Mike Weaver Bataan Death March Survivor
(b. Jan 28, 1920-d. Feb 1, 1998)

Mike Weaver (Lonnie Milford Weaver,) was a soldier before W.W.II, in the New Mexico National Guard 111th Calvary. He lied about his age, and in 1935, joined his cousins, Lt. Gerald Darling*, Corporal 'Doc' George Darling**, (who were more like brothers than cousins as Mike spent a great deal of time at his 'Aunt Nell's' house.)

*Lt. Gerald Darling was shot in the water trying to escape. 

** George 'Doc' Darling escaped Luzon by swimming naked to be caught again on Corregidor.

He was 15 when he joined, his parents were divorced, and family life difficult, the only surviving son of 4 siblings, his brother died of pneumonia complicated by heart disease and his two sisters died of pernicious anemia, so he decided to make the military his life. 

The following story was taken from tapes of an interview with Mike by Stephen Blankenship a Chico State University student, as well as my personal memories of my dad. I have to thank you Steve with all of my heart. You did something, I would love to have done, but found impossible to do. 

Update 02/25/2002:  Further discussions with my mother revealed that for years my dad suffered with post traumatic stress syndrome directly related to his experiences in Bataan.  Not something you want people to know especially your kids if you can hide it.  She would not let us talk to him about his memories for fear that he would suffer more bouts of fitful sleep and the shakes.  

My mother feels that it had a definite impact on his military career and his truncated length of service of only 22 and 1/2 years.  It's my feeling from my own knowledge of him as well as talking with her that my father would have served out 30 or more years of career time in service had he received proper medical and psychological treatment.  

He was a well disciplined and intelligent man with a high I.Q. and would have continued to reflect well on the service and our country with the proper consideration.

Two Generations of Weavers

Mike standing next to his father, who dies from complications caused by a head injury from a fall before Mike can return from the war.

 

 

Antiaircraft Weapons Training

Jan 5, 1941, at the age of 20 years and 11 months, Mike entered the 200th cost artillery as a regular Army soldier (after being in the 111th New Mexico National Guard Calvary in his formative years.) They were given orders to train at Fort Bliss . After being issued artillery (3" anti aircraft 75's with a range of 30,000 feet which would later prove inadequate to knock out Japanese bombers flying at 35,000 feet,) and personal weapons they received an advanced basics weapons course. It took from January till July to train the 900 fresh enlistee's from the south side of Chicago in 106 degree heat. During this time Mike was promoted from corporal to Sergeant, then he went on to became a drill Sergeant. The weapons issued were modified W.W.I issue, used in the latter part of W.W.I . Range finding equipment consisted of sound horns which echoed off the planes to locate them. Once the training at Ft. Bliss was completed Mike was a member of one of the two top units out of six that completed the advanced weapons training.

 

Mike Receives Orders

Orders were received on Aug 1941 at which time they were told they were going on a one year training cruise. Thinking it was more of a vacation than war, six commanding officers at Ft. Bliss drew their assignments out of a hat. 

Mike had previously put in an application to become a ferry pilot, and was anxiously waiting on his acceptance into the program. 

After receiving the height finder srscs268's they now had all the basic arms, ammunition and equipment  they needed for training so they proceeded by rail from Ft. Bliss to San Francisco then by ship on to Hawaii.

Says Goodbye To His Girl and Parents

On the dock as he was ready to depart he told his parents and his girlfriend, (Dixie Lee Drew,) that he would be in a war before he came back, but that he would come back. 

At this time he had no idea the Japanese were going into the war on the side of the Germans and Italians. They left on Sep 16, 1941 from San Francisco on a civilian liner (the top liner of it's time.) Mike felt fortunate to be assigned as mess Sgt., as the cooks were all regular chefs from the liner, all he had to do was furnish K.P.  and compensations were that they had the best food on the way to the Philippines. 

Five days out of San Francisco they stopped in Hawaii for six hours, giving them about enough time to grab a beer and get back on the ship. Black-out convoy conditions were in effect from there to Luzon as they Zig zagged south of Guam and through the Lingayen golf, up in through Manila Bay where they disembarked to the Philippines assigned to the Antiaircraft Defense Command. 

