task
From which there is no change

But when we think just a little bit
We find much to appreciate
There really is no doubt of it
In spite of fear and hate

so let us think a little while
about the things that are good
and we can all produce a smile
Though we haven’t Thanksgiving food

And though we miss our loved ones dear
And though we miss our home
We’ll make the most of the present year
through hope for the one to come

At least we’ve been spared our life
’tis surely by God’s grace
through it all -through hell and strife
A bright future we can face

And then we have been given health
though some are sick and dead
Now is there any greater wealth
that we could have instead?

And though our comforts are too few
We have some food and clothes
Though this is not the life we knew
We could have greater woes

We have a place to sleep at night
Where we’re sheltered from the rain
And what a blessing to have our sight
–to see God’s vast domain

And then to have our friends so true
On whom we can depend
And though the friends are all to few
Some stick until the end

Even our work could be much worse
(for some it’s quite a test)
But we have learned it’s not a curse
On the whole it’s no doubt best

Some things as our smokes stuff
are added bits of joy
Of some things there is not enough
But they’re something to enjoy

And then we’ve had our Church & shows
To give us what we need
Without these things ‘most everyone knows
It would be worse indeed

So–all in all we can give thanks
For country, homes and wives
Those things on which a fellow banks
Which make for fuller lives

So we’ll celebrate this year again
While hoping for better days
Ever looking for that day when
We can give our thanks always

My friend, Warren G., of whom I spoke earlier, was the very personification of the above sentiments.  After his spiritual renewal, his daily greeting whenever we met was an enthusiastic and sincere, “Earl, God is good to us”.  Warrant never faltered in his thankfulness – no matter what the test.   Warren never faltered in his thankfulness – no matter what the test. What an inspiration such people are to a chaplain, or to any minister, for that matter!

I also chose Thanksgiving Day to continue my sporadic running account to Rosie, who had access to my notebooks after I got home in 1945.  Here is what I had to report at this time:  “Well, honey, you will be able to see that I am running out of paper, but I just want to write a few words to you at Thanksgiving time – to let you know that we are doing pretty well, and have lots to be thankful for.   I am thankful to be alive, and in as good health as could be expected.  I thank God for you three, and pray that you are all O.K.  Surely we can have a real Thanksgiving next year, after having missed three in a row.  We hear encouragins rumors, but of course we get no real news.  I still have hopes of getting some mail; it’s plenty tough not to hear from you for so long, but I know it’s not your fault.  I hope you have received at least a card or two, which we have been allowed to write – irregularly.  Have a good Thanksgiving, my little family.  Love, Earl.”

Besides Warren G., two other friends and parishioners, whom I mentioned earlier, always had a good word of greeting when we met – even when they were not feeling so good, either.  The late Marion T. kept going when he should have been in bed, and young Ken W., in spite of his fine physique, had his bad days, too, but both of these fine friends always kept their daubers up, and their powder dry.  As I have mentioned before, some of our number were disappointing when the going got real rough, but there were others who helped you retain your faith in God and man, and also helped that faith to be restored if and when it had become weakened, or almost lost.

Earlier I had mentioned the pictures of my family, which I managed to keep in my trusty under-arm zipper case throughout those months and years; here are a few sentimental verses I wrote to Rosie – about


“Well, dear, I’m here alone tonight

With a couple pictures of you;

Away from you nothing seems right,

But “they” help me see it through


I’ll tell you all, one of these days,

How hard they were to keep;

I value them more and more always

–even “see” them in my sleep.


I’m glad I have those two of you

Representing fifteen years;

Both expressing love so true

That it’s easy to conquer fears


But they do something else to me

In here – with time for thought;

They help me now to really see

Some things are dearly bought


And I’m so glad we’ve given our best

For love that is so rare –

That when there comes the greatest test

We know there’s one to care


I know that I would have your love

Without your pictures here,

But they are angels from above,

And O, how precious, dear!


