Monday, December 29, 2014

Unbroken by Lauara Hillenbrand

This is a great story of a true Hero - and of the horrors of war.  It was painful to read.  I spent two years in Japan in the early 70s and truly love the people and the country.  That "good" people can do bad things is a painful truth with which we must deal. 

I hope that all good people have within them the strength that Louie Zamperini displayed - and that we can all find the sources of support that made his triumph possible.

 I was pleased that his greatest triumph was running a boys camp.  I believe that boys camps are wonderful. 

I have reduced this powerful book - which I highly recommend to everyone - to 23 pages containing 111 quotes.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

1. BSA Fire by Friction “ . . . Louie . . . setting a legitimate Boy Scout state record in friction-fire ignition . . .” p. 7

2. Ethnic Tension “And then there was his ethnicity.  In Torrance in the early 1920s, Italians were held in such disdain that when the Zamperinis arrived, the neighbors petitioned the city council to keep them out.  Louie, who know only a smattering of English until he was in grade school, couldn’t hide his pedigree.” p. 8

3.  Pseudoscience of Eugenics “In the 1930s, America was infatuated with the pseudoscience of eugenics and its promise to strengthening the human race by culling the “unfit” for the genetic pool.  Along with the “feebleminded, insane, and criminal, those so classified included women who had sex out of wedlock (considered a mental illness), orphans, the disabled, the poor, the homeless, epileptics, masturbators, the blind and the deaf, alcoholics, and girls whose genitals exceeded certain measurements. Some eugenicists advocated euthanasia, and in mental hospitals, this was quietly carried out on scores of people though “lethal neglect” or outright murder.  At one Illinois mental hospital, new patients were dosed with milk form cows infected with tuberculosis, in the belief that only the undesirable would perish. As many as four in ten of these patients died.  A more popular tool of eugenics was forced sterilization, employed on a raft of lost souls who, through misbehavior or misfortune, fell into the hands of state governments.  By 1930, when Louie was entering his teens, California was enraptured with eugenics, and would ultimately sterilize some twenty thousand people.” p. 11

4. On Running “He came home with a mania for running.  All of he effort that he’d once put into thieving he threw into track.  On Pete’s instruction, he ran his entire paper rout . . . He gave up drinking and smoking . . . he ran to the public pool . . .dove to the bottom grabbed the drain plug, and just floated there, hanging on a little longer each time.” p. 16

  5. His Hero “Louie also found a role model.  In the 1930s, track was hugely popular, and its elite performers were household names.  Among them was a Kansas University miler named Glenn Cunningham.  As a small child, Cunningham had been in a schoolhouse explosion . . . and left Glen with severe burns on his legs and torso.  It was a month and a half before he could sit up, and more time still before he could stand.  Unable to straighten his legs, he learned to push himself about by leaning on a chair, his legs floundering . . . By 1932, the modest, mild-tempered Cunningham, whose legs and back were covered in a twisting mesh of scars, was becoming a national sensation, soon to be acclaimed as the greatest miler in American history.  Louie had his hero.”  p. 16

6. Global Warming in 1936 “That week, which included the hottest three-day period in the nation’s history, the heat would kill three thousand Americans.  In Manhattan, where it would reach 106 degrees, forty people would die.” p 23 

7. A Proud Scoutmaster “Anthony headed off to the Kiwanis club, where he and Louie’s Boy Scout master would drink toasts to Louie until four in the morning.”  p. 27

8. Shaking Hands with Hitler “Louis was led into the fuhrer’s section.  Hitler bent from his box, smiled, and offered his hand.  Louie, standing below, had to reach far up.  Their fingers barely touched.  Hitler said something in German.  An interpreter translated  “Ah, you’re the boy with the fast finish.” p. 35

9. Louie’s Character Reveled in a Race “In June 1938, Louie arrived at the NCAA Championship in Minneapolis, gunning for four minutes.  Spilling over with eagerness, he babbled to other athletes about his new training regimen, his race strategy, and how fast he might go.  Word spread that Louie was primed for a superlative performance.  On the night before the race, a coach from Notre Dame knocked on Louie’s hotel room door, a grave expression on his face.  He told Louie that some of his rival coaches were ordering their runners to sharpen their spikes and slash him.  Louie dismissed the warning, certain that no one would do such a thing deliberately. 

            He was wrong.  Halfway through the race, just as Louie was about to move for the lead, several runners shouldered around him, boxing him in. Louie tried repeatedly to break loose but he couldn’t get around the other men. Suddenly, the man beside him swerved in and stomped on his foot, impaling Louie’s toe with his spike.  A moment later, the man ahead began kicking backward, cutting both of Louie’s shins.  A third man elbowed Louie’s chest so hard that he cracked Louie’s rib.  The crowd gasped.

            Bleeding and in pain, Louie was trapped.  For a lap and a half, he ran in the cluster of men, unable to get free, restraining his stride to avoid running into the man ahead.  At last, as he neared the final turn, he saw a tiny gap open before him.  He burst through, blew past the race leader, and, with his shoe torn open, shins streaming blood, and chest aching, won easily.

            He slowed to a halt, bitter and frustrated.  When his coach asked him how fast he thought he had gone, Louie replied that he couldn’t have beaten 4:20.

            The race time was posted on the board.  From the stands came a sudden Woooo! Louie had run the mile in 4:08.3.  It was the fastest NCAA mile in history and the fifth-fastest outdoor mile ever run.  Louie had missed the world record by 1.9 seconds.  His time would stand as the NCAA record for fifteen years.” p. 41  

10. Japanese Racism “Central to the Japanese identity was the belief that it was Japan’s divinely mandated right to rule its fellow Asians, whom it saw as inherently inferior.  “There are superior and inferior races in the world,” said the Japanese politician Nakajima Chikuhei in 1940, “and it is the sacred duty of the leading race to lead and enlighten the inferior ones.”  The Japanese, he continued, are “the sole superior race of the world.”  Moved by necessity and destiny, Japan’s leaders planned to “plant the blood of the Yamato [Japanese] race” on their neighboring nations’ soil.  They were going to subjugate all of the Far East.” p. 43

11. Training Accidents “In the Army Air Forces, or AAF,* there were 52,651 stateside aircraft accidents over the course of the war, killing 14,903 personnel. Though some of these personnel were probably on coastal patrol and other duties, it can be presumed that the vast majority were trainees, killed without ever seeing a combat theater.  In the three months in which Phil’s men trained as a crew, 3,041 AAF planes—more than 33 per day—met with accidents stateside, killing nine men per day.  In subsequent months, death tallies exceeding 500 were common.  In August 1943, 590 airmen would die stateside, 19 per day.”  p. 61

12. Quality Crew “Training was a crucible, and it transformed Phil’s crew.  They would not all live through what lay ahead, but the survivors would speak of their good fortune in serving among such skilled men.  They worked together with seamless efficiency, and judging by their training scores, in the grim business of bombs and bullets, there was not better crew in the squadron.” p. 62 

13. Size of the Japanese Empire “ . . . Japan’s new empire stretched five thousand miles, from the snowbound Aleutians to Java, hundreds of miles south of the equator.  West to east, the empire sprawled over more then six thousand miles form the border of India to the Gilbert and Marshall islands in the central Pacific.  In the pacific, virtually everything above Australia and west of the International Date Line had been taken by Japan.” p. 65

14. Losses to Combat and Accidents “In World War II, 35,933 AAF planes were lost in combat and accidents.  The surprise of the attrition rate is that only a fraction of he ill-fated planes were lost in combat.  In 1943 in the Pacific Ocean Areas theater in which Phil’s crew served. For every plane lost in combat, some six planes were lost in accidents.  Over time, combat took a greater toll, but combat losses never overtook noncombat losses.

