Thursday, December 08, 2016

War Carnage in the Philippines

Everyone remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor. What we endured in the Far East was no less tragic, but almost unforgivable.

By LESTER TENNEY

Wall Street Journal Online, December 7, 2016

Dec. 8 was my Pearl Harbor. Barely nine hours after the Japanese destroyed most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, they began their invasion of the Philippines. My tank battalion, stationed at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines, was just as surprised and no more prepared for war than the crews of the battleships sunk earlier that day.

The catastrophe of Pearl Harbor still overshadows the embarrassing defeat inflicted on American forces in the Philippines. Whereas Japan attacked Hawaii for 90 minutes and never returned, the battles in the defense of the Philippines continued for five months, followed by widespread guerrilla warfare and the nightmarish internment of combatants and civilians. This culminated in a ferocious American campaign starting in October 1944 to retake the Islands.

By midmorning on Dec. 8, Imperial Army bombers attacked two U.S. bases on Luzon, Tuguegarao Field and the Baguio headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. Shortly after noon, Japan’s Imperial Navy bombers and fighters attacked Clark Field and Iba Field. My 192nd Tank Battalion was waiting for them at Clark Field.

We sat in our tanks surrounding the airfield and prepared to defend it from a ground attack, which never came. The antiaircraft guns of the 200th Coast Artillery fired too low to be effective. Their 1932 vintage ammunition and corroded fuses made the guns unreliable. Maybe one of every six shells actually exploded.

We watched as the first flights of Japanese bombers blew apart Clark’s hangars, barracks and warehouses. Our planes were on the field, fueled, ammunition loaded, and lined up wingtip-to-wingtip as the pilots and crew had lunch. These were torn apart not just by the waves of bombers but also by low-flying Mitsubishi Zeros. More than 100 planes were lost, and the human casualties amounted to 55 killed and more than 100 wounded.

When combined with the other losses on that one day of war, the U.S. Far East Air Force was eliminated as an effective fighting force. And with it disappeared the ability to conduct a realistic defense of the Philippines.

I was literally fresh off the boat. My tank battalion had left San Francisco on Oct. 27 aboard the USAT Hugh L. Scott. We arrived in Manila on Nov. 20—Thanksgiving Day. I remember my feast of hot dogs, while the officers had turkey at their club.

The 192nd battalion had boarded the troopship with little to no training. We were 588 men, nearly all activated National Guard, from Maywood, Ill., Fort Knox, Ky., Clinton, Ohio, and Janesville, Wis. For a few weeks in September and October, we practiced tank warfare with broomsticks for guns, markers for heavy tanks and a handful of 1930s vintage tanks.

Never once did we practice on the 108 light tanks that were sent with us to the Philippines. Thus during Japan’s raid on Clark Field, our cannons were silent. Amid the chaos, we desperately searched for the shells. We found them as the last Japanese bomb fell that day: They were under the radio operator’s seat, my seat.

Throughout Asia on Dec. 8, American and Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines all found themselves at the mercy of Imperial Japan. It is forgotten that the Japanese also descended on Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. At the time, few believed that the Japanese would be able to strike so far from home and in so many places.

That day in China, nearly 300 U.S. Marines, sailors, and diplomats became the first American prisoners of war. In the following weeks and months, American soldiers and civilians throughout Japan’s newly occupied territories became POWs. They all endured more than three years of confinement in squalid camps or slave labor at such places as the Thai-Burma death railroad.

For me, my battalion soon met advancing Japanese tanks and infantry as we covered the withdrawal of American and Filipino forces into the Bataan Peninsula. We held on for four months fighting with dwindling food, medicine and materiel. Promised reinforcements from the U.S. never came. Fearing a bloodbath, our commanders surrendered us on April 9, 1942.

What followed was maybe worse: the Bataan Death March. Then prison camps with little food, minimal shelter, rampant disease, and sociopathic guards; “hell ships” to Japan where men suffocated or lost their mind in the noxious dark; and slave labor at POW camps in Japan, Formosa, Korea, and China.

Every day I am asked if I have forgiven the Japanese for their brutal treatment of me as a prisoner. I lost more friends to abuse and starvation as POWs than from combat. More prisoners died on “hell ships” than Marines in the Pacific.

I have forgiven, as at 96 I do not want to live with all the hate. But it is just as hard to forgive the short-sightedness of the commanders who put us in harm’s way on Dec. 7 and 8.

Mr. Tenney was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion, Company B, that defended the Philippines in World War II. He lives in San Diego.

Eighth POW delegation to Japan this week

Widows and Children of POWs of Japan
 Undertake trip of reconciliation
Pearl Harbor Week

Nine widows and children of American former prisoners of war of Imperial Japan are visiting Japan this week as guests of the Japanese government. They are the 8th delegation of the U.S.-Japan POW Friendship Program to promote reconciliation between the two countries. This successful program began in 2010.

The families represent five American POWs of Japan who were members of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps, U.S. Army Quartermasters Corps, 4th Marines, and U.S. Army Air Corps. Japan attacked the Philippines and other American Pacific outposts hours after their surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor. All the men fought on Corregidor in the Philippines to defend the then-American colony against invading Japanese forces. They were surrendered in May 1942 after a five-month battle and all endured over three years of brutal captivity.

