Back to Bataan - A Survivor's Story
Written by Rick Peterson
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Author Rick Peterson



The Road to Bataan

The Bataan Death March

The San Fernando Train Ride

Camp O'Donnell

Clark Field Concentration Camp

Bilibid Prison

The Hell Ships


The Nomachi Express

Camp Nomachi

Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation


University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History

Governor Pawlenty
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

In Memory:
Alf R. Larson
Star Tribune

US Representative
Erik Paulsen's Tribute

Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal

Bataan Death March Route Map

Philippine Department of Tourism

Star Tribune:
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)

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Camp O'Donnell

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The Water Brigade At Camp O Donnell -- Drawing Courtesy of Ben Steele Could you find anything else?
No. We were confined to this area and there was nothing there. Everything had been stripped before we came. That's why people were dying so fast. There were no medical facilities whatsoever. People who needed some type of medical treatment didn't bother to go to the so-called infirmary. There was nothing to treat you with. If you got real bad you were put in the death ward. Those who went there stayed until they died.

Did you have American doctors?
We had American doctors, but they had no facilities and absolutely no medical supplies.

No bandages?

No antibiotics or ointment?

They just did the best they could.
On the march, the Japanese had stripped the doctors of everything. They took everything from us! The Filipinos had it worse than we did. We were separated from them. They had to drink polluted water. Those poor Filipinos died like flies! The Japanese saw they had to do something. They started pardoning them so they could go home.

Where did you sleep?
There wasn't enough room in the barracks for everyone. If you weren't in a barracks, you slept right out in the open. If it rained, you got wet!

What did you do all day?
Nothing. You couldn't look for food because there was no food! Everyone got together in small groups with people they knew before the surrender. I hung around some individuals who had been in my squadron at Nichols Field. There was not much talking because there was nothing to talk about.

To put it in modern-day terms, you "hung out."
That's about the only way you could describe it.

Were you free to move about the camp?
In the compound, yes. There was a string of barbed wire around the whole place and it was loosely patrolled. You could have gotten out any time but where would you go? Without outside contacts, you were a dead duck.

The Japanese would shoot anyone who went beyond the wire?
Yes. They also offered a 100-lb. sack of rice to any Filipino that would turn in an escaped prisoner.

The Filipinos were hungry and would do it?
That's right.

Could you sleep during the day?
You could sleep all day and all night if you wanted to.

Did the Japanese bother you?
No. We just existed. You hung out and didn't overstep the boundaries. We tried to keep things as clean as possible. Occasionally, we would dig a slit trench for toilet facilities. A slit trench is a long trench you straddle and go to the bathroom in.

There was no privacy! Once the trench was full, it was covered up and we dug another one someplace else. But I hated it there! I said to myself, "I gotta get out of here" because of all the rumors flying around. The Japanese told our officers they were forming a detail. I volunteered and was selected along with about two hundred other men. I didn't know what the detail was and I didn't care. Luckily, I was sent to Clark Field. I was very thankful because it got me out of Camp O'Donnell. The Japanese eventually closed Camp O'Donnell down because the facilities were not adequate.

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