Author Rick Peterson
The Road to Bataan
The Bataan Death March
The San Fernando Train Ride
Clark Field Concentration Camp
The Hell Ships
The Nomachi Express
Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation
University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History
State of the State Address Tribute
KSTP TV Newscasts
Duluth TV Newscasts
KTIS Radio Interview
Rick P./Paulette K.
Alf's Christian Faith
Alf's Letter to God
Alf R. Larson
Alf R. Larson
Erik Paulsen's Tribute
Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal
Bataan Death March Route Map
Philippine Department of Tourism
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)
Our most serious medical problem was malnutrition! We were all suffering from it. In the Philippines, when we went out on details, we could pick up weeds and stuff to eat. We would bring whatever we found back to camp and cook it. We ate everything that moved, grew, swam, whatever. We tried everything; I mean everything! We didn't have the opportunity to do that in Japan.
The hunger pangs or feelings never left for those years?
That's right. I was always hungry. Always! I was hungry before the American surrender on Bataan, and from the days of the Bataan Death March until we were liberated.
Why didn't your stomach shrink up? You wouldn't be that hungry.
It might have shrunk up, I'll tell you, but it was still there! We were hungry all the time. Without any food, the hunger pangs would have gone away. The Japanese gave us just enough food to keep hunger pangs alive so we would suffer!
What did you guys do spiritually? Did you discuss religion or pray?
I'll speak for myself. I had my little Bible. I read it every day and prayed by myself.
They didn't take your Bible away?
No. They would have in the Philippines if they had found it. They didn't bother in Japan. In fact, we never had any shakedowns in Japan. We didn't have any church services. We had to work seven days a week and never got a day off!
By the time we finished work, even though it wasn't that demanding, we were strapped. Surviving on starvation rations resulted in a very low strength and tolerance level. The Japanese didn't have time off either. They worked right along side us, seven days a week.
Did you sleep well?
Most of the time, yes. I just "zonked out." In the wintertime, I ate supper out of my mess kit on my bed. Then I crawled right in. It was cold!
What was winter like?
It was very cold and snowed like you wouldn't believe. We didn't get raging snowstorms but the snowfall was heavy.
Did anyone shovel the snow?
The civilians would shovel the path to the machine shop and the dock. I don't know how, but it was always open after a snowfall. There was nothing to shovel the camp compound with. We just packed the snow down when we walked on it.
Was the barracks heated?
Yes. But, the small stove would never get the barracks very warm. There wasn't much wood to burn either.
Was your workplace, the machine shop, heated?
Yes. It was warmer than the barracks.
What did you wear for winter clothing?
For winter, we were issued a jacket. Other than that, we wore Japanese military uniforms with baggy pants. We were issued regular hobnailed shoes.
How far away from camp was the machine shop?
It was about half a mile from the camp's main gate.