Our next annual observance was Christmas.  Although our people were not given several days off from the routine, as was the case the previous year (when I was flat on my back in the hospital), we did what we could to really observe this great day when there came into the world the light, which the darkness of sin has never been able to put out.  In spite of the blackness of our jungle surroundings there was joy in our hearts, and we could sing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace, Good will toward men”.  We rejoiced with the shepherds as we sang “Silent night, Holy night, all is calm all is bright”.  I read the beautiful Christmas story and centered my remarks around it.  I also read the following verses, which I wrote for the occasion:



You ask what Christmas means to me
this year when away from home
When it is so hard to see
There are better days to come

We’ve been away from home so long
Three years for most of the men
It isn’t easy to be strong
– in fact it seems like ten

For Christmas is the time of year
When we long to be with our own
And even the strongest shed a tear
Because we’ve homesick grown

The memory of former days
When we were all together
causes us to feel it pays
To ride out stormy weather

For some things we will ne’er forget
And Christmas is the best
the things like this haven’t failed yet
To help us meet the test

so Christmas means a lot to me
and there are other joys
Besides a lighted Christmas tree
And all the children’s toys

For Christmas speak of deeper things
Of Christ who gives us life
Of Him through whom there always springs
That which conquers strife

And Christmas speaks of Holy Birth
foretold by prophets old
When God Himself came down to Earth
To help us face life bold

And Christmas speaks of a world of peace
If men would only heed
And let the spirit of Christ increase
to meet our every need

And Christmas speaks of shepherds kind
And ancient wise men too
In Christmas we can always find
That which makes life new

And Christmas means humility
Like that of a little child
Against the rank futility
of letting the world run wild

So Christmas means a time of prayer
that peace might come again
That to all men everywhere
Christmas might come to men

So let us make real sure today
our hearts are open still
That we can hear Christ Jesus say
My Peace and God’s good-will.

This was the third Christmas away from home, so I had to write to Rosie, some of which follows:  “Well, Companeros, another Christmas season has come, and I will be glad when it is gone (by the calendar, not the Spirit), since I can’t be with you precious people.  So, we’ll look forward to next year.  These remarks will be scattered throughout this notebook – on account of the scarcity of paper.  The next big event on my calendar is Rosie’s birthday.  I have fond hopes of being differently situated by then, and I still have hopes of getting home by my 40th birthday.  Perhaps it is partly stubbornness (you know me), but if I should become the only optimist in camp, I will still not give up hope.  I am thankful that I have not lost faith in God and our country.  I am writing a couple of days before Christmas; we are hoping to get some extyra chow through the mess, and also we’re sweating out some more Red Cross packages, which would give us a much needed boost.  The items that came almost a year ago, together with the B1 shots, helped us a lot through beri-beri.  Through my feet are not normal yet, I think some good, normal living would put me back in 4.0 shape before too long.  I am not feeling badly now, and seem to be holding my own.  We are getting some of the Christmas spirit here, what with a few improvised decorations, a Christmas eve program, etc.  I will have a service Christmas day at nine o’clock the morning.  However, my thoughts are so many kilometers from here, and I am wondering what kind of Christmas you will be having back there.  I hope no one else from either side of the family will have to be away.  There always has to be one black sheep in a family, you know – but he is the one who is prayed for the most. I do feel that I have been the subject of many prayers, for which I want to be as worthy as possible; it is a very humbling experience.

I wonder what the boys are getting for Christmas;  I have made a list of some things I would get you if I were there; these I will produce when I get back – as long as the dinero holds out.  This list includes some very nice things, which you have needed, and should have had years ago.  We’ll have lots of things to talk about when we get together, which will be heavenly!  I hope you have been getting my cards;  I still hope to hear from you soon.  We are hoping to get some mail with Red Cross packages – if and when.

So for the third year in a row – A merry Christmas!   Next year surely we will be able to say it in person.  Much love, Earl. “

As we approached 1944, our thoughts turned to the past, as well as to the future.  If we had been tyold two years before that we would still be in captivity in 1944, most of us would not have believed it, and some of us might have become too discouraged to go on.  It is undoubtedly a good thing for most of us that we don’t know what a day will bring forth, and to realize that “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”.  This is an especially good philosophy, since we do have to live just one day at a time.

Some of us, through our wishful thinking, set certain dates or anniversaries as target dates for our release.  This probably didn’t do much harm, as long as we didn’t become too rigid about such things.  At the beginning of the New year many of us optimists figured we would be sprung before year’s end.  I guess it is a good thing we didn’t know that we were to remain jail-birds for another whole year – plus.  Maybe it is true that what you don’t know won’t hurt you – so much!

Our extreme pessimists had been talking for some time as though we would never get out of our situations – thjat we were forsaken by our country and – doomed.  There was growing discussion among some of the ‘military experts’ and “sea lawyers’ as to whether or not our forces would by-pass the Philippines altogether – if and when they worked their way north toward Japan.  Our total lack of news, and the absence of any reliable rumors caused us to be virtually completely in the dark as to the progress of the war.  None of us in his right mind was taken in by the propaganda sheets distributed among us by our captors – from time to time.  We did welcome the paper, which came in handy for various uses.

