Three Jacks & A Joker
Jack Bradley, Jack Ellis, Jack Fleming and
Bill Overmier were 200th Coast Artillery men who survived the
Battle of Bataan. Two of the buddies would perish while
prisoners of the Japanese. Ironically, both men were killed by
Jack Ellis survived the bombing and sinking
of the Hell Ship Oryoku Maru in December 1944, but would not
survive the bombing of the Enoura Maru by fighters from USS
Hornet on January 9, 1945 in Takao harbor, Formosa (now Taiwan).
He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously in 1946.
Jack Fleming was one of 19 prisoners who
died when an American bomber loosened a bomb over Hoten prison
camp in Mukden, Manchuria in December 1944. The bomber’s target
was the Mukden factory located near the prison camp. A bomb
became stuck in the bomb bay, and when the pilot began to
“waggle” the plane to loosen the bomb, the bomb dropped into the
prison camp. Fleming had been married less than a week before
the Regiment entrained for San Francisco.
William ‘Bill’ Overmier was Jack Fleming's
Best Man when Fleming married. He has served as President and
Vice-President of the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Foundation of
New Mexico, and in 2010, was the very last and outgoing
Commander of the American Ex-POWs, New Mexico Chapter. He slave
labored in the shipyards at Yokohama, Japan.
While a prisoner of war in Zentsuji POW
camp, Jack Bradley held psychology classes for fellow prisoners.
He was liberated from Rokuroshi POW camp in September 1945. He
wrote the text for the Bataan Memorial’s “History” columns at
Bataan Memorial Park in Albuquerque.
Jack Bradley and Bill Overmier remained
friends until Bradley's passing in 2005.