Twelve Hundred Days
A biography of my survival of the Bataan Death
March and three years as a Japanese Prisoner
of War. -- Russell A. Grokett, Sr.
April, 1942 - August, 1945
Excepts from "The Circle is Never Broken" written by Estelle Grokett.
Audio excerpts from original recordings of MsSg R. Grokett by
Russell Grokett, Jr. Arranged and co-written by Russell Grokett, Jr.
Sincere thanks to Kellie Knox for her work on the original
manuscript and to Michael Knox, now working on the book version
of this story.



Day 285

Bad day. Diesinger died.

My best friend, Diesinger, died of diphtheria in the camp this winter. The ground is frozen so deep the bodies of dead prisoners have to be stacked inside a house until spring thaws the ground and they can be buried.

When is this ever going to end?

13 months earlier… Dec. 8, 1942

Diesinger and Russ walked out of the PX at Nichols Field south of Manila. Russ raised his drink bottle to his mouth and looked skyward. Planes screamed downward and some men yelled, "Look, navy planes!", but Russ dropped his drink and both men hit the ground. Bombs exploded on either side of them, killing some and injuring others. The war had begun.

At 11:27 a.m. the silver medium range bombers with red rising suns painted on their wings headed toward Cavite Naval Base. The attackers came from bases in Formosa (now Taiwan). To defend the islands, there were only 160 U.S. aircraft. 35 of which, were Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, of little use for defensive purposes.

The Japanese bombers circled the naval base twice, then leveled off and dumped their fiery destruction. Another formation passed over Manila and hit Nichols Field with demolition and incendiary bombs. The fuel dump took a direct hit. Most of the U.S. aircraft were lined up in a straight row, making for easy prey by the Jap bombers. Only a small number survived to get off the ground. Russ never knew why the aircraft had not been concealed, for they had been on alert for over a week and were sleeping under the planes. The Americans lost 86 aircraft against 7 Japanese Zero fighters shot down.

Day 215 - Mukden, Manchuria

We arrive in Mukden in mid-November 1942. Winter!

Mukden was built on the presumption that Japan not only would win the war but would keep many prisoners at work for years to come. When we arrived at Hoten compound, the Japs told us that if we obeyed their orders for the next 10 or 20 years to come, our relatives will be permitted to visit us!

Hoten compound is a work camp of about 1,500 enlisted POW's. There are many other such compounds in Japan and other areas.

We live in barracks that had once been chicken houses. There is very little heat and the winters in Manchuria go down to 40 degrees below zero, so I sleep with all of the clothes I own and even left my shoes on, trying to keep warm.

The prisoners sleep on hard benches. There are no tables or chairs. Many times throughout the winter, snow has to be shoveled from the roofs of the barracks to keep them from collapsing.

It takes courage to wash your clothes in the winter, Plunging our scaly, red hands into the icy water. But clean clothes are such a rarity, one had to do it.

With no utensils, I made a spoon from a piece of drainage pipe. We have small wooden bowls for our fish heads and guts and rice. I have to hunt constantly for food. I trade cigarettes for things that others would not eat. I see so many men just absolutely refuse to eat. They just sit down and die. I try bribery on them, offering cigarettes for each bite they eat, to see if I can't help some of them fight off starvation, but it is a losing battle for most. With winter in full fury, there is little to eat besides the handful of bug infested rice and rotten fish scraps that the Japs give out.

Day 262

Its almost Christmas, I think. Its hard to tell exactly what day it is. No one has a calendar.

Christmas, 1941

On the morning of December 22nd came over 43,000 troops from the enemy vessels. Not a bomb, not a torpedo came from the Americans. No American bombers or any presence of American submarines were observed. The main Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands had begun.

General MacArthur's War Plan, known as Orange No. 3 (or WPO-3) , a 20 year old plan, stated that in the event of a successful Japanese landing on the main island of Luzon, the Philippine Division and the Philippine Army, if unable to beat off landings and advances of the enemy, were to fight delaying actions and withdraw into Bataan Peninsula. The plan envisioned a six month stand by which in time, aid from the United States would arrive.

MacArthur's plan, written in 1928, was based on a major defense at the beaches. They were to catch the enemy when transports were close to shore. After locating the landings, the navy and air corps would engage the convoy and then artillery would bombard the beaches and infantry would mop up any remaining troops reaching shore. But this plan was altered. There would be only a relatively small defense at the beach. Delaying actions were to be fought while the bulk of the forces dropped back to Bataan. Holding Bataan was their main goal. Artillery batteries pounded the enemy, but did little to slow the advance.

We set about destroying equipment and supplies we no longer can use. Large tanks full of aviation and diesel fuel were being burned. I ask a lieutenant if we could pour gasoline into the bay and set it on fire to perhaps hinder a few of the troops coming ashore but was told that this would be cruel and inhumane!

If only he realized what lay ahead.

Day 381

Hunger is the main problem, for we are fed only a thin soup of potato vine tops or maybe fish heads, guts and rice , so I continually search for food. I scrounge for leaves and grass to put in the hot watery soup to help get a few vitamins, as scurvy and beriberi have gotten to be real bad. One man's legs were so swollen that they had to put bamboo sticks into them to drain the water.

Another winter is over. Its springtime, 1943. I am assigned to ration detail for the next few weeks, working in the kitchen, carrying boxes and cleaning dirty pots. Soon, I found a way to get bits of food from the Japanese cooks by pretending that I don't know what certain foods are. "What are those?" pointing and giving a questioning look at the cooks as they prepared the guards mess. I ask what carrots, potatoes and numerous other vegetables are and the Japanese thought it to be funny and would laugh at the dumb American and then give me some of the vegetables to try.

One day after watching the Japanese fill the mess buckets that the prisoners take back to their quarters, I noticed that the American officers' buckets got a lot of vegetables and even some chunks of meat, while the enlisted men got only the watery gruel. So I just pick up one of the officers' buckets instead of the regular one, hurry back to the barracks and tell the men to get their soup and eat quickly. We were just finishing when in came an officer demanding to know, "Who took the officers' bucket?". Innocently, I admitted that I had picked it up, asking "Why the problem? Weren't all the buckets the same?". The officer looked at me, not expecting my question, said "We sterilize our bucket and don't want anyone else using it." and walked out, empty bucket in hand.

The next day, there is a guard when the soup is doled out so there is not another chance to get another good meal that way.


Lt. General Masoharu Homma was leader of the Japanese forces against Bataan.

