In Memory of Mr. Raymond Hap Halloran  

by Yuka Ibuki

On June 7, 2011, Mr. Raymond Hap Halloran passed away at a great age of 89.

I came to know him in 2004, when Ms. Kinue Tokudome let me translate his article posted in her bilingual website: US-Japan Dialogue on POWs. His was among the earliest postings, and as you can see, it is an extraordinary piece telling the awful experiences he went through in the final months of WWII as a B-29er who bombed, was downed and captured in Japan.

However, it is infinitely a wonderful story of positive benefits the author finally gained, overcoming severe aftermath affected on him through seer violence, humiliation and fear during his POW days, by facing Japan and its people.

He writes:

I guess I've come to the conclusion that it was those difficult days during WW II that taught me a lot of things about myself - things that have helped me over the many years of my life. Lessons that are still helping me today. And I will always continue to use what I've learned to help other people grow too. Especially young people, who sometimes need a little help growing.

Communication with Hap starting on translating the article developed into helping research on the past facts, and common topics as Christian friends.

Let me share some of his views:

I was fortunate to survive.  Perhaps the purpose in the big plan was to help those over future years who need help.  l try hard to do that . What a great feeling when same is accomplished and families and individuals are forever grateful. 

He was considerate of Japanese people who suffered in the same war also:

The (TBS TV) interview of the gentleman and lady on banks of the Sumida River on June 21/07  was very important to me.  To help her up the stairs (when I needed help myself) holding her left arm (she lost the entire right arm on 3/10 fire).  Just to hear both of them out - and I felt understanding - and reconciliation and a degree of closure for them is important to both them and to me. 

 "Closure" was Hap's unique concept to settle with Japan’s past war, which I for one couldn’t agree as concerned Japanese. As you know, half the goal has been achieved as under the DPJ Government the “POWs/Japanese People Friendship Program” started in 2010. We’ll work on for the latter half of the goal: recognition, apology by the Keidanren and setting an educational fund by both parties. 

We met several times, in the US and Japan.  Our last e-mail communications were in March 2010, on Mrs. Sachie Nagasawa’s latest activities. She is a lady, who, as Vice Principal in 2004, opened the gate of an elementary school for Hap, the school which is located close to former Ohmori POW Camp, then and now. Hap’s meeting and talking to twelve-year-old students was broadcast by NHK TV. Ms. Nagasawa made this event into a lovely bilingual booklet with some nice photos, and has since been active giving talks.  Hap was ever so grateful to her.      

           Hap and Mrs.Sachie Nagasawa

Here is a Special Message from Ms Nagasawa. She told me she was rereading Haps letters for the next lecture at a school, when she heard the passing of Hap: 

I still have vivid memories of the day Mr. Halloran visited Ohmori Fifth Elementary School, which was in June, 2004. It was an unexpected and sudden visit accompanied by an NHK news crew, but his affectionate smile caught me instantly. He told us he was a B29er who was held in Ohmori POW Camp located on what is now called Heiwa-jima (Peace Island), and dropped by as he had nostalgic memories of this school, which was here in those days. That year was the 70th anniversary of our school, and in preparation for some special events,

I had been looking at our 60th Anniversary Memorial Book and some old photos. I was surprised to see a person who was in a photo titled, “Men Who Are Glad to Be Liberated”. I showed him several documents, which made him very glad, indeed. That led to my decision to have him meet our children two days afterwards. Later, as I eventually learned why Mr. Halloran wanted to meet the children and why he didn’t forget Ohmori, I was shocked to learn of the tragedy and cruel fate of war. He said that the children provided hope and a way to peace during his days in the camp, where he felt he was on the verge of insanity. He said to me, “I feel happy that the paths of our lives have crossed.” In the years ahead, I would like to convey a message of belief in the future and of innocent, yet deep human love by relating the story of Mr. Halloran’s life.

                            Sachie Nagasawa
            former Vice Principal of Ohmori
                       Fifth Elementary School

I know Hap had a plan for his second biography, being helped with a trusted friend, Mr. Mike Brown who I met in 2007. Hap’s illness must have inevitably affected the original plan, but I hope gifted Mike’s eagerness will produce something eventually, perhaps with Help from the above. Hap was an alert, brave fighter in accomplishing his missions, who was full of beautiful gratefulness for small everyday joy. He had a wonderful last day with his three children celebrating his daughter’s birthday with his sons, Dan and Tim. He sang Happy Birthday to Peggy, and when he went to bed, he shook hands with the staff saying he’s glad to be in bed. I learned so much from you, Thank you, Hap. It was a real blessing meeting you, a genuine gentleman.


                                              Hap with Mike and Yuka in 2007


His son, Dan, delivered this Eulogy.

89 Years 4 Months 3 Days……………

Dad touched many lives here, Japan and around the world. He stood for forgiveness, reconciliation, love, integrity, honor, loyalty, and compassion for others.  He was known by many as Hap. I know him only as Dad and my best friend. Even when we didn’t agree he always had my back. I’ll always remember the fishing trips, drives to the Oregon coast, Saturdays playing in his downtown office with my brother and sister, while he gave dictation on his tape recorder. He was our weekend warrior. We always spent weekends with Dad.

After he returned to Japan in 1985 I began to truly understand what he had gone through in 1945. Even though he suffered from what I know now as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) he made the best of life always defining every day as a “bonus” day. I live my life by the example he set.

We began our travels together after he retired.

Hawaii to visit the graves of two of his crew
73rd Bomb Wing Reunions
Air shows

We were a good team.

On trips together Dad would talk about the Roverboys as if they were his brothers. Dad is the last of his crew, which consisted of Mr. Edmund G. Smith, Mr. Vitto C. Barbteri, Mr. James W. Edwards, Mr. William J. Franz Jr., Mr. Robert L. Grave, Mr. Robert B. Holladay, Mr. Guy H.  Knobel, Mr. Cecil T. Laird, Mr. Anthony S. Lukasiewicz, and John P. Nicholson.

They now have their navigator and I’m sure they’re all flying with a strong tailwind.

When Dad gave the eulogy for Colonel Greg Pappy Boynton at Arlington he recited a poem which became a comfort to him whenever there was the passing of a B-29 crew member or friend.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awaken in the mornings hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night

Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there…I did not die

Ms. Linda Goetz Holmes, the author of Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun and Guests of the Emperor: The Secret History of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp, also sent this tribute:

I first had the pleasure of meeting Hap at a Nimitz Museum symposium, "Crucible of Deliverance: POWs and the A-Bomb".  Of course, Hap had everyone in the auditorium transfixed as he thundered with a whisper his incredible story.  Later that year, I was able to persuade him to talk to our New York-based journalist's group, and these veteran newsmen said it was the best program we'd ever had. Hap kindly inscribed a print of the Rover Boys Express for my son Philip, who cherishes it at his home in L.A.  And I will always cherish my inscribed copy of "Hap's War."  I sure will miss the letters and Christmas greetings.

Hap's willingness to meet his Japanese counterparts and offer a hand of friendship -- was really a postwar inspiration to countless others. 

I always will remember how he said he started each day, by going outside and saying "Thanks, God, for another bonus day."  What an axiom to live by!

Hap always enjoyed meeting people. Here are two photos from the past postings on this website.

Visiting the late Congressman Tom Lantos and Mrs. Lantos             With Japanese college student Asako Yoshida
with Kinue Tokudome and  the late Roger Mansell  (2005)                  (2006)