The delegation is composed of:

ROSE HENDERSON BRIDGES, 87, of Spartanburg, South Carolina and her daughter Mona Woodring. Mrs. Bridges is the widow of Talmadge Scott Bridges who served on Fort Hughes and Corregidor in the Philippines with the U.S. Army 59th Coast Artillery Corps (CAC). His last POW camp, Osaka #5-B Tsuruga POW Camp, was near the Tsuruga Port on the Sea of Japan were he was a stevedore for Tsuruga Transportation Company (today’s Tsuruga Kairiku Unyu K.K.).

KRISTIN DAHLSTROM, 78, of Des Plains, Illinois. She is the daughter of William Jesse Ellis, Jr. a civilian volunteer to the U.S. Army. Quartermaster Corps. He survived the infamous December 1944 “Hell ship” Oryoku Maru voyage to Japan only to die February 1945 in Japan at Fukuoka #3 Yahata/Tobata/Kokura POW Camp (Nippon Steel, today’s Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal).

DORIS ELLIS DeVIVO, 90, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and her granddaughter, Mackenzie Schnitker. Mrs. DeVivo is the widow of Frank DeVivo who served on Corregidor in the Philippines with the U.S. Army 59th Coast Artillery Corps (CAC). He was liberated in northern Japan at Sendai #8B Kosaka POW Camp associated with copper mine and smelter owned by Fujita-gumi Construction Company (today’s Dowa Holdings Co., Ltd.).

RUTH NICHOLS WILBER SHEAVES, 89, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and her daughter, Linda Van Skike. Mrs. Sheaves is the widow of Charles “Ted” Owen Wilber who served with the U.S. Army Air Corps 19th Bomb Group at Clark Field on the Philippines. Mr. Wilber was liberated from the Tokyo 2B Kawasaki aka Mitsui Camp #2 POW camp know as the “Mitsui Madhouse.”

PATRICIA THOMPSON, 84, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and her daughter, Maureen Cole. Mrs. Thompson is the widow of Clarence A. Thompson who fought on Corregidor with the 4th Marines, the China Marines. He was liberated from Fukuoka-7B-Futase POW camp in southern Japan where he mined coal for Nittetsu-Futase Tanko Kaisha (today’s Nittetsu Mining Co., Ltd.).

Full profiles of the POWs represented can be found HERE.

They will visit the sites of their loved ones’ imprisonment and rescue as well as several Japanese cultural properties.

This is the 8th trip of this much appreciated Japanese government-funded program of remembrance and reconciliation. Jan Thompson, president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society that works with the U.S. State Department to identify participants, welcomes the inclusion of POW widows and children in the program.

Ms. Thompson said, “It confirms, as does Prime Minister’s Shinzo’s Abe’s upcoming visit to the Pearl Harbor memorial, Japan’s commitment to overcoming its dark history and shows a modern understanding that the traumas of past atrocities and war crimes are intergenerational. The goodwill and healing resulting from these trips is a model for more Japanese efforts to acknowledge and console its victims. The result strengthens the personal ties that undergird the U.S.-Japan Alliance.”
  
###

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A piece of the heart: experimental heart valve saves POW of Japan

Mike visits Lester at his home 
Heart Matters: An Irvine Company Designs a Heart Valve that Saves a World War II Veteran
November 10, 2016 Just Irvine

Two Southern California gentlemen born decades apart. One is Michael A. Mussallem, Chairman of the Board and CEO of one of Irvine’s largest companies, Edwards Lifesciences. The other is Dr. Lester I. Tenney, a World War II veteran, survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March and former prisoner of war of the Japanese military. Their paths would cross seven years ago when Lester was told that he had only one year to live.

Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine

Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW) is a medical technology company headquartered in Irvine specializing in heart valves and monitoring devices for the circulatory system. Edwards takes its namesake from engineer Miles “Lowell” Edwards who became interested in healing the human heart due to his own childhood experience with rheumatic fever which can cause scaring of heart valves and heart failure.

He teamed up with Dr. Albert Starr and developed the first known successful mechanical heart valve ever implanted into a human patient. Edwards founded Edwards Laboratories in Santa Ana, California. Following restructuring, Edwards Lifesciences spun off and became an independent and publicly traded company in 2000. Today, one of the company’s most notable technological innovations is their transcatheter aortic heart valve. 2)

Lester Tenney, a WWII Veteran Receives Edwards’ Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valve

During World War II, Lester served in the US Army in the 192nd Tank Battalion. In the spring of 1942, following what would be one of the largest surrenders in US military history; Lester was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Army. He was forced to walk the Bataan Death March and put to work as a slave laborer until he was liberated in 1945.

In his 1995 memoir, My Hitch in Hell, Lester recounts his harrowing story of surviving the Bataan Death March and then being sent to Japan to work as a slave laborer for a Mitsui coal mine. More recently, he wrote The Courage to Remember, a book on how he was able to overcome his post traumatic stress syndrome from his wartime experiences. In his book, he says that he found peace by letting go of bitterness and hatred. He concludes that the act of forgiving others was a gift he gave to himself. “Because of forgiveness, I am a prisoner no more.” wrote Lester.

