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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March Of Time

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Larson was punished because he was a platoon sergeant In charge of three barracks. Another time, a prisoner escaped. Larson was confined in the tin shack for seven days for that, too. If a Japanese guard hadn't slipped him some food and water, Larson surely would have died. As it was, he had to be carried back to the barracks. He was put into his bunk. He got to rest for a few days. Then he was put back to work.

Larson was in great shape before his capture. That's one reason he survived. He had always been athletic. Other soldiers napped during the heat of the Philippines. Larson bicycled.

Larson's mother was back in Duluth. She saw a newsreel in movie theater about the Bataan Death March. She thought she spotted her son-alive! So she paid to go back to the theater many times to see if it was really him in the film. "She believed it was, and it kept her hopes up." he said.

For the soldiers, hope was hard to keep. Americans were forced to bow to every Japanese person, no matter what the rank. The Japanese gave a 100-pound sack of rice to any Filipino who turned in an escaped American prisoner.

Many GIs came down with malaria. So did Larson. They had no medical supplies ever. The Japanese had taken them. The Americans couldn't even brush their teeth. Their breath was so bad you "could cut it with a knife," Larson said.

"The Japanese didn't use anesthetics when they operated on prisoners. If we had a tooth problem, the medical officer would pull them with a pair of pliers. We didn't have any anesthetic or medical supplies for anything! One POW in our camp had been captured on Wake Island. His own corpsmen operated on him for appendicitis. For anesthetic, seven Marines held him down."

GI prisoners worked seven days a week. They quarried rock for runway repairs. Food was a cup of steamed rice twice a day. One day 200 Americans at Clark Field Concentration Camp were given a pig so rancid that the Japanese wouldn't eat it. The Americans cooked and devoured it, maggots and all.

A year and a half after capture, Larson and 1,161 other American prisoners were crammed into a Japanese cargo Ship hold for 23 days. It was so crowded they couldn't sit or lie down, only squat. The Japanese needed laborers. so the GIs were taken from the Philippines to Formosa and then to Japan. The ship was even fired upon by U.S. submarines because there were no Red Cross markings.

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All materials copyright © 2001 Rick Peterson.
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