MacArthur gave the order to withdraw to Bataan on December 23rd and the exodus became a nightmare. Many men had no idea where their units were and according to WPO-3, civilians on Bataan were to be evacuated as well. None of them had already been evacuated, so tens of thousands of terrified refugees in the path of Homma's 14th Army were sent streaming toward Bataan in oxcarts, cantelos and old cars, along with the American and Philippine armies.

Russ helped deliver more than one baby when women went into labor along the road. They would have the baby in the bushes, get up, wrap it in a rag and start walking again.

As the enemy landings continued, an impending feel of disaster spread. There had not been any effort to effect the basic plan. Little opportunity to attack the enemy convoy. No orders came. Instead an alarming number of stragglers began arriving into the makeshift camps.

On December 29th, 1941 as the withdrawal continued, the Japanese dive bombers became more active and continued to be a deadly threat. One division after the other became badly disorganized and were a reduced in strength and supplies. There was no telephone available, no radio sets, no machine guns, antiaircraft, or field artillery.

The hostile pressure was severe. Both sides were taking heavy losses, and although the men were tired, worn and hungry, they were still cocky, proud and aggressive.

Clark Field was a sickening sight. Blackened, twisted, shapeless, masses of metal junk.. Even though the remaining American forces fought stubbornly, they were slowly being forced back towards Bataan.

General Wainwright had strongly disapproved of the withdrawal. But the troops continued to fall back under the pounding by the Japanese.

Supply lines to the front units were inadequate. The shock of knowing the enemy followed so closely on their heels as they entered Bataan hit the troops also. The enemy pushed through the Layac defensive and drove the last American troops back onto the Mt. Natib line. Inertia gripped all ranks. Sanitation was ghastly. Food cans were scattered randomly about the jungle.

Bataan was put on half rations. Rations for one day were:
3.7 oz. of rice
1.5 oz. of sugar
1.2 oz. of canned milk
2.5 oz. canned fish, salmon or sardines
tomatoes when available - ten men per can

This ration continued from early January, 1942 until the middle of February. Bread was issued for the first two weeks, but then disappeared. During the last part of February rice ration went from 4 oz. up to 8 oz. and up again to 12 oz. during the last two weeks in March. At the end they were given 16 oz. But this was not enough.

They began to eat anything they could find. They ate pony, mule, iguana, monkey, anything they could get their hands on. They ate the jungle.

The sad fact was that large stores of food had been abandoned to the enemy on both Bataan and Corregidor.

Dysentery, malaria and beriberi had combined to produce a weakened American and Filipino Army. Russ had dengue fever during this time. Most of the men were weak and sick actually to the point of staggering, and yet the fighting went on.

Day 434 - Early summer, 1943

While on a work detail loading onions, we began to eat them. Naturally we were caught and taken outside and lined up to be questioned. As the guard came down to each man he would say "Why you take onions?". The man would reply that he didn't take onions, and then he would get knocked down by the guard for he could smell them on the man's breath. When the guard got to me and asked "Why you take onions?" I replied, "Because I was hungry." This surprised the guard who stepped back, took me out of line and said, "This man speak truth." He put me back in line without hitting me, then went to the next man, asked the same question. The man lied, so the guard promptly knocked him down! Wonder why he didn't take my cue and "speak the truth"?


On February 15th, 1942 Singapore fell. A stunned silence prevailed. The chain of their relief line was broken. The Japanese propaganda radio in Manila beamed messages of Allied losses to the Americans in English. The theme song was "I'm Waiting For Ships That Never Come In".

Then the final blow came with President Roosevelt's speech on the status of the war. It was the death knell of Bataan. He outlined the magnitude of the American tack. He spoke of American groups in Greenland, Ireland, and England and of help to Russia, China and India. He spoke of miles of ocean between America and Japan and the necessity of defending Australia and the almost insurmountable difficulty of relieving the Philippines. The curtain had rung down, it was only a matter of time.

Russ was fighting on the front lines and had learned to live on two hours sleep. At the end of a patrol, he would work his way into the center of a big clump of bamboo and lie down on the ground with his ear pressed against the earth and sleep like this, awakening at the first noise.

The Japanese had no walk-through. They had to fight for every foot of ground they gained.

Day 505

I think I finally got that guard off my back. I know what I did was risky. He had already badly beaten other prisoners. And I might have been next.

One work detail that I was on was shoveling coal from one pile to another. With me, was a group of about six or eight Americans. A Jap colonel had told them where to pile the coal but a great big, very tough Japanese guard wanted it done differently. This particular guard had made life very difficult and downright dangerous with constant threats of beatings and death. Many prisoners had bad bruises and broken teeth from his blows. So I decided this was my chance. I told the guard that Colonel Mickie wanted the coal "here" but the guard said "Nayda [No]. I want it here," as he pointed to another spot.

Finally the guard became angry with me, but I stood my ground and firmly requested to be taken before Colonel Mickie. The guard, thinking of what the Colonel would do to me, obliged, and we marched off. The other men in the work detail thought that they had seen the last of me, for Colonel Mickie had a violent temper and had been known to break two by fours over prisoner's backs. But nevertheless, I pressed to see the colonel.

Once in front of him, I started explaining that the guard thought Colonel Mickie's way to pile the coal was wrong and the guard's way was right. Well this was like waving a big red flag in front of a bull! Colonel Mickie drew his sword and grasped it in both hands and charged, not at me, but at the big Japanese guard. I thought for sure the guard's head was about to be chopped off. It really scared me. But Colonel Mickie stopped just short of beheading the man and began a torrent of words. The guard quickly apologized and said that Colonel Mickie was absolutely right and he would never cross him again.

When I reappeared unharmed and grinning while the guard was crestfallen, the men were anxious to know what had happened. I told them that the guard was almost killed, but was let off with a fierce lecture

The guard didn't give anymore orders to us and now when I approach to ask him a question he just turns away, saying do what you want to do. The guard didn't want to be taken before Colonel Mickie again.

March 10, 1942

General MacArthur had now gone to Corregidor and sent this message to the troops on Bataan:

"Help is on the way from the U.S. Thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched. No further retreat is possible. We have more troops in Bataan than the Japanese have thrown against us. Our supplies are ample; a determined defense will defeat the enemy's attack.

I call upon every soldier in Bataan to fight in his assigned position, resisting enemy attack. This is the only road to salvation. If we fight we will win, if we retreat we will be destroyed."

