Friday, July 17, 2009

POWs and family

I just began reading "Tears in the Darkness" which recounts again the Bataan death march in the Philippines in 1942 early in WWII.

Several years ago I read "Ghost Soldiers", Hampton Sides' retelling of an end of war story about some of these men in a POW camp.

One of my many uncles, Bill; no longer living, was a POW for the duration of the war. He suffered his entire life from many of the injuries and illnesses he sustained at the hands of his Japanese captors. He always walked slightly bent and had hearing loss as long as I can remember. But as child the thing I remember most was that he never talked about it. And it was one of those things that children were not allowed to ask about.

He was one of my favorite uncles and we visited frequently until I got older. Sad to say he was killed in a freak accident at a landfill some years ago.

When I read Ghost Soldiers I imagined he could have been one of them. When I started with "Tears" I wondered the same.

In a weird sort of way I was disappointed to find out that he was just a plain old POW. He was captured on Corregidor, a Philippine Island that saw tremendous battles during the war. From there he was shipped (literally) to Japan where it seems he spent the war working in a labor camp. I don't know much more than that.

I had hoped maybe he could be "posthumously" a celebrity of sorts.

He still is a hero to all of us in a different way. He fought briefly for our country but he served. He worked most of his life at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas where they made ammunition and such.

So even though it's not Memorial or Veteran's Day, here's to you Uncle Bill!

1 comment:

  1. aw, this is sweet. i remember his funeral was the first one i'd ever been to. sad....