With all of our growing frustrations we entered the New Year with morale far from high, and with the barometer falling.  This sort of thing is very hard to combat or counteract.  However, as I have mentioned, I have adopted a basic theme of hope as being our only means of salvation, and I tried to stay with it personally, and to share it with my parishioners – in individual contacts, as well as through my services.  One of the sermons I preached during this period was titled “We are Saved by Hope”, a text taken from the eighth chapter of Romans and the twenty-fourth verse.  For this scripture lesson I read a good part of the chapter, and I would recommend the reading of all of this great chapter.  Just in case, here are the two verses I emphasized the most in this sermon: “Fior we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But, if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”  (Rom. 8:24, 25) In the course of the sermon I pointed out that since we are saved by hoope, conversely we are lost without hope.  However, I did emphasize the positive note.  This was a theme and text made to order for our situation; what a privilege to be able to proclaim such unsearchable riches!  I trust that such experiences were as helpful to others as to me.

With the beginning of another year I wrote the following, which I used in connection with my sermon

“NEW YEARS 1944”

What’s new? I asked on every hand
Nothing at all – we usually say
But it’s not hard to understand
That there’s plenty new most every day

The day itself is new as Spring
And life itself is new as well
On this New year we still can sing

‘tho what’s in store we cannot tell

But some things are yet ever new
Though we often fail to see
So let us here put down a few
Whatever they may be:

Behold, the prophet old did say
The Lord makes all things new
And furthermore, just any day
Is fresh as morning’s dew

The lord almighty also said
I make new Heaven and Earth
A new agreement then was made
And here we find new birth

This love is every new to men
More so than in the past
For here we find God speaks again
For Christ has come at last

Opportunities are every new
To make us better men
The New Year it is every true
Means we can try again

For God forgives when we forget
His mercy knows no end
Another chance we always get
When we’ve nothing to commend

So many things are new each day
-the sun, the stars the moon
Yet, what a price we often pay
When we could learn so soon

The common things are ever new
-as food & homes & love
And yet our thanks are all too few
When we dare to look above

So let us be aware this year
That everything’s not old
And we really have no cause to fear
If we but face life bold

-so, here’s the answer I would give
To the question we often hear
Everything’s new to those who live
As though the lord were near


At the beginning of this last full year away from home – although we didn’t know it then – I had occasion to write sojme more thoughts for Rosie and the boys:

New Years, 1944

Well, precious people, another year begins away from you – but surely it cannot end that way – it just isn’t right to be away from guys like you – but I hope to make it so before too long. We haven’t received any Red Cross stuff yet – but it is expected this month. It has been almost a year since we got the one previous shipment – & more than 2 years since I have heard from you – but I know it is not because of any fault on the part of the folks at home. We really need a boost in this way of food – although we got some extra rice & some meat at Christmas time. The regular food ration is barely enough to keep body and soul together – even without heavy work – and of course we have far from a balanced diet. But I seem to be holding my own at about 150 lbs. And feel o.k. except no pep – but I have a lot to be thankful for – only by the grace of God did I come through last year. So I feel now that nothing can keep me from getting back to my precious babies – and I am still hoping to be home by my birthday – the next big event on my calendar is Rosie’s birthday.  So long for now, and Love, Earl.”

We continued to sweat out Red Cross packages, mail, and good rumors from the front; as this went on week after week, this period after the beginning of 1944 became one of the worst experiences during our sojourn out there.  The strain was showing more and more as time dragged on, and as we dragged along with it.  I must repeat that a hungry man is not a normal man; when to hunger you add sickness, homesickness (which is worse, in a sense), discouragement, defeatism and a sense of worthlessness – then you do have a serious situation.

In spite of the above note of seeming pessimism, there were incidents which helped to restore one’s faith in God, fellow-man and country.  One such incident was an experience that I (and I’m sure many others) shall never forget.  Usually our detail, which worked in the rice fields several kilometers from the compound, returned, via the railroad (Dapecol express) flat cars – in plenty of time for our evening chow.  On this particular day, however, they not only did not return at the usual time, but they didn’t show up by dark.  By eight o’clock we in the compound had become really worried, not knowing what might have happened to our “partners in crime”.  The suspense among us had grown terribly tense by nine o’clock, when, in the distance, we heard voices, which we gradually recognized as singing.  We figured it must be our men – being brought back …. After a long rainy day of back-breaking work, which had begun fourteen hours earlier.   We were convinced they were “ours” when, as they drew nearer, and were opposite the Japanese Commander’s quarters, we heard a “serenade”, in the following words”

“God bless America, land that I love;

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night, with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the ocean white with foam;

God bless America, my home sweet home.”