In 2009, decades after his liberation, Lester was invited to lead a delegation of former POWs to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology from the Japanese government for the inhumane treatment they suffered during World War II. But at 90 years old, Lester’s health was failing.

Lester’s cardiologist told him that he needed a new aortic heart valve but because of his age, he was not a candidate for invasive open heart surgery. He was told if they did nothing, he would have maybe one year to live. Unable to accept this prognosis, Lester began researching less invasive treatment options.
I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years. – Lester Tenney
“I believe strongly that we must be in charge of our own body. We can’t go through life giving that responsibility to someone else just because he or she is a medical doctor. We must be a part of the team that takes care of us. In fact, we are the most important piece of this puzzle.” says Lester.

He found out that Scripps, a hospital near his home in San Diego, was conducting a new clinical trial of the Edwards transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (“TAVR”) treatment. Using this method, a patient is able to receive a new heart valve via a catheter instead of by open heart surgery. In the spring of 2010, Lester became a member of the clinical trial and received an Edwards heart valve. Today, the TAVR treatment has become a widely available option for patients needing an aortic heart valve replacement.

Just months after this life saving procedure, Lester traveled to Japan and received an official apology from then Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. Looking back, Lester says “I picked up seven years that I never would have had.”

Patient and Innovation Focused Culture at Edwards

What does it take for a company to achieve breakthrough therapies for patients such as the TAVR? CEO Mike Mussallem says you have to accept the very real risk of failure on the path to success.

You once said, “I think if you really want to be an innovator in this world, you need to have the willingness to reach and the willingness to fail.” How has this philosophy helped Edwards reach for new breakthroughs in medical technology?

Mike: The recognition that we need to reach and be willing to fail comes from our patient- and innovation-focused culture at Edwards. We became an independent company 16 years ago because we wanted to be able to innovate more quickly and effectively for patients, and invest more resources in research and development.

Whenever we do bold things and pursue truly breakthrough therapies for patients, the opportunity for failure is real and we need to be able to tolerate failure. Only in failure can we learn and find the answers to the big healthcare challenges that we pursue. We embrace a “shots on goal” mentality as we innovate, which means that we’re going to have some misses on our way to success. We know that when we keep our focus on patients, and partner with clinicians to address the unmet needs of their patients, we will drive meaningful change together.

Setting aside the medical technology aspect of Edwards for a moment, when people think about the word “heart,” it’s a very symbolic word. Expressions like “heart’s content,” “heart and soul” and “young at heart” come to mind. What does this mean to you and to Edwards to specialize in healing the human heart?

Mike: Our work at Edwards is personal. We have the opportunity to touch the lives of individuals all over the world with the work that we do. This means that people like Lester have the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal.

It is an honor and a great responsibility to create, hand-assemble and provide heart valves to people all around the world to save and sustain lives. We spend every day looking for answers to how we can better treat patients with heart valve disease and address unmet patient needs. Our 13,000 global employees are focused on patients first, and we come to work every day knowing that helping patients is our life’s work, and life is now.

It was Edwards’ transcatheter aortic heart valve technology that enabled Lester to travel to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology. You once said, “[o]ur work is personal, and it impacts people individually.” To ask the opposite question, how do patients like Lester impact you in a personal way?

Mike: Lester is an amazing person and an inspiration to me personally, and to many at Edwards. I’ve had the honor to spend time with Lester and his wife, Betty, and it is a privilege to know them. This is a man who persevered in conditions that few people ever face, and even fewer could survive. Lester had incomparable mental and physical strength – yet decades later, he found his life threatened by a heart valve disease that could be solved by new technology, if he could get access to it.

It’s humbling to know that our transcatheter aortic heart valve was able to restore his health, and enable him to travel to Japan to receive an apology for WWII veterans for the tragedies they suffered during the war.

We have the privilege on a regular basis to meet many remarkable patients whose lives have been saved and improved as a result of their treatment with one of our therapies, and it is our single greatest motivation and inspiration at Edwards. I have photos of many of these individuals on my shelf in my office, and we have many more lining the halls of our offices at Edwards, to remind us all daily of the reason for the work we are doing.

“I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years.” says Lester, a member of our greatest generation.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Veterans Day 2016


President Barack Obama welcomes Pvt Daniel Crowley 
and his bride Kelley 
to the White House for the Veterans Day breakfast
November 11, 2016


On October 7, 1940, Daniel Crowley, 18, traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to enlist with the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was hoping to “take long trip somewhere at the expense of our country.” The son of the once-famous women’s fashion icon, textile designer Timothy F. Crowley, he had experienced the depths of the Depression when his father’s business failed. In the 1930s, the senior Crowley turned his attention to painting and public speaking where he warned all who would listen of Japan’s unjust and brutal aggression against China.

