Posts Tagged ‘Joe Gear’

It was in December that I got the surprise of my life when they brought a new man into camp. That man was Joe Gear whom we had left behind in Formosa due to his physical condit ion [sic]. It was certainly a day of rejoicing to get together again. Joe was still in real bad shape, as the diseases of prison life had really taken their toll with him. He was about ninety per cent blind and was unable to walk, but he was still alive. He now lives in Amarillo, Texas, and it is a real pleasure to visit him every time I travel through there. He still is not in good health, but he has improved immensely since he left Shinagow.

On the morning of November 13, 1942, we were moved from this camp. Of the original 300 men that left the Philippines, 288 marched back to Tichue [sic]. Three men died on the ship coming over; three died in this camp, and we left six men behind who were too sick to be moved including my good friend Joe Gear. It was heart breaking to leave these men who were so sick they could hardly hold their heads up and were so thin that one could count just about every bone in their bodies. I was certain that I would never see Joe again, but God surely took care of his [sic], as nearly two years later he turned up in Shinagow. How happy I was to see him!

Our train ride back to Ticow was like the one that we had coming to this camp; we were all crowded again into the real small train cars. Upon our arrival this time, there was an exception to the former treatment, as the Japs did not parade us up and down the streets.

It took us only ten to fifteen minutes to go from the train to the dock where we boarded a troop ship, the Dinitchie Maru. It must have had at least two thousand troops on it, but here again we were sent back into the hole of the ship to make our ride again to an unknown destination. We were aboard this hell ship for thirteen days with living conditions like they were on the ship that brought us to Formosa.

Three men died in this camp, and when we left, six men were too sick to move, so we had to leave them behind. One of these men was Joe Gear, whom I have previously mentioned. Joe weighed about eighty-five pounds and was so weak he could scarcely help himself.

The Japanese rule was that each sick person would be fed on one-third ration, even when a full ration was not sufficient. Our barracks leader tried to enforce this rule, but the men in our barracks voted to share our food with the sick, so we gave one spoonful of our ration to each sick man, which allowed him a portion equivalent to what the rest of us had.

We got some amusement from watching the young Jap soldiers as they passed by some ducks that were on the Jap’s side of the compound. Many times a day they would yell, “Eyes right, or eyes left” whichever the case might ge [sic], as they marched past in a goose step, saluting the ducks.

It was here that we learned to Kay Ray and Saka Kara, each was a form of a bow the Japs required us to do. The Kay Ray was a bow of fifteen degrees from the waist line, with your hands held rigidly at your sides while bowing. This was the bow that the enlisted men required of us, and if they passed once or a hundred times a day, this bow had to be made or we got a butt of a rifle or a fist or back-hand in our face. The Saka Kara was something for the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese officers. This bow consisted of a forty-five degree bend, starting and stopping at the waist line, and we had to hold it until we were told to come to rest. I do believe that more men got beatings over this than any other single thing while I was in prison camp.