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


Foreword

Introduction

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

Japan

The Nomachi Express

Camp Nomachi

Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation

Epilogue

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

Memorial:
Alf R. Larson


In Memory:
Alf R. Larson
Star Tribune


US Representative
Erik Paulsen's Tribute


PROCLAMATION
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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Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation

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Did you think the Japanese guards might execute all prisoners when the war was lost?
We didn't know what was going to happen. We thought it might be a possibility but never spent time discussing it. One time we heard that if America invaded, the Japanese were going to kill all prisoners. The Truman library in Independence, MO, has the original Japanese order stating they would execute all prisoners of war if America invaded. Of course, we didn't know about that order while in captivity.

Did the Japanese make threatening gestures with their rifles?
They did at times. Other than that, we weren't really treated too badly, nothing like in the Philippines. But, in the beginning of August 1945 we knew something was up. We hadn't worked for a couple of days. Every morning, as part of our routine, we left the barracks and stood roll call while the Japanese made sure everyone was there. This time, after they called roll, we were dismissed. The guards stacked their rifles and took off.

The only Japanese in camp after they left was the "One Armed Bandit" and the first sergeant. We figured the war had to be over. In fact, the surrender had taken place but we didn't know it. The actual surrender of the Japanese was on August 9, 1945. Planes began to fly over and dropped notes telling us to stay put. They wanted us to identify the camp with a big "POW" on top of the compound so we would be rescued.

They didn't know where your camp was located?
No. The Japanese had given a general idea where each camp was located. We found some paint and a few ladders. We climbed up and painted big "POWs" on the building roofs. Once our location was identified, Air Force planes flew over every other day and dropped food and "goodies" to us.

What type of food did they drop?
Most items were dropped with parachutes. At first, they dropped K-Rations and C-Rations. They also dropped a big 55-gallon drum of soup. It had a parachute so it didn't burst when it hit the ground. One time the parachute on a 55-gallon drum didn't open. The drum went through the roof of a school by our camp. It killed a Japanese student. Their houses were practically built of paper! A few days after the guards left, we got a real surprise! The Swedish Consulate from Tokyo drove up. The American camp commander, Lieutenant Sense, called everyone together on the parade ground. The Swedish Consulate told us the war was over and we were now living in an atomic age. We had no idea what the heck he was talking about. He stayed around for a while and talked to our officers. After that, he left and we never saw him again.

Did everyone start cheering when they realized the war was over?
Surprisingly, everyone was quiet and very subdued.

When did you personally come to the realization it was over?
I knew it was over when the Japanese guards stacked their rifles and left the camp.

When you went to bed that night did you feel good and at peace?
Yes. I knew I had made it! Fortunately, I was in fairly good physical shape compared to others in the camp. Shortly after the Swedish Consulate's visit, a small allied observation plane landed on the road by our camp. A sergeant got out and talked to us. He told everyone to stay put, that a team would rescue us very soon. After giving us that message, he flew away. Nobody ever came.

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All materials copyright © 2001 Rick Peterson.
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