Mike finally received orders that he was accepted for the ferry pilot position and his training was to commence on the 15th of December but the Japanese had other ideas.

Pearl Is Bombed

The morning of December 8th around 8 am. a radio broadcast notified them pearl harbor had been bombed. They were not sure how bad the damage was but they knew it had to be an attack off of aircraft carriers. They were put on immediate alert and didn't have long to wait. 

Mike was the intelligence NCO., so he was suppose to be privy to all the intelligence coming down but he hadn't heard a word as the men of HQ squadron were eating in the mess hall talking about all the rumors when the bottom dropped out. 

Mess kits started dancing, and they could hear the planes and they knew they were under attack. For two to three hours, 57 Jap bombers and fighter planes blew every air craft off the landing strip. 

All of the bombers were sitting on the air strip vulnerable to attack because of MacArhur's refusal to rotate the bombers in the air citing 'for safety reasons.' 

Ammunition for the artillery was old, W.W.I issue where one shell in six would fire making defense impossible.

Luzon

He was on the northern most island in the Philippines and was the first to get attacked. 

They fought a defensive action until Christmas 1941 when the regiment was split into half. 200th coast artillery and the 515th coast artillery. 

Shortly after that the 515th was sent to Manila to protect Fort Stotsenberg spreading thin the weapons platoons they received orders to fight a delaying action. 

They fought a rear guard action for 2 or 3 weeks losing quite a few men as a result of the constant bombing attacks . Though casualties were high they successfully completed the withdrawing action. They then setup positions on two air fields. He was in the Bataan brigade that moved back to try to hold out until reinforcements would come.

Worn Thin and Holding

At this time they were unable to re-supply food rations, ammunition and weapons. They had been on Bataan for two months until the food and medical supplies were almost gone. In Feb of 1942 all troops went on 1/8th rations. One mans rations had to feed him and 7 others. The illness from dengue fever made efficiency poor almost everyone suffered from one tropical disease or another making performance suffer. Mike had dengue fever but it ran it's course quickly. Malaria, was taking it's toll too. Cerebral Malaria was real bad and they had nothing to treat it with. Dysentery was pretty well controlled but it was difficult to keep eating utensils clean. They had received ammunition from Corregidor that was stored underground and were having problems from corrosion of fuses. Bataan

Anti Aircraft became Infantry

Still active until April 8th when they were converted to ground artillery. Troops that were left were fighting as infantry. At this time the gap was narrowing and they were fighting at much closer range. 

Mike was acting as a runner carrying messages between the commanding officers and battalion commanders on the line due to the difficult terrain (there was a combination of semi-mountainous terrain and jungle,) making radio transmission difficult.

Capture

At this time the Japanese had cut in behind Mt Ariad and broken through the front lines. It was during one of these runs on April 8th that Mike came close to death. 

He was running full out in a jeep driving his Intelligence Capt. dodging Jap dive bombers and machine gun fire from a tank, as he rounded a curve a machine gunner from the Jap tank wasn't fast enough to keep up with the jeep as Mike narrowly escaped death by sliding the jeep broad side under the belly of the tank. 

A Japanese officer stepped out with the barrel of his gun staring the two soldiers in the face. The Capt. thinking fast, pulled out a white handkerchief and waved it surrendering. The Japs stripped them of everything but clothing and marched them 100 yards down the road where Japanese infantry stepped out of the bushes and escorted them back towards Mariveles field. 

His POW number was 261. Under the Rising Son: Memories of a Japanese Prisoner of War

Wainright Surrenders

They did get some supplies from submarines. Radio and a few submarines were all the contact they had with the outside world and knew that the Japanese were going south to Mindanao. During President Roosevelt's speech Feb 22, in one of his fireside chats to the people they received the speech on radio that Wainright had surrendered. Then they realized how much damage had been done to the navy and figured there wasn't much chance of getting reinforcements. 

When they evacuated key personnel and the nurse Corp, they knew surrender was inevitable. BATAAN History

Subj: nurses at Bataan
Date: 96-05-23
From: Theresa Kaminski
To: h-minerva@h-net.msu.edu

Over 60 nurses were captured when Bataan fell to the Japanese. They were not part of the Death March. The Japanese interned them along with other Allied civilians on the campus of Santo Tomas University in Manila where they worked in the internment camp hospital. They all survived the war, along with about a dozen Navy nurses who were also interned at Santo Tomas but later moved to a camp at Los Banos. There is a documentary about the Army nurses called "We All Came Home." Another Hollywood movie about the nurses from the 1940s is "So Proudly We Hail." The experiences of the nurses will be included in my book on American women in the Pacific during WWII.

