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 American aircraft.

 

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.

“Las Vegas Daily Optic”, August 5, 1943. The newspaper gives the rank of Lieutenant to Bill Overmier who was a Staff Sergeant, and later a Tech Sergeant. Charles V. ‘Whitey’ Claybourn was one of only 82 survivors of the sinking of the Hell Ship Shinyo Maru in September 1944.