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Dialogue on a painful history

Essay, "2011 Dialogue on Hopevale Martyrdom Panay in 1943: Japanese Veteran Inspired by Daughter of American Guerrilla Officer, “ written by Yuka Ibuki, Toshimi Kumai and Susan Fertig-Dykes was posted.

Please go to Dialogue on


Grandson’s tribute to his POW grandfather who never returned

New essay, “The Last Ring Home – A story of war, love and hope,” written by Mr. Minter Dial was posted.

Please go to The Last Ring Home


Written testimony on Japanese companies' responsibility by DG President

Mr. Joseph A. Vater, Jr., President or the Descendants Group, an Auxiliary of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Inc., submitted his written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which on December 15 held a hearing entitled, "California's High Speed Rail Plan:  Skyrocketing Costs & Project Concerns."

                        Chairman Mica                              Hearing on California High Speed Rail Plan

Mr. Vater wrote:

I and other members of the Descendants Group sincerely hope that the State of California will advise these Japanese companies to promptly acknowledge their involvement in wartime forced labor and offer an apology to the American POWs.  

Mostly, we ask them to respect these veterans’ dignity and to acknowledge their sacrifices for peace in Asia.

Please go to Mr. Vater's written testimony


The70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement in remembrance of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. She said in her statement:

…the larger lesson of Pearl Harbor is that we need to remain steadfast and forthright in our defense of liberty and human rights.

President Obama issued a statement, too.

Conversation with Mr. Arthur Lane, FEPOW

On the same day, in fact one hour before the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese troops attacked Malaya. Mr. Arthur Lane was one of some 80,000 British POWs, who was forced to work on the notorious Thai-Burma Death Railway.

Please go to FEPOW Arthur Lane 


Sen. Feinstein's POW resolution passed.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the resolution, “Welcoming and commending the Government of Japan for extending an official apology to all United States former prisoners of war from the Pacific War and establishing in 2010 a visitation program to Japan for surviving veterans, family members, and descendants,” which was passed on November 17.   S. Res. 333

Among what Senate requests is:

The Government of Japan respect the wishes and sensibilities of the United States former prisoners of war by supporting and encouraging programs for lasting remembrance and reconciliation that recognize their sacrifices, history, and forced labor;

“We owe these brave heroes a debt that can never be fully repaid. It is critical that we never forget their sacrifice,” Sen. Feinstein said.


Report on 2011 "Japanese/American POW Friendship Program" posted.


Kinue Tokudome’s essay, "Japanese Companies Used American POWs as Slaves Labor-Where’s Their Apology?” was posted at History News Network:  

 The version with pictures is available here.


Cover story of American Heritage Magazine

“Amazing Friendship Between WWII American POW & Japanese Boy,” written by Mr. Timothy Ruse is the cover story of the current issue of American Heritage Magazine.

American Heritage Magazine Volume 61, Issue 2

The article was based on Mr. Ruse’s  experience of traveling to Japan in November of 2010 in search of the boy who had helped his POW grandfather during WWII.

Grandsons of Japanese POW and Bataan Death March Survivor Travel to Japan


2011 Japanese/POW Friendship Program

The government of Japan will invite seven former POWs and their family members for a week-long trip to Japan as the second Japanese/POW Friendship Program. Dr. Lester Tenney, who led the first delegation last year, assisted the Japanese Foreign Ministry put together this year's program with the US State Department coordinating.

Following participants will arrive in Japan on October 16.

Robert J. Vogler, Jr. (90)
He lives in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, California. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1940. He is a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He was shipped to Mukden, China (today’s Shenyang) in October 1942 on Tottori Maru and in May 1944, he was  transferred to Kamioka, Japan. In 1997, he and his wife returned to Kamioka to a warm welcome from mine representatives, town officials, citizens, and school children.

Oscar L. Leonard
He lives in Paradise, California. He joined the Idaho National Guard in 1939 and the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940. He was captured on Mindanao in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in October 1942 on Tottori Maru. He was held at POW camps in Kawasaki and Hitachi.
After the war, he became a pharmacist and still works as relief at local pharmacies today.