Theresa Kaminski
Dept. of History
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
tkaminsk@worf.uwsp.edu
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

General Wainright determined it was useless and determined that all they could do was surrender and made contact with the commanding general of the Japanese. The bottom line is you can't fight without weapons and ammunition.

How Could This Happen To the U.S.?

Blame would have to go back to the government many years before the war had started. After W.W.I the American people and the government decided there wasn't a need for a strong military force to even defend our own country much less the islands we were responsible for defending. Readiness was poor. Not being prepared pennywise and pound foolish. US Army in WWII: Philippines  

Mike wasn't bitter against the government or the American people. He realized they were caught in a trap and there was nothing that could have been done. After he returned to the states, the fact was known about the attack on Hawaii before it happened he learned that more troops could have been sent, they had the ships to ship them, even though they were short of modern weapons, but probably would have wound up the same because of the massive assault by the Japanese

Wiped Out a Japanese Army

The 200th wiped out a major part of one Army during this time of delaying action, enough that it's commander committed hara-kiri . Mike found this out afterwards he felt proud of the job they had done. This had a great bearing on the fact that the Japanese couldn't move in on Australia.

MacArthur

Mike felt bitter towards MacArthur, that he would leave his troops after getting them into this mess. MacArthur told General Marshall that he had enough Philippine's to do the fighting in the Philippines along with the American troops that accompanied them to the Philippines. The Filipino Scouts were a fierce foe. The 27th Filipino Scouts charged a Japanese tank attack and repelled it, losing almost all their horses and men. The Philippine regular army on the other hand, lacked uniforms, weapons and even basic training. They were thoroughly unprepared for the attack on the Philippines. There were no ground troops necessary to defend the Philippines. Had there been, they possibly could have held out maybe a year longer if properly equipped.

Survival

Mike ate anything that was edible, and some things that weren't. Earth worms were sometimes used to fill his protein needs. Common sense combined with a strong will to survive kept Mike going through extreme adversity.  I know one thing that would anger him, and that was anyone giving up without a fight.  He confided in me that he witnessed men who just gave up and died.  When men were caught showing signs of resignation they were often slapped and angered to bring out their will to go on living and trying.

Wainright

Mike felt that General Wainright was a hero. From the day he took command of the Philippines he spent time with the front line troops as well as those in the rear areas.

The Death March

The prisoners were marched from noon the first day, almost all night. The Japanese in their exuberance or release of frustration would beat the prisoners with the but of the riffles or their sheathed swords. 

They were then given some water, but no food. After two or three hours rest they marched again. Filipino's kept trying to give them food and water but the Japs beat them off and in some cases bayoneted them they quit trying to aid the prisoners. 

The end of the second night they were marched into a fenced compound. The first food was some plain rice and water. Mike managed to get a couple cans of sardines at the start of the march which he shared with five others. 

It didn't take the prisoners long to realize they were going to have to work together if any of them were going to live through the times to come. 

They marched into Tarlac and were put on freight cars that took them into camp O'Donnell. MP team endures Bataan Death March

Camp O'Donnell

Camp O'Donnell was an old Philippine army training camp with thatched roofs and slip trenches for toilets. One water faucet had to serve 8 or 10 barracks. They were moved in, issued rice and metal caldrons to cook it in, no salt ,no vegetables no meat of any kind.

Cabanatuan

Meat was a delicacy they couldn't expect to get any of. During incarceration in Cabanatuan the only way to get any meat, was to steal it, and they became  accomplished thieves. 

After they had time to get organized they did get a regular ration of food, rice and a Mango bean (looks like a black eyed pea,) and a sweet potato top that acted like a laxative. 

Anemic dysentery was a serious problem. The Philippine army was in a camp next to them. They were burying 50-60 men a day from mal-nutrition, Beriberi and Dysentery,( it didn't take much to kill a man after exposure to those conditions.)  Dysentery would hit, and 3 days later they would bury the man. 