Some of the men openly jeered. Ample supplies? They were already on half rations. Their grenades were no good, only one in four or five exploding. Six out of seven mortar rounds failed to detonate on landing and too often ill-fitting shells burst the barrels of the cannons.

But to the great majority, the words were a hope. Bataan had been saved

Still, they tried to booster morale. Hold on a little longer. Tighten your belts. Fight with all your strength. Use anything you could find as a weapon.

Bataan encompassed some 500 square miles of land. It was what career men called "a'hardship past!" Although beautiful beaches with giant coconut palms jutted into Manila Bay from the southwest corner of Luzon, the island jungle was known as a death hole filled with every tropical disease known to man.

Now the Japanese were poised for the final attack that would seal the doom of the defenders of Bataan. The Jaws of the Japanese military pincer began to close as their armies began a massive frontal assault. Under constant artillery fire and dive bombers raining destruction from the air, the Japanese infantry moved into position. Then wave after wave of infantry brigades shouting "Bonzai! Bonzai!" began their attacks. The American troops entrenched in bunkers, sprayed the attackers with machine gun fire and to sent them back. But more Japanese poured forth impaling themselves on the barbed wire so other troops could use their bodies to catapult over the defense structures.

To Russ, it was a nightmare. The guns fired so much and became so hot, they would seize up. They didn't believe that they could survive another assault, but the enemy kept coming and the defenders kept fighting. More battles to be fought, men to evacuate, deaths to dim.

Men were buried in common graves. No one back home would ever know how they died. Casualties were high on both sides. The stench of decaying bodies exposed to the tropical sun was overpowering

The Japanese dropped leaflets on the men urging them to surrender, but the men used the leaflets to light cigarettes, scribble notes to wives and girlfriends and even for toilet paper, a scarce commodity on Bataan.


With each passing day the situation became more critical. The battle grew worse day by day. A full retreat was ordered. All across the island the Americans fell back. Men jammed the roads carrying buddies on litters. Stragglers wandered aimlessly, some wearing nothing but underwear.

The battle for Bataan was fast coming to an end.

Day 544

Winter is coming again. Its going to be very bad, I am afraid. I was assigned to a burial detail, before the ground freezes hard again.

We took a guy out to bury him and when we laid him beside the grave, he opened his eyes and asked, "What are you doing to me?" We took him back to camp but the next day he was dead so this time we buried him.

It was almost impossible to tell if some of the men were alive or not. They are so emaciated and dirty with flies all over them that unless they got up or rolled over we honestly thought them dead.

Diseases, such as beriberi, dysentery, and innumerable fevers are the biggest killers.

Dysentery is such a terrible thing to have and all suffer from it. Some men wear a tin can on their butt, rather than try to run to a benjo (latrine) twenty times a day.

More than a thousand American soldiers and sailors with mechanical training were put to work in a large factory. I was put to work on a lathe turning out airplane parts.

Here they began a haphazard and dangerous plan of sabotage.

April 9, 1942

The surrender came on April 9, 1942. General King surrendered. Four months and two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and after weeks of ceaseless bombardment, the battle of Bataan was over.

Day 604 - Winter, 1943

The Japanese soldiers hand out plans and drawings. I am given the plans for building landing gears. They give me two sheets, one for lefts, the other for rights. As I walk back to my group, I toss one sheet into the fire barrel. They want us to build 64 sets of landing gear. We build them 64 right side gear.

Together, some of the Americans, British and Dutch POWs are set to work digging pits and pouring cement for the foundations of 89 new and expensive lathes. When the pits were dug, they hook a very large lathe to an electric hoist and drop it into a hole and covered it with cement. They also toss in vital parts from many of the other 88 lathes so they would not work.

I show some of the others how to make the lathe's foundation unleveled so the lathe will be misaligned and turn out defective parts.

The guards do not understand what is wrong with the new machinery, but the Japanese engineers assigned to the project are suspicious.

Several prisoners were taken outside and interrogated as to why the lathes cannot be assembled or made to work properly. They were beaten, but do not tell the guards anything. The guards finally relent, claiming "Stupid Americans" can't build anything.

Surrender at Mariveles -- April 9, 1942 - Day 1

When the surrender came, men were waiting in huddled groups. Many weeping unashamedly, Filipino and American alike. The men waved their white flags as the tanks rolled by and Zeros roared overhead. That was a mistake for a Zero made a climb and dove, guns blazing. The plane left. Several bodies littered the ground.

The prisoners turned to run but a loudspeaker told them to stand. Immediately the Japanese soldiers started stripping the American soldiers of watches, rings and taking other personal gear for mementos.

By mid-afternoon Bataan was in a state of bedlam. They had surrendered at Marivelas. The major force of 68,000 Filipinos, 12,000 Americans and thousands of civilians were here. In the confusion of Bataan's surrender, the American guns on Corregidor proved to be an unexpected hazard to the prisoners in southern Bataan.

Large groups of prisoners - Russ in one group - were placed in front of the Japanese guns in hope that the cannon on Corregidor would not fire at the Japanese guns for fear of killing the prisoners. But the Americans fired over the heads of the prisoners and unfortunately, a dozen or more men were killed.

On Corregidor, General Wainwright became aware of this tragedy and ordered the artillery out of action despite heavy shelling by the Japanese. As word spread of General King's surrender, the prisoners sat in large groups on the dirt runways of an air field used as an emergency landing strip by American pilots during the battle of Bataan. Mountains surrounded the area. It was the hottest point on Bataan.

Day 623

Its almost Christmas again. I am very sick. I have to find a way to get through this.

One winter, I caught virus pneumonia and was very sick. I had to work sick or not. Only when you couldn't go anymore were you taken to the hospital. So few survived there, due to lack of medicine and poor care, most tried to stay away.

I persuaded my Japanese guard to let me get inside the big oven in the gauge room to see if it would help my pneumonia. It got so hot I could hardly stand it, but I laid there for several hours.

When the guard checked to see if I might be dead, he found me much improved.

The Bataan Death March

Frantic guards tried to form the prisoners into groups of 300 but yielded to frustration as thousands milled around them. They vented their feelings by slapping and kicking the Americans who did not instantly obey them. The milling men, now in bloodied, tattered rags, were haggard shadows of once proud soldiers.

Night came, bringing a cool reprieve to the men standing in the blistering heat. Any sound from them could bring a burst of gunfire immediately followed by screams. Then all would be silent again.