            As planes went, so went men.  In the air corps, 35,946 personnel died in nonbattle situations, the vast majority of them in accidental crashes. *  Even in combat, airmen appear to have been more likely to die from accidents than combat itself.  A report issued by the AAF surgeon general suggests that in the Fifteenth Air Force, between November 1, 1943, and May 25, 1945, 70 percent of men listed as killed in action died in operational aircraft accidents, not as a result of enemy action.” p. 80

15. Risk of Death “The risks of combat created grim statistics. In World War II, 52,173 AAF men were killed in combat.  According to Stay, who would become a squadron commander, airmen trying to fulfill the forty combat missions that made up a Pacific bomber crewman’s tour of duty had a 50 percent chance of being killed.” p. 84

16.  B-24 a Dangerous Plane  “Less than a quarter of ditched B-17s broke up, but a survey of B-24 ditchings found that nearly two-thirds broke up and a quarter of the crewmen died.” p. 85

17. Fear of Sharks “The fear of sharks was so powerful that most men, faced with the choice of riding a crippled plane to a ditching or bailing out, chose to take their chances in a ditching, even in the B-24.  At least that would leave them near the rafts.”  p. 86

18. Percent of Men Lost “According to reports made by the Far East Air Force air surgeon, fewer than 30 percent of men whose planes went missing between July 1944 and February 1945 were rescued.  Even when the plane’s location was know, only 46 percent of men were saved.  In some months, the picture was far worse.  In January 1945, only 21 of 167 downed XXI Bomber Command airmen were rescued—just 13 percent.

            As bleak as these odds were late in the war, men who went down before min-1944 faced far worse.” p. 87

19. Danger of the Search “The improbability of rescue, coupled with the soaring rate of accidental crashes, created a terrible equation.  Search planes appear to have been more likely to go down themselves than find the men they were looking for.  In one time frame, in the Eastern Air Command, half of the Catalina flying boats attempting rescues crashed while trying to land on the ocean.  It seems likely that for every man rescued, several would-be rescuers died, especially in the first years of the war.”  p. 87

20.  The Rape of Nanking “Of all of the horrors facing downed men, the one outcome that they feared most was capture by the Japanese.  The roots of the men’s fear lay in an event that occurred in 1937, in the early months of Japan’s invasion of China.  The Japanese military surrounded the city of Nanking, stranding more than half a million civilians and 90,000 Chinese soldiers.  The soldiers surrendered and, assured of their safety, submitted to being bound.  Japanese officers then issued a written order: ALL PRISONERS OF WAR ARE TO BE EXECUTED.

            What followed was a six-week frenzy of killing that defies articulation.  Masses of POWs were beheaded, machine-gunned, bayoneted, and burned alive.  The Japanese turned on civilians, engaging in killing contests, raping tens of thousands of people, mutilating and crucifying them and provoking dogs to maul them.  Japanese soldiers took pictures of themselves posing alongside hacked-up bodies, severed heads, and women strapped down for rape.  The Japanese press ran tallies of the killing contests as if they were baseball scores, praising the heroism of the contestants.  Historians estimate that the Japanese military murdered between 200,000 and 430,000 Chinese, including the 90,000 POWs, in what became know as the Rape of Nanking.” p. 88   

21. BSA 1st Aid Training “There were two gashes on the left side of Phil’s forehead, by the hairline.  Blood was spurting form the wounds and, mixed with seawater, sloshing in the bottom of the raft.  Remembering what he had learned in Boy Scouts and his Honolulu first aid course, Louie ran his fingers down Phil’s throat until he felt a pulse, the carotid artery.  He showed Mac the spot and told him to press down.  He pulled off his muslin top shirt and T-shirt and pulled Phil’s shirts off as well . . . and tied them tightly round Phil’s head, then slid Phil into the second raft.” p. 126

22. Why Not to Drink Sea Water “Most worrisome was the water situation.  A few half-pints wouldn’t last them long.  The men were surrounded by water, but they couldn’t drink it.  The salt content in seawater is so high that it is considered a poison.  When a person drinks seawater, the kidneys must generate urine to flush the salt away, but to do so, they need more water than is contained in the seawater itself, so the body pulls water from its cells.  Bereft of water, the cells begin to fail.  Paradoxically, a drink of seawater causes potentially fatal dehydration.” p.128 

23. Hope Springs Eternal “What is remarkable is that the two men who shared Mac’s plight didn’t share his hopelessness.  Though Phil was constantly wondering how long this would go on, it had not yet occurred to him that he might die.  The same was true for Louie.  Though they both knew that they were in an extremely serious situation, both had the ability to warn fear away from their thoughts, focusing instead on how to survive and reassuring themselves that things would work out . . . For Phil, there was another source of strength, one of which even Louie was unaware.  According to his family, in his quiet, private way, Phil was a deeply religious man, carrying a faith instilled in him by his parents.” p. 147

24. Learning to Overcome  “From earliest childhood, Louie had regarded every limitation placed on him as a challenge to his wits, his resourcefulness, and his determination to rebel.  The result had been a mutinous youth. As maddening as his exploits had been for his parents and his town, Louie’s success in carrying them off had given him the conviction that he could think his way around any boundary. Now, as he was cast into extremity, despair and death became the focus of his defiance.  The same attributes that had made him the boy terror of Torrance were keeping him alive in the greatest struggle of his life.” p. 148

25. Cannibalism “In 1820, after the whaling ship Essex was sunk by an enraged whale, the lifeboat-bound survivors, on the brink of death, resorted to cannibalism.   Some sixty years later, after nineteen days adrift, starving survivors of the sunken yacht Mignonette killed and ate a teenaged crewman.  Stories of cannibalism among castaways were so common that British sailors considered the practice of choosing and sacrificing a victim to be an established “custom of the sea.”  To well-fed men on land, the idea of cannibalism has always inspired revulsion.  To many sailors who have stood on the threshold of death, lost in the agony and mind-altering effects of starvation, it has seemed a reasonable, even inescapable solution.” pp. 148-149

26. The Miracle of Prayer “On the sixth day without water, the men recognized that they weren’t going to last much longer.  Mac was failing especially quickly.

            They bowed their head together as Louie prayed.  If God would quench their thirst he vowed, he’d dedicate his life to him.

            The next day, by divine intervention or the fickle humors of the tropics, the sky broke open and rain poured down.  Twice more the water ran out, twice more they prayed, and twice more the rain came. The showers gave them just enough water to last a short while longer.  If only a plane would come.” p. 152

27. Bullets “And then, all at once, the ocean erupted.  There was a deafening noise, and the rafts began hopping and shuddering under the castaways.  The gunners were firing at them.

            Louie, Phil, and Mac clawed for the raft walls and threw themselves overboard.  They swam under the rafts and huddled there, watching bullets tear through the rafts and cut bright slits in the water around them.  Then the firing stopped. 

            The men surfaced.  The bomber had overshot them and was now to the east, moving away.  Two sharks were nosing around.  The men had to get out of the water immediately . . . In the distance, the bomber swung around and began flying at the rafts again . . . All three men saw it at once.  Behind the wing, painted over the waist, was a red circle.  The bomber was Japanese . . .

            The bullets showered the ocean in a glittering downpour.  Looking up, Louie saw them popping through the canvas, shooting beams of intensely bright tropical sunlight through the raft’s shadow.  But after a few feet, the bullets spent their fore and fluttered down fizzing.  Louie straightened his arms over his head and pushed against the bottom of one of the rafts, trying to get far enough down to be outside the bullets’ lethal range.  Above him, he could see the depressions formed by Mac and Phil’s bodies.   Neither man was moving.” pp. 154-155

28. Sharks “As he lay underwater, his legs tugged in front of him by the current, Louie looked down at his feet . . . Then, in the murky blur beyond it, he saw the huge, gaping mouth of a shark emerge out of the darkness and rush straight at his legs.

            Louie recoiled, pulling his legs toward his body.  The current was too strong for him to get his legs beneath him, but he was able to swing them to the side, away from the shark’s mouth.  The shark kept coming, directly at Louie’s head.  Louie remembered the advice of the old man in Honolulu: Make a threatening expression, then stiff-arm the shark’s snout.  As the shark lunged for his head, Louie bared his teeth, widened his eyes, and rammed his palm into the tip of the shark’s nose.  The shark flinched, circled away, then swam back for a second pass.  Louie waited until the shark was inches from him, then struck it in the nose again.  Again, the shark peeled away.