They managed to survive several months in Cabanatuan. Northern Luzon, located on the plains, had a better climate, and was easier to isolate prisoners to keep them from trying to escape. When the Filipino's did try to help, five were caught, strung up and used for live bayonet practice. Three men attempted to escape, and the Japs decided to make examples of them, took them to the perimeter of the compound where everyone could watch, tied them in a half standing and half kneeling position where they lasted three days, at which time the Japs made them dig their own graves, and then shot them.  

They had many ways of torturing you without killing you. A soldier that had defied them and talked back, so they tied him down and drove a nail in his forehead. This man lived until the time his ship was sunk several years later.

 

 

Hero's
(author unknown)

With baited breath and awe struck ears
we heard the sentence loud and clear
ten must die
we heard him say
and we stood unbelieving

the ten then knew that they must die
although in truth they knew not why
their lives had seen their brief short span
they were paying the price
the death of another man

we saw them die that scorching day
small solace that they died the American way
hearts for them at home will bleed
for the price they paid there was no need

Of hero's of old we heard and read
but these ten men who now are dead
we solute them one, we solute them all
ten finer hero's never did fall

As your resting place the sod doest form
a spot in our heart for you stays warm
for 'we' who knew you in the past
know full well your glory will last

(this was a poem written for ten men who died in a firing squad because one man escaped)

 

Mike Was Chosen To Die

One day a man was missing, the Japanese looked everywhere for him, and couldn't find him. Mike was chosen with nine others for execution, but at the last moment the missing man was found dead in the latrine. Vets observe anniversary of Bataan Death March

Korea to Mukden Manchuria

Mike stayed in Cabanatuan until November of 1942 until he and 1500 others were given a health exam and deemed fit for labor, shipped to the port of Manila to be housed in an old Scotch freighter the "Tottori Maru", AKA the "Shitty Maru" because they all suffered from dysentery. (See Jim Brown's diary)

The prisoners were on the decks right below the main deck. They were crowded so much that they had to take turns sleeping all couldn't lay down and sleep at the same time. 

On the way to Okinawa an American sub fired two torpedo's at them and barely missed the starboard side with the first one and another missed the port side of the ship. That sub crew later got captured in Tokyo bay and when asked why they only fired two torpedo's they said it was the end of their mission and that was their last two torpedoes. 

They lost about 20 men on board by the time they landed at Pusan in Korea. Another 60 were so sick they couldn't travel on with them and were left in Pusan in a hospital.

Mukden

They were put on trains in Korea where they were transported to Mukden Manchuria. They were marched into a old Chinese army camp where they were housed in underground barracks designed for warmth in the sub zero Manchurian winters. They were crammed in 60 to barracks. 

The Japanese thinking ahead appropriated enough ground to bury every prisoner due to their poor physical condition.  The first winter in late November the weather was 60 below zero. They started getting a better diet (unintentionally.) They were fed maize that was used to feed cattle and corn meal not knowing it was high in protein. 

The Japanese unknowingly gave them food that built them up, contributing to their better health during the long cold winter. They weren't required to do anything that winter because they weren't capable of doing anything in the condition they were in.

Tool and Die Factory

The next spring they picked 600 men and put them in a tool and die factory. They were required to work in this factory making machine tools to support the war effort ( an act which was against the Geneva accords.)  Later this year they moved them into two story brick buildings closer to a tool and die factory setting right between a power plant and a fuel supply. Dad wasn't selected for a detail until late in 1944 in a leather factory.  He and 150 other men spent about 14 months tanning hides for shoe leather.

Punishment

The Japanese used brutal forms of punishment. Their favorite punishment was having a man kneel across wooden box like a fruit box, with your shins across a wooden box with a pan of water over your head that you had to hold without spilling until they were satisfied that you had suffered enough, if you didn't satisfy the guard, he would either beat you with a rifle butt or one of their bamboo swords that they loved beating prisoners with. The officers favorite method of beating on prisoners was to use a Samurai sword in it's sheath. They withheld red cross packages as another means of punishment.

Medical Attention While In Prison

Mike had two teeth that were infected where the enamel had broken off from the rocks in the food they ate. A medical Captain laid Mike on a mess table took a field dental kit containing about three instruments, and pulled those two teeth without any anesthetics. 