The next morning the Japanese continued separating the men into groups of 300. Finally the decision to move the prisoners was made. They were to be moved north to Balanga. No provisions for transportation had been made. The prisoners were to walk. Neither were there plans made to feed the prisoners until they reached their destination. Then two columns were formed. POWs on the left and civilians on the right, with Jap guards strutting up and down the middle.

Throughout the morning, dozens of Japanese tank commanders and hundreds of cavalrymen attempted to organize the march.

By noon, it had been twenty-four hours since the men had received food or water. Suffering from heat exhaustion, they began to fall like flies. Any man who could not stand on his feet was promptly bayoneted.

It was apparent that the Japanese had no intention of following either the Hague or the Geneva conventions governing the POW's.

The columns moved north out of Mariveles toward little Baguio. Unsure of their destination and knowing many would not survive, the prisoners marched. Japanese planes, keeping constant surveillance on the march, flew back and forth over the lines.

All along the road were abandoned packs, helmets, blankets and canteens littering the ditches. The further they marched the more the castoffs increased.

Occasionally, they would pass a naked corpse, the face swollen and covered with maggots. The body stiff and beginning to blacken in the intense heat, already covered with flies as carrion birds tore at the flesh.

To amuse themselves, the Japanese guards would push prisoners over cliffs. Their screams ended only when they hit jagged rocks below. The Filipinos fared even worse. Young girls were pulled out of ranks and raped repeatedly. Anyone who resisted was shot. Frightened mothers would rub human dung on their daughters' faces to make them unattractive to the guards.

Conditions continued to deteriorate. "Speedo! Speedo!" yelled the guards and trotting began at double time up the steep slope. Men dropped everywhere and were quickly bayoneted. Anyone who tried to help them was shot. All semblance of order ceased. The prisoners stumbled over their own comrades. Filipino women and children suffering from starvation, dysentery and exhaustion, fell to the ground.

Night settled slowly but still they marched. The blistering sun had disappeared but the gnawing hunger and searing thirst remained. Then another tormentor, the malaria-carrying mosquito began to bite on their exposed bodies.

As morning came, along side the road they could hear cooling springs but if they tried to reach one they were killed. Some of the prisoners, suffering from cerebral malaria, went insane. Waves of heat rose from the road. Big tractors pulling 250 millimeter guns toward the bay for the continuing attack on Corregidor, rolled over the bodies of the dead and dying along the road.

Civilians lined the roads and shouted greetings to the ragged army. It bolstered their morale. The Japanese were angered by the rousing welcome given to the POW's and ordered the Filipinos back, but the crowds refused to move. They continued cheering and throwing food to the prisoners. This is where Russ got some sugar cane since the Filipinos threw panocha, hardened sugar cane, to the marchers.

Russ was in one of the first groups moving out. He had wrapped tape around his watch and would hit it with his hand as if to start it, so no Jap took it. He had also scuffed his shoes and dented his canteen so he could keep it - the Japanese only took shiny things. He smuggled a straight razor through in a small bag by asking if "knife okay?" and showing the guards a tiny knife that came out of crackerjacks. When the Japs would grab his bag to search it, he would pull out the tiny knife and while they were distracted, he would put his things back in the bag and move along. He also sewed $1,600 into his jacket and took it through the prison camps. It helped buy medicine and food for him and others. He loaned some to other men who promised to pay him back, but he never heard from any of them after the war.

The Geneva Prisoner of War

Convention set the normal days march at 12 and 1/2 miles unless the necessity of reaching water and food requires longer stages. The Japanese assumed that all the captives could be brought together at Balanga in a day or less. The next feeding point above Balanga was the town of Orani, about 8 miles at the base of Bataan peninsula. Then 5 miles further to the northwest at San Fernando, the captives would have their last meal before a short train ride to internment camp. There were to be two field hospitals each to accommodate 500 to 1,000 patients.

While the Japanese plan called for the prisoners to move on foot as far as Balanga, it did not specify how the captives would travel the thirty-one miles from that point to San Fernando. It was apparent they would walk. The end of the Journey would be Camp O'Donnell, a former temporary Philippine Army post.

Under the best of circumstances the Japanese plan would have been difficult to execute. The assembly, organization and march from Bataan to Camp O'Donnell of thousands of American and Filipino prisoners of war was a demanding operation. It proved to be a horrible episode.

First they underestimated the size of King's forces by nearly 50 percent, an incredible error. The second miscalculation was more tragic than the first. This was the physical condition of the troops. A large percentage of them were too weak or sick to make the Journey out of Bataan on foot.

The Japanese had the task of feeding and caring for their sick and wounded. Their force totaled nearly 81,000 and their supplies were exceedingly scarce.

The march began slowly because most were barely able to stagger. When men collapsed and died they were left or buried where they fell. Columns of prisoners continued to leave until the 17th of April and it was the 23rd before the last of the men deported.

The men marched in an aimless, confused fashion. One group sat in the hot sun without food or water until mid afternoon. The ditches were strewn with burned trucks, battered artillery pieces, abandoned equipment and rotting bodies. Adding to this confusion were hundreds of Filipino civilian refugees seeking to find their way north.

Sometimes the men would fall at night having marched all day resting for only two hours and not receiving food or water. They would be wakened and kicked to their feet by the guards. Then they would be marched back south for an hour or so, then turned back north until in the small hours of the morning they finally stopped Just a short distance from where they first halted.

When the prisoners were herded into enclosures, two guards using bamboo clubs flanked the entrance. The slightest provocation cost a prisoner a swift kick In the stomach or a blow across the back. It was a bitter introduction to the corral that already reeked with the smell of animal excreta.

More and more began to drop by the wayside. Each wondering when he too would stumble and fall to rise no more.

Rest came at odd intervals. Some men were given regular breaks every hour and a half, but others only during the hottest part of the day. Many were given no breaks at all.

There were contrasts too. Some Japanese threw food to the captives, while others were killed, beaten and looted. Russ and some of his buddies had managed to find a five pound can of dried beef and this enabled them to keep their strength up. How they eluded the Japanese with this food supply was almost a miracle.

Japanese soldiers used prisoners for bayonet practice, plunging their weapons repeatedly into their screaming victims.

It was also the practice that each night when the guard changed, a Jap would bayonet one or two prisoners. When it came time for the guard to change the men would move back leaving several men in the open to become victims. Russ woke one night to find himself in this situation, so he found a piece of tar paper and went out and laid it on the latrine area and slept there the rest of the night without incident.