Harold A. Bergbower (91)
He lives in Peoria, Arizona. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1939. He was captured on Mindanao in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in August 1944 on Noto Maru. He was held at Nomachi (Takaoka) POW camp. He stayed in the Air Force and returned to Japan (1954-1957) to train Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. He and his family lived in Hamamatsu and in Itazuke, Fukuoka prefecture.

Roy Edward Friese (88)
He lives in Calimesa, California. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in July 1943 on Clyde Maru. He was held at Omuta POW camp. After WWII, he reenlisted in the U.S. Army and in 1947 transferred to the U.S. Air Force. He retired after 20 years of service.

James C. Collier (88)
He lives in Salinas, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 at the age of 16. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in August 1944 on Noto Maru. He was held at Nomachi (Takaoka) POW camp. He taught English and Psychology and worked as a guidance counselor in a high school and community college for 31 years.

Harry Corre (88)

He lives in Los Angeles, California. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941. He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Japan in July 1943 on Clyde Maru. He was held at Omuta POW Camp.  He presently works at the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital as a Patient Advocate.

Ralph E. Griffith (88)

He lives in Hannibal, Missouri.  He enlisted in the army in 1941 at the age of 17.  He was captured on Corregidor in May 1942 and was shipped to Mukden, China (today’s Shenyang) in October 1942 on Tottori Maru via Korea to Manchuria. After the war, he worked for railways for 37 years until his retirement.


While in Japan, they will visit their former campsites and Kyoto as well as meeting with government officials, students and citizen groups.



On POW/MIA Recognition Day (Sep. 16), Ms. Judith Heisinger and Ms. Virginia (Ginger) Hansen Holmes participated in the US Navy Memorial held in Washington DC.

Judith read from Father Found written by his late husband, Navy Captain Duane Heisinger, and Ginger from her own book Guerilla Daughter.

Late Captain Heisinger, USN (Ret.) 2006        RADM Dan McKinnon and Ginger’s husband Kent


Father did not return home from the Philippines. He said only a few words before death came a few days after the second prison ship bombing. He smiled in responding to the last person who spoke with him before he slipped into a coma and died.      
                                                                                 ---  From Author's Note, Father Found

During the early weeks of the war, the subject of life as Japanese prisoners of war was an important one in conversations with friends and colleagues. Where family groups were concerned, it was the consensus that young girls faced greatest danger than boys. With this in mind, Mom and Dad came up with the notion that if captured by the Japanese, Peach and I might fare better if we were disguised as boys. So, our parents summoned the barber from a nearby barrio to our house to give us haircuts.                                          
                                                                                                ---  From Guerilla Daughter

POW Statue

In San Diego, a statue honoring American prisoners of war was dedicated at Miramar National Cemetery.

 “The Liberation Moment,” depicts the exhilaration of a prisoner of war emerging from captivity.  Past National Commander of ADBC Dr. Lester Tenney and his friend Mr. Clay Perkins attended the unveiling ceremony with their wives.

 (Photo courtesy of Mr. Clay Perkins)


Op-ed article for POW/MIA Recognition Day

"Congress Is Missing in Action for the POWs/MIAs," written by Mr. Ralph Levenberg posted on the Huffington post.

"I simply ask for a genuine apology and that my presence be remembered. But first, Congress must stand by our side." 

Japanese translation is available here.


New story on Mr. Francis W. Malikowski added

Mr. Edward Malikowski recently published a book entitled, A Brother’s Hero. His brother Fran survived the Bataan Death March and was forced to work for Hitachi Shipyard in Mukaishima, Japan.

Please go to Malikowski.


Op-ed on the 66th anniversary of the end of WWII

Dr. Lester Tenney’s  op-ed article, “Slavery, Dignity and Japan, 66 Years Later,” was published in Wall Street Journal.  He wrote:

At the heart of all this effort is a simple truth: the need to remember, recognize and honor those who endured so much.

Please go to WSJ website to read the entire article.
Japanese translation is available here.


Passing of the oldest Death March survivor

“Remembering Dr. Albert Brown, the oldest Bataan Death March survivor” written by Jan Thompson posted. 

