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Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

as of now, might avert the additional 3 operations. BUT, with the nerve endings in my leg waking up, will bring a fair amount of pain. back on the muscle relaxer and norco. UUGGH. I thought I was in deep sshhhh.... last night when I could not get up or move my leg.

09/18/2017 7:59 PM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

 I understand.

09/04/2017 7:15 PM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

 I dont get online much anymore, but still pop by here a few times a month.

09/04/2017 2:42 PM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

 You did not wear me out. It sounds like, you had a great vacation.

I am so glad, that you are getting disability and some state aid.  

If you are at Facebook, you are welcome to send me a friends invite.

I am at .

09/02/2017 2:02 AM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

Yes, I got approved just recently, first payment starts first week of September I guess.
Up yonder we have a MIBRIDGES card for food, a whoppin $96, dont go far at gfs. So I
use that just for condiments, small things like gatorade/tea/lunchmeat/bread and such.

As for pics, my trip last year, got... well had over 300 pics along the way. US23, started
in Portsmouth Ohio on down to Kingsport Tn, Tail of the dragon, tree of shame, Stone
mtn Ga, Lake worth area, Eastern edge of the everglades, FT.Meyers and Bradenton,
ran outta time for a venture across the sunshine skyway tho. Did I wear`ya out there?
I got back home, and the phone puked out AAGGHHH!!!!!

09/01/2017 11:02 AM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!



Your pictures are very beautiful. Are you going on disability? Get well very soon.


09/01/2017 1:56 AM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!

Got a loooong way to go, 9 surgeries in a month time, possibly 3 more within a year. Hate to put it this way, but there is no other way.
Found out who my REAL friends are. Many are ones from down yonder, and only 60% local.
And I was always one to throw a hand in when asked. SHAME ON ME one distant one, Maumee Oh, made the 1hr 20 ride to
pop on by for 3 hrs, just as I was coming from recovery, and back to my room in ICU. I was so drugged up and out of it
I barely remember the visit, but got a few pics.

08/31/2017 10:58 AM

Re :   DESTROYED!!!!


I am so sorry to read about your accident. I found the Macomb County Sheriff's Office Facebook page at .I have liked the post.

Get well very soon.


08/29/2017 10:21 PM

Topic :   DESTROYED!!!!

April 21st pretty much ended me, and 28 years out on 2. I had just started at
another shop 3 weeks before. After a evening out with a few buddies, showin
off my new riding gear I had just gotten 4 days before. It has the shoulder-
 elbow and back armor, my old gear was about 15 years old, and yes, still cant
find me another Rebel vest. (not that it matters now)

SSSSOOOO, on my way home, I had someone turn left right into/ in front of me.
Not really sure myself, I dont remember much more than leaving the restaraunt,
and friends house and first 6 miles on my way home. Hit me so hard on the rh
side of the bike it shattered my leg, and sending bone thru my upper leg,
snapped my wrist, hand was on the 45 degree angle, back, neck and head
injures now. The armor somewhat did its job, no broken elbow, shoulder or other
internal injuries. The back protector didnt do no good in this case, its function is if
your rolling/ skidding across pavement.

 The bike, just as bad, the rh mirrors and side marker light- gone, broke off the front
master cylinder (brake) cracked the clutch cover in 3, as well as the lower engine
casing. The front forks where shoved into the engine as well. The only thing that was
able to be salvaged with the wheels/tires. It even cracked the tail light somehow.

Now its either, walker/ crutches or a wheelchair. Not sure if i`ll walk again, or even in a
year yet. Good thing I did my marathon vacation/ visiting last year. Looks like i`m now
the poster child for motorcycle awareness????

08/29/2017 9:20 AM

Re :   'Antifa' radicals plan to desecrate Gettysburg graves

These "usefull idiot" antifa tolls/fools are diggin their own grave. I had a runin with a few back in the winter, did`nt end well for them(wink wink).

08/29/2017 8:47 AM

Topic :   US vet returns dead Japanese soldier's flag

This is great! .