Men were buried alive, often by other prisoners forced at bayonet point to carry out this task. The Japanese seemed to get "animal pleasure" out of beating men. Sometimes the men were allowed to assist the weaker ones and sometimes not. The Japanese also looted constantly.

Thirsty, dehydrated men drank from bacteria filled pools, polluted streams and muddy rice paddies. They held their noses to seal off the sickening odor but they drank all they could. Russ had found some chlorine tablets and since he hadn't lost his canteen, he was fortunate to have a little purified water. Even the rains didn't help the dehydration. As much as they suffered from lack of water, their need for food was just as serious. Russ received one meal of rice in four days and three nights of marching.

Russ kept moving from one group to another hurrying along out of the filth and misery. He was able to avoid being beaten or run over by .a truck or tank as he could move along at a pretty good pace.

In one encampment, a Filipino girl crawled through a drainage ditch, risking death, to get food to Russ and a few men there. At other times he ate turnips pulled out of fields or was able to get a stalk of sugar cane to help his thirst and hunger.

On the last lap of the journey to Camp O'Donnell, the men were shoved inside box cars. They were jammed in where they had to stand with their arms pressed to their sides or if they sat, their knees were pulled tight under their chin. There was not any ventilation except for small cracks. The oppressive heat turned the steel box cars into "sweat boxes". Sensing the upcoming danger, Russ held back to position himself to be near the doors so as to get some air through the cracks. Men with dysentery long since ceased to control themselves and the interior was filled with an unbearable stench. The sick men got sicker and threw up all over themselves and the floor, which was already covered with filth and slime. Men died on the floor or wedged in between others.

Some men were able to escape from the trains and small amounts of food did get to a few from Filipinos outside throwing it inside. But for the majority of prisoners it was an ordeal.

When the train finally reached Capos, the men were released. Many unable to stand. The physical condition of the prisoners was at it's worst - gaunt, haggard, dirty, unshaven, filthy men with torn clothes. Even best friends had trouble recognizing each other. Russ could find no one he knew. But this was probably for the best, as self survival was all that was left.

It is unknown how many men died on the march, but it is estimated between 2,000 and 2,330 Americans and possibly 10,000 Filipinos. Indeed it was a "March of Death". There are not any precise records, but the more reliable which err probably on the conservative side are 70,000 men started the march; 54,000 reached O'Donnell; 10,000 died on march from various causes -sickness, beatings, and execution; of these, 2,330 were thought to be Americans.

Day 627

Incredible luck! The Japanese Commander was in a good mood and we were given a Red Cross package and I got a package from my brother Bus and his wife Muriel. In the one from Bus I got vitamins and Ovaltine, but the cheese was like a rock. I received a few oranges and saved the peels and bread ration and made a tasty orange flavored bread. It is truly a Merry Christmas!

Most of the Red Cross and other packages shipped over the years never reached the prisoners, instead, being kept by the guards or just warehoused away.

Camp O'Donnell - April 14, 1942 - Day 6

Located near Tarlac, Americans knew it as O'Donnell, Filipinos knew it as O'Dunn-ell, and everyone knew it as Hell Hole #1. It had been a training camp but was abandoned before the war because the water supply was inadequate for 5,000 men. Now it became the first POW camp and into it went the Bataan Force -between 40,000 and 60,000 half starved, emaciated, exhausted men already afflicted with cholera, dysentery and other diseases.

The prisoners had a long wait in the sun, then were stripped and searched again. All remaining personal possessions were confiscated - nail files, scissors, toothbrushes, razors, blades, matches, pen knives, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, along with blankets, shelter halves, and rain mats.

Camp O'Donnell was the lowest ebb. The many rough experiences of the years ahead could not approach the despair of O'Donnell. The food consisted of lugao twice a day. Lugao was a watery gruel made from half rotted rice and a few putrid comotes - a type of root fit for animal fodder. No salt was used and water or soap was not used to wash the utensils.

Water came from the river which was about four inch deep slimy mud, into which the overflow of the pit latrines seeped, with just a scum of water on top. The water was unpotable and had to be boiled. Many men drank this water and became diseased from it.

Young men had not yet learned the water discipline that the old timers had in getting along on a minimum of water and avoiding contaminated the water you drank at all costs. Bad water killed the young by the hundreds. Russ would collect fresh rain water from leaves. He also would stay away from stagnant ponds or pools. He always would go upstream to gather water and use any medicines like iodine or chlorine tablets he could get.

From the beginning the rate of death at O'Donnell was more than a hundred a day. Soon it was 20 Americans and 150 Filipino lives each day. It became increasingly difficult to bury them. Many were found dead each morning by the latrines.

In the first nine months of incarceration in Camp O'Donnell more than 40,000 American and Filipino prisoners died. The chaplains had more freedom of movement here and conducted as many as 500 simple funerals a day. Dying was easy, the living was hell.

When it rained the captives stood in the water, scrubbing their bony bodies and washing their ragged clothes.

The guards appeared to work overtime contriving methods of punishment. Prisoners were beaten everyday. Arms broken and bodies badly bruised by vicious blows. Mass punishment was inflicted for an offense committed by one person.

Starvation reaped a terrifying harvest throughout the prisons. Survivors suffered ill effects from vitamin deficiencies and the doctors believed they would continue to be affected for years to come.

There was such a lack of toilet paper that men had to use dirt to clean themselves.

Years later, those who had managed to survive still could not erase the nightmare of O'Donnell from their minds.

Russ entered O'Donnell on the 14th of April, 1942 and left on the 19th of April, 1942. Seeing the terrible diseases sweeping through the other prisoners, the hours long lines waiting for a chance at the pitcher pump well, the constant random beatings inflicted by the guards, he tried to get out of the camp as soon as possible for chance of survival here was very slim.

One morning, a few days after Russ arrived at the camp, several Japanese officers came asking for men who knew how to repair or drive some of captured American trucks. Russ and a number of other soldiers acknowledged that they were mechanics.

Russ was taken on as a driver for a Japanese captain, who had a fancy for Dorothy Lamour, an American actress. Russ pretended he knew her.

"Dorothy is my girlfriend back in the States"

The captain was completely impressed, asking Russ all kinds of questions about her, which Russ had to make up answers for. This helped him in his relationship with the captain. One day while driving through a small town, Russ found an old Dorothy Lamour film which he gave to the captain. Totally delighted with this, the Japanese captain gave Russ several cans of food, and lacking a projector, proceeded to look at each frame by hand. A few days later, Russ found a small theater which still worked. The captain got to see his movie on the screen! Now every day, Russ was given extra cans of food, like peaches, spam, corned beef, more. It probably saved his life, for the terrible years yet to come.