Medication for the dysentery, the only medication was burnt rice that was saved from the edge of the pots. There was nothing to kill the pain if a man was operated on. A buddy of Mikes was incarcerated in solitary confinement for a minor infraction. While in confinement he had an attack of appendicitis they took him out, threw him on a truck, took him to a Chinese hospital, removed his appendix, sewed him brought him back and threw him back in the cell. Mike said that man lived.

Finally Receive Food From The Red Cross

In the fall of 1944, they started giving some of the things from the red cross packages. After they moved to the tool and die factory they developed an underground where they would trade the hides for cigarettes and food. They would occasionally receive a package of cigarettes or canned milk which the Japanese didn't like.

Sabotaged the Tool and Die Factory

The men working in the tool and die factory decided to rebel. The Japanese had 50 gallon barrels of Ethyl alcohol. They figured a way to smuggle quarts of ethyl alcohol into the compound. The coats they wore were made of wood fiber, very long with large pockets. As each man was being searched by the guards they would open their coats so the guards could inspect them, and as they did the man behind him would put two bottles into his pockets as he closed his coats after inspection, walking into the compound with the alcohol. 

The men in the tool and die factory got tired of making tools for the Japanese and one night they decided to set fire to the tool and die factory and completely wiped it out. The Japanese blamed it on the Chinese. It cost many Chinese their lives.

Sit-down Strike

While working in the leather factory, they were fed two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. One day they sent them to work without breakfast so a group of men including Mike decided to stage a sit down strike. They were taken back to a meal, and then went back to work. The men in the rest of the camp had trouble believing they actually got away with a sit down strike without being severely punished.

End of the Line!

One day the Japanese guards got real mean started beating the day lights out of anyone that looked at them cross-eyed, they got word that the U.S. had dropped the bomb and many of their families were killed as a result of the bomb on Hiroshima. They said you are not going to the factory today threatening to shoot any man that got out of line. They had received reports that Hiroshima had been totally wiped out from the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 and they had a plot all picked out for burial of the prisoners  remains.


Pearl Harbor

Death March

Nagasaki


MacArthur Returns

Planned Extermination

They found out later that the prisoners were now being readied for extermination. All the field grade officers of major and above were to be taken out of the camp that they were in, and moved to the camp where General Wainwright was incarcerated, which was about 80 kilometers away. The Japanese soldiers were planning to set fire to the fuel storage, power plant and prison camp and machinegun anyone trying to get out. This was to happen on the 29th of August from the information they received. But instead they were liberated on the 14th of August 1945.

Killed by Friendly Fire

During a bombing raid on the munitions plant next to the compound, anti aircraft fire blew one of the bombers off course and two five hundred pound bombs fell into the prison compound and killed 25 POW's, and wounded many more.

Liberation

A six man OSS team parachuted in rations, ammunition and weapons, looking like men from mars, not in uniforms as they had known them, but in the new type helmets, new weapons and sophisticated items they had never seen before, and took them several days to get to the camp that they were in. With them were two Nisei Japanese for interpreters and Wild Bill Donavan was the team leader. The B29s parachuted rations in. 1200 prisoners would eat rich American food until sick, they would throw up, and go back and eat again until they felt full.

Russians Rush In

The Russians with their tanks and combat troops covered 1000 miles in ten days and took over the camp.

 

 

 

We've Done Our Hitch In Hell
(author unknown)


I'm setting here thinking
of things I've left behind
and I have to put on paper
what's running through my mind
we've dug a million ditches
and cleaned ten miles of ground
a meaner place this side of hell
is waiting to be found
but there's one small consolation
gather closely while I tell
when we die we'll go to heaven
because we've done our hitch in hell


we've built a million kitchens
for the cooks to stew our beans
we've stood a million guard mounts
and never acted mean
we washed a million mess kits
and peeled a million spuds
we've rolled a million bed rolls
and washed the captains duds
the number of parades we've stood
is very hard to tell
but we'll not parade in heaven
for we've done our hitch in hell


we've killed a million rats and bugs
that crawled out of our eats
we've pulled a million centipedes
out from our dirty sheets
we've marched a million miles
and pitched a million tents
the grub we've had to eat sometimes
has given us the cramps
but when our work on earth is done
our friends on earth can tell
they've surely gone to heaven
cause they've done their hitch in hell


when final taps are sounded
and we've laid aside life's cares
we'll do our last parade
upon the shining golden stairs
the angels all will welcome us
and harps will start to play
we'll draw a million canteen checks
and spend them all in one day
the great commanding general
will smile at us and tell
take a front seat soldier
you've done your hitch in hell


there will be no planes
no tanks no guns
no bomb nor bursting shell
when we die we'll go to heaven
for we've done our hitch in hell