Please go to Dr. Albert Brown.

Jan Thompson is the producer of “The Tragedy of Bataan.”


Memorial at the Omine machi POW camp site

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun published an article on August 12 about Omine machi POW camp and a memorial built on the former site by local people in 1996.

Please go to Omine machi POW camp.



New blog, American POWs of Japan, launched

This is a research project of Asia Policy Point, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that studies the US policy relationship with Japan and Northeast Asia.

The project aims to educate Americans on history of the POW experience both during and after World War II and its effect on the US-Japan alliance.

The most recent entry is about the Sendai POW camp group and the Japanese companies that used POW forced labor in those camps.

Please go to American POWs of Japan


Ms. Laura Hillenbrand, the author of the bestselling book, Unbroken: 
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Audio clip of Ms. Hillenbrand's interview with NPR and her message to the Japanese people posted.

Please go to Hillenbrand message


"Reflection on attending the 2011 DG-ADBC Convention" by Ms. Shizu Maekawa posted

Ms. Maekawa is a Japanese graduate student who is writing her doctoral dissertation on former American POWs.

She attended the recent DG-ADBC Convention held in Pittsburgh.

Please go to Maekawa essay.


POW resolution

On June 24, Congressman Mike Honda (D: CA-15) introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring veterans who were held as POWs of the Japanese during World War II.

Text of the resolution

Press release issued by Congressman Honda's office
                                   Congressman Honda
                                                          former POWs Ed Jackfert and Lester Tenney with their wives

Send your petition from here


Former B-29 navigator and POW passed away

"In Memory of Mr. Raymond Hap Halloran" written by Ms. Yuka Ibuki posted.
Please go to Mr. Halloran



POW’s Son Visits President of Lone Star High-Speed Rail

Mr. John Lewis, the son of Lt. Col. John L. Lewis who died on the Hellship Brazil Maru, and his wife, Fran, visited Judge Robert A. Eckels, President of Lone Star High-Speed Rail, a company that tries to bring Japanese high speed rail technology to Texas. (Article about Judge Eckels)

Mr. Lewis shared the story of his father with Judge Eckels. 

Mr. Lewis and Judge Eckels

He also delivered a letter from four Past National Commanders of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, which called on the Japanese companies that enslaved American POWs during WWII to join the efforts to remember and honor the experience of POWs and to learn from it.

Letter from Dr. Lester Tenney, Mr. Edward Jeckfert, Mr. Ralph Levenberg and Mr. Joe Alexander is here.


Essay on Memorial Day

"Memorial Day 1943," written by Wes Injerd posted.
On May 30,1943, 1,500 POWs attended a service for 2,644 of their fallen comrades at Cabanatuan POW camp.

Please go to Memorial Day 1943


Former POW Mr. Overmier's Interview

Mr. William Overmier speaks about his experience as a forced laborer at Mitsubishi dock in Yokohama and his thoughts on Ambassador Fujisaki's apology, which he said was an honorable thing to do.

At the camp where he was held (Tokyo 1-D), 54 POWs died.

Please go to Overmier interview           Mr. and Mrs. Overmier with Japanese student Sho Sugiura


Timeless acts of kindness

Washington Post published an article, “Timeless acts of kindness: Tim Ruse took his grandfather’s story and an old photo and went in search of the Japanese boy who helped the soldier survive as a prisoner during World War II.”

Please go to the Washington Post article to read it and to the photo album to see related pictures.


 "POW Friendship Program" participants send their prayers

Fourteen participants in last year's "Japanese/American POW Friendship Program" sent their letter of condolences for the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki.


They wrote, "We watch with a heavy heart the devastation of your nation and your citizens and want you to know that the Japanese people are in our thoughts and prayers."

The letter was hand delivered to the Japanese Embassy by a group of POW descendants who live in the Washington DC area, including Descendants Group's Vice President Caroline Burkhart.

Mr. Yoshihiro Ohara of the Japanese Embassy accepted the letter.

Please read the entire letter.