            Above, the bullets had stopped coming.  As quickly as he could, Louie pulled himself along the cord until he reached the raft.  He grabbed its wall and lifted himself clear of the shark . . . 

            As the men sat together, exhausted and in shock, a shark lunged up over a wall of the raft, mouth open, trying to drag a man into the ocean.  Someone grabbed an oar and hit the shark, and it slid off.  Then another shark jumped on and, after it, another.  The men gripped the oars and wheeled about, frantically swinging at the sharks.” pp. 155-157

 29. Patching the Leaks  As they turned and swung and the sharks flopped up, air was forced out of the bullet holes, and the raft sank deeper.  Soon, part of the raft was completely submerged.

            If the men didn’t get air into the raft immediately, the sharks would take them.  One pump had been lost in the staffing; only the one from Mac and Louie’s raft remained.  The men hooked it up to one of the two values and took turns pumping as hard  as they could.  Air flowed into the chamber and seeped out though the bullet holes, but the men found that if they pumped very quickly, just enough air passed through the raft to lift it up in the water and keep it mostly inflated.  The sharks kept coming, and the men kept beating them away.

            As Phil and Mac pumped and struck at the sharks, Louie groped for the provisions pocket and grabbed at the patch kit . . . When Louie pulled it out, only the paper emerged; the sand that had been stuck to it had washed off.  For the umpteenth time Louie cursed whoever had stocked the raft.  He had to devise something that could etch up the patch area so the glue would stick . . . Using the pliers he cut three teeth into the edge of the [bronze signal] mirror.  Phil and Mac kept fighting the sharks off.

            Louie began patching, starting with the holes on the top of the raft . . . After cutting the X, he peeled back the canvas to reveal the rubber layer, using the mirror to scratch up the rubber, squeezed glue onto it, and stuck the patch on.  Then he waited for the sun to dry the glue.  Sometimes, a whitecap would drench the patch before it dried, and he’d have to begin again . . . When that half of the bottom was patched, they re-inflated it, crawled onto the repaired side, deflated the other side, and repeated the process.  Again, whitecaps repeatedly washed over the raft and spoiled the patches, and everything had to be redone . . .

            Finally, they could find no more holes to patch . . . With the raft now reasonably inflated, the sharks stopped attacking.” pp. 157-158

30. The Passing of Sargent McNamara “Sergeant Francis McNamara had begun his last journey with a panicked act, consuming the raft’s precious food stores . . . But in the last days of his life, in the struggle against the deflating raft and the jumping sharks, he had given all he had left . . . Had Mac not survived the crash, Louie and Phil might well have been dead by the thirty-third day.  In his dying days, Mac had redeemed himself . . . When he was done, Louie lifted the shrouded body in his arms . . . Louie bent over the side of the raft and gently slid Mac into the water.  Mac sank away.  The sharks let him be. p. 165

31. 34 Day Record “The next night, Louie and he completed their thirty-fourth day on the raft.  Though they didn’t know it, they had passed what was almost certainly the record for survival adrift in an inflated raft.  If anyone had survived longer, they hadn’t lived to tell about it.” p. 165

32. Beauty as Proof of God’s Existence “One morning, they woke to a strange stillness.  The rise and fall of the raft had ceased, and it was virtually motionless. There was no wind.  The ocean stretched out in all directions in glossy smoothness, regarding the sky and reflecting its image in crystalline perfection . . .

            It was an experience of transcendence.  Phil watched the sky, whispering that it looked like a pearl.  The water looked so solid that it seemed they could walk across it . . .

            For a while they spoke, sharing their wonder. Then they fell into reverent silence.  Their suffering was suspended.  They weren’t hungry or thirsty.  They were unaware of the approach of death.

            As he watched this beautiful, still world, Louie played with a thought that had come to him before.  He had thought it as he had watched hunting seabirds, marveling at their ability to adjust their dives to compensate for the refraction of light in water.  He had thought it a he had considered the pleasing geometry of the sharks, their gradation of color, their slide through the sea . . . Such beauty, he thought was too perfect to have come about by mere chance. That day in the center of the Pacific was, to him, a gift crafted deliberately, compassionately, for him and Phil.

            Joyful and grateful in the midst of slow dying, the two men bathed in that day until sunset brought it and their time in the doldrums, to and end.” p. 166

33. Days, Pounds, and Miles “Louie had predicted that they’d find land on the forty-seventh day.  Phil had chosen the day before.  Because they had spotted land on the day Phil had chosen and were about to reach it on the day Louie had chosen, they decided that they had both been right . . . Phil had weighed about 150 pounds when he had stepped aboard Green Hornet.  Louie’s war diary, began shortly after he arrived in Hawaii, noted that he weighed 155 pounds . . . Now Phil weighed about 80 pounds.  According to different accounts, five foot, ten-inch Louie weighed 67 pounds, 79.5 pounds, or 87 pounds.  Whatever the exact number, each man had lost about half of his body weight, or more . . . Louie and Phil knew where their journey had began, but did not yet know where it had ended.  The officers told them.  They were on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.  They had drifted two thousand miles.”  pp. 171-173

34. Violation of the Code of Honor “As Japanese servicemen crowded around, the raft was spread out and the bullet holes counted.  There were forty-eight.  The curious servicemen pressed toward the Americans, but the officers kept them back. An officer asked Louie where the bullet holes had come from.  Louie replied that a Japanese plane had strafed them.  The officer said that this was impossible, a violation of their military code of honor.” P. 173

35. At First – Compassion “Two beds were made up, and Louie and Phil were invited to get as much rest as they wished.  Slipping between cool, clean sheets, their stomachs full, their sores soothed, they were deeply grateful to have been received with such compassion.  Phil had a relieved thought: they were among friends.

            Louie and Phil stayed in the infirmary for two days, attended by Japanese who cared for them with genuine concern for their comfort and health.  On the third day, the deputy commanding officer came to them.  He brought beef, chocolate, and coconuts—a gift from his commander—as well as news. A freighter was coming to transport them to another atoll.  The name he gave sent a tremor through Louie: Kwajalein.  It was the place know as Execution Island.

            “After you leave here,” Louie would long remember the officer saying, “we cannot guarantee your life.”” p. 173

36. Imprisoned “Slowly, his thoughts quieted and his eyes settled.  He was in a wooden cell, about the length of a man and not much wide than his shoulders.  Over his head was a thatched roof, about seven feet up.  The only window was a hole, about a foot square, in the door.  The floor was strewn with gravel, dirt, and wiggling maggots, and the room hummed with flies and mosquitoes, already beginning to swarm onto him.  There was a hole in the floor with a latrine bucket below it.  The air hung hot and still, oppressive with the stench of human waste.  Louie looked up.  In the dim light, he saw words carved into the wall: NINE MARINES MAROONED ON MAKIN ISLAND, AJGUST 18, 1942 . . .

            Louie looked down at his body.  Legs that had sprung through a 4:12 mile over bright sand on the last morning on Kualoa were now useless.  The vibrant, generous body that he had trained with such vigilance had shrunken until only the bones remained, draped in yellow skin, crawling with parasites.

            All I see, he thought, is a dead body breathing.