 

Mike Smuggles a Book of Poems Back

Mike kept a grade school notebook where he recorded poems he heard and kept a collection of these poems to bring back with him. 'Somebody would recite a poem and you would get interested in it'. 

Mike had an indelible pencil, so he started writing them down, as well as names and addresses of friends he'd made while in prison camp. 

The book of poems was started between the camp number 1 in Cabanatuan, and the time they were shipped out in November and in through the period of time he was in Mukden. Some of the poems were a bit rough, and some of them were quite sentimental. It was dangerous, he could have received a sound beating, could even have been stood up and shot for it. 

He conceived the idea to use an old khaki shirt he had and some paste and pasted the shirt right over the book as a binding for the book, it looked like it was a folded shirt and it was left right out in the open. If they had of ever torn his display (folded uniforms and clothing,) down they would have found it. Dad said he was a good enough soldier that they never tore his pile down. 

This book of poems has been donated by dad, to the Deming New Mexico Museum.

A War Without End

On the trip home from the Philippians Mike was sleeping in the top bunk and soon found himself thrown from his bunk into the sick bay from the blast of hitting a leftover mine.  The ship limped into a nearby port where the men were  transferred to another ship which proceeded on to Ft. Louis Washington where they were kept for several weeks to bring them back from a malnourished condition to a more normal healthy weight.

Click on the picture below to see the citation




The Eternal Flame in Santa Fe
Courtesy of Bill Green


In Memory Of the Men of the 200th
Dedicated to Her War Dead
(click on image to see the full page version)

Post Script

Just in case you don't know by now, I'm George Weaver, Mikes second son. Writing this down has been an education for me in spite of all the years I've heard stories about the war in the pacific but not from my dad, mostly from glorified movies with John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and other taller than life figures.

There is only a few movies that I can relate his experiences to like 'No Man Is an Island', King Rat', and especially 'Bridge Over The River Quai'. I've heard very few stories  that dad let slip.  With dad's silence the only things he really ever let go was seeing men used as live bayonet practice and having to supplement his diet with earth worms.

I didn't know about his being selected with 9 other men for a firing squad when a man ended up missing until transcribing the tapes.    In listening to these tapes which were made in the 1980's, (some 40 years after the events had taken place,)  there was still much emotion in dads voice and breaks in the flow of information as he conveyed his memories to tape, and this is my best source along with a book I received as a gift, 'Beyond Courage'.

The trauma was evident, and broke his line of thinking. Many survivors received counseling for themselves and their families, but not my dad. He spent some time in the hospital upon his return from the war, getting rid of parasites and other remnants of the tropical pacific climate, and went back to work thinking nothing of it, trying damned hard to forget it. I need to say that he was a very strong man physically as well as emotionally until his mind began to deteriorate from about 1992 on to his death in 1998.  He was a cocky, hot-shot pinochle player until one day he passed the wrong cards at which time we knew we needed another way to pass family time together.  

Bataan Diary Reviews

I guess my point is I was sheltered from what he actually went through as I'm sure a majority of baby-boomers were who's parents experienced the same traumas. Anger would pop out of him sometimes and he would tell about the worst atrocities, and then change the subject just as fast so we never were really let in on his nightmares and that was at my mothers strong insistence.  She recently recounted episodes of him waking up out of nightmares in sweats at the sound of air craft flying overhead.  But I can say this, that my family was definitely impacted by his bottling up these experiences. My dad was a good man in the best sense of the word good. He is a hero to me, and my sons, and to the rest of my family for that matter.