Thus, Dan left for his “adventure” more aware than most 18 year olds that the world was rapidly moving toward war. At the United States from the Army Supply Base in Brooklyn, untrained and unarmed, he boarded on January 2, 1941 the USAT Leonard Wood that sailed through the Panama Canal to Angel Island off San Francisco. From there, he was transferred to the USAT U.S. Grant. This ship, via Hawaii and Guam, after engine failures, fires and a typhoon, arrived at Manila in the Philippines in March 1941.

Ptv Crowley was assigned to Nichols Field (today’s Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport) near Manila with the 24th Pursuit Group, V Interceptor Command, 17th Pursuit Squadron. For months, there was little do and the enlisted men at the Field remained untrained and their officers unconcerned. The 17th Pursuit Squadron had been sent overseas in October 1940 (arriving December 14, 1940) from Selfridge Field in Michigan without aircraft to fly. Until their planes arrived and were assembled in March 1941, they practiced in outdated Boeing P-26 Peashooters that then constituted the interceptor force at Nichols Field.

New planes arrived in March 1941. These were Seversky P-35s that had been held back from a sale to Sweden (18 June 1940, United States declared an embargo against exporting weapons to any nation other than the United Kingdom.). By late 1941 standards, the P-35s were obsolete. It was too lightly armed and lacked either armor around the cockpit or self-sealing fuel tanks. In addition, the instruments in these aircraft flown were marked in Swedish and calibrated in the metric system. New Curtiss P-40Es “Warhawks” did not arrive until September 1941.

The Japanese attacked Clark Field on December 8th, 9 hours after Pearl Harbor. The next they struck Nichols Field along with other air bases on Luzon. Within three days, they controlled the air over The Philippines and completely eliminated the U.S. Far East Air Force as an effective defense of Asia.

Crowley participated in an improvised air defense of Nichols with antiquated British Lewis machine guns that were welded together to form more powerful, but still ineffective weapons. Despite their efforts, most of the aircraft and Nichols Field were destroyed. The ground crews were soon evacuated and sent to the Bataan Peninsular via boat and train. The base was abandoned on December 26th.

The surviving ground crews and airmen were made members of the Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment on Bataan. Although designated as Infantry, the U.S. Army refuses to this day to recognize these veterans as such and denies them their Combat Infantry badges. In every way, but name they fought like infantry soldiers.

On Bataan, Crowley’s unit was joined by the Philippine Scouts who were instrumental in helping them fend off three amphibious landings by the Japanese on the west coast of Bataan, known as the Battle of the Points. The Army Air Corps men on Bataan were armed with only machine guns from their aircraft or WWI Springfield M1903s (a five-round magazine fed, bolt-action service repeating rifle). Crowley had not fired this weapon until combat on Bataan.

After the Bataan Peninsula was surrendered April 9, 1942—the single largest military surrender in American history—his unit made its way down to the tip of Bataan and the town of Mariveles to surrender. Refusing to become prisoners, he and a number of men hide among rocks in the breakwater near the shore. At nightfall they made their way to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay by swimming and clinging to life boats with sailors from various ships bombed or scuttled in Manila Bay and Mariveles Harbor. Crowley remembers hiding in the breakwater with the crew of the USAT Yu Sang, an armaments ship carrying 1500 tons of bombs that had been bombed by the Japanese. They watched as the ensuring fire ignited the ordance causing a tremendous explosion and tidal wave. He can still recall the sound of the flaming bits of the ship raining down on his doughboy “Brodie” helmet.

On Corregidor, Crowley became part of the 4th Marines Regimental Reserve (China Marines) commanded by Maj. Max Schaeffer. He fought a dangerous and desperate shore defense with the Marines until the island fell on May 6, 1942. His Company commander was the famous University of Tennessee football star Captain Austin Conner “Shifty” Shofner. The Philippines were surrendered on May 8th.

Shofner would become famous later in the war for being one of the very few who escaped from a Japanese POW camp. On April 4, 1943, he and a small group of nine other Americans and two Filipinos escaped their labor camp in the Philippines. These men were able to make to a sympathetic Filipino village and were then rescued by an American sub that took them to Australia. Among the men was William Dyess who told his story to The Chicago Tribune on January 27, 1944, thus revealing to Americans for the first time about the horrors of the Bataan Death March. Shofner returned to combat in 1944 commanding units of the Marine Corps in the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa.

On May 25th, he and the nearly 12,000 other POWs who were interned in the 92nd Garage Area—an exposed beach with little water or food and no sanitation—on Corregidor were taken by boat to Manila and paraded through town on what became known as the “March of Shame.” By rail and foot, the POWs traveled on to Camp Cabanatuan. To escape its squalor and despair, Crowley joined 300 POWs in August to build an airstrip on Palawan Island for the Japanese Army. Starvation, beatings, and unworkable conditions prolonged the task.

He and approximately half of the men were returned to Manila in early 1944. Crowley says he feigned insanity to be relieved of the work. The remaining 150 prisoners on Palawan became victims of Tokyo’s directive to “kill all” POWs once the Americans began to take territory. On December 14, 1944, as American troops approached the Philippine Islands, the remaining POWs on Palawan were herded into an improvised air raid shelter, doused with gasoline, set afire, and machine-gunned to death. Nevertheless, a lucky 11 did escape to tell of the Palawan Massacre.