            Louie dissolved into hard, racking weeping.  He muffled his sobs so the guard wouldn’t hear him.” pp. 174-175


37.  He Missed the Raft “Curled up on the gravelly floor, both men felt as if their bones were wearing through their skins.  Louie begged for a blanket to sit on, but was ignored.  He passed the time trying to strengthen his legs, pulling himself upright and standing for a minute or two while holding the wall, then sinking down.  He missed the raft.” p. 180

38. “Friends” “Louie often stared at the names of the marines, wondering who they were, if they’d had wives and children, how the end had come for them.  He began to think of them as his friends.  One day he pulled off his belt and bent the buckle upward.  In tall block letters, he carved his name into the wall beside theirs.” p. 181

39. So Much Misunderstanding “The pretext for many of the outburst was miscommunication.  The captives and their guards came from cultures with virtually no overlap in language or custom.  Louie and Phil found it almost impossible to understand what was being asked of them.  Sign language was of little help, because even the culture’s gestures were different.  The guards, like nearly all citizens of their historically isolated nation, had probably never seen a foreigner before, and probably had no experience in communication with a non-Japanese.  When misunderstood they often became so exasperated that they screamed at and beat the captives” p. 182

40. To Deprive Them of Dignity “The crash of Green hornet had left Louie and Phil in the most desperate physical extremity, without food, water, or shelter.  But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity.  This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved form and cast below, mankind.  Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain.  Without dignity, identity is erased.  In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.  One American airman, shot down and relentlessly debased by his Japanese captors described the state of mind that his captivity created: “I was literally becoming a lesser human being.” pp. 182-183

41. Japanese Honor and Degradation “Few societies treasured dignity, and feared humiliation, as did the Japanese, for whom a loss of honor could merit suicide.  This is likely one of the reasons why Japanese soldiers in World War II debased their prisoners with such zeal, seeking to take from them that which was most painful and destructive to lose.  On Kwajalein, Louie and Phil learned a dark truth known to the doomed in Hitler’s death camps, the slaves of the American South, and a hundred other generations of betrayed people.  Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen.  The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body log past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.  The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.  In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet.” p. 183

42. Sex and Slavery “The ranking officer stared coolly at his captive.  How do American soldiers satisfy their sexual appetites? he asked.  Louie replied that they don’t—they rely on willpower.  The officer was amused.  The Japanese military, he said, provides women for its soldiers, as allusion to the thousands of Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and Filipino women whom the Japanese military had kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery.” pp. 184-185

43. Necessary Lies “They [the interrogators] moved on to the Norden bombsight.  How do you work it?  You just twist two knobs, Louie said.  The officers were annoyed.  Louie was sent back to his cell.

            Suspecting that he’d be brought back, Louie brainstormed, trying to anticipate Fuestions. He thought about which things he could divulge and which things he couldn’t.  for the latter, he came up with lies and practiced until he could utter them smoothly.  Because he’d been partially truthful in the first session, he was now in a better position to lie.” p. 184

44. Me Christian “The guard slipped two pieces of hard candy into Louie’s hand, then moved down the hall and gave two pieces to Phil.  A friendship was born.

            The prisoners understood almost nothing of what Kawamura said, but his good will needed no translation. Kawamura could do nothing to improve the physical conditions in which the captives lived, but his kindness was lifesaving.

            When Kawamura was off guard duty, a new guard came.  He launched himself at Louie, ramming a stick through the door window and into Louie’s face . . . Upon hearing the guard’s name Kawamura hardened, lifting his arm and flexing his biceps at Louie.  When his shift was up, he sped away with an expression of furious determination.

            For two days, Louie saw nothing of Kawamura or the vicious guard.  Then Kawamura returned, opened Louie’s cell door a crack, and proudly pointed out the guard who had beaten Louie. His forehead and mouth were heavily bandaged.  He never guarded the cell again.” p. 185

45. Experiments “. . . they were subjected to a third experiment, and a few days later came a fourth.  In the last infusing a full pint of the fluid was pumped into their veins.

            Both men survived, and as terrible as their experience had been they were lucky.  All over their captured territories, the Japanese were using at least ten thousand POWs and civilians, including infants, as test subjects for experiments in biological and chemical warfare.  Thousands died.”  p. 187

46. “Unarmed Combatants” “The men in Ofuna, said the Japanese, weren’t POWs; they were “unarmed combatants” at war against Japan and, as such, didn’t have the rights that international law accorded POWs.  In fact, they had no rights at all . . . they stressed that they did not guarantee that captives could survive Ofuna. “They can kill you here,” Louie was told, “No one knows your alive.”” pp. 192-193

47. Beatings “Punctuating the passage of each day were beatings. Men were beaten for folding their arms, for sitting naked to help heal sores, for cleaning their teeth, for talking in their sleep.  Most often, they were beaten for not understanding orders, which were almost always issued in Japanese.  Dozens of men were lined up and clubbed in the knees for one man’s alleged infraction.  A favorite punishment was to force men to stand, sometimes for hours, in the “Ofuna crouch,” a painful and strenuous position in which men stood with knees bent halfway and arms overhead.  Those who fell over of dropped their arms were clubbed and kicked.  Captives who tried to assist victims were attacked themselves, usually far more violently, so victims were on their own.  Any attempt to protect oneself—ducking, shielding the face—provoked greater violence.  “My job,” remembered captive Glenn McConnell, “was to keep my nose on my face and keep from being disassembled.”  The beatings, he wrote, “were of such intensity that many of us wondered if we’d ever live to see the end of the war.” pp. 193-194

48. On the Guards “At Ofuna, as at the scores of POW camps scattered throughout Japan and its conquests, the men used for guard duty were the dregs of the Japanese military.  Many had washed out of regular soldierly life, too incompetent to perform basic duties.  Quite a few were deranged.  According to captives, there were two characteristics common to nearly all Ofuna guards.  One was marked stupidity.  The other was murderous sadism.” p. 194

49. Corporal Punishment “In the Japanese military of that era, corporal punishment was routine practice.  “Iron must be beaten while it’s hot; soldiers must be beaten while they’re fresh” was a saying among servicemen.  “No strong soldiers,” went another, “are made without beatings.”  p.194

50. Japanese Racism “One [opinion common in Japan] held that Japanese were racially and morally superior to non-Japanese, a “pure” people divinely destined to rule.  Just as Allied soldiers, like the cultures they came from, often held virulently racist views of the Japanese, Japanese soldiers and civilians, intensely propagandized by their government, usually carried their own caustic prejudices about their enemies, seeing them as brutish, subhuman beasts or fearsome “Anglo-Saxon devils.”  This racism, and the hatred and fear it fomented, surely served as an accelerant for abuse of Allied prisoners.” pp. 194-195

51. The Japanese Would Not Be Captured “In Japan’s militaristic society, all citizens, from earliest childhood, were relentlessly indoctrinated with the lesson that to be captured in war was intolerable shameful.  The 1941 Japanese Military Field Code made clear what was expected of those facing capture: “Have regard for you family first.  Rather than live and bear the shame of imprisonment, the soldier must die and avoid leaving a dishonorable name.”  As a result, in many hopeless battles, virtually every Japanese soldier fought to the death.  For every Allied soldier killed, four were captured; for every 120 Japanese soldiers killed, one was captured.  In some losing battles, Japanese soldiers committed suicide en masse to avoid capture. The few who were captured sometimes gave false names, believing that their families would rather think their son had died.  The depth of the conviction was demonstrated at Australia’s Cowra camp in 1944, when hundreds of Japanese POWs flung themselves at camp machineguns and set their living quarters afire in a mass suicide attempt that became know as ”the night of a thousand suicides.”  The contempt and revulsion that most Japanese felt for those who surrendered or were captured extended to Allied servicemen.  This thinking created an atmosphere in which to abuse, enslave and even murder a captive or POW was considered acceptable, even desirable.”  p. 195

52. As in Slavery “Writing of his childhood in slavery, Frederick Douglass told of being acquired by a man whose wife was a tender hearted woman who had never owned a slave.  “Her face was made of heavenly smiles and her voice of tranquil music,” Douglas wrote.  She lavished him with motherly love, even giving him reading lessons, unheard of in slaveholding society.  But after being ordered by her husband to treat the boy like the slave he was, she transformed into a vicious “demon.”  She, like Ofuna guards more than a century later, had succumbed to what Douglass called “the fatal poison of irresponsible power.” p. 196    

