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)
March Of Time
"Yep," Larson said. "There are some episodes you''d justas soon forget."
He swallowed hard and continued. "I hard a hard time tellingabout this. It brought back a lot of memories. Some I didn''tmind. Some were traumatic. I''ll tell the truth. My voiceactually broke a couple of times."
His wife said softly, "He''s tough."
Few veterans who were in the thick of things want to tell tales,Larson said. He meets with other Bataan and Corregidor survivorsonce a month at the American Legion Post 251 in Robbinsdale. Seldom do they speak of the war. When it comes up, it''s usuallywhat he calls GI teasing. "We had it soft, " a vet will say,tongue-in-cheek.
A 70- or 80-mile walk wouldn''t be so bad for men whowere fed and in shape, Larson said. But U.S. andFilipino soldiers were already starving. Four of thesix days of the march, in over 100 degree heat, Staff Sgt. Larson was given no food or water. The last two days he received a small ball of rice.
"Men went stark raving mad with thirst…if people would fall down and couldn''t go any further, the Japanesewould either bayonet or shoot them. They also wouldbayonet prisoners who couldn''t keep up. Those whostepped out of line or had fallen out of ranks were beatenwith clubs and/or rifle butts. Some American prisonerswho couldn''t keep up were run over by Japanese vehicles.I saw the remains of an American soldier who had beenrun over by a tank. I didn''t see the actual event, butthe Japanese just left his remains in the middle of theroad. We could see them as we walked by."
But Larson managed to carry a symbol of hope. It wasa forbidden little New Testament with Psalms. An Armychaplain had given it to him. Once he made it to theprisoner-of-war camps, he was able to read his Bibleseveral times a day.
The 23rd Psalm was his comfort, especially after a bombing raid. Sometimes there were weeks ofdaily bombing. "My philosophy was, "The goodLord willing, I''ll make it through the day."Just the one day. He didn''t allow himself to thinkabout the next day. Yet he never allowed himselfto give up hope, he said.
"Have you seen the film "The Bridge on the River Kwai?"Do you remember that little tin shack the colonel was putin? They built one like that at Clark Field. It was designedto be very uncomfortable. It was a small cubicle made ofsheet metal with no openings in it except a door. Thedoor was a piece of sheet metal with no openings in it.The door had hinges on it and would open up, shut,and lock. They built it so you couldn''t stand up and couldn''t lay straight out. You had to curl up or squat. The building sat right out in the sun and did it get hotsince it was made of sheet metal. I was put in that shackas punishment (because a prisoner had escaped) forthree days, without food or water."