At the time, Crowley was in Japan. He had been sent there on March 24, 1944 via Formosa aboard the “hell ship,” Taikoku Maru arriving April 3 like most American and Allied POWs at the Port of Moji, on Kyushu. Three hundred men had been crowded into a fetid hold that ordinarily would accommodate only 25 men. They were to 11 days in the dark, lying in their own waste with little food or water. Of the 308 men loaded onto the ship, 17 died en route to Japan.

Crowley remembers that the Japanese had cameras focused on them as they, bedraggled and dazed, made their way down the gangplank of the ship to the dock at Moji. We do not know what happened to the newsreels made from these films and photos.

He was first sent to the POW camp Tokyo #8B (Motoyama) administered by the Hitachi Company, one of the largest users of slave and forced labor in wartime Japan. There he was a slave laborer in its copper mine, Japan’s oldest and most dangerous. In August, he was transferred to Tochigi, Japan, near Tokyo, where he again mined copper ore. This time for Furukawa Kogyo (today’s Furukawa Company Group) at the Ashio POW Camp Tokyo 9-B until the end of the war. Working alongside Japanese miners were approximately 300 Allied and American POWs from the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, Norway, Australia, and China.

The mine was closed in 1973 and today is a national historic site and tourist attraction touting the mine’s contribution to Japan’s industrialization, but without mention of the American and Allied POWs who labored there. The Furukawa Group is one of Japan's 15 largest industrial groups and was largely untouched by US Occupation policies to dismantle Japan’s industrial conglomerates.

Furukawa dates its origins back to 1875. Before and during World War II, Furukawa specialized in mining, electronics, and chemicals. Now, the predominant companies are Fuji Electric and Furukawa Electric as well as Fujitsu, FANUC, Advantest, and Yokohama Rubber. One US subsidiary is directly related to its mining operation is Furukawa Rock Drill USA Co., Ltd., in Kent, Ohio. The Furukawa Group has yet to acknowledge or apology for its use of American and Allied POW slave labor.

The Ashio mine is best known as one of Japan’s most polluted sites with a long history of environmental destruction, citizen protest, and company denial dating back to the late-19th Century when the mine was privatized. Water and air pollution have ravaged the streams and forests of the region, with deteriorating toxic slag pools still threatening villages. Although mining operations were halted in 1971, the smelting of ores continues through the use of imports.

Crowley was liberated on September 4, 1945, after weeks of air drops of food, medicine, and clothing onto the POW camp. He was quickly flown to Manila via Okinawa. After several days at Sternberg General Hospital, an Army troop ship brought him and other POWs to San Francisco by early October where he spent his days recuperating at Letterman General Hospital and nights at the local bars mostly in his pajamas. He returned home to Connecticut close to Christmas. After spending time between Fort Dix Hospital in New Jersey and Connecticut, he was discharged at Fort Devens in Massachusetts on April 4, 1946.

He found that former POWs were quickly stigmatized as being unstable and difficult employees. This meant finding full time employment a challenge and he became a traveling salesman dependent upon commission and his wits. In 1958, he began working for Northwestern Mutual Insurance where he soon became one of their top producers and most successful agents.

Crowley believes he enjoyed a good life in Simsbury, but he will never forget the years stolen from him by the Japanese. "It's a living thing with me," he said. "It's not ancient history at all." In October 2014, Mr. Crowley returned to Japan as part of the 5th US-Japan POW Friendship program. Unfortunately, Furukawa executives refused to meet with him. He did, however, revisit the mine where he toiled. Overall, he felt the trip was a positive experience with the satisfaction of finally getting something back from the Japanese who profited from his labor.

His most recent effort to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the state legislature to name the bridge on Route 185 in Simsbury the “Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge” in memory of those soldiers who fought alongside Crowley and who lost their lives at the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor. The dedication took place on December 7, 2013.

Mr. Crowley was married 65 years to Marie Boles and they had two children. On April 24, 2014, he married Kelley Thomen who accompanied him to Washington for the President’s Veterans Day Breakfast on November 11, 1916.

Mr. Crowley is a life-time member of VFW, American Legion, and DAV, as well as the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society.

Find more about Mr. Crowley at the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project.

Philippines POW #: 1-12747
Palawan POW #: 101
Ashio POW #: 3870

Monday, November 07, 2016

Why veterans are underrepresented in Congress

By Gary Schmitt and Rebecca Burgess, respectively, director and program manager of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship. Data used in this piece comes from a forthcoming AEI report on the status of veterans in American legislatures.

The Hill, October 28, 2016

George Washington’s assertion that “When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen” is justly famous for capturing the traditional attitude of the American citizen-soldier. While the nation at times has requested or required that citizens fulfill the highest form of civic duty, there have always been individuals who have voluntarily donned its uniform. Viewing military service as a form of public service, many, not surprisingly, have followed their days in the military by pursuing other forms of civic service, notably in the halls of government.

