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Bataan Rescue | Article

The Story of Cpl. Jolley

Army-Navy Screen Magazine
A pictorial report from all fronts for the armed forces only.
Issue No. 58.

Produced by
Army Information Branch
Army Pictorial Service
Air Forces
Navy Department
in cooperation with all united nations.

The Story of Cpl. Jolley

Announcer: It was a great day in San Francisco. Whistles blowing. Bands playing. People waiting -- waiting for their ship to come in.

On this ship, more people, waiting -- for a sight they thought they'd never see. Here's one of them, Corporal Alfred Jolley, U.S. Army Medical Corps. When he first saw Frisco he was excited, and he had a right to be. But let him tell you.

Cpl. Alfred Jolley: That's right. That's me up there in the picture. Only look -- we don't call it Frisco. It's SAN Francisco. And it's home.

Boy, oh boy, after three years in a Jap prison camp, home sure looks good -- and in a way it looks different. All those warships, planes going places. And that must be a new shipyard. Yeah, when we pulled into San Francisco Bay, there was plenty to shout about, and there was plenty of shouting, cheering. But it takes more than that to get the Japs out of your system.

And I couldn't help thinking of a different day, three years before. There was shouting and cheering there too --

But in a different language.

It was April '42 and the Japs were mopping up on Bataan. They had it all over us in arms, in numbers -- they kept pounding with everything they had. Their planes were always overhead.

Then one day, when I was out on an ambulance detail, Jap dive-bombers went after the ammunition truck near us. It exploded sky-high. When the smoke cleared, no more ambulance for us. No more left arm for Jolley.

Three days later, they had Bataan, and I was a prisoner in the old Bilibid jail in Manila. From there, we saw the Japs punishing Corregidor. They got ready to take the Rock.

And they took it. On May 6, '42, General Jonathan Wainwright, "Skinny" we called him, was forced to surrender. Our flag came down. The Jap flag went up.

The Japs made propaganda movies of their victory. To show the folks back in Tokyo what they'd won -- another present for Hirohito. Ruined batteries. A handful of sick Americans. And they showed how well they treated us. Clean beds and care for the sick. Plenty of food. Fresh air. All this make-believe for the world to see. There were a lot of things they didn't tell about. Things that were not for the world to see.

This was two days after General Wainwright's surrender. This was twelve thousand Americans, many of them my buddies, jammed into the Kinley Field garage area. One water spigot for all twelve thousand, and no food for seven days.

In Manila, the Japs celebrated. All day long, they held a march of victory. And only a hundred-odd miles away, at the Mariveles Air Field on Bataan, men we knew were herded together to start another march -- a march of death. Hungry, thirsty Filipinos and Americans, most of them too sick to stand, began the seven-day hike to San Fernando.

I was lucky, I wasn't on that march, but my best friends were, and what they went through wasn't pretty. The Japs kept spitting in their faces, kicking their groins, horsewhipping them, burying some of them alive. These enemy pictures don't show the Jap soldiers beating and bayoneting. They don't show the Jap tanks and trucks running down and crushing dog-tired Americans.

But some survived. I met them after I was transferred to Cabanatuan. We lived for almost three years at Cabanatuan and it was lousy. At first we tried to live like humans. We cared for each other while there was medicine, we took vitamin pills while they lasted. We tried to look our Sunday best. But things kept getting worse.

And after a couple of years, just keeping alive was tough. We lived on rice for breakfast, rice for lunch, rice and water for dinner. I lost ninety-three pounds. What made us hungrier was the way they worked us. We pumped their water, we brought their rations, we did their labor, we didn't know what was going on in the outside world.

I wrote dozens of cards like this to mother. She got nine in three years. I only got five of hers. We began to give up hope. When I left San Francisco, there wasn't much of an American army and even less of what an army needs. Now the Japs kept showing us their propaganda movies -- proving to us they had the world. We saw a newsreel on how they took the Philippines. We saw another on how they landed in the Aleutians. We saw their strength. For all we knew they might be sitting in California or Colorado.

Then one day, we saw planes -- American planes back over the Philippines. After that, the Japs made it tougher than ever for us. And then, MacArthur and his men were back -- we began to hope again. Some of us prayed. We didn't know that already Rangers and Filipino guerrillas were on their way. Then, they came.

They got us away -- regular Cowboy-and-Indian stuff. They piled us into trucks. First stop was the 92nd Evacuation Hospital. That's me right there. The second stop was chow. The third stop, what the well-dressed GI will wear. And then the last stop -- home.

Things started popping all at once. WACS came alongside, the first I'd ever seen. They passed out mail. And there was a special letter, a greeting from our Commander-in-Chief. That made it official. The men wrote wires telling when they'd get home. How we waited for that gangplank to go down.

Funny the way we worried back in prison camp, if anyone was remembering us. There was someone -- for everyone. That's Gaston and his wife. He was our First Sergeant in the prison. Then, well, that's me and my Mom.

It was a big day in San Francisco. Even the kids out to cheer and wave. I waved right back. They looked swell. There was one detour -- the hospital.

After that there were a lot of things I wanted to do right away. I wanted to walk down Market Street again. And I did. I wanted to take a good look at the old high school. And I did. Back home, I wanted to hit the sack without a worry. And I did.

And Mom wanted something too. She wanted to show me the scrapbook she'd kept since I'd left for the Philippines. She had put in just about everything that mentioned me or my outfit. There was one clipping I liked best, and I'll remember it the longest. [Headline: "Stars and Stripes Fly Again Over Corregidor"] Because for me, and for the rest of us, this meant freedom. 

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