The Hell Ship Okryoku Maru under attack at Olongapo, December 14 (top) & 15, 1944. Prisoners of war can be seen in the water trying to make it to shore.


Families of prisoners maintained hope and encouraged one another both through prayer and action. The Bataan Relief Organization was founded in Albuquerque and their motto soon became, “We will not let them down.” Mothers and daughters joined together in a group called the Gold Star Mothers to raise relief funds and prepare Red Cross packages for their loved ones.

DEC 13 to 16, 1944: Mindoro Campaign


DEC 13, 1944: 1,619 POWs are loaded onto Oryoku Maru at Pier 7 in Manila.


DEC 14, 1944: Oryoku Maru comes under attack from aircraft off USS Hornet.


DEC 15, 1944: 2 bombs from returning USS Hornet airplanes hit Oryoku Maru. Prisoners are allowed to abandon ship, but are sporadically fired on in the water by Japanese guards.


Betw DEC 15, 1944 and JAN 31, 1945: The men from "the December Ship" will face a series of boardings on two other ships, starvation and horrors, executions, more bombings by American aircraft, and another ship sinking before reaching Moji, Japan. Only an approximate 400 of the original 1,619 will survive.