Although American democracy demands a military-civilian divide in regard to political power, voters have shown they are comfortable with electing officials with military service on their resume. Indeed, despite the colonists’ Revolutionary-era complaints about the British conflating military and political power, of the first 25 men to become president, 21 had military experience.

Nevertheless, for well-on 30 years military veterans have been a decreasing presence in Congress. In 1971, veterans made up 72 percent of the House of Representatives and 78 percent of the Senate. In 1991, the Congress that approved the use of force against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm had only slightly more veterans than non-veterans. In today’s Congress, veterans hold 20 percent of Senate seats, while 18 percent of House members are veterans. And regardless of who wins the presidency this time around, three of four recent presidents will not have served in the military, and the one who did had no combat experience.

At first blush, the decline of veterans in public office appears to be the natural consequence of the diminishing number of veterans in the overall population. With cuts in force levels following the end of the Cold War, the draft gone, and the All-Volunteer Force in place for four decades, veterans now comprise just 9 percent of the total population. Yet, when veterans made up over 70 percent of Congress in the 1970s, they were a little less than 14 percent of the total population. The decline of veterans in public office has been sharper than the decline of veterans within the general population. Why?

Perhaps the most significant reason is the current cost of running for Congress. The price tag for a Senate campaign stands near $10.5 million, the House near $1.6 million. Both political parties are likely to recruit candidates who have existing fundraising networks and abilities, with personal wealth often to boot. The high cost of political campaigns and highly restrictive campaign finance laws, which bind political parties, favor the incumbent and disadvantage the military veteran, whose earnings and savings is typically quite modest, as is his immediate circle of friends and associates.

Any reversal of the declining trend in veterans in the halls of Congress will probably begin with the one tried-and-true way to gain legislative experience, build name recognition, and increase access to a fundraising network—election to a state legislature. State legislative office is a traditional steppingstone to federal office, with 50 percent of the 114th Congress, for example, composed of former state legislators.

From this perspective, the good news is that no fewer than 1,039 out of 7,383 state legislators have military experience—14 percent. While the clear majority, as in the US Congress, lean Republican, female veterans in the House, Senate, and state offices tend to break more evenly along partisan lines. And, as one might expect given the respective size of each of the services, Army veterans, from the active component, the Guard, and the Reserves, account for a majority of state and federal office holders. But each of the services, along with the Coast Guard, has veterans currently serving in the state legislatures.

As one might expect with the aging of the Vietnam-era cohort, Post-Cold War veterans make up an increasing share of all veteran state legislators. Post-9/11 veterans alone now total 20 percent of all congressional and state-level veteran legislators. And, strikingly, 41 percent of veterans running for Congress this year served after 9/11 (128 of 316).

The annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey released by Blue Star families in 2015 revealed that, when asked about their motivation for having joined the military, 95 percent of service members answered, “to serve my country.” Similarly, in a 2015 poll taken by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the veteran population proved highly engaged and civic-minded: 93 percent were registered to vote, 80 percent reported voting in the 2014 election, and nearly 40 percent indicated they have considered running for public office.

Military veterans in American legislatures will not reach again the high levels of the 1970s. We fight our wars differently, requiring no massive, nation-wide conscription cutting across all the strata of society such as produced the diverse World War II and Korea veteran cohorts in the first place. But the rise of post-9/11 veterans pursuing public office demonstrates that, even with the high costs of entry, their commitment to public service endures.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

A week for remembering the Prisoner of War

On November 11th, Veterans Day, Dan Crowley, 94, will join President Barack Obama for his annual breakfast for representatives from America's Veterans Service Organizations. He will represent the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society.

Mr. Crowley was sent to the Philippines as an enlisted member of the Army Air Corps in 1941 untrained and unarmed. When the Japanese attacked the Philippines on December 8, 1941, he fought in an improvised air defense at Nichols Field near Manila. After the Field's destruction, the airmen were moved to Bataan to join the US Army Infantry in the Battle of the Points repelling three waves of the Japanese invasion. He avoided the Bataan Death March after Bataan's surrender by swimming and clinging to life rafts to Corregidor Island fortress where he engaged in shore defense with the 4th Marines. He was surrendered on May 6, 1942.

In August 1942, he was sent as a POW to help construct the infamous air field on Palawan Island. Starvation, beatings, and unworkable conditions prolonged the task. He was shipped to Japan aboard the Hellship Taikoku Maru in March 1944 to be slave laborer, thus missing the Palawan Massacre of 150 of his fellow POWs on December 14, 1944.

First taken to POW Camp Tokyo #8B, a Hitachi copper mine, Crowley was liberated in September 1945 from another copper mine near Tokyo, Ashio POW Camp Tokyo #9 owned by the Furukawa Company, today a major multinational.

Its US subsidiary, Furukawa Rock Drill, located in Kent, Ohio is barely 100 miles from Port Clinton, Ohio. Company C 192nd Tank Battalion sent to the Philippines in October 1941 was a unit whose core was comprised of men from the Port Clinton area. The 32 Port Clinton men were soon engaged in the Defense of the Philippine Islands. Only 10 of the 32 local men survived the Bataan Death March and three and a half years as POWs.

