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Re: Lessons from a WWII POW

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Thanks Fred, it’s been an honor for me to share their stories. Oddly enough, it was the humble in them that makes it all even more appealing. Had the WWII veterans talked about their war, we'd not have so many unanswered questions about our own families. 

 

Charley

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Re: Lessons from a WWII POW

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Charley, that is awesome...your book, the YouTube video, and the documentary.

 

The thing about those guys, and you captured it, is their modesty. No boastful pride about having killed so many enemies. In fact, there is some compassion for the "regular joes" on the enemy side.

 

If I may, I find this different from the wars of today. It seems that our politicians (of all stripes) are so eager and anxious to send off our young people as cannon fodder to foreign shores with a lot of bluster and BS, almost like it's the big college football game, but without any real understanding of what they are asking of our young people. Anyway, I found the humility of those men interviewed in your video to be very humbling.

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Re: Lessons from a WWII POW

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Hi Fred, thanks for the great story. Amazing hardships they all went through. I can’t imagine the horrors they saw regularly. We’ve all seen the photos and black and white clips on you tube, but it’s certainly not the same as worrying about your life and the ones you love. 

 

I'm familiar with the cars and dysentery, death and cramped quarters. Horrible. No wonder many have never wanted to discuss those days. It took me many visits to each soldier, sailor and airmen to get them to open up to me. Once they were OK with me, things went smoothly. 

 

Since about June, I’ve completed a documentary based on the book. Here’s the trailer link MyFathersWar. It’s currently being reviewed at some major film festivals. I’m honored to help represent these guys. 

 

All the best.

charley valera

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cool story Charley.

 

Several years ago the volunteer who wheeled me out of the hospital after my gall bladder-ectomy, very old guy, as old as my mom at the time, maybe he was early-mid 80's then. He had been in submarines in the Pacific. He said he'd "had one shot out from under him" ...gosh, that must have been awfully scary! but was not captured. And I don't know if I imagined this or not, but did he have two subs go down on him? can't be, that would be too much! But I don't recall.

 

The Bataan Death March. I married a Filipina who had grown up in Canada. But her parents have moved back to the Philippines in their seniority. Their town, Tarlac, is very close to the end destination of the Death March, Camp O'Donnell in Capas. We have made several trips to visit the family and we have gone to the memorial and monument at Capas. It is old and sometimes looks like it is ignored, but even now there are groups who sponsor updating the monuments and plaques.


There is a small museum there, one of the old rail cars that the guys were stuffed into...incredibly small and the reports were that guys were sick with vomiting and dysentery, fainting, even dying, yet they were packed so tightly that they would not even fall down to the floor. As I recall, the march was from Bataan to the rail head, or maybe the rail cars came from Bataan to the rail head and then marched from there. There are markers around the Capas region every kilometer marking the route. Very poignant to me to spot those as we drove around.

There is a poignant plaque at the memorial, very old. Inscribed is "No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam" It always makes me tear up to think of that.

Wife's parents were young teens during WWII and 'mama' was sent up to relatives in the hills so that she would not catch the eye of any Japanese soldiers. I've tried to pump stories out of them about their days in WWII but due to language differences and papa's profound deafness I don't often get too far. (I used to pump my mom for such stories as well, she being a Navy nurse.)

My dad was radio operator/tail gunner on B-24s in the Mediterranean. They went on the Ploesti raids and on one of them they were hit bad but the pilot and men agreed to keep flying as long as they could, to get out of the enemy territory. They made it to Turkey (neutral country) and were interned for over a year.

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Lessons from a WWII POW

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During the dozens of my interviews with WWII veterans, I never would think that now I’ve heard it all. Close. Some stories were brutal, some funny. Here’s a different one I’d never heard first-hand before. 

 

Bill joined the Marines before WWII started for the United States. He was shipped to the Philippines and was stationed there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Bill was immediately taken prisoner and remained on throughout the entire war. He even survived the brutal Bataan Death March. 

 

When he returned home home he was given additional monies for being a POW. He figured he’d buy himself a new car. Must have figured life’s short and what the heck, he deserved it. However, the car dealer explained to him there were no new cars available. He went on to tell Bill he would be about number 500 on the list. 

 

Bill eventually did get his new car. He’s now ninety-nine years old. True story. He should make the cut for next book of Memories. 

 

Charley Valera

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