US vet returns dead Japanese soldier's flag

Posted: Aug 15, 2017 3:17 AM CDT Updated: Aug 15, 2017 11:28 AM CDT
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, right, and Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, hold a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, right, and Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, hold a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, center, returns Tatsuya Yasue, left, a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during a ceremony in ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, center, returns Tatsuya Yasue, left, a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during a ceremony in ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, right, and Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, hold a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). WWII veteran Marvin Strombo, right, and Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, hold a Japanese flag with autographed messages which was owned by his brother Sadao Yasue, who was killed in the Pacific during World Work II, during ...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). Tatsuya Yasue, left, kisses the hands of WWII veteran Marvin Strombo during a ceremony in Higashishirakawa, in central Japan's Gifu prefecture Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Strombo returned a Japanese flag with autographed messages...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). Tatsuya Yasue, left, kisses the hands of WWII veteran Marvin Strombo during a ceremony in Higashishirakawa, in central Japan's Gifu prefecture Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Strombo returned a Japanese flag with autographed messages...
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). In this Aug. 14, 2017 photo, Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, shows a photo of his brother Sadao Yasue, who fell in battle during the war in Pacific more than 70 years ago, in Higashishirakawa, in central Japan's Gifu prefe...(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). In this Aug. 14, 2017 photo, Tatsuya Yasue, 89-year-old farmer, shows a photo of his brother Sadao Yasue, who fell in battle during the war in Pacific more than 70 years ago, in Higashishirakawa, in central Japan's Gifu prefe...

Associated Press

HIGASHISHIRAKAWA, Japan (AP) - Tatsuya Yasue buried his face into the flag and smelled it. Then he held the 93-year-old hands that brought this treasure home, and kissed them.

Marvin Strombo, who had taken the calligraphy-covered Japanese flag from a dead soldier at World War II island battlefield 73 years ago, returned it Tuesday to the family of Sadao Yasue. They had never gotten his body or - until that moment - anything else of his.

Yasue and Tatsuya's sister Sayoko Furuta, 93, sitting in her wheelchair, covered her face with both hands and wept silently as Tatsuya placed the flag on her lap. Strombo reached out and gently rubbed her shoulder.

"I was so happy that I returned the flag," Strombo said. "I can see how much the flag meant to her. That almost made me cry ... It meant everything in the world to her."

The flag's white background is filled with signatures of 180 friends and neighbors in this tea-growing mountain village of Higashishirakawa, wishing Yasue's safe return. The signatures helped Strombo find its rightful owners.

"Good luck forever at the battlefield," a message on it reads. Looking at the names and their handwriting, Tatsuya Yasue clearly recalls their faces and friendship with his brother.

The smell of the flag immediately brought back childhood memories. "It smelled like my good old big brother, and it smelled like our mother's home cooking we ate together," Tatsuya Yasue said. "The flag will be our treasure."

The return of the flag brings closure, the 89-year-old farmer and younger brother of Sadao Yasue told The Associated Press at his 400-year-old house on Monday. "It's like the war has finally ended and my brother can come out of limbo."

Tatsuya Yasue last saw his older brother alive the day before he left for the South Pacific in 1943. He and two siblings had a small send-off picnic for the oldest brother outside his military unit over sushi and Japanese sweet mochi. At the end of the meeting, his brother whispered to Tatsuya, asking him to take good care of their parents, as he would be sent to the Pacific islands, harsh battlegrounds where chances of survival were low.

A year later, Japanese authorities sent the family a wooden box with a few stones at the bottom - a substitute for his body. They knew no details of Sadeo's death until months after the war ended, when they were told he died somewhere in the Mariana Islands presumably on July 18, 1944, the day Saipan fell, at age 25.

"That's all we were told about my brother. We never knew exactly when, where or how he died," he said. The family had wondered whether he might have died at sea. About 20 years ago, Tatsuya Yasue visited Saipan with his younger brother, trying to imagine what their older brother might have gone through.