Later Russ also used Miss Lamour to get a letter out to his brother to let him know that he was alive. Russ sent the letter addressed to her but since she knew nothing about him, she passed the letter on to the military and eventually Russ' brother got word about Russ. Up to that time, he had been considered MIA and possibly dead.

While Russ was with the captain, he was fed well and had some freedom. He was also paid a little money so he could trade in the villages that they passed through. This only lasted a short time as the captain was transferred and Russ was sent to Baquio prison camp.

When he entered Baquio he was asked by the American officers if he had any money. He said "yes" and they demanded it saying the Japanese insisted all money be taken from the prisoners. So Russ tried to return the money to the captain, who asked why and then he talked to the guard and found that the Japanese had issued no such order. Russ kept his money but was on the next work group sent out from Baquio for Cabanatuan, another notorious camp.

Day 724

All anyone thinks about is food. And of course, going home! Days and months blend in together with only the changing seasons to tell us that time is passing. There has been no meat in a long time. A few men have caught rats. I see a dog.

As months passed and the need for protein grew, I decided to trap and kill one of the dogs coming through camp. I ate the meat and made boots from the skin to protect my feet from freezing. He repeated this a few times and this may have saved him from beriberi.

I wasn't the only one who ate dog. Many of the men did. We cleaned the villages out of their dogs. The men set snares and set them out the windows, then yanked and dragged the poor animals into the barracks. Once inside they would beat it to death. The carcasses were hung just like in a butcher shop, Some men also ate rats, cats and even earthworms. Anything to keep from starving to death.

One reason why so many men were saved from starvation was because they learned that the Japanese had soybeans. An American doctor went to the Japanese and explained to them about the terrible dysentery, beriberi and malnutrition that the prisoners were suffering. When the Japanese asked what they needed, the doctor said, "Protein, meat, fish, milk, cheese." Then he said, "You have a lot of soybeans, haven't you?" The commander said, "You eat soybeans?" "Yes," replied the doctor, "We prefer meat but we will eat soybeans."

So the Americans ate soybeans which were baked, boiled, fried, crushed and also made into bean curd. It got to the point where the prisoners would count the number of beans in each bowl of soup. If one man got five and another got six, all hell would break out.

Cabanatuan - Sept. 15, 1942 - Day 160

Cabanatuan was located at the terminus of the' Manila railroad at the Sierra Madre Mountain range. Cabanatuan prison was a giant detention complex six miles east of the city of Cabanatuan.

Hundreds of waiting prisoners milled around. As usual, everything was in a state of confusion. The Japanese had miscalculated the number of trains necessary to transport the prisoners to the various camps, so the POWs sat on the long, hot station platforms waiting impatiently. The trains had been used to transport calvary horses and were humid and filthy. The cars could hold about 40 Americans each but 99 were shoved inside and the rusty door bolted. They were moved to the town of Cabanatuan, then taken out and marched about four miles to the POW camp.

The men were walking zombies. Skeletons walking with just skin hanging on their bones. Heads looked like skulls.

It rained nearly every day for the first month. The mud and filth was terrible.

In Cabanatuan they slept five to a bay, head to feet. Here they were given their first Red Cross packages, but had to give them back with what had not been eaten or used. Later the supplies were doled out in the tiniest portions possible.

Captain Tanaka was commander of the POW camps at Cabanatuan. All prisoners here were Americans. No Filipinos were allowed inside the camp under penalty of death.

Day by day Cabanatuan continued to be the closest thing to hell. Since threats by guards were so unpredictable, the prisoners never knew what to expect from one day to the next.

Men ate what they could find. By mid-May the life expectancy in Cabanatuan was nineteen days. But the imminence of death and the bizarre treatment by the guards never destroyed the desire of the prisoners to help each other.

Cigarettes were money. You could get almost anything if you had a pack of cigarettes. Since Russ didn't smoke, it was money in the bank. He traded for soap, eggs from Jap guards and for coconut fuel oil used by Japanese in the diesel engines that furnished power for the camp. When refined, it could be used for cooking oil. There was a lot of black market operating.

There were over five thousand men and the number was growing each day. Each man was assigned to a group of ten. If one escaped, the guard shot the other nine. Simple as that.

Muster was at seven each morning. Men had to stand in line for several hours for a drink. They were served Whistlewood soup, a rice gruel with a few waterlilies in it.

All gatherings were forbidden including worship services. At 9 p.m. Cabanatuan was completely blacked cut except for the coal oil lamps in the guard hut and the tower lights zigzagging in and out of the compound. And with the darkness came the mosquitoes in droning hordes.

The camp cemetery was 1600 feet to the north and the men had to dig graves with homemade hoes. Most of the dirt had to be removed by hand or placed in buckets and lifted out, even though the common grave was only three feet deep. The dead were placed side by side in the grave and no services were allowed. Occasionally a chaplain on a work detail would slip into the grave and offer a prayer.

Troops from throughout the Philippines, mostly sick and wounded, continued to pour into Cabanatuan. From mid-April to the following December 1942, more than 8,000 prisoners were crowded into the compound. During that time, 2,500 died from sickness, mistreatment and starvation.

Although the death rate was high in Cabanatuan, transfer prisoners reported that in other prison camps it bordered on out-right genocide.

Medicines to help the men in their fight against diseases were being smuggled into the compound. Men gave rings money, anything of value to buy sulfa, quinine, anesthetics, chloroform, and others not labeled from the Filipino guerrillas This resulted in a lower death rate in the camp.

Soon after Russ entered the camp, he found some of the officers were making a candy out of sugar and water and selling it for 25 cents a piece. So through the black market, Russ bought sugar and coconut oil and made a better candy for less money. He also made the box it was sold from with a cover to help keep flies out as flies were a terrible problem in the camps. They swarmed by the millions. Russ said when you went to eat you wound up with a spoon full of flies every time. the spoon went from your bowl to your mouth.

Russ also let some of the other prisoners sell candy to help make themselves some money. When the American officer found out about Russ' candy making, he saw that Russ was on the next list to leave for Manchuria because Russ was competition for him.

Day 820

In the factory, we steal anything not riveted securely, electric motors, expensive parts and metals. These would be tossed over the fence at a prearranged site and bought by waiting Chinese and then sold on their black market. With this money we buy food, tobacco, and clothing to keep from freezing to death in the bitter cold winters.

