Legacy Created on: September 2008
Legacy on until: January 2013
Legacy availiable via archive until: January 2016
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Why did you feel compelled to go into the service in World War 1?

I had been reading the newspapers and I was aware of the accounts of General Pershing being in pursuit of Pancho Villa.

(when he came back from the war)
That picture was taken on the 10th of February 1920 in Oklahoma City where I just entered business school and I was still in uniform. General Frank BucklesPershing came on an obligatory trip around the country to see and be seen.  There was a parade that day with a reception held at a hotel in Oklahoma City, which I decided to go to. I could not get anyone to go with me, so I went alone to the reception. When I addressed the General, I gave him a snappy salute. Later, he sent a sergeant after me to ask me to come back because he wanted to talk to me and ask me a number of questions. If you look at the picture you will see that he would have seen those four gold stripes on my left sleeves which indicated that I had been two years in Europe, and he also would have noticed that that jacket that I was wearing is a better grade than the one the army issued- those horse blankets that they gave you for uniforms. He would also notice that I had my gloves in my hand and in his lifetime no one except the General and the Calvary men were entitled to hold their gloves in their hands.  The general asked me where was I born, and I said I was born on my family’s farm north of Bethany in Harrison County, Missouri.  The General said that was just 20 miles as the crow flows from Linn County where he was born.  While speaking with me that day he would have also noticed that he and I had the same accent, because in that period, around 1920, men retained the accent of the area of which they were born.  About 10 years ago they bought up the property in Missouri where he was born and I went back there to Kansas City and toured a museum there.  I went to the place where he was born, and also the place where I was born, which was not far away.


What can you tell me about your experience as a Prisoner of War during the Second World War?

When I was in the first prison camp I had a job on the labor crew digging ditches and so forth.  While I was there I tried to explain to some of the men the importance of keeping themselves in good physical condition because if you did get out either via a rescue or an escape you wanted to be in good shape, and so I led calisthenics.  I was in Manila for about a year and a half.  Santa Tomas University covered about 40 acres of land with a wall around it, so it was an ideal Frank Buckleslocation for a POW camp, however they soon saw that they would need to expand.  Eight hundred men were sent up to Los Baños. I was one of them and was there for over two years. The Los Baños camp had at one time been the agricultural school.  They called for volunteers at the camp in Manila to go to the one in Los Baños, and I volunteered, unlike many others who thought they might be isolated in the new camp.  I volunteered because the system in the prison camps was that if you escaped they would take the first 10 or so men that were close to you and execute them, no questions asked. I wanted to go to Los Baños because if I did manage to escape it would not cause harm to others.  At Los Baños there was a building that we called the gymnasium, and it was big enough that all 800 men could go into it. The first night there were 799 men in that building; I instead stayed under a mango tree nearby.  I remember it rained all night, and I was fortunate that I had a poncho.  Eventually, I moved under a shed and during a Japanese inspection tour they told me I could not stay there, but I could go under one of the buildings.  I got under a building and stayed there trying to be alone. Eventually, I found a crawlspace in one of the buildings that I would stay in that was about 3 feet wide and about 8 feet long. I went to Los Baños in the hopes of distancing myself from the other prisoners and escaping, but unfortunately, the way the camp was run and structured there was really no chance.

Do you remember the day that you were liberated from the Los Banos prison camp?

Oh yes, the 23rd of February 1945.  MacArthur had come into the area and had liberated other prison camps; the last was Manila on the 3rd of February.  Meanwhile, for us time was just moving along and we supposed that eventually we would be liberated.  On the 23rd of February we were 42 miles from Manila and we had seen cargo planes flying over.  However, we thought nothing of it, because even though they were American planes they weren’t coming for us.  The Japanese did not pay any attention to them either. The previous day the people from the Philippines were talking to the Japanese and the Japanese told them that they were soon going to leave.  This prompted the question to the Japanese of what are you going to do with the prisoners?  An officer said that at roll call they would be executed; at roll call we are going to kill them all because we can’t take them with us and what else would we do with them.  We had two roll calls a day, one at seven in the morning and one at five in the evening.  MacArthur at headquarters knew that, and he knew that to be on the safe side he had better make it early.  During these roll calls, if you had a folding chair you were lucky, if not you would try to find a box or something to sit on and head out to the lineup to sit there until the roll call.  Due to the lack of food, you didn’t have much energy and people were dying every day due to starvation.  The next morning I was out in the lineup and can’t remember what it was, but I had something to sit on.  I was waiting on the morning roll call and about a quarter to seven there were nine cargo planes flying over.  Once again, the Japanese paid no attention, and neither did the prisoners.  But suddenly the paratroopers started dropping and this was news, because at that time no one there had ever heard of a paratrooper.  The guerillas had been in the trees near the camp and they hopped down with wire cutters, cut the wires for the paratroopers to come through, and the battle ensued.  The raid caught the Japanese by surprise. Many of the Japanese in the camp ran away because they weren’t sticking around to fight over prisoners that were to be killed and left behind anyway.  After we were liberated at Los Baños, we were kept there for at least three weeks, because the men were not in good enough physical condition to withstand the trip.  Before going into Los Baños my normal weight was about 155 pounds, and while there I stopped looking at the scales after I hit 100 pounds.


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