53. Kill-all Policy “That August [1942], the Japanese war Ministry would issue a clarification of this order, sending it to all POW camp commanders: “At such time as the situation becomes urgent and it be extremely important, the POWs will be concentrated and confined in their present location and under heavy guard the preparation for the final disposition will be made . . . Weather they are destroyed individually or in groups, or however it is done, with mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, decapitation, or what, dispose of them as the situation dictates . . . In any case it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all and not to leave any traces””.  pp. 198-199

54. Torture “The Japanese had attempted, in vain, torture information out of Fitzgerald, clubbing him, jamming penknives under his fingernails, tearing his fingernails off, and applying the “water cure”—tipping him backward, holding his mouth shut, and pouring water up his nose until he passed out.” p. 210

55. Morse Code “ . . . words couldn’t be used, Morse code could . . . men would whisper in code, using “tit” for “dot” and “da” for “dash,” words that could be spoken without moving the lips.”  pp. 103-104

56. Home Made Book “Louie had another, private act of rebellion. A fellow captive, a bookbinder in civilian life, gave him a tiny book that he’d made in camp with rice paste flattened into pages and sewn together . . . He knew that he might well die here.  He wanted to leave a testament to what he had endured and who he had been.”  b. 204

57. Mock Race “The guards were fascinated to learn that the sick, emaciated man in the first barracks had once been an Olympic runner.  They quickly found a Japanese runner and brought him in for a match race against the American.  Hauled out and forced to run, Louie was trounced, and the guards made tittering mockery of him.  Louie was angry and shaken, and his growing weakness scared him.  POWs were dying by the thousands in camps all over Japan and its captured territories, and winter was coming.”

58. Fortune-teller “Cecy [Phil’s fiancée] was a sensible, educated woman, but in her anguish, she did something completely out of character.  She went to a fortune-teller and asked about Allen [Phil].

            The fortune-teller told her that Allen wasn’t dead.  He was injured but alive.  He would be found, she said, before Christmas.” p. 218

59. Killing Koreans “[On the] isle, Tinian, where the Japanese held five thousand Koreans, conscripted as laborers.  Apparently afraid that the Koreans would join the enemy if the Americans invaded, the Japanese employed the kill-all policy.  They murdered all five thousand Koreans.” p. 223

60. Chinese Killed for Protecting Doolittle’s Men “After bombing Japan, some of the Doolittle crews had run out of gas and crashed or bailed out over China.  Civilians had hidden the airmen from the Japanese, who’d ransacked the country in search of them.  Harris, Tinker, and Louie had heard rumors that the Japanese had retaliated against Chinese civilians for sheltering the Doolittle men, but didn’t know the true extent of it.  The Japanese had murdered an estimated quarter of a million civilians.” p. 225

61. “Good Japanese” “After the war, some POWs would tell of heroic Japanese civilians who snuck them food and medicine, incurring ferocious beatings from guards when they were caught.  But this behavior was not the rule.”  p. 226

62. Anti Escape Decree “Ofuna officials . . . issued a new decree: Anyone caught escaping would be executed, and for every escapee, several captive officers would be shot.” p. 226

63. BSA Once More “Louie saw a wooden apple box lying nearby.  Remembering his Boy Scout friction-fire training, he grabbed the box and broke it up.  He asked one of the other men to unthread the lace for his boot.  He fashioned a spindle out of a bamboo stick, fit it into a hole in a slat from the apple box, wound the bootlace around the spindle, and began alternately pulling the ends, turning the spindle.  After a good bit of work, smoke rose from the spindle.  Louie picked up bits of a discarded tatami mat, laid them on the smoking area, and blew on them.  The mat remnants whooshed into flames.  The men gathered close to the fire, and cigarettes emerged from pockets.  Everyone got warmer.” p.233

64. Geneva Convention Ignored “The 1929 Geneva Convention, which Japan had signed but never ratified, permitted detaining powers to use POWs for labor, with restrictions.  The laborers had to be physically fit, and the labor couldn’t be dangerous, unhealthy, or of unreasonable difficulty. The work had to be unconnected to the operations of war, and POWs were to be given pay commensurate with their labor.  Finally, to ensure the POW officers had control over their men, they could not be forced to work.

            Virtually nothing about Japans use of POWs was in keeping with the Geneva Convention.  To be an enlisted prisoner of war under the Japanese was to be a slave . . . The only aspect of the Geneva Convention that the Japanese sometimes respected was the prohibition on forcing officers to work.” p. 234 

65. Food “Along with rice, the men received some vegetables, but protein was almost nonexistent.  About once a week, someone would push a wheelbarrow into the camp, bearing “meat.”  Because a wheelbarrow’s worth was spread over hundreds of men, a serving amounted to about a thimble-sized portion; it consisted of things like lungs and intestines, assorted dog parts, something the POWs called “elephant semen,” and, once, a mystery lump that, after considerable speculation, the men decided was a horse’s vagina.” p. 235

66. Sexual Pleasure of Violence “Watanabe derived another pleasure from violence.  According to [Yuichi] Hatto [the camp accountant], Watanabe was a sexual sadist, freely admitting that beating prisoners brought him to climax.  “He did enjoy hurting POWs,” wrote Hatto.  “He was satisfying his sexual desire by hurting them.” p.23

67. KYBO Duty “The Bird’s next move was to announce that from now on, the officers would empty the benjos.  Eight benjos were no match for nine hundred dysenteric men, and keeping the pits from oozing over was a tall order.  Louie and the other officers used “honey dippers”— giant ladles—to spoon waste from the pits into buckets, then carried the buckets to cesspits outside the camp.  The work was nauseating and degrading, and when heavy rains came, the waste oozed out of the cesspits and back into camp.  To deprive the Bird of the pleasure of seeing them miserable the men made a point of being jolly.  Martindale created the “Royal Order of the Benjo.”  “The motto,” he wrote, “was unprintable.” pp. 242-243

68. More Good Japanese “Some Japanese, including Hatto, tried to help POWs behind Watanabe’s back.  No one did more than Private Yukichi Kano, the camp interpreter . . . “there was a far braver man than I,” wrote POW Pappy Boyington, winner of the Medal of Honor.  Kano’s “heart was being torn out most of the time, a combination of pity for the ignorance and brutality of some of his own countrymen and a complete understanding of the suffering of the prisoners.” pp. 246-247

69. Louie Would Not Give In “Other prisoners warned Louie that he had to show deference or the Bird would never stop.  Louie couldn’t do it.  When he raised his eyes, all that shone in them was hate.  To Watanabe, whose life was consumed with forcing men into submission Louie’s defiance was an intolerable, personal offense.”  p. 246 

70. Fortune Teller 2 “Cecy got the news she had awaited for so long.  The fortune-teller had said that Allen  [Phil] would be found before Christmas.  It was December 8.”

71. Theft of Red Cross Packages “What was most maddening was that ample food was so near.  Twice that fall, Red Cross relief packages had been delivered for the POWs, but instead of distributing them, camp officials had hauled them into storage and begun taking what they wanted form them.*

*After the war, the head of the Tokyo area camps would admit that he had ordered the distribution of Red Cross parcels to Japanese personnel.” p. 267 

72. Propaganda “ . . . [from] a truck brimming with apples and oranges . . . The men were told that they could take two pieces each.  As the famished men swarmed onto the pile, Japanese photographers circled, snapping photos. Then just as the men were ready to devour the fruit, the order came to put it back.  The entire thing had been staged for propaganda.” p. 268

73. Louie Gives His Red Cross Box to Harris “The Omori POW doctor examined Harris gravely.  He told Louie that the thought the marine was dying.

            That same day, Oguri opened the storehouse and had the Red Cross boxes handed out.  Giving his box to Harris was, Louie would say, the hardest and easiest thing he eve did.  Harris rallied.” p. 272

74. Mass Murder on Palawan “On December 15 on Palawan, the guards suddenly began screaming that there were enemy planes coming.  The POWs crawled into the shelters and sat there, hearing no planes. Then liquid began to rain onto them.  It was gasoline.  The guards tossed in torches, then hand grenades.  The shelters, and the men inside, erupted in flames.

