Friday, March 18, 2011

Some suggestions for you

Steve guided a group which included Mark Howard, a leader in the Latter Day Saints Church in Manila. Mark has brought several Mormon groups out and always asks for Steve. Mark’s son Scott and daughter-in-law Sarah are visiting and decided to do the Corregidor tour. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami are still on everyone’s mind, and it directly affected the younger Howards. They were on final approach into Tokyo’s Narita Airport when the major quake struck, and were diverted to another airport farther south. They eventually got to Osaka, but not before having to spend considerable time in airports. Their carrier said that since it was an act of nature they were not in any way responsible for food or lodging, but fortunately they were able to cope in a strange land. They said that the plane before them had just touched down and the passengers had to spend several hours on the plane as the terminal was locked down during the major aftershocks.

One of our friends who was spending time in Tokyo doing research had this to say on Thursday:

Due to the great uncertainty here in Tokyo, my wife and I have decided to cut our stay here short and will be returning to Manila on March 21.

We thought things would return to normal in Tokyo this week, but things have remained unsettled and very uncertain. Some of the major train lines are not running, and those that are are doing so in reduced numbers. The library in Sophia University (where we are staying) has been closed until further notice, and the National Diet Library where I have been doing research has limited its service hours. Many department stores have closed or limited service hours, and many employees are advised to stay at home. The convenience stores and supermarkets now have many empty shelves, among them shelves for milk, water, bread, instant noodles, etc. There are long queues for gasoline everywhere. And of course there is the uncertainty of the nuclear power plant - it's around 250 kilometers from here but there were increased levels of radiation detected even here (although very slight, and of no danger to people). Last night there was a strong earthquake - not an aftershock - in Shizuoka, west of Tokyo. Since there isn't much we can do here, we decided that going home early is the most sensible decision.

We have heard from our friends in Japan and all is well with them. Of course, many of them are concerned with friends and relatives who are from the affected regions and are still awaiting word. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them.

As co-founder of the Coast Defense Study Group, Glen Williford has been to Corregidor many times. His brother Steve (this could get confusing) spent the final years of the Vietnam War at the Subic Bay Naval Station, but never had been to The Rock. Both came here last weekend to spend a few days. On Sunday Steve – of Steve and Marcia on the Rock fame – spent time with the Williford brothers exploring some of the locations on the island.

They first went to Battery Cheney to search for a 155mm gun emplacement that Glen had seen years ago. It is southwest of the westernmost gun at Cheney, and in dense jungle. Since island manager Ron had been there before he offered to help them find it. Nilo went along as bolo man. After much searching they were able to find the rounded piece of concrete that was the gun shelter.

On Topside the Willifords wanted to spend time in the central area of Topside Barracks trying to determine where certain rooms had been. It was easy to locate the swimming pool, which resembles a modern day pool, except that it has no water and trees are now growing in it. The gymnasium on the second floor was also obvious. However, such things as the bowling alley and library were impossible to determine with certainty. Later, the guys went to Infantry Point on Tailside to look at Battery Kysor and to explore the medium-size tunnel which faces north.

Glen is the author of several books on coastal defense. His latest, Racing the Sunrise, is the account of the preparations that were underway to take on the Japanese, especially in the final three months before Pearl Harbor, as well as the early blockade-runner missions that ultimately led to the retaking of the western Pacific. It is a heavily researched book that took him five years to write. While not for everybody, if you are interested in the fine details of this subject, then you want to consider it.

Another book which came out last year, garnering lots of attention among Pacific War buffs, is Escape from Davao by John D. Lukacs. Despite being a Notre Dame graduate we still consider John a friend (just kidding, John), having made his acquaintance almost ten years ago. The book is subtitled, “The forgotten story of the most daring prison break of the Pacific War.” The escapees were for the most part survivors of Bataan and Corregidor and had been in the Davao Penal Colony for almost a year before making their escape. Another well-researched book, it should appeal to anyone interested in what occurred here in the first year of the war.

While we’re on the subject of recommendations, we encourage you to see the HBO Movie Taking Chance. It is based upon the true story of a U.S. Marine officer, shiningly played by Kevin Bacon, who accompanies the body of a young enlisted Marine to his home out west. The dignity and respect that both the living and dead marines are shown along the way made us proud. Although a very sad movie, if you appreciate the U.S. Armed Forces, it will make you feel good.

The following is from reader Minter Dial. You may recall that we wrote about his grandfather’s lost and found and then lost again academy ring a while back.

I am wondering if you might support (or even write up?) my social experiment around my grandfather's Facebook fan page. I am trying to garner some support to build up the community in a novel way. I'd love to have to your opinion as well on this initiative.

Here it is explained on my blog:

We invite you to check out the website, and help Minter if you are so inclined.

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