We all have become so adept at appearing busy at work when we actually were not that the Jap guards never realize we have gone into the smoking pipe making business. We turn out wonderful pipes thanks to stolen Japanese materials. Most are sold or given away. I keep one of my pipes, planning to have it with me when I get home.

The Hell Ships -- Oct. 5, 1942 -- Day 180

The prisoners had endured months of hardships and deprivation in the POW camps and now they were ordered to prepare for a hazardous sea voyage. On October 5, 1942, Russ and hundreds of other prisoners were taken from Cabanatuan to be loaded on prison ships. The boat Russ left on was the Tottori Maru. The name Maru is the equivalent to the S.S. prefix of American ships.

As usual the Japanese were disorganized. Numbers of prisoners were again miscalculated and a lack of adequate sanitation facilities made the situation unbearable.

We all have become so adept at appearing busy at work when we actually were not that the Jap guards never realize we have gone into the smoking pipe making business. We turn out wonderful pipes thanks to stolen Japanese materials. Most are sold or given away. I keep one of my pipes, planning to have it with me when I get home.

The Hell Ships -- Oct. 5, 1942 -- Day 180

The prisoners had endured months of hardships and deprivation in the POW camps and now they were ordered to prepare for a hazardous sea voyage. On October 5, 1942, Russ and hundreds of other prisoners were taken from Cabanatuan to be loaded on prison ships. The boat Russ left on was the Tottori Maru. The name Maru is the equivalent to the S.S. prefix of American ships.

As usual the Japanese were disorganized. Numbers of prisoners were again miscalculated and a lack of adequate sanitation facilities made the situation unbearable.

They reached the Takoa Harbor on the south shore of Formosa, now Taiwan. Everyone was unloaded and washed down with fire hoses, the only cleaning that occurred during the month long voyage. Then the ships left Formosa, going across the East China sea, heading north.

After being at sea for some time they were again attacked, this time by Dutch submarines.

During the battle, the men became an uncontrollable mob, screaming and pounding against the sides of the ship. Even an animal can't be this confined for this long without going mad.

Russ said he and his friend Diesinger, who was later to die in Manchuria, got up on their bunk, out of the way of the shoving, running, screaming men and opened a can of food they had been saving and began to eat. They figured that if they went into the sea they would need strength to try to survive.

As they sat there eating, someone shouted, "The ship's going to be blown up. Why are you just sitting there?" Russ calmly replied, "Tell me which end will be hit by the torpedo and I'll be on the other."

Luckily, their ship did not get hit although others did. Out of about eleven ships that left the Philippine islands over the months, only five made it through all the bombings. Thousands of POWs died.

After the men finally calmed down, the Japanese set up small sick bays on the fore deck to care for the worst cases.

But conditions continued to deteriorate. Men went insane or committed suicide. Men cut their buddy's wrists to drink the blood for lack of water. There seemed to be no end to their suffering.

Russ' boat was at sea for 33 days. In November, they landed at Pusan Harbor at the head of the Naktong river basin in Korea.

When they finally arrived, the prisoners were ordered to disembark and those who could walk were herded down the gang way and sprayed with disinfectants. The fierce biting wind chilled the men. Many were barefoot and had to walk through the snow. The average weight of the men was now between 80 and 90 pounds!

Some prisoners were forced to climb down in the holds and pick up pieces of human beings and load them into cargo nets. The smell was so bad many men fainted. It was a horrible task.

After the men were disinfected, they were taken to an assembly hall with no heat, so they huddled together for warmth.

Day 892

One particularly bad Japanese lieutenant was called "Bull of the Woods" - cock of the walk, in other words. One Japanese guard told me that I would never be free unless I escaped and the only way I could escape was to catch the edge of the moon and ride it to the United States.

The Japanese like to talk to the American POW's especially to brag the fact that they were winning the war. I got into a discussion with a guard one day, listening while he told me that they had destroyed all the American ships and planes and would win the war. Then I said, "Americans are the best swimmers in the world and the strongest, too. Roosevelt told each man to strap a tank on his back and swim to Australia." The guard realized that there were tanks in Australia and because he couldn't figure out how they got there, after all, all the American ships were sunk. He went to his sergeant to ask him about this story.

Shortly, I received a visit from a Japanese interpreter saying "Speak no propaganda." He turned and left me as a big grin started appearing on my face knowing I had put doubts in the guard's mind.

Nov. 8, 1942

The next day they were loaded on cattle cars and traveled from Pusan to Mukden, Manchuria to be imprisoned.

Russ experienced "deja vu" on the train. They passed through a village and he said he recognized it and felt he had been there before. It was almost like coming home.

He also told of the men exclaiming over the "french fried potatoes" that the Chinese had smuggled to them once when the train stopped. The "potatoes" turned out to be grasshoppers, but everyone was so hungry they were wolfed down with relish.

The train ride was again a miserable experience. Cold this time instead of heat, but all the despair as before.

We arrived at Mukden in the second week of November, 1942. My home for the next one thousand days.

Day 953

While working in the factory I made friends with a Chinese worker whose son listened in each night on a short wave radio and would learn when the American bombing raids were expected to take place nearby. So just before the raids, I cock one ear and look up at the sky and pretend I can hear the American bombers coming long before they arrive and after a couple of raids everyone would shut down their machines to listen also for they think I must have radar ears.

In early November 1944, a squadron of American B-29's from the 14th Air Force out of Kunming, China flew over the factories. They drop leaflets. The leaflets were notices of the impending armistice printed in Japanese, Chinese and Manchurian. Dire things were threatened if the POW 's were harmed.

On December 7, 1944 a strike of 90 aircraft hit the Mukden area. Eighty planes attacked the MKK plant and adjacent area. The raid destroyed several munitions factories, but two bombs missed their intended targets, exploding inside our camp. Seventeen POW 's died and at least a hundred were wounded. People ran in all directions, simultaneously excited by the prospect of freedom and frightened by the tremendous explosions and destruction falling all around. For a moment, I wondered if I was going to have survived all this time only to be killed by friendly fire.

From newpapers smuggled in by sympathetic Chinese workers, we learned that the Japs were getting the hell beat out of them in the south. That Germany had fallen and that the Russians were on the American side.

A new phenomenon rose in the camp - liberation fever!

Day 1067

Over three months have gone by since the air raids. Little has changed. …except that we know that the war IS going to END and WE are going to be freed. Must just take each day as it comes and not give up hope.

