Fiery Air Crash Prevents Autopsy


Fate Bars Ex-POW From Aid to Buddies


Albuquerque, N.M. (UP) — DEC. 3, 1949 — A 32-year-old survivor of the Bataan death march has gone to his grave, cheated by fate of one more chance to help his fellow veterans.

Joseph S. Smith of Albuquerque, who lived through four years of imprisonment by the Japanese, had worked constantly since the war for increased government aid to Bataan veterans. His work ended abruptly last Tuesday when he died with 27 others in the crash of an airliner at Dallas, Tex.

In a note left to his family, Smith asked that an autopsy be performed on his body, including a thorough diagnosis of his stomach. He wanted the report to be sent to the Veterans Affairs Committee of Congress.

“I request this,” Smith wrote, “because I want this committee to know the condition of hundreds of other veterans who starved for three years as prisoners of war under the Japanese.”

Several months ago, Smith appeared with other Bataan veterans at a congressional hearing on veterans affairs. They testified that four years of mistreatment in Japa[-] prison camps had left them and their comrades with ailments not always apparent to a doctor. An autopsy, Smith told the congressmen, would be the only method to really find out how the men were affected.

Before his funeral Thursday at Carlsbad, N.M., his family said it would be impossible to fill the final request.

Smith's body was burned so severely in the Dallas crash that any attempt at an autopsy would be useless.


Stars & Stripes (Pacific)