Thoughts and prayers for the Japanese people

Former POWs and their families are sending their caring messages to the people of Japan that was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Please go to To Japanese Victims


POW children write to Mr. Mineta

Board of Directors of the Descendants Group, an Auxiliary of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC), sent a letter to former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, asking for his support: 

We understand your efforts to build high speed rail systems in the United States but we ask that you take this opportunity to encourage Japanese companies bidding on these contracts to do what simple human decency demands:  acknowledge their use of American prisoners of war as slave labor during WWII and apologize to the surviving former POWs.

DG's letter to former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta


POWs' letter to former Transportation Secretary

Three past Commanders of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Dr. Lester Tenney, Mr. Edward Jackfert and Mr. Ralph Levenberg, sent a letter to former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, asking for his support. 

Please read the letter.


US High speed rail project and Japan’s WWII POW forced labor

Kyodo News, Japan’s leading news network, published an article on February 18, 2011, entitled, “Ex-POW wants apology from Japanese firms seeking U.S. rail contracts.”

Dr. Lester Tenney, a survivor of the Bataan Death March and forced labor at Mitsui coal mine, was quoted in the article as saying, “All we are saying is, if you want the contract, you should be responsible on social issues, and you should show your responsibility.” 

*Many of the companies belonging to the Japanese consortia that try to bid for US high speed rail project used American POWs as forced laborers during WWII.

The article also wrote, "Kawasaki Heavy Industries Chairman Tadaharu Ohashi questioned the appropriateness of bringing up the events of the war in relation to the rail project."

However, Norman Mineta, former U.S. secretary of transportation, was quoted as saying, “It seems to me (the companies) probably should apologize, depending on the nature of their involvement and the degree to which it was a prevalent practice.”

Kyodo News also reported on Dr. and Mrs. Tenney’s meeting in last December with then California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  
 Also see
Ex-WWII POW Meets CA Governor for Support in Pressuring Japanese Companies to Apologize for WWII Slave Labor


Sixty-Six Years Ago Today

Santo Tomas civilian internment camp in Manila was liberated on Feb 3, 1945. This picture of two liberated internees was published in the March 5, 1945 issue of LIFE magazine.

Please go to Santo Tomas liberation


New essay about the Mukden POW camp posted

Mukden POW camp was one of the largest Japanese POW camps, where more than 2,000 Allied POWs were kept. The former camp site has been turned into a historical museum by the city of Shenyang (formerly Mukden) and Liaoning Province with the support from the Chinese central government.

Please go to Mukden POW camp


Letter to seek support sent to California's new governor 

Dr. Lester Tenney, past national commander of American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, wrote to California governor Jerry Brown:

In your upcoming meetings with Japanese bidders for California’s high-speed rail contracts, I ask that you insist that they acknowledge their role in violating the human rights of American citizens. These Japanese companies should come clean about their wartime misuse and abuse of American POWs by apologizing and creating an educational fund to preserve the history of us American veterans.

Please read the entire letter.


Support from Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

Mr. Stephen (Steve) R. Zeitz, National Commander of  Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV), sent letters to governors of Florida and California in support of former POWs of the Japanese. His action was in response to an article published in a popular Japanese magazine last month which cast doubt on the credibility of Dr. Lester Tenney's description of the Bataan Death March and the torture he received as a POW.

Dr. Tenney led the delegation of former POWs and descendants when they were invited to Japan last September by the Japanese government. They received an official apology from the then Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada for the inhumane treatment they had suffered during WWII.

Both letters ask the governors to urge those Japanese companies that are now trying to bid for high-speed rail projects in their states, most of which enslaved American POWs during WWII, to support educational projects on the history of POWs of the Japanese.

JWV letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott
JWV letter to California Governor Jerry Brown

English translation of the article about Dr. Tenney can be found here


Letter to seek support sent to Florida's new governor 

Mr. Edward Jackfert, past national commander of American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, wrote to Florida governor Rick Scott:

I ask that you tell Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara that his country’s greatest corporations involved in bidding for Florida’s high-speed rail contracts need to come clean about their wartime use and abuse of American POWs.

Please read the entire letter.