We had never heard more beautiful or “melting” music; I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the compound as these “conquering heroes” returned to their barracks, and to some chow, very little of which they had since early morning.

The Japanese slave-driver in charge of their project evidently decided he wanted a certain quota accomplished – regardless.  Also, he probably figured he cold in this way help to break the spirit of some Americans.  In a sense this strategy back-fired on him, and they beat him at his own game, by showing that Americans can take it, and also dish it out when indicated. I was never more proud of a group of Americans, and I was glad to be identified with such patriots.  Here were these prisoners of war, already ravaged by two years of cruel captivity; now tired, wet and

hungry, after a long, hard day in the fields, telling their captors that they could take anything that was dished out to them, and come back for more!  You can’t break the spirits of people who refuse to be broken!  I think this shot in the arm gave us a big boost as any single happening during our captivity.  It undoubtedly helped us to be able to sweat out the long days, weeks and months to come.

Our long wait for supplementary food was rewarded when we received our second shipment of Red Cross packages about March 1 – after the fourteen months of anticipation.  The packages were about the same in number and content as the previous ones.  They even included the little cans of grape jelly, which several of us again saved for another Easter season communion service.  Also there was a supplementary shipment of clothing, including some shoes.  The clothing consisted largely of blue denim G.I. pants and jackets – plus some G.I. shoes!  Those of us with larger frames and feet were fortunate that most of the items were in large sizes.  It was the general consensus among us that the Japanese had access to these items before we did, and we got what was left.  Incidentally, on the average they wore smaller sizes than we did!  We also were positive that most of the Red Cross food packages were “lost” along the way, and the enemy “let” us have what was left.  Their “generosity” no doubt allowed them to report that the Americans were being adequately clothed and fed.  These suppositions were confirmed after we got home and learned what had been reported.

The same kind of thing happened to individual packages, a shipment of which the Red Cross arranged for and handled.  Our families were notified of this shipment, and were given instructions and specifications as to the maximum size and weight of the packages to be sent, and what they could contain, etc.  I was fortunate that my brother Houston was in the food business in Southern California, and had access to all the choice items that could possibly be sent.   My wife had my brother (I later learned) fixed up the most beautiful packages you can imagine, giving it much loving care, and sent it on its way.  However, I never got the package, nor did I even see it; while others were enjoying the contents of their packages I was confident that I had been sent one.  Subsequently a d couple of our men in the detail, which handled this shipment, told me they had seen a package addressed to me.  My only possible conclusion was that either a Japanese guard or a fellow prisoner had stolen my package.  My first (unchristian) reaction was that “I hope the individual, or individuals that got my food choke on it”.  After more sober thought, However, I tried to say, “Well, whoever got that food might have needed it worse than I did”.  But, as I have said before, “they don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian.”

What we did get through this second and last Red Cross shipment was a real boost – physically, and even mentally, since it also included some much needed books, which came in handy.  The few that had been brought into camp by individuals had been passed around so much that they were really beaten up.  The shipment of books was not large, but there were enough volumes included to warrant setting up a library in order that the books might have maximum distribution.

In addition to circulation among individuals these books subsequently met another acute and growing need.  The eyesight of more and more of our people was becoming impaired – to the point that some could read only with great difficulty – if at all.  By this time I had been relieved of work details.  The rope making had been discontinued, and I tried going out on a vegetable raising detail; my sensitive feet couldn’t take it, however, since we had to go out barefooted – so, I was excused.  This left me “free” to spend my time as I saw fit, so I saw fit to read each day to people with bad eyesight.  I had my choice of books from the library, and over a period of three of four months I was privileged to read for a couple hours a day (an hour each in the morning and afternoon) to from a half-dozen to two dozen fellow prisoners.  I remember reading several of Melville’s books and other historical novels, which the mean seemed to enjoy; at least, some of them kept coming back for more.  This was not complete altruism on my part, since reading aloud was good training for a preacher – and, besides, I enjoyed it!