So Strombo was able to give Yasue's family not just a flag, but also some answers.

He said he found Sadao Yasue's body on the outskirts of Garapan, a village in Saipan, when he got lost and ended up near the Japanese frontline. He told Yasue's siblings their brother likely died of a concussion from a mortar round. He told them that Sadao was lying on the ground on his left side, looking peacefully as if he was sleeping and without severe wounds.

And there is one more thing Strombo delivered: a little hope that Yasue's remains might one day be recovered, given the details about where he found the body.

The remains of nearly half of the 2.4 million Japanese war dead overseas have yet to be found. It's a pressing issue as the bereaved families reach old age and memories fade.

Allied troops frequently took the flags from the bodies of their enemies as souvenirs, as Japanese flags were quite popular and fetched good prices when auctioned, Strombo said. But to the Japanese bereaved families, they have a much deeper meaning, especially those, like Yasue, who never learned how their loved ones died and never received remains. Japanese government has requested auction sites to stop trading wartime signed flags.

Strombo said Tuesday that he originally wanted the flag as a souvenir from the war, but he felt guilty taking it, so he never sold it and vowed to one day return it.

He had the flag hung in a glass-fronted gun cabinet in his home in Montana for years, a topic of conversation for visitors. He was in the battles of Saipan, Tarawa and Tinian, which chipped away at Japan's control of islands in the Pacific and paved the way for U.S. victory.

In 2012, he was connected to the Obon Society, an Oregon-based nonprofit that helps U.S. veterans and their descendants return Japanese flags to the families of fallen soldiers. The group's research traced it to the village of 2,300 people in central Japan by analyzing family names.

Tuesday's handover meant a closure for Strombo too. "It means so much to me and the family to get the flag back and move on," he said.


This story has been corrected to say the Japanese soldier's first name in 8th paragraph is Sadao, not Sadeo.


Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at

Her work can be found at APNews at

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

08/15/2017 10:53 AM

Topic :   Cooper: The irony of moving a peacemaker

The link is at .This is another attack on Southern heritage.

Cooper: The irony of moving a peacemaker

July 14th, 2017 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press Read Time: 3 mins.

The nascent effort toward removing a bust of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart from the grounds of the Hamilton County Courthouse for racial motives is an irony, indeed, because of the Tennessean's role in the peacemaking creation of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

The Chattanooga chapter of the NAACP has begun an endeavor to engineer that removal, building off similar undertakings that have occurred in other Southern cities because of what have been called painful memories for blacks of the United States Civil War more than 150 years ago.

Stewart, who was not a notable battlefield figure but did lead a Confederate division against the Union at the Battle of Chickamauga on Sept. 19-20, 1863, later returned to Chattanooga after legislation was passed creating the national military park in Chickamauga. By that time, he had been an insurance company employee in St. Louis, mathematics professor at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., and chancellor at the University of Mississippi.

The former soldier, his Chattanooga biographer Sam Davis Elliott told the Times Free Press in 2011, "supervised in a lot of ways the startup of the battlefield [park]."

For those who don't bother to study history before attempting to remove it, the creation of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was set in motion with an 1889 barbecue on the Chickamauga battlefield to which veterans of the North and South were invited.

"Chattanooga welcomes the Blue and Gray to a barbecue to be given on Veterans Day, on Chickamauga Battlefield, where they will smoke the pipe of peace and bid each thought of conflict cease," the invitation read.

A year earlier, Union veterans Henry Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer had conceived the concept of a national military park while riding through the battlefield. This concept, they hoped, would involve the federal government, where previous battlefield preservation efforts had been private — as in Gettysburg, Pa. — and did not allow for Southern participation.

At the 1889 barbecue, 12,000 veterans from both sides — including Stewart — heard the park plans and enthusiastically supported them. Side by side, at the end of the meal the next day, they actually smoked commemorative peace pipes. One attendee, according to a 2014 Times Free Press history article by local Civil War expert Dr. Anthony Hodges, said, "Men embraced. Old veterans cried like infants as they clasped the hands" of former comrades and enemies.