            As the guards cheered, the POWs fought to escape, some clawing their own fingertips off.  Nearly all of those who broke out were bayoneted, machine-gunned, or beaten to death.  Only eleven men escaped.  They swam across a nearby bay and were discovered by inmates at a penal colony.  The inmates delivered them to Filipino guerrillas, who brought them to American forces.

            That night, the Japanese threw a party to celebrate the massacre.” p.  273

75. The Bombing of Tokyo “. . . the hammer fell.  At seven in the morning, during a heavy snowstorm, sixteen hundred carrier-based planes flew past Omori and bombed Tokyo.  Then came B-29s, 229 of them, carrying incendiary bombs.  Encountering almost no resistance, they sped for the industrial district and let their bombs fall.  The POWs could see fire dancing over skyline.” p. 274

76. Reveled by the Flames “The Naoetsu-bound men [Naoetsu – the slave labor camp] climbed aboard a truck, which bore them into Tokyo.  Watching the air battle over the city had been exhilarating, but when the men saw the consequences, they were shocked.  Whole neighborhoods had been reduced to charred ruins, row after row of homes now nothing but black bones.  In the rubble, Louie noticed something shining.  Standing in the remains of many houses were large industrial machines.  What Louie was seeing was a small fragment of a giant cottage industry, war production farmed out to innumerable private homes, schools, and small “shadow factories.”” p. 275

78. The Bird – Again “Louie and the others trudged into the compound and stopped before a shack, where they were told to stand at attention.  They waited for some time, the wind frisking their clothes.

            At last, a door thumped open.  A man rushed out and snapped to a halt, screaming “Keirei!”

            It was the Bird.

            Louie’s legs folded, the snow reared up at him and down he went.” p. 276



79. Black Hole at Naoetsu “Stacked against one wall were dozens of small boxes, some of which had broken open and spilled gray ash onto the floor. These were the cremated remains of sixty Australian POWs—one in every five prisoners—who had died in this camp in 1943 and 1944, succumbing to pneumonia, beriberi, malnutrition colitis, or a combination of these.  Relentless physical abuse had precipitated most of the deaths.  In a POW camp network that would resonate across history as a supreme example of cruelty, Naoetsu had won a special place as one of the blackest holes in the Japanese Empire.  Of the many hells that Louie had known in this war, this place would be the worst.” p. 278

80. Worked to Death “The Japanese literally worked men to death at Naoetsu. . .

            He [the Bird] stormed and frothed, seeming completely deranged.

            Finally, he screamed his punishment: From now on, all officers would perform hard labor, loading coal on barges.  If they refused, he would execute every one of them.  One look at the Bird told Fitzgerald that this was an order he could not fight.

            Early the next morning, as the officers were marched off to labor, the Bird stood by, watching them go.  He was smiling.

            It was a short walk into slavery.”  p. 282

81. Shoveling Coal “The POWs were taken back to shore and dropped there, so caked in coal that they were virtually indistinguishable.
            Every morning, the men were sent back to take up their shovels again.  Every night, they dragged back into camp, a long line of blackened ghosts trudging into the barracks and falling onto their bunks.  Weary to their bones, spitting black saliva.”  p. 283

82. The Beating “The Bird called for the work party to line up before him and ordered the thieves to stand before the group.  He then walked down the line, pulling out Wade, Tinker, Louie, and two other officers and making them stand with the thieves.  He announced that these officers were responsible for the behavior of the thieves. His punishment: Each enlisted man would punch each officer and thief in the face, as hard as possible.

            The chosen men looked at the line of enlisted men in terror: there were some one hundred of them.  Any man who refused to carry out the order, the Bird said, would meet the same fate as the officers and thieves.  He told the guards to club any men who didn’t strike the chosen men with maximum force,

            The enlisted men had no choice.  At first, they tried to hit softly, but the Bird studied each blow.  When a man didn’t punch hard enough, the Bird would begin shrieking and clubbing him, joined by the guards.  Then the errant man would be forced to hit the victim repeatedly until the Bird was satisfied.  Louie began whispering to each man to get it over with, and hit hard.  Some of the British men whispered "Sorry sir,” before punching Wade. 

            For the first few punches, Louie stayed on his feet.  But his legs soon began to waver, and he collapsed.  He pulled himself upright, but fell again with the next punch, and then the next.  Eventually, he blacked out.  When he came to, the Bird force the men to resume punching him, Screaming, “Next! Next! Next!”  In Louie’s whiling mind, the voice began to sound like the tramping of feet.

            The sun sank. The beating went on for some two hours, the Bird watching with fierce and erotic pleasure.   When every enlisted man had done his punching, the Bird ordered the guards to club each one twice in the head with a kendo stick.

            The victims had to be carried to the barracks. Louie’s face was so swollen that for several days he could barely open his mouth.  By Wade’s estimate, each man had been punched in the face some 220 times.” pp. 289-290

83. No Surrender “The POWs were so disturbed by the obvious famine among the civilians that they stopped stealing at the work sites.  It was clear to them that Japan had long ago lost this war.

            But Japan was a long way from giving in.  If a massively destructive air war would not win surrender, invasion seemed the only possibility.  POWs all over the country were noticing worrisome signs.  They saw women holding sharpened sticks, practicing lunges at stacks of rice straw, and small children being lined up in front of schools, handed wooden mock guns and drilled.  Japan, whose people deemed surrender shameful, appeared to be preparing to fight to the last man, woman, or child.” pp. 291-292

84. The Beam “Lying on the ground before them was a thick, heavy wooden beam, some six feet long.  Pick it up, the Bird said.  With some effort, Louie hoisted it up, and the Bird ordered him to lift it high and hold it directly over his head.  Louie heaved the beam up.  The Bird called a guard over.  If the prisoner Lowes his arms, the Bird told him, hit him with your gun.  The Bird walked to a nearby shack climbed on the roof, and settled in to watch. 

            Louie stood in the sun, holding up the beam.  The Bird stretched over the roof like a contented cat, calling to the Japanese who walked by, pointing to Louie and laughing.  Louie locked his eyes on the Bird’s face, radiating hatred.

            Several minutes passed.  Louie stood, eyes on the Bird.  The beam felt heavier and heavier, the pain more intense.  The Bird watched Louie, amused by his suffering, mocking him.  Wade and Tinker went on with their work, stealing anxious glances at the scene across the compound.  Wade had looked at the camp clock when Louie had first lifted the beam.  He became more and more conscious of how much time was passing. 

            Five more minutes passed, then ten.  Louie’s arms began to waver and go numb.  His body shook. The beam tipped.  The guard jabbed Louie with his gun, and Louie straightened up.  Less and less blood was reaching his head, and he began to feel confused, his thoughts gauzy, the camp swimming around him.  He felt his consciousness slipping, his mind losing adhesion, until all he knew was a single thought: He cannot break me.  Across the compound the Bird stopped laughing.

            Time ticked on, and still Louie remained in the same position, conscious and yet not, the beam over his head, his eyes on the Bird’s face, enduring long past when his strength should have given out  “Something went on inside of me,” he said later. “I don’t know what it was.” 

            There was a flurry of motion ahead of him, the Bird leaping down from the roof and charging toward him, enraged.  Watanabe’s fist rammed into Louie’s stomach, and Louie folded over in agony.  The beam dropped, striking Louie’s head. He flopped to the ground.

            When he woke, he didn’t know where he was or what had happened. He saw Wade and some other POWs, along with a few guards, crouched around him.  The Bird was gone.  Louie had no memory of the last several minutes, and had no idea how long he’d stood there.  But Wade had looked at the clock when Louie had fallen.

            Louie had held the beam aloft for thirty-seven minutes.” pp. 295-296  

85. BSA – Boy Scout Knots “Louie couldn’t find a rope long enough to tie a man [the Bird] to a boulder.  He began stealing shorter lengths of rope, secreting them away, then tying them together with his strongest Boy Scout knots.” p. 298

86. Hiroshima “At a quarter to three on the morning of August 6, 1945, a B-29 skipped off Runway Able on Tinian Island . . . Crossing the Inland Sea, Tibbets saw a city ahead . . .