The next noteworthy even was Rosie’s birthday late in March; for this occasion I wrote these thoughts:

Well, Rosie, I have saved this space (in my notebook) for you. We have received no writing paper – so I will have to make this space do – at least for the present – hoping that I won’t need much more.  Three important things have happened:

  1. Your letter (with LeLand’s note) of 4/28/43 — the first & only that I have received – in 27 months and what a thrill! – to at least know you were o.k. 10 months ago! I hope to get more soon – know you have written plenty – hope you have gotten mine – such as they are .  Will be great when we can write as we used to – or -better still when we don’t have to write at all.
  2. The Red Cross packages (received also about Mar. 1) containing canned & packaged foods, toilet articles and clothing.  Am trying to string some of my food along until my birthday – it has been a real treat – to supplement our meager diet – & the other things have come in handy, too.  I had been 14 months since our other R.C. packages came through.  I have been out of the hospital a year & am back to 160lbs. – feeling quite good – able to work half days in the fields – in addition to my work as Chaplain, which is necessarily rather limited – but I trust of some benefit.
  3. Now, for your birthday – certainly life will begin anew for us by your 40th birthday – if not by mine.  I have had to give up being with you by mine – but I still think something could happen by then – I am still the eternal optimist – & expect to continue to be. Am thinking plenty – & praying for the day when I can say a lot more.  Love – Earl”

Easter was on April 9 1944 – my third, and next to the last Easter season away from home.  We almost made it in 1945; I will have occasion to mention that later.  In ’44 we were still feeling pretty good – on account of the bonanza represented by our comparatively recent Red Cross shipment, and some letters from home.  All this was conducive to our having as good an Easter season as could be expected under conditions of such captivity. But our souls were not the captives of anything, nor anybody, except our Risen Lord.  I recalled the following words to a great hymn: ‘Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free;  force me torender up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.  I think in life’s alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.

My power is faint and low ‘til I have learned to serve; it wants the needed fire to glow, it wants to breeze to nerve; it cannot drive the world, until itself be driven; its flag can only be unfurled when Thou shalt breathe from Heaven.”

God was not dead, but was very much alive in the Spirit of our Risen Lord.  So, we had our Thursday evening communion service, again using rice-flour bread, and our melted, diluted grape jelly for the elements.  Again we had a sunrise service and a later Easter service, and I believe the attendance was better than it had been in 1943.

I was able to do a little bartering (Of a non-essential item or two) after our Red Cross packages arrived; among other things I managed to get another note book, so my writing space was not as limited as before.  My birthday (and my twin sister’s) came before Mother’s day in 1944.  This was to be my fourth and last birthday away from home. I had received a letter from my twin, whose name is Pearl, so I had occasion to write the following to her – in my new notebook.

“Dear Pearl, well, that 40th business sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?   But I guess it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. I thought last year I would surely be with you to “begin life at 40” – & I still think we’ll get together while we’re still 40.  I’ve been thinking that we ought to have a birthday dinner at the Mission Inn – how about it? We could include our kids and mother, and put on a little dog, see?  There are of course lots of things I want to do when I get back.  It’s already been a long time maybe I can make up for lost time. I have gotten ten letters in the last two months – including one from you.  It’s really something to get some mail after not hearing a word for almost two and a half years. But the people at home have had their periods of suspense, too, which have perhaps been harder than ours.  I haven’t been doing too badly since I had a pretty rugged bout with beri-beri last year.

My birthday dinner will consist of steamed rice, boiled camotes, and a little bit of spam, which I have saved from our Red Cross packages – for this occasion.  Guess I’ll have to postpone the fried chicken and cake – hope you’ll eat a piece of each for me.  We are expecting to move soon, but we don’t know when nor where.  This is really quite a game; I expect to come out of it a better man – a better son, a better husband, , a better father – and, I hope a better twin brother.  Love, Earl”

I mentioned in the above letter a proposed dinner in the Riverside Mission Inn;  I am glad we were able to carry out the threat a year later.  Also, I spoke of the likelihood of a move in the wind.  From what we could gather, which wasn’t much (nothing really solid) some of our military strategists were figuring that if our forces were making the progress they hoped for – then it wouldn’t be too long before they would be heading up our way. If this happened, they figured the enemy would want to keep us from being recaptured, and would probably send us up to Japan.  Then there were those among us who were sure that our forces would bypass the Philippines, and leave us, surrounded by that jungle, to shift for ourselves.  Also, there were those who said that before the enemy would allow us to be recaptured or left alone, they would line us all us and machine-gun us to death.  Some of us had wondered why they hadn’t done that before; there were various theories on that, too, but I’m sure that most of us were glad that this had not happened, and hoped that it would not.