Congress officially established the military park the next year, the oldest and largest in the country.

In accordance with the congressional act, according to Elliott, two of the commissioners of the park were to be appointed from civilian life, both veterans of the local battles. Although the measure didn't specify it, one was a Union veteran and the other a Confederate veteran, who was Stewart.

Stewart, as resident commissioner, "spent a great deal of time in the park, supervising road construction, the erection of towers and bridges, and the general engineering work of the park ."

Though past 70, he, according to Elliott, "learned to ride a bicycle, and by that means or on horseback traveled all about the park." His biographer said he continued to have spirited conversations about the war with friends on both sides and, to a New York writer, noted in his conclusion on what transpired "that Providence had a great deal to do with the affairs of men, and that human efforts, even those of men who were considered great, had very little to do with great achievements."

Stewart, who never owned slaves, didn't believe in slavery, opposed Tennessee secession and garnered the nickname "Old Straight," probably for his moral uprightness, wistfully concluded at the death of a friend, "It will not be long until the Confederate soldier will be a dream of the past, but his name will live in history, in story, in song and in tradition while the world stands."

Nevertheless, the Chattanooga chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy renamed its chapter for Stewart in 1904. The former park commissioner died in 1908, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy unveiled the now tarnished bronze bust on a marble base of him in 1919. The bust stands beside the walkway to the front doors of the courthouse, which are locked. So few people even pass the bust, whose subject was probably known to less than 1 percent of Hamilton County residents until the NAACP sought to remove it.

However, the bust stands not as a relic of the Jim Crow era or as glorification of the Confederacy, as the NAACP maintains. If it did, it would likely depict Gen. Braxton Bragg, Confederate victor at Chickamauga, Gen. Robert E. Lee, the best known Confederate hero of the war, or Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Tennessee native who was an early member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Stewart, on the other hand, was memorialized, at least in part, for his devoted role to the unification effort that resulted in the nation's first national military park. His was a uniting effort rather than the divisive one that attempts to remove him.

07/15/2017 12:07 AM

Topic :   'Antifa' radicals plan to desecrate Gettysburg graves

It's time for Southern and Northern  Deporables to show up in mass with their AR's to stand guard over these Gettysburg grave sites. 

Gettysburg's Facebook page is at 

06/28/2017 11:46 AM

Topic :   Andrew Jackson: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The link is at .

Andrew Jackson: The good, the bad, and the ugly

06/08/2017 11:55 AM

Topic :   Whiskey and the war: Alcohol played a role in the Civil War

The link is at .

Whiskey and the war: Alcohol played a role in the Civil War

October 21st, 2012 by Tim Omarzu in Life Entertainment Read Time: 4 mins.

Legend has it that when critics of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant complained to President Abraham Lincoln about Grant's drinking, Lincoln replied, "I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals."

Grant's favorite brand is said to be Old Crow, a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that is still sold today.

With Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln" due to hit theaters in November and the Civil War sesquicentennial under way, it's anyone's guess whether supporters of the North will scour liquor store shelves so they can sip Grant's favorite bourbon while Southern sympathizers seek a suitable counterpart.

One thing's certain: Whiskey and other forms of alcohol played a role in the epic conflict, from the tax on whiskey that helped fund the Union Army to an incident in Chattanooga that sent one of Grant's colonels home in disgrace.

"Grant was what we would call today a binge drinker," said Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park historian Jim Ogden.

And -- Lincoln's quip aside -- it was a serious matter to the North.

Chickamauga temptation

A principal responsibility for Grant's chief of staff, Brig. Gen. John Rawlins, was, Ogden said, "to make sure Grant did not succumb to the temptation ... to drink."

Grant decided before the war that he needed to get his drinking under control, Ogden said, which he did through abstinence.

But temptation loomed when Grant had his headquarters at the Latner House at 320 Walnut St. in downtown Chattanooga. Rawlins kept a wary eye on Col. Clark B. Lagow, one of Grant's staff officers who had a penchant for partying. Rawlins worried Lagow might offer Grant a drink.

