Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC)
The mission of the Association is as follows:
The Association for Preserving the Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC) strives to preserve the true history of the period of foreign invasions in China from 19th century to the end of the World War II. Our missions are:
- To promote, through educational programs and community actions, that war crimes shall not occur again and that world peace shall be maintained.
- To work toward the elimination of any act of inhumanity through promotion of the understanding of historical lessons.
- To commemorate the victims of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II in Asia.
- To raise the awareness of Chinese artwork looted during this period, which hopefully will lead to the return of displaced Chinese artwork to their rightful owners.
Last Saturday, there was a meeting and summer poolside party at her and her husband John’s house with guest speaker Richard Winter (pictured above with Nancy), who is one of only 67 living American veterans from Corregidor. As it turned out, another guest, Frank Mason, also fought in the same battle. Both survived the Bataan Death March (the Bataan Death March came before the surrender at Corregidor, my mistake) and were prisoners in Japan until the end of the war.
The party started out with a Chinese buffet and and exhibition from a Polynesian dancing troupe put together by the Taiwanese American Community Center. I took a few photos of their performance:
After their performance,Professor Howard Cheng had some brain teasers for the audience, then Vice President Jack Meng had his chance to be a standup comedian and told a few jokes (he was actually really funny!) and another gentleman whose name I didn’t catch told a joke and sang a couple of songs. Then it was time for our guest speaker.
Richard Winter was with the American Army when the Japanese attacked the Philippines shortly after the raid on Pearl Harbor. General MacArthur fought a delaying battle until help could arrive, finally leading the troops on to the island of Corregidor in Manila harbor, with its guns trained on any ships entering or leaving. There came a point where the American high command, unable to send reinforcements, relieved MacArthur and left General Jonathan Wainwright in command to hold the island as long as possible.
The first beach invasion was met by the US 4th Marines, of which Frank Mason was a Corporal at the time. (He retired as a full Colonel) He said the Marines wiped out the initial Japanese landing which was followed by a second landing. The Marines were wiping that one out when the Japanese commander requested surrender terms. At that time, the Marines were told that Wainwright was surrendering to the Japanese high command so the tables were turned.
Richard Winter’s Army units were stationed on the other side of the island and had been beaten back by the Japanese in that area. Wainwright was afraid the Japanese would get behind the American forces which would have been slaughtered. The Marines had held up much better than the Army units but even Colonel Mason said that they would not have been able to hold out indefinitely.
After the surrender, Winter’s army unit was under Japanese army command while the Marines were held by a Japanese Naval submarine command who treated them extremely well that night. The next day, the submarine commander had to leave on a mission and the sailors wished the Marines well. But that was not to be their luck, as the Japanese army was brutal and killed with no provocation.
Both men were sent to Japan for the rest of the war. Richard Winter’s voice was very soft so I had a hard time to hear his entire story, but Colonel Mason’s voice needed no microphone. I was able to talk with him after the speech and he filled me in on a lot of the details.
He was taken to north of Osaka to work in the lead mines. He found the average Japanese workers to be fine; it was just the Army personnel that were brutal. The Americans would trade cigarettes for whiskey and better food, so they got along OK. Colonel Mason said one of his secrets to survival is that he volunteered for any extra work thrown their way. By doing so, he was given better food in order to survive. He also told me that near the end of the war, the Japanese army was training the POWs with broomsticks to resist the American invasion, saying that they would kill anyone who did not shoot Americans. The Marines couldn’t wait to get real guns and had it all figured out how they would kill Japanese, but it just showed me how desperate Japan was at that time to even consider giving arms to enemy POWs.
It turned out that Colonel Mason had other interesting stories to tell. He was on the USS Panay when it was in Shanghai and Nanjing. The USS Panay was sunk by the Japanese in December 1937 as Nanjing was about to fall. Colonel Mason was one of the survivors.
Another gentleman there asked if he had ever been able to forgive the Japanese for what they did. He said it took him a long time but he no longer harbors hatred towards them. However, he feels that until the Japanese government pays some sort of compensation to the “comfort women” and POW survivors, their behavior from that time will not be forgiven.
Both Colonel Mason and Frank Winter are 90 years old.
Though this wasn’t a big world event and won’t receive any press, I feel small gatherings like these help bring together Americans and Chinese as we remember a time where we were allies working together against a common foe. It also personalizes events most of us have only read about in books.
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