            “It’s Hiroshima.” . . .

            At 8:15.17, the bomb slipped from the plane.  Tibbets turned the plane as hard as he could and put it into a dive to gain speed . . .

            One of the crewmen counted seconds in his head.  When he hit forty-three, nothing happened.  He didn’t know that he had been counting too quickly.  For an instant, he thought the mission had failed. 

            Exactly as the thought crossed his mind, the sky over the city ripped open in a firestorm of color and sound and felling wind.  A white light, ten times the intensity of the sun, enveloped the plane as the flash and sound and jolt of it skidded out in all directions . . . the copilot scribbled two words in his diary: MY GOD! . . .

            At POW Camp 10-D, on the far side of the mountains by Hiroshima, prisoner Ferron Cummins felt a concussion roll down from the hills, and the air warmed strangely.  He looked up.  A fantastically huge, roiling cloud, glowing bluish gray, swaggered over the city.  It was more than three miles tall.  Below it, Hiroshima was boiling.” pp. 299-300

87. Summery of Atrocity “In its rampage over the east, Japan had brought atrocity and death on a scale that staggers the imagination.  In the midst of it were the prisoners of war.  Japan held some 132,000 POWs from America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Holland, and Australia.  Of those nearly 36,000 died, more than one in every four. * (*Japan also held more than 215,000 POWs from other countries and untold thousands of forced laborers.  Their death rates are unknown.)  Americans fared particularly badly; of the 34,648 Americans held by Japan, 12,935—more than 37 percent—died.  By comparison, only 1 percent of Americans held by the Nazis and Italians died.  Japan murdered thousands of POWs on death marches, and worked thousands of others to death in slavery, including some 16,000 POWs who died alongside as many as 100,000 Asian laborers forced to build the Burma-Siam Railway.  Thousands of other POWs were beaten, burned, stabbed, or clubbed to death, shot, beheaded, killed during medical experiments, or eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism. And as a result of being feed grossly inadequate and befouled food and water thousands more died of starvation and easily preventable diseases.  Of the 2,500 POWs at Borneo’s Sandakan camp, only 6, all escapees, made it to September 1945 alive.  Left out of the numbering statistics are untold numbers of men who were captured and killed on the spot or dragged to places like Kwajalein, to be murdered without the world ever learning their fate.

            In accordance with the kill-all order, the Japanese massacred all 5,000 Korean captives on Tinian, all of the POWs on Ballale, Wake, and Tarawa, and all but 11 POWs at Palawan.  They were evidently about to murder all other POWs and civilian internees in their custody when the atomic bomb brought their empire crashing down.

            On the morning of September 2, 1945, Japan signed its formal surrender.  The Second World War was over.” p. 315

88. Forgiveness “For Louie, these were days of bliss.  Though he was still sick, wasted, and weak, he glowed with euphoria such as he had never experienced . . . forgiveness coursed through all of the men at Naoetsu.  POWs doled out supplies to civilians and stood in circles of children, handing out chocolate.  Louie and other POWs brought food and clothing to the guards and asked them to take it home to their families” pp. 315-316

89. Food Bombs “All over Japan, B-29s continued pouring food down on POWs.  More than one thousand planes saturated the landscape with nearly forty-five hundred tons of Spam and fruit cocktail, soup, chocolate, medicine, clothing, and countless other treasures.” p. 316

90. Commander John Fitzgerald Gets a Train “. . . Fitzgerald asked a Japanese station official to arrange for a ten-carriage train to be there the next day.  The official refused, and was plenty obnoxious about it.

            Commander John Fitzgerald had been in Japanese custody since April 1943.  For two and a half years, he’d been forced to grovel before sadists and imbeciles as he tried to protect his men.  He’d been starved, beaten, and enslaved, given the water cure, had his fingernails torn out.  He was done negotiating.  He hauled back and punched the station official, to the delight of Ken Marvin.  The next morning, the train was there, right on time.” pp. 317-318

91. A View of Destruction “From the top of Japan to the bottom, trains packed with POWs snaked toward Yokohama.  Men pressed their faces to the windows to catch their first glimpse of what all of those B-29s had done.  Once-grand cities were now flat, black stains, their only recognizable feature a gridwork [sp.] of burned roads, passing nothing, leading nowhere.  At the first sight of the destruction of their enemy, the POWs cheered.  But after the first city there was another, then another, city after city razed, the survivors drifting about like specters, picking through the rubble.  The cheering died away.  On Louie’s train, the silence came as they passed though Tokyo.  A week after Louie had left Omori, sixteen square miles of Tokyo, and tens of thousands of souls had been immolated by B-29s.” pp. 319-320

92. The Value of Hiroshima “A few of the trains slipped past Hiroshima.  Virtually every POW believed that the destruction of this city had saved them from execution.  John Falconer, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, looked out as Hiroshima neared.  “First there were trees,” he told historian Donald Knox.  “Then the leaves were missing.  As you got closer, branches were missing.  Closer still, the trunks were gone and then, as you got in the middle, there was nothing.  Nothing!  It was beautiful.  I realized this was what had ended the war.  It meant we didn’t have to go hungry any longer, or go without medical treatment.  I was so insensitive to anyone else’s human needs and suffering.  I know it’s not right to say it was beautiful, because it really wasn’t.  But I believe the end probably justified the means.” p. 320

93. Never Do It Again “If I [Louie] knew I had to go through those experiences again,” he final said, “I’d kill myself.” p. 320

94. Secret Flag Flown “That afternoon [Sept. 2, 1945], an American navy man dug through his belongings and pulled out his most secret and precious possession.  It was an American flag with a remarkable provenance.  In 1941, just before Singapore had fallen to the Japanese, an American missionary woman had given it to a British POW.  The POW had been loaded aboard a ship, which had sunk.  Two days later, another British POW had rescued the flag from where it lay underwater and slipped it to the American navy man, who had carried it through the entire war, somehow hiding it from the Japanese, until this day.  The POWs pulled down the Japanese flag and ran the Stars and Stripes up the pole over Rokuroshi.  The men stood before it, hands up in salutes, tears running down their faces.” p. 325

95. The List of War Criminals “On September 11, General MacArthur, now the

supreme commander of Allied powers in occupied Japan, ordered the arrest of forty war-crimes suspects.  While thousands of men would be sought later this preliminary list was composed of those accused of the worst crimes, including list-topper Hideki Tojo, mastermind of Pearl Harbor and the man on whose orders POWs had been enslaved and starved, and Masahuru Homma, who was responsible for the Bataan Death March.  On the list with them was Mutsuhiro Watanabe. pp. 334-335

96. The Execution of Tojo “Tojo was found in his home that day, sitting in chair, blood gushing from a self-inflected bullet wound in his chest.  Whispering “Banzai!” and saying he’d rather die than face trial, Tojo was given a pint of American blood plasma, then taken to a hospital.  When he recovered, he was housed at Omori, sleeping in Bob Martindale’s bunk.  He complained about lice and bedbugs.  He was tried, sentenced to death, and in1948, hanged.” p. 335

97. How They Suffered “ . . . Physically, almost every one of them was ravaged.  The average army or army air forces Pacific POW had lost sixty-one pounds in captivity, a remarkable statistic given that roughly three-quarters of the men had weighed just 159 pounds or less upon enlistment.  Tuberculosis, malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, anemia, eye ailments, and festering wounds were widespread.  At one chain of hospitals, doctors found a history of wet beriberi in 77 percent of POWs and dry beriberi in half.  Among Canadian POWs, 84 percent had neurologic damage.  Respiratory diseases, from infections and exposure to unbreathable air in factories and mines, were rampant.  Men had been crippled and disfigured by unset broken bones, and their teeth had been ruined by beatings and years of chewing grit in their food.  Others had gone blind from malnutrition.  Scores of men were so ill that they had to be carried from camps, and it was common for men to remain hospitalized for many months after repatriation. Some couldn’t be saved.