"Rawlins goes to Grant and says [Lagow] must go," Ogden said. "He is setting you up for a fall from the wagon."

Things came to head before the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a key Union victory that took place on Nov. 24-25, 1863.

According to a diary from the time, Lagow threw "quite a disgraceful party" at the Latner House on Nov. 14.

"General Grant breaks up the party himself at 4 in the morning," Ogden said.

Lagow was "greatly mortified," Ogden said, and tendered his resignation not long after that.

Despite Grant's reputation as a drinker, Ogden said, "During the Civil War there is not a documented case where any use of alcohol by Grant negatively impacted his performance in the field."

Drunk in the saddle

That's not the case for Confederate Gen. Benjamin Franklin Cheatham, a Tennessean who was so drunk on Dec. 31, 1862, Ogden said, "he actually fell out of the saddle at one point" at what Southerners called the Battle of Murfreesboro and Northerners call the Battle of Stones River.

Cheatham and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg didn't see eye-to-eye on things, Ogden said, and "that incident only further reduced Bragg's opinion of him."

Cheatham survived the war, and later earned a whiskey-related honor.

"There was an early Jack Daniel's bottle with a portrait of Cheatham on it," Ogden said.

So Jack Daniel's might qualify as a Southern sympathizer's counterpart to Old Crow, though the Jack Daniel Distillery wasn't formally founded until 1866, after the Civil War ended.

Rebel Yell, a bourbon that was created to "personify the South" and has a label showing a Rebel soldier charging off to battle, wasn't created until 1936.

Chattanooga whiskey honors lee

Chattanooga had its own brand, Deep Spring Whiskey, that was launched in 1866, the same year as Jack Daniel's. It had advertising that paid homage to the Confederacy.

A Deep Spring Whiskey poster shows Gen. Robert E. Lee on horseback, surrounded by soldiers carrying aloft Confederate flags. In the foreground, a female battlefield nurse holds a hefty glass of whiskey to the lips of a wounded Rebel soldier. A case of Deep Spring Whiskey is shown near his bandaged leg.

"Deep Spring distillery was on the south end of what today is the Market Street Bridge," said Joe Ledbetter, co-founder of the modern-day Chattanooga Whiskey Co., which has sold some 3,000 cases of Chattanooga-branded whiskey since starting up six months ago. The whiskey is distilled in Indiana, because distilleries aren't allowed in Chattanooga, but Ledbetter's business is campaigning to repeal the law prohibiting distilleries here.

Civil War re-enactors who wanted to get their whiskey right wouldn't want to buy a bottle off the shelf, anyway, because that's not how Civil War soldiers drank, said Michael Veach, Associate Curator for Special Collections at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Ky.

"The major package for selling whiskey was the barrel. You would take your flask or your jug to the liquor store or saloon and get it filled there," said Veach, who's authored a book due out in February: "Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey an American Heritage."

"It wasn't bottled by the distiller," Veach said. "Bottles were very expensive at that time, because they had to be hand-blown."

Whiskey Part of U.S. history

While discouraged by the Army brass, soldiers did whatever they could to get their hands on booze.

"Alcohol was an extremely pervasive part of United States culture," Ogden said.

The South prohibited bourbon distilling during the war, Veach said, partly because corn was needed to feed soldiers.

"The other big thing was, they wanted the copper for the stills, so they could turn that copper into cannons," he said.

The North kept whiskeymaking going and taxed it, Veach said.

Whiskey, and the tax on it, is intertwined with American history, he said.

"It paid for the Revolutionary War debts," Veach said.

President Thomas Jefferson repealed the whiskey tax in 1802, but it was reinstated from 1814-1817 to fund the War of 1812. The tax on whiskey was reinstated in 1861 and has remained in place since then, Veach said, accounting at times for between 50 percent and 70 percent of the federal budget.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or 423-757-6651.

04/16/2017 11:58 AM

Topic :   Ironically, this Confederate general was against slavery

The link is at .