I had become so “wacky” by this time that I even wrote the following birthday verses to myself:

Now that I’m forty years old –
just how do I feel today?
Since the story must be told-
it’s really hard to say.

Though I’ve never been here before –
and never will be again,
I’m sure there’s much more in store
than in the good old days when”

Life should begin for me now
and I surely believe that it’s true.
For I’m really convinced, somehow,
that each day’s a beginning anew.

Though I thought we’d be home
by this time –
the very best of plans of a man,
go bad without reason or rhyme
– try as hard as ever you can.

But there’s always something to learn
from every experience of life.
And some things which we have to earn
– sometimes through considerable strife.

So I can thoughtfully say
that I have no cause for regret.
Though I begrudge each single day.
I have far from given up yet.

In Fact I’m proud of my years
for I’ve lived through some very
great days.
And though there have been some tears.
There have been more joys always.

Grey hairs don’t worry me much.
And baldness isn’t so bad
if with life we keep in touch.
And think of the good times we’ve had.

So anxious as all of us are,
for this thing to speedily cease.
My wagon is hitched to a star
For I’m sure there will soon be peace.

Then let the years come and go,
as they most certainly will.
For this I surely know,
That God’s in His Heaven’s still.

The attendance at Mother’s day divine services was even greater than that on Easter; naturally we were thinking more and more of home and our loved ones.  A man may love and respect his mother, and still not be an angel, but you show me a man who does not respect his mother, nor womanhood, and usually he won’t be much of a man.  On this Mother’s day I had occasion to write the following – to four mothers:  My own, the mother of my boys, the mother of my wife, and the mother (my sister) of my first nephew, who probably would have been involved in this war too – had he lived:

“Well girls, how are you doin’?  I am doing better than at this time last year, when I hadn’t been out of the hospital very long. I have been on a work detail some of the time, but lately I’ve been just carrying on my work as a chaplain within the camp.  I find plenty to do – what with my own reading, and reading aloud to some of the men who can’t see so well.  Then, of course, I have my services and personal visiting, etc.  So, I have plenty to do – to keep me out of mischief!

I thought of you all, of course, as I conducted my service this morning; all of us think constantly of our homes and loved ones, whom we miss so much.  It is hard to write our true feelings, but I hope it won’t be too long now before we can tell you these things in person.  Your recent letters have helped a lot – it had certainly been a long, dry spell for all of us, but, I’m sure the worst of it is over now. I’m so glad you were all well – at least, a year ago, and hope you still are.  I have so many things to tell you all – in person, and I’m praying for that great day!  God bless you mothers. Love, Earl”

Although we didn’t have any organized observance on Memorial Day, I’m sure that it was observed privately in the thoughts of many of us, who remembered those who had gone before us.  I did have the rare privilege of being present at an informal and impromptu presentation that warmed the hearts and watered the eyes of the few of us who were privileged to be there.  As I have mentioned before, there had been such talk recently about the possibility of our being moved away from Dapecol.  This possibility evidently had become at least a probability by now; in fact, we had been given semi-official word to be ready to go – ‘most any time – not that it would take much time for us to pack our wardrobes, etc.  However, there were certain things to do – by way of consolidating the few belongings we did have – and deciding which were the essentials – if we had to choose.

The principle character in this story was a lad that I knew only slightly.  Evidently he had decided that Memorial day would be a good time to effect some of the above preparations.  As I sauntered past his barracks that day he motioned me to join him and a few of his friends, and we went inside.  Making sure he was among friends, he asked us, as he proceeded to his bunk, if we would like to see something rare and beautiful.  Naturally we answered in the affirmative, and we were curiosity personified.  Would you believe an American flag, and a good sized one at that?  Well, there it was!  As he unfolded Old Glory, which we had not seen for two and one-half years, there wasn’t a dry eye in the group, and there was plenty of silence.  I don’t know where this flag came from or how he kept it hidden so long, but I was glad that I had been included in this unscheduled Memorial day celebration, which was one of the biggest boosts we could have had.  I couldn’t help but recall the last time I saw our colors; it was when I was delegated to be in charge of lowering the flag and hiding it – at Santa Scholastica’s College in Manila – before the enemy, who was taking over the city, had a chance to do anything with it.  I had not seen any flag but the Japanese “flaming A” since that time.  I can’t help but wonder about those in our country who scoff at flag-waving, and those smart-alecs, who even burn our national emblem; sometimes I wonder if “breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said, “This is my own, my native land?”