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Military: Stories

World War II: Pacific Battle Story from Local-

-Morris Marine

This (Tuesday, February 1st of 2005) morning I (Sal)had an unexpected conversation with an elderly man after a workout at the RFC Men's Locker Room. We ended up talking about his experience in WWII as a marine, who was trained in San Diego. I didn't get the spelling of his name, but it sounded like Sheldon/Sheridan Harla. Mr. Harla told me was a mail carrier before retiring and decided to keep physically in shape during his retirement years. He told me stories from the Pacific War: Guadacanal-Solomon Isl.- when the U.S. was "island hopping"-a naval strategy to take control of one island to another; preventing the "then" enemy (Japanese) from taking any more ground. He told me of November 11th 1942 (Naval Battles of Guadacanal) as "turn of the war" when the U.S. was able to reoccupy one of the islands, which was a start of U.S. gaining re-control of "enemy occupied islands".

It was a very educational and eye opener for me to stand there at the RFC's Mens Locker Room for about 30 minutes; learning part of history that wasn't taught much in my high school classes. I actually was learning from someone who actually experience this time (usually learn history from teachers that taught topics they realy don't have much experience in due to the many material to cover the whole year within one suject, like Social Studies/history). Before I left, I told him that he should teach/share this during one of those monthly "Ulimited Learning" afternoons at the local Morris Senior Center. After this experience, I want to encourage more youth-young adults to take sometime "listening" to someone older or an elderly person in the community they "run into" sporadically like I did.

-Morris Military Police Veteran

I attended another Learning Unlimited and after the meeting, I met another WWII Pacific War Veteran. His name is Leslie Nelson, who was a Military Police (MP) during WWII. He travled to Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and other islands around the Pacific. He shared some pictures that he cannot have publicized because of the security clause/promised back then. However, he shared how the Australian's military presence helped the Americans' victory. He'll be sharing more on this in the next Learning Unlimited "War theme" in March.

Leslie Nelson chatting with one of the audience members after a March "Learning Unlimited" Share at the Morris Senior Center.

He shared too about meeting the Filipino people while serving in the Philippines just right before the re-occupation to "kick the Japanese" out of this nation. He was a flight director at Clark Air Force field. Then he shared with me of a Filipino boy (age 8 or so) he met that got his lower leg injured from a biking (chain took a chunck of his flesh) accident. Leslie helped carry him to the hospital, which the boy was first afraid when he was approached because of the lack of communication of the English language. Just last year, he might've unexpectedly met this boy during a WWII Ceremony in Washington D.C. This Filipino guy kept staring at Leslie during the ceremony and then was approached by him with a "thank you". Leslie would never get this Filipino' man's name, which he presume it could've been this younger Filipino boy from his WWII.

For more intergenerational opportunities:
-Elderly, from goodnewsumm
-Mentoring, from goodnewsumm

Great Grandfather Taken

I told Mr. Harla about my great-grandfather who was never seen after being taken away as a prisoner from my famiy during the infamous "Bataan March". I decided to reflect on what my dad told me of this sad time:

My Dad's Story

When I was growing-up, I remember stories of my dad about World War II. He told me that during WWII, he remembered when the Japanese stormed into their county-particularly their hometown of Laguna. His family had to hide in the basement of their house located in the mountains in the city of Narcarlan. When they heard of the Japanese coming, his grandfather told them all to hide (in the basement). However, my grandfather decided to come out of hiding and check above ground to see if the Japanese where still around their neighborhood. Well, sad to hear- he never came back to the basement with them. My dad's family suspect that he was taken by the Japanese and walked with fellow prisoners during the infamous Bataan March.

Related Links:

  • Back to Bataan, a Minnesota survivor's story
  • Bataan Capture, from PBS
  • Bataan March, from University of San Diego
  • Bataan Memorial Death March, annual event in New Mexico to honor families and a rememberance
  • Other:

  • The History Place: WWII in the Pacific

  • Did you know?
    "February 23, 1942 - First Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland as a submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California"-from timeline of Pacific War
  • WW2Pacific
  • Resentment Grew

    Since I heard this "sad" story, I grew a resentment torwards the Japanese because of these stories. My dad didn't tell me to hate "them", but the stories just built-up anger and resentment torwards them. I remember telling a friend back in Middle School about this and would co-hate Asians that "look like them". As I grew-up in maturity and knowledge, I started to realize that I shouldn't hate people from Japanese backgrounds or anyone that "look like them" because of what happened in the past (see personal story of forgiveness)

    Interview w/a Persian Gulf War Veteran

    Sometime early December of 2005, I had an opportunity to discuss America's military with a Persian Gulf War Veteran. His name is Robert, who served in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He showed his frustration with the media's coverage of the current war in Iraq when I brought up Michael Moore's controversial documentary, Farenheit 911. Robert said from his perspective, the Iraqi people welcomed the U.S. Army. They said, "how come you didn't show up sooner". Again, this was back in 1991 before the present-day coverage of "unfair treatment" of Iraqi prisoners; it's a different story today. However, Robert shared that the media doesn't cover the war's tension and stress that U.S. Soldiers has to encounter that may affect their responses of treatment of Iraqi prisoners and civlians. Also, Robert feels the "negative" coverage is only a small part (e.g. gangs in inner cities of America are compared to ants that spoil the bunch) of what is really happening. Robert shared about his travels around the world when he was serving in the U.S. Army. For example, he shared how he visited my parents' homeland-the Philippines-where he remembers lumpia (Filipino style eggrolls) when I shared about how I missed my ethnic food.

    Learning Unlimited: WWII: Battle of the Bulge Veteran Shares

    Having someone from this era speak about his experience is a rare opportunity and a privilege for those who hear. I went to hear a speaker on January 2005 at a pack room in the Morris Senior Center. I do not have the notes with me, but I plan to add it when I get the chance.

    Reccomended Resources


  • Traces, Barbed Wire Bus Tour

  • *was at the American Legion on Sunday, April 3rd of 2005 @12p-8p. I wasn't able to physically go inside the bus because of the "crowds", so I just look through some books on displayed outside of the bus. It was a beautiful warm Sunday afternoon, which attracted many people in the community to come checkout the bus.



  • Missing Air Crew, a Minnesota nephew of a missing american plane crew member

  • *saw this aired on KSTP TV. Ch. 5 yesterday (Sunday, Jan 1st of 2006)



  • Ben Thompson's Military Video Collection
  • Crusade in the Pacific, a 5 tape/cd series documentary of WWII in the Pacific

  • Reviews: (1) (2)
  • PBS: "The War", by Ken Burns (2007)

  • 101 Ways to Support Our Troops
    "Whether or not you agree with our current foreign policy, it is important we all support the brave men and women serving in the U.S. Military. You may not be sure what to do, how to help, or how to get started. These 101 ideas are offered to help propel you to get started and then guide you as you move forward. Be sure to watch our exclusive flash movie called a Special Tribute at"

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