On November 18, from 10:00 to 11:00am, the Marysville, Ohio Public Library will hold a lecture on the 192nd Tank Battalion: The Bataan Death March and the local men who died as POWs of Japan. Marysville was one of the first American towns (1979) to receive extensive Japanese foreign investment with the establishment of a Honda plant and its various subcontractors. According to the local newspaper in 2013, "Since Honda of America Mfg. came to town more than 30 years ago, the company and the suppliers that followed have invested almost $5 billion in the county."

In 2014, he participated in a Japanese reconciliation program began in 2010 for former American POWs to visit Japan. Unfortunately, representatives from Furukawa refused to meet with Mr. Crowley or to offer an apology. However, he was able to visit the mine where he toiled as it is now a museum and amusement park. There is no mention of the American and Allied POW labor at these facilities.

You can find out more about Mr. Crowley at the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project or from this pamphlet by Central Connecticut  State University.

We are fundraising to support Mr. Crowley's travel to Washington. A tax-deductible donation can be made through PayPal HERE.

Mr. Crowley will give two presentations open to the public, among the many veterans programs this week.

click to order
LAST RING HOME. NOVEMBER 9, Noon-2:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: US Navy Memorial Foundation and Asia Policy Point. Author Minter Dial II discusses his new book The Last Ring Home: A POW’s Lasting Legacy of Courage, Love and Honor in World War II (Myndset Press, 2016) and documentary on his grandfather, Lt Minter Dial who commanded the USS Napa (AT-32) until ordered to Corregidor in March 1942. Lt Dial's Annapolis Naval Academy ring, miraculously made its way home 17 years after he was killed as a POW of Japan on the Philippines in December 1944. After his remarks, there will be a special advance screening of the new PBS documentary The Last Ring Home based on Dial's book.

Dan Crowley, a former POW of Japan who fought on Corregidor at the same time as Lt Dial, will be a special guest. After the Dial presentation, over a lite lunch. Mr. Crowley will offer his observations on Japan's invasion of the Philippines, the battles that followed, the historic surrender of American troops by their officers, and his over three years as a POW of Imperial Japan.

THE BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINES 75 YEARS LATER: A VETERAN'S TALE. NOVEMBER 10, 1:00-2:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Sigur Center, George Washington University and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. Speaker: Dan Crowley, veteran of the Battle for the defense of Philippines with the US Army Air Corps, Army Infantry, and Marines; former POW of Japan in the Philippines and Japan, slave laborer in copper mines owned by Hitachi and Furukawa.
Mr. Crowley will offer his observations on Japan's invasion of the Philippines, the battles that followed, the historic surrender of American troops by their officers, his over three years as a POW of Imperial Japan, and his struggle to forgive. Mr. Crowley will be a special guest of President Obama at his Veterans Day Breakfast on the 11th. Location: Sigur Center, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1957 E Street, NW, Chung-wen Shih Conference Room, Suite 503.

Mr. Crowley is a life member of the VFW.

VFW NATIONAL COMMANDER BRIAN DUFFY will give a press conference on NOVEMBER 10th at 10:00am at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He will discuss the needs of the nation’s 20 million veterans and the plans of veterans’ groups to move President Obama's successor and the next Congress to improve the delivery of promised benefits. The VFW, which traces its roots to the Spanish-American War, requires its members to have served in combat zones overseas.

Putting Mr. Crowley's POW experience in historical perspective will be the following program.

PRISONERS OF WAR
. NOVEMBER 14, 6:45-8:45pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Smithsonian Connections. Speaker: Judge Evan J. Wallach, an expert on war crimes and the law of war, circuit judge at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Location: Smithsonian, S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW.
War has always resulted in prisoners, and their treatment has always been problematic. The settings in which they have been held extend from the Revolutionary War’s prison ships to the Civil War’s infamous Andersonville camp, Japanese slave labor camps and German concentration camps during WWII, and North Korean brainwashing centers through to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Just as war has changed dramatically over the years, so has the treatment of captured prisoners. 
Evan J. Wallach, an expert on war crimes and the law of war, finds that how a country treats—or mistreats—captured enemy prisoners is a key gauge of its values as a society and its views of international human rights. He discusses the history of prisoners of war, how POW status is defined in modern warfare, the current required treatment of prisoners, limits to their interrogation, and potential domestic and international legal sanctions for their mistreatment. 
Wallach is a circuit judge at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He served as a combat engineer in Vietnam and Cambodia and in the Pentagon as a U.S. Army judge advocate during the Persian Gulf War, where he was responsible for prisoner of war issues and wrote the Army’s investigation of Iraqi war crimes including mistreatment of coalition POWs.

Ben Steele In Memoriam


ADBC-MS President Jan Thompson 
gives an eulogy at the Steele memorial

Ben Steele - a Bataan Death March survivor whose art helped him maintain his sanity as a prisoner of war of Japan during WWII as well helped him forgive his captors - died in Montana on Sunday, September 25, 2015. He was 98. He had been in hospice care for more than a year.

