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

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Did the Japanese get the AO9 Amphibian?
Yes. They also destroyed almost all the B-17s. A couple of our P-40s got airborne, but they couldn't do any good. Captain Wray, who flew us up there, commandeered a car about two o'clock in the afternoon to get us back to Nichols Field.

How far away were you from Nichols Field?
It was about sixty to eighty miles between the two places. Boy, I was shook up when we got back. Sergeant Suttle, a friend of mine, saw I was upset so he handed me a bottle of liquor. I didn't drink, but took a couple of good swigs. It didn't even phase me.
Under normal conditions, I would have been flat on my back! Then the 1st Sergeant said, "You have had enough for today." "Go down by the hangar, lie down, and relax." "Nothing is going to happen tonight." "Ya!" About midnight that same night, the Japanese bombers came and clobbered Nichols Field.

Were you sleeping when the raid occurred at Nichols Field?
I was sleeping in the hanger when the first bombs came down. But it didn't take me long to get out of there, I'll tell you!
Did they ring the siren? (Jane)

Did they have a siren?
They had a siren but we were caught with our drawers down. That's all there is to it! It shouldn't have happened because we had all the indications that war was coming.

The Japanese had landed north of us at Lingayen. They bombed Aparri, a town near Lingayen. They blasted and obliterated the pursuit base at Iba, about 60 miles west of Clark Field. The bomber commander, Major Gen. Brereton, had gone to MacArthur's headquarters. He tried to get permission to take off and bomb their launching base at Formosa. The answer he got from MacArthur was, "We are not at war." "We are in the state of war." General MacArthur was in charge. The bombers stayed on the ground. Personally, I don't think a bombing mission to Formosa would have succeeded anyway because we weren't really prepared and so many things could have gone wrong. But by now, the Japanese had wrecked everything. The next day, after the midnight bombing raid on Nichols Field on December 9, 1941, they really plastered us. They came about noon on December 10, 1941, and just leveled Nichols Field. And I mean leveled it! The bombers were up about 20,000 but the fighters were right down on the deck.

What were the functions of Nichols Field and Clark Field?
Nichols Field was a pursuit and observation base while Clark Field was a bomber base.

There were no defenses for the United States?
No. Armament consisted of Old World War I Lewis aircraft guns, the ones with the drum on top of them. They would jam up! Everything we had over there was World War I stuff. We were outdated! The Japanese zeros could fly circles around everything we had over there at that time. The first airplane ride I took over there was in a ZB3 where the pilot sat in front, the gunner sat in back and everything was open.

America was not expecting war?
America knew war was coming but we weren't ready. For example, some of the P-40s fighters we had didn't have any cooling fluid. It hadn't been shipped with the dang things! So, there they sat! A lot of them were destroyed on the ground. After the raids, a ship came in with the stuff that should have been there in the first place. They patched up some of them so they would fly.

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