Date: May 2005
Creator: Crager, Kelly Eugene
Description: In March 1942, the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Division, surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army on Java in the Dutch East Indies. Shortly after the surrender, the men of the 2nd Battalion were joined as prisoners-of-war by the sailors and Marines who survived the sinking of the heavy cruiser USS Houston. From March 1942 until the end of World War II, these men lived in various Japanese prison camps throughout the Dutch East Indies, Southeast Asia, and in the Japanese home islands. Forced to labor for their captors for the duration of the conflict, they performed extremely difficult tasks, including working in industrial plants and mining coal in Japan, and most notably, constructing the infamous Burma-Thailand Death Railway. During their three-and-one-half years of captivity, these prisoners experienced brutality at the hands of the Japanese. Enduring prolonged malnutrition and extreme overwork, they suffered from numerous tropical and dietary diseases while receiving almost no medical care. Each day, these men lived in fear of being beaten and tortured, and for months at a time they witnessed the agonizing deaths of their friends and countrymen. In spite of the conditions they faced, most survived to return to the United States ...
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