            The physical injuries were lasting, debilitating, and sometimes deadly.  A 1954 study found that in the first two postwar years, former Pacific POWs died at almost four times the expected rate for men of their age, and continued to die at unusually high rates for many years.  The health repercussions often lasted for decades; a follow-up study found that twenty-two years after the war, former Pacific POWs had hospitalization rates between two and eight times higher than former European POWs for a host of diseases.

            As bad as were the physical consequences of captivity, the emotional injuries were much more insidious, widespread, and enduring.  In the first six postwar years, one of the most common diagnoses given to hospitalized former Pacific POWs was psychoneurosis.  Nearly forty years after the war, more than 85 percent of former Pacific POWs in one study suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), characterized in part by flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares.  And in a 1987 study, eight in ten former Pacific POWs had “Psychiatric impairment,” six in ten had anxiety disorders, more than one in four had PTSD, and nearly one in five was depressed.  For some, there was only one way out: a 1970 study report that former Pacific POWs committed suicide 30 percent more often then controls.” pp. 346-347

98. An Atrocity “Raymond “Hap” Holloran was a navigator who parachuted into Tokyo after his B-29 was shot down.  Once on the ground, Halloran was beaten by a mob of civilians, then captured by Japanese authorities, who tortured him, locked him in a pig cage, and held him in a burning horse stall during the fire bombings.  They stripped him naked and put him on display at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo, tied upright in an empty tiger cage so civilians could gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body.  He was starved so severely that he lost one hundred pounds.” pp. 247-348

99. Executions “As the Bird hid, other men who had abused POWs were arrested, taken to Sugamo Prison, in Tokyo, and tried for war crimes.  Roughly 5,400 Japanese were tried by the United States and other nations; some 4,400 were convicted, including 984 given death sentences and 475 given life in prison* (* Some death sentences were later commuted: 920 men were eventually executed.)”


100. “Never Came Home” “No one could reach Louie, because he had never really come home. In prison camp, he’d been beaten into dehumanized obedience to a world order in which the Bird was absolute sovereign, and it was under this world order that he still lived.   The Bird had taken his dignity and left him feeling humiliated, ashamed, and powerless, and Louie believed that only the Bird could restore him, by suffering and dying in the grip of his hands.  A once singularly hopeful man now believed that his only hope lay in murder.” pp. 365-366

101. Billy Graham and the Footprints of God “Under the tent that night, Graham spoke of how the word was in an age of war, an age defined by persecution and suffering.  Why, Graham asked, is God silent while good men suffer?  He began his answer by asking his audience to consider the evening sky.  “If you look into the heavens tonight, on this beautiful California night, I see the stars and can see the footprints of God,” he said. “ . . . I think to myself, my heavenly father, hung them there with a flaming fingertip and holds them there with the power of his omnipotent hand, and he runs the whole universe, and he’s not too busy running the whole universe to count the hairs on my head and see a sparrow when it falls, because God is interested in me . . . God spoke in creation” p 374

102. Graham on Faith “What God asks of men, said Graham, is faith.  His invisibility is the truest test of that faith.  To know who sees him, God makes himself unseen.” p .375

103. The Miracle of the Promise “As he reached the aisle, he stopped.  Cynthia, the rows of bowed heads, the sawdust underfoot, the tent around him, all disappeared.  A memory long beaten back, the memory from which he had run the evening before, was upon him.

            Louie was on the raft.  There was gentle Phil crumpled up before him, Mac’s breathing skeleton, endless ocean stretching away in every direction, the sun lying over them, the cunning bodies of the sharks, waiting, circling.  He was a body on a raft, dying of thirst.  He felt words whisper from his swollen lips.  It was a promise thrown at heaven, a promise he had not kept, a promise he had allowed himself to forget until just this instant” If you will save me, I will serve you forever.  And then, standing under a circus tent on a clear night in downtown Los Angeles, Louie felt rain falling.” p. 375

104. Cleaning Up His Life “When they entered the apartment, Louie went straight to his cache of liquor.  It was the time of night when the need usually took hold of him, but for the first time in years, Louie had no desire to drink.  He carried the bottles to the kitchen sink, opened them, and poured their contents into the drain.  Then he hurried through the apartment, gathering packs of cigarettes, a secret stash of girlie magazines, everything that was part of his ruined years.  He heaved it all down the trash chute.” p. 376

105. Saved by Love “When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.” P. 376

106. On Compassion  “In Sugamo Prison, as he was told of Watanabe’s fate, all Louie saw was a lost person, a life now beyond redemption.  He felt something that he had never felt for his captor before.  With a shiver of amazement, he realized that it was compassion.” p. 379

107. Boys Camp “So opened the great project of Louie’s life, the nonprofit Victory Boys Camp . . .Victory became a tonic for lost boys.  Louie took on anyone including one boy so ungovernable that Louie had to be deputized by as sheriff to gain custody of him.  He took the boys fishing, swimming, horseback riding, camping, and in winter, skiing.  He led them on mountain hikes, letting them talk out their troubles, and rappelled down cliffs beside them.  He showed them vocational films, living for the days when a boy would see a career depicted and whisper, “That’s what I want to do!”  Each evening, Louie sat with the boys before a campfire, telling them about his youth, the war, and the road that had led him to peace.  We went easy on Christianity, but laid it before them as an option. Some we convinced, some not, but either way, boys who arrived at Victory as ruffians often left it renewed and reformed.” pp. 381-382

108. “Fame” “The house on Gramercy became a historic landmark, Louie was chosen to carry the Olympic torch before five different Games.  So many groups would clamor to give him awards that he’d find it difficult to fit everyone in” p. 383

109. “Christmas Amnesty”  “ . . . there was a worldwide outcry for punishment of the Japanese who had abused POWs , and the war-crimes trials began.  But new political realities soon emerged.  As American occupiers worked to help Japan transition to democracy and independence, the Cold War was beginning. With communism wicking across the Far East, America’s leaders began to see a future alliance with Japan as critical to national security. The sticking point was the war-crimes issue; the trials were intensely unpopular in Japan, spurring a movement seeking the release of all convicted war criminals.  With the pursuit of justice for POSWs suddenly in conflict with America’s security goals, something had to give. 

            On December 24, 1948, as the occupation began to wind down, General MacArthur declared a “Christmas amnesty” for the last seventeen men awaiting trial for Class A war crimes, the designation for those who had guided the war.” pp. 390-391

109. The End “Mutsuhiro Watanabe’s flight was over.  In his absence, many of his fellow camp guards and officials had been convicted of war crimes.  Some had been executed. The others wouldn’t be in prison for long.  In keeping with the American effort to reconcile with Japan, all of them, including those serving life sentences, would soon be paroled.  It appears that even Suehar Kitamra, “the Quack,” was set free, in spite of his death sentence.  By 1958, every criminal who had not been executed would be free, and on December 30 of that year, all would be granted amnesty.  Sugamo would be torn down, an the epic ordeals of POWs in Japan would fade form the world’s memory.” p. 392  

110. Japanese POWs in America “ . . . Shoichi Ishizuka, a veteran who’d been held as a POW by the Americans and treated so kindly that he referred to the experience as “lucky prison life.”  p. 394

111. Still Running “At last [January 22, 1998], it was time. Louie extended his hand, and in it was placed the Olympic torch.  His legs could no longer reach and push as they once had, but they were sill sure beneath him.  He raised the torch, bowed, and began running.” p. 397



Anonymous said...

Jeff said,

Saw the movie over the holiday. I once listened to Jay Hess speak. Hess was a POW for seven years in Hanoi. After listening to him, I wanted desparately to meet and talk with him, yet I couldn't. His presence was so powerful, his sacrifices so great, I didn't feel like I deserved to be in the same room with him.

The same is true for me of Louie Zamparini. We are a fortunatate people - there are many who have endured much for the freedoms we possess. There will hopefully be more WWII experiences like Zamparini's to see and hear before the greatest generation has left us. Books like unbroken ought to become required reading in high school ciriculums.

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