It seemed like the entire state came out for his memorial service on October 4th at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark. The 2,000 seat venue was full and the 90-minute service broadcast live. Montana's Governor Steve Bullock ordered flags across the state a half-staff for the day and issued a proclamation:
I hereby order all flags flown in the State of Montana to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016, in memory of the life of Benjamin Charles Steele, WWII Veteran, Bataan Death March survivor, devoted educator, and artist. 
Ben Steele was a Montanan of immeasurable character who portrayed the courage of his generation with a sketchbook and a joyful laugh. He taught all of us never to give up on the importance of inspiring future generations after overcoming incredible adversity.
Steele was born on Nov. 17, 1917, in the small Montana town of Roundup and grew up riding horses, roping cattle and occasionally delivering supplies to the well-known western artist Will James. “His parents told him not to hang out much with Will James because he was a drinker, but Dad never said a bad word about him,” his daughter Julie Jorgenson told The Billings Gazette.

In October 1941, US Army Air Corps Private Steele arrived at Clark Field in the Philippines to join the air crews maintaining the war planes arriving from America. On December 8th, Japan began its invasion of the Philippines by bombing Clark and other US air bases. After the near total destruction of the American air force on the Philippine Islands, Steele and other airmen were evaluated on December 24th and sent to fight with the US Army Infantry on the Bataan Peninsula. He and all the troops on Bataan were surrendered on April 9, 1942.

Along with thousands of Filipino and American soldiers, he endured the 65-mile Bataan Death March under a scorching tropical sun up the Bataan peninsula to a make-shift POW camp at Camp O'Donnell in Capas. Along the way, the men were robbed, bayoneted, starved, beaten and killed. All suffered from four months of desperate fighting from malnutrition, exhaustion, dysentery, and malaria. Over 10,000 Filipinos and 600 Americans died on the March.

Ben Steele
The death rate escalated at the POW camp with about 20,000 Filipinos and 1,500 Americans dying there because of disease, starvation, neglect, and brutality. In June, to get out of the camp, Steele joined the Tayabas Road detail. This proved even more difficult than the March, especially since none of the soldiers knew when it would be over. For most, it would end in death. Out of the original 325 soldiers, Ben was one of only 50 who survived the work camp.

By August, Ben became so ill from beri beri, dysentery, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and malaria that he could no longer work. He was sent to Bilibid Prison for 18 months. Although expected to die, he clung to life and kept his sanity by covertly sketching Montana scenes--cowboys, horses and barns--and the human degradation and cruelty POWs were subjected to. He did so at great risk. Steele acknowledged he could have been shot if his sketches were discovered.

Canadian Inventor
On July 4, 1944,  he was put on board the freighter Canadian Inventor, which the prisoners called Mati Mati Maru. The POWs endured 62 days en route to Japan. The ship arrived at Moji, Japan on September 1. Most ships bringing POWs to Japan docked at Moji. He was sent the next day to be a slave laborer at a coal mine owned by Sanyo Muen Kogyosho, today's Ube Industries.

The POW camp linked to the mine was Hiroshima #6-B (Omine Machi). It was so close Hiroshima, that he heard the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped on that city on August 6, 1945. In 1996, to the Company's credit, they allowed a memorial to built near the mine the POWs who toiled there.

In mid-September 1945, he was evaluated to the hospital ship USS Consolation, taken to Okinawa and then was flown to San Francisco by the 19th Bombardment Group C54 and assigned to Fort George Wright Hospital in Spokane, Washington, where he remained until he was discharged on July 10, 1946. Steele painted scenes from his capture as he went through his long recovery, including trying to regain the 80 pounds he lost. “I had lots of problems to work through,” he said, “and the doctors thought the art was a good idea.”

In 1950, Ben graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Kent State University two years later and a Master of the Arts degree from Denver University in 1955. He also pursued further graduate study at the University of Oregon, Illinois State University, and Montana State University. He served as post crafts director for the Department of Army at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1953 and as staff crafts director for the 3rd U.S. Army in 1956. In September 1959, he started teaching in the art department of Eastern Montana College, today's University of Montana, Billings, acting as director and eventually as head of the art department until June 1982. He retired as Professor of Art Emeritus.

He said he learned to forgive his Japanese captors because of his relationship with Harry Koyama, an art student of Japanese heritage. “He’s been a part of my life since I met him in college in the 1960s,” Koyama, a western artist with a gallery in Billings, said about Steele. “That’s even more of a humbling experience to know that I had not just an effect, but a positive effect on his life.”


click to order
Steele’s powerful images of his time in captivity are housed at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana in Missoula. While many people knew Steele’s war stories and what he endured as a prison of war, “it’s his personality, his warm caring personality that made people love him,” his daughter says. “His students would come up to me and say, ‘Ben and I have a special bond.’ But he made everyone feel special.” Steele’s survival was chronicled in the 2009 New York Times best-seller Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman.

A documentary of Steele’s life, Survival Through Art, narrated by Alec Baldwin and filmed by ADBC-MS President Jan Thompson has just been completed. In March 2016, ground was broken for Ben Steele Middle School in Billings.