I think I burned a section of the Japs factory down but this was an accident. I had been cleaning some aircraft parts using gasoline in a bucket. At the end of the day, I left the bucket beside the sand bucket used for fires. As it happened, that night it got extremely cold and all the people working the night detail in the factory turned on their little electric heaters and with all the machinery running it caused a short circuit.

One of the Japanese supervisors stepped on a small blaze to put it out but caught his tennis shoes (all of them wore tennis shoes) on fire. So the Japanese guard next to him picked up the bucket of gasoline thinking it was water and doused it on the supervisor resulting in the man's death and that section of the factory burning before they could get the blaze controlled.

The next day, I figured out what had happened and when I talked to the guard responsible for throwing the gasoline, he said, "Speak nye, nye!"

Obviously, not wanting anyone to know that the supervisor was killed and factory was damaged because he couldn't tell the difference between gasoline and water, the guard bring food to keep me quiet, but I wasn't about to tell anyone else what happened. I just take the food and keep quiet.

Day 1121

There are 14,000 POWs in the Mukden POW camp at Hoten, Manchuria. For this number, we have three American, one Australian, and one Japanese doctors assigned to us. One prisoner had mumps and his head swelled from the complications. The doctors cracked his skull to relieve pressure on the brain. The man survived.

Fortunately, Russ was never tortured or severely beaten. He was hit on the back with the flat of a sword one night but he saw many beatings and many men put to death because someone in their group would try to escape. They were hanged on a barb wire fence for several days, begging for mercy or water until they were dead or the Japanese finished them with a bayonet or sword.

Many men were injured in accidents in the mines where they worked 14 hours a day. Hot water was practically all they had to use for mangled hands. Normally anyone would get antibiotics but all they could do was give these men pans of hot water to soak in and Russ saw more than one cured that way. He became a firm believer in using hot water for infections, cuts, etc. and it really does work.

Russ was also able to take a small jar of a salve called Nixoderm through the prison camp. He found it very good for healing, especially jungle rot. There was one man he helped with jungle rot who had it so bad that his feet were full of big holes.

Aug 6, 1945

Early on the morning of August 6, 1945 a Super fortress flew over Hiroshima. In seconds the city was wiped out. One hundred and fifty thousand people were dead or dying. Three days later, on August 9,1945, Nagasaki was hit

Day 1226

On August 15, 1945 at 11 a.m., six men jumped from an airplane. Also dropped were equipment and supplies, parachuted to the ground. They landed in Hoten compound. The men who were dropped were an officer, paramedics, radio operators and American interpreters. Incidentally, not one had ever jumped from a plane before.

The six OSS men were sent to gain the release of the American prisoners in Mukden. They were sent by Major Sen. Albert Wedemeyer from a base in China. They were taken to the Hoten headquarters building and here, the Japanese found that the war was over for them.

The POWs were ecstatic!!

This is it! Liberation!!

No one slept that night. The halls were jammed with shouting men. We were ecstatic! Before this, the Japanese guards had patrolled through the barracks every hour on the hour waking us and asking, "Why had you run away?" This night none came. Before, all lights were turned off at 9 p.m. - this night they stayed on all night.

The next morning a voice over the loudspeaker asked everyone to assemble in the prison yard and there, on a raised platform in the center, Colonel Ito surrendered his sword to General Parker.

General Parker stepped up to the microphone and told the prisoners that we were free men. America had won the war and all prison camps were being liberated.

After the close of the worship service a few hours after formal liberation, the sky was white with parachutes dropping supplies to Hoten. Food, clothing and much needed medications were quickly carried into camp and distributed. The Japs also dumped all the Red Cross packages they had withheld from us for so many years right into our laps.

Many men became ill on their first full stomach in three and a half years. Russ said some of them became drunk on just regular coffee.

Soon, we could hear trucks and tanks rolling into the city. The Russians entered Mukden from the Sobi Desert. They were capturing all of the Japanese forces, rounding them up and loading them on trucks and trains. They all passed into captivity and were never repatriated after the war. Presumably they died in Siberian slave camps.

When the Russians arrived, the Russian propaganda officer told us, "It is indeed a pleasure for the Red Army to have the privilege of liberating the prisoners of war."

We all cheered for a long time. It had been a long way from Bataan. When the men were released in August 1945 there were only 4,000 Bataan survivors still alive; a little more than a third of the original American forces captured.

Though we hadn't officially been released from duty, every night many of us would go over the wall of the compound, sometimes a hundred or more.

I was able to get a truck driver's permit and several of us would go into town, load up with supplies and come back to camp. I saw the Russians taking a group of Japanese prisoners down to the railroad yards to unload the trains and when they finished they just shot the Japs right there. They didn't bother bringing them back to their barracks.

After a couple of weeks of seeing what was going on and wondering when I could go home, I just went out to the landing field where the American planes were bringing in supplies and when the next one got ready to take off, I pulled out one of the wheel chocks, threw it in the plane and crawled in. I sat down and the plane took off. The crew members never said a word even though they knew I wasn't supposed to leave.

I got off the plane when it landed at Kunming, China and turned in at the hospital.

By this time other POWs were arriving so they were beginning to fly the men back to the states. I left China and was flown to New York. My prison camp days were finally behind me. I had survived the ordeal.

After a few weeks under observation in the Halloran General Hospital in Staten Island, New York, Russ was sent home on leave to Neodesha.

Only twenty-five men from Russ' squadron of about 250 men lived through the prison camp.

Russ always carried with him the nightmares, scars and effects of malnutrition and hard labor.

It takes a lot to survive as a prisoner of war because you're treated lower than whale manure on the bottom of the ocean floor. There was no justice. You could be beaten for violating any rule or regulation.

As I wrote this story, I realized how Russ survived. First he came from a strong pioneer family who were survivors. He used his intelligence, his patience and his compassion. He also went into the prison camp in as good of condition as possible, even though he fought and starved for four months. Russ was not a smoker and drank in moderation and he knew you had to have food to live so he constantly sought food. He knew how to prepare food, which was a great help. Russ recognized the enemy had the upper band and did not antagonize him if possible. He stood up for himself but 'was never arrogant. Russ was no coward. I never saw anyone so unafraid. He was not foolhardy and never abrasive.

Russ knew how to make the best of a bad situation. He never dwelt on the morbid. When he told me his story, he passed over the worse parts and tried to remember the better times. He wanted to survive and with luck, determination and courage on his part, he made it. That is how he survived all his life. He was truly remarkable.