Ironically, this Confederate general was against slavery

04/09/2017 11:59 AM

Re :   The Bataan Death March

Roy Exum is a well known sports writer in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

New Mexico has a Bataan Death March every year, to honor the victims. This year's drew a record crowd.

Japanese War Crimes is at .This Chinese website documents the massacres, committed by Japan, against Asia and Allied troops. The Japanese Emperor was the Asian Hitler.

03/24/2017 11:35 PM

Topic :   The Bataan Death March

It is at .May they rest in God's eternal peace and love.

Roy Exum: Bataan’s 75th Anniversary

Monday, March 20, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Just shy of 50 years ago, I was evermore a yearling sports writer and Bear Bryant at Alabama was among the first to help me appear a whole lot better than I was. When I would visit Tuscaloosa, Coach Bryant would let me hang around and it wasn’t long before I befriended Bert Bank. Bert, who came home after World War II and got his law degree at the university, was a longtime state legislator but what you need to know he was the genius who originated the Alabama Football Network.

Aw, he did a whole lot more … once he hired a black disc jockey for one of his radio stations in the early ‘60s, a gaggle of white advertisers showed up and threatened to pull their advertising. Bert promptly told them that if they did, he would publish each of their names in the Tuscaloosa News. Further, they would never be allowed on the Crimson Tide network again. Well, that took care of that, but Bert Bank was bigger than the state of Texas and we got to be marvelous friends in a hurry. How do you think Alabama became the first state in the Union to make burning a flag a felony?!

One night everybody stayed up a little late and it slipped that Bert had survived the Bataan Death March, easily one of the biggest atrocities in the history of mankind. This past weekend almost 8,000 patriots gathered in Las Cruces, New Mexico to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 60-to-70-mile march where an estimated 650 American soldiers and 18,000 Filipino allies were viciously beaten, bayonetted and shot to death during the four-day march.

This weekend’s tribute to the survivors was the biggest ever. Over 25,000 pounds of food was donated to the state’s homeless as “entry fee” to run or walk the 8.2 mile “march.” It is held in New Mexico because 829 of the state’s “sons” either died in the Death March, or the prisoner of war camps during the next 33 months. The memorial is held at the White Sands Missile Range and is huge, now lasting three days.

This biggest roar every year comes when legendary Clemson professor emeritus Ben Skardon appears and once again he made the entire march, this four months shy of his 100th birthday. He made it “the whole way” back in 1942 but his two best friends from Clemson died in the Philippines. Dr. Skardon has “marched” in the last 10 New Mexico events and is always the last to cross the starting line and the last to cross the finish line, where at least 5,000 wait until he arrives and the cannons bellow.

Colonel Skardon walked seven miles on his own this year but thanked an Army medic and an ROTC cadet for their “gentle assist” in the last mile. An English professor at Clemson for years, he said he felt like “a wet wash rag with all the water at one end.”

And, yes, he plans to return to Las Cruces next year “to remember the real heroes.” He says, “This is now my pilgrimage … Coming here is like going to Mecca; it’s a shrine. I learned how easy it is to die when you lose the will to live.”

The enormity of the Bataan Death March defies belief. Imagine 80,000 POWs being marched in insufferable heat (100+) and lethal humidity. If one quit walking, fell, or dared drink muddy water along the way, death-by-bayonet was instant. The prisoners were constantly clubbed, tortured, and fed no more than a handful or two of rice in the horrific ordeal.

Once they got to the POW camp, 60,000 were placed in a POW camp where hundreds died every day. Hunger, malnutrition, malaria and Beri-Beri and those “with crushed spirit” were the biggest killers and, if a POW tried to escape, the entire work detail was shot. Blatant murder was committed by the Japanese every day.

Most Bataan survivors refused to ever talk about the savagery. The march started before the America-Filipino troops surrendered and, by early April, 1942, it included a train ride at the end where men were literally sardined into ancient box cars – over 100 in each -- and hundreds suffocated on the barbaric train. During the march, some U.S. troops did escape but it wasn’t until January of 1944 that the United States released news of the gruesome monstrosity to the American public.