It is my opinion that me, and every free American owes men like my dad, and all of those who served in that stinking mess a debt of gratitude that we could have never really repaid,  that we have the liberties we take for granted to this day.  Our true payment to them would be to make damned sure that what they fought for stands the test of time, that the terror that they faced is never forgotten, that what they endured, witnessed, and overcame is made a permanent record in the history of this country and that we make something of ourselves that represents the ideals they fought for and made possible for us and generations to come.


Why Use The 'A-Bomb'

 I'm sorry if you find me moralizing, but I've engaged in senseless arguments with writers  in chat rooms on the Internet over whether or not the a-bombs should have been dropped, and who was to blame. These writers should walk in the shoes of those men who lost all hope because of the Japanese mind set, and even those men like my dad who never lost hope in spite of the Japanese mind set. They need to be baptized by the same mass burials that these prisoners were immersed in, the stench, the disease, the murderous brutality of the determined Japanese who resented having to care for prisoners when they took the vow to kill all captives and take no prisoners, when they could be fighting for the glory of their code of Bushido.

Pardon me if I sound patriotic to remember who dropped the first bombs on Pearl Harbor, who conquered Manchuria in 1931, and who annexed their neighbors countries in Europe and killed millions of German and Russian Jews. It was not Americans, but Americans were desperate to end the war and save the lives of the remaining prisoners held captive, and desperate to stave off the Russians from gaining anymore of a foothold in Asia and Japan.

We were slow to join the war, but I say to those who belittle the U.S. for it's swift end to the war with the A-Bomb,  are you going to let it happen again by weakening our military strength to the point we have no defense or other alternative than to use that nuclear force, much less offensive might to protect us from sleeping dogs?

The morality of using the A-bomb was the victory of those who were not the aggressors over those who were the brutal aggressors. The morality of the bomb was that the Japanese and Germans were working on their own version of that same atomic bomb, and would have surely dropped them on English, American and even Russian targets just as surely as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the Germans sent their v2's to England. Just as surely as the Germans annihilated millions of Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Birkenau, Betzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, Dachau and Buchenwald after methodically sorting through them for use in forced labor factories and then eliminating them once used up. Just as surely as the Japanese killed every male combatant encountered in China while conquering Manchuria in the '30's instead of taking prisoners. Just as surely as the Japanese forced POW's in defiance of the Geneva Convention to work in their war factories while slowly starving them to death or using them for medical experimentation. The morality of the bomb is that it saved Japanese lives that would have certainly been taken if the carpet bombing had continued. The morality of the bomb is that it ended the war in time to save American POW's that were being prepared for slaughter. The morality of the bomb was it slowed communistic aggression, and certainly far more lives of an invasion force that would have been necessary without the bomb as well as what devastation the Russians could have eventually accomplished from Japan on the rest of the world. If we had listened to Patton in WWII we would have certainly saved more Western lives by not engaging in the Russian backed cold war.  I can probably find several other moralities, but it's pointless to defend an event that is self evident and needs no defense unless you choose not to read history or listen.  I don't agree 100% with George Bushes policies, but he made the right decision to go in and finish what his father had left undone in the first golf war.  He was the most logical person and the right person for the job.  Our future depends on our resolve as Americans to not let rogue states dictate to the rest of the world through their use of terrorism or nuclear or resource blackmail.  

We lost 5000 men from the very young Japanese boys called *Kamikaze, (or Divine Wind,) pilots who were trained and sacrificed in the final months of the war at the Battle of Okinawa when the overwhelming majority of experienced Japanese pilots were dead. 

We have absolutely no reason on earth to hang our heads low for ending a war we didn't start, with the power of two powerful bombs vs. the power of thousands of troops lives fighting a foe who didn't believe in surrender, who wouldn't surrender even after one of their cities were obliterated with the first bomb, or the heavy conventional bombing that came before the nuclear bombs. 

The best morality I can find is a very personal one, my dad lived because of the second bomb. I'm alive because of the second bomb. If the Japanese people had used the same thinking that Americans used, if their logical processes were the same as the American people's, then that war would never have happened, and no one would have to justify their actions. 

I could use patriotic words like liberty, freedom, democracy and our cherished republic to inspire those who would be inspired, but it would be the preacher preaching to the choir if you have read this far but instead I will focus on the fact we have found a system that works, with all of it's blemishes and foibles.  It has stood the test of time going back to Plato.  The Romans succeeded with it, and now we succeed with it's varied improvements.  A system based on personal initiative combined with social acceptance.  Our government though stable is always adapting, always reaching. Our way rewards those with the greatest abilities and the cream floats to the top. Our way has embraced our differences as well as our likenesses.  A woman does not have  to walk 4 paces behind her husband or cover her face with a veil.  A woman can achieve great things and new frontiers are always being uncovered for all races, genders and more.  Thinking for oneself is a prized freedom and certainly a requirement at all levels of American living.  Russians coming here after the fall of communism expressed a concern over having too much freedom.  

We haven't let religious extremism hobble the umbrella of government that gives us all room to breathe yet we are not without faith in a supreme being.  Our system of government tolerates our differing religions and cultures far better than any other system of government in the world.  All who come here and embrace that premise, (which rules out communists by definition,)  have come to flourish in  America.

The earliest vivid memories I have of my dad, were in the late 50's and early 60's when we spent 3 years in Sacramento California and he began investing time in Scouts and Little League and other family oriented events in our lives.  He was an Army Recruiter at that time and preparing to find a home where he could retire from military service.  

He had several bouts with major bleeding ulcers (that surely were the result of parasites he acquired during his WWII internment.)  I remember him spending time in the hospital while in Sacramento, he went back in the hospital for a bleeding ulcer and in the late '70s when he finally had to have a major portion  of his intestines removed after losing a great amount of blood from a bleeding ulcer once again.  The veins in his legs slowly hardened and caused him continual pain over the years.  Doctors recommended he have his veins stripped, but he chose not to have that procedure done.  

Dad lived to the age of 78, but I always felt he should have lived into his 90's.  He had 72 years which were what most would consider quality years, until the last five years of his life when his mind and body seemed to deteriorate from the strokes he experienced at that time.  

Prior to that he was able to travel America with my mom at his side and visit relatives he hadn't seen in decades.  They bought a fifth wheel trailer and a one ton GMC extended cab with a 454 cu. in. engine to pull the trailer and joined the many convoys on the America's  highways, even traveling to the Golf of California,  Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Canada, you name it and they saw it.  He had a chance to go visit some of the men he was interned with in the Philippians and Mukden on his trips across America.  My dad must of had some Gypsy blood in him from somewhere, because he hated staying put in one place for too long.  He had to move.  

George Weaver
2/14/1998
updated:
01/17/2004

P.S.S. This is not an attempt to set the record down perfectly. Some of dads recollections may be off as to actual facts and figures. This is more an attempt to set down his memories however factual or not. There are spots that have obvious emotional responses, and may be more opinion than fact. These are his realities, recollections, nightmares, however right or wrong. My personal information may not be 100% accurate but is based on my personal experiences and research.  Where possible I have given references and credit to sources.  

I have to add that as a 'Baby-Boomer' it is my opinion the current  generations will never experience the richness of living in the 50's and early 60's.  The aftermath of WWI and WWII left us with a rich heritage and new wide open frontiers we were eager to explore.  We were on the threshold of space and all of the wondrous communication technologies that launched us out of the unique charm of the American western frontier  culture of the past 200 years and into the modern days of electronic technology.  

That period of time between the two ages, to my way of thinking, was the best time in the history of the planet. I can only say you had to have been there to know of what I speak.  Things are taken for granted now that we only dreamed of and I think it was that hope and dreaming that enriched me personally.

If you view a western made 50 years ago and compare it to westerns made today they are so different in flavor and true understanding of the foundations of American culture so much that I find it a painful waste in every respect.  

The lessons I've learned from the past are forgive it and move on but don't forget it.  Never take freedom for granted as a given.  You must  fight for it.  It's the fighting spirit that keeps us free.  It's the yielding spirit that enslaves us.  Rest if you must but don't make it a life style.  Pick your battles well.

*KAMIKAZES UNLEASHED:

On January 5, 1945, Japanese pilots received the first order to become Kamikaze, or "Divine Wind." The suicidal blitz of the Kamikazes revealed Japan's desperation in the final months of World War II. Most of Japan's top pilots were dead, but youngsters needed little training to take planes full of explosives and crash them into ships. At the Battle of Okinawa, they sank thirty ships and killed almost 5,000 Americans.