General George Marshall included this in his formal announcement. “These brutal reprisals upon helpless victims evidence the shallow advance from savagery which the Japanese people have made. [...] We serve notice upon the Japanese military and political leaders as well as the Japanese people that the future of the Japanese race itself, depends entirely and irrevocably upon their capacity to progress beyond their aboriginal barbaric instincts.”

It is still widely believed the “aboriginal barbaric instincts” were among the primary deciding factors behind the bombing of Hiroshima. Everybody talks about Pearl Harbor as the focal point but the rage and fury the Bataan Death March caused among our military leaders was unprecedented during the war.

By Christmas of 1944, Bert was hanging on by a thread with 512 other prisoners at the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp. Already 2,656 Americans had died when a daring raid was being plotted by a legendary Tennessean that marvelously recounted the book and the movie, “Ghost Soldiers.”

Also, called “The Great Raid,” there is a thrilling side story. Shelbyville native Austin Shofner, who played football and wrested at Tennessee, went into the Marines shortly after he graduated from UT in 1937. “Shifty,” as he was called from his days in Neyland Stadium, was a captain at Corregidor when his unit was captured. Almost immediately, he and nine other GIs made the only successful escape from a Japanese prison camp during the entire war.

It gets better. Shofner and the others joined up with some Filipino guerrillas and soon ‘Shifty’ headed all guerrilla activities for General Douglas MacArthur. Only later would he make a second daring escape on a submarine and, when he got to Australia, his recognizance and his heroics were so notable General MacArthur presented him with the Distinguished Service Cross. He later was awarded the Legion of Merit after Okinawa but – get this – it was ‘Shifty’ who actually drew the plans for “The Great Raid” from memory that freed the POWs and Bert Bank.

The brilliant Shofner commanded the 6th Marines and retired as a Brigadier General in 1959. Undoubtedly one of the greatest heroes in Tennessee’s lore, his sons and grandsons have attended McCallie School. The general, heralded by the Tennessee legislature, died in 1999 at age 83 and is buried in Shelbyville.

The Raid was a stunning success. When an Army Ranger lifted Bert Bank, he said he would never be able to describe such emotion but what came from his mouth he will never forget. “Three words … Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” It was from that camp that he and 512 other prisoners were liberated by the 6th Rangers on January 30, 1945.

Bert Banks was totally blind when he was rescued – this due to 33 months of disease and all other horrors. He weighed 90 pounds and spent the next two years in an Army Hospital in Pennsylvania. His sight miraculously returned yet his spirit never wavered. “Let’s get this straight,” he once told noted sports guru Paul Feinbaum in an Alabama press box. “I’m no hero. Not at all. Those men are still in the Philippines.”

For the remainder of his life, Bert was a tireless advocate for veterans. And how do you think Alabama became the first state in the Union to make burning a flag a felony?! When Bank died on June 23, 2002 at age 94, his obituary included, “I bear no bitterness or rancor. It was a different time and the world has changed. I hope there will come a day when all the people in the world will live in peace and happiness."

* * *

Just so you will know, the Japanese formally surrendered to the United States on Sept. 2, 1945, and during the very same month Japanese General Masaharu Homma was arrested. The POW commandant was indicted for war crimes committed during the Bataan Death March and the trial didn’t last long. On February 26, 1946, he was sentenced to death by firing squad. He was executed on April 3, 1946, outside Manila.

Other Japanese Generals Hideki Tojo (later Prime Minister), Kenji Doihara, Seishiro Itagaki, Heitaro Kimura, Iwane Matsui, and Akira Muto, along with Baron Koki Hirota, were found also guilty and were each hanged by their necks until dead at Sugamo Prison in Ikebukuro, Japan, on December 23, 1948.

The Bataan Death March must never be forgotten nor the many heroes therein.

03/24/2017 11:32 PM

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