December 17, 1940

From /r/historyporn:

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“Children of Japan, Germany, and Italy meet in Tokyo to celebrate the signing of the Tripartite Alliance between the three nations, on December 17, 1940. Japanese education minister Kunihiko Hashida, center, holding crossed flags, and Mayor Tomejiro Okubo of Tokyo were among the sponsors.”

A relevant story from my own family history: My father was, in his day, a well-known character actor who began his career in radio. Italian was his first language, and his theatrical gift made him a superb dialectician. One day he was on a sound stage playing Mussolini in a radio play, when the actor playing Hitler became ill; Dad jumped in and assumed the rôle. By some odd quirk of fortune, the actor playing Hirohito also became unable to continue, and so my father ended up voicing all three parts. The director looked at him and exclaimed, “My God, you’re playing the whole Axis!”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Veteran’s Day, 2013

This post is dedicated to the memory of my maternal uncle, Courtney Rogers Draper, who lost his life on one of the Japanese “Hell Ships” in December of 1944.

Courtney Rogers Draper Obituary

Obituary from the Salt Lake Tribune of July 25, 1945. Courtney’s parents received the telegram the previous day.

EnouraMaru

Strike photo showing the sinking of the Enoura Maru in Takao Harbor (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan). The allies were unaware that the ship was packed to the gills with allied prisoners, as the Japanese ships were unmarked.

Ebara Maru (Enoura Maru Class)

Painting of the Ebara Maru, a ship of the same class as the Enoura Maru. The Ebara was not used as a Hell Ship.

IMGP3858

Monument in Memory Grove, Salt Lake City.

Courtney Purple Heart

A photo of Lt. Draper in the Philippines before his capture, along with his purple heart ribbon.

The official POW record reads as follows:

World War II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946
Name: Courtney R Draper 
Race: White
Residence State: Utah

Report Date: 7 May 1942
Latest Report Date: Jan 1945

Grade: First Lieutenant or Chief nurse or Head dietitian or Head physical therapy aides
Grade Notes: First Lieutenant or Lt. Jr. Grade
Service Branch: Army
Arm or Service: Air Corps
Arm or Service Code: Air Corps
Area Served: Southwest Pacific Theatre: Philippine Islands
Detaining Country: Japan
Camp: 502
STATUS: Executed, Died in Ship’s Sinking or Result of Ship Sinking, Shot While Attempting Escape
Notes: Enoura Maru
POW Transport Ship: December Sinkings: See code in previous field (REP). (B)DS=Brazil Maru; (E)DS=Enoura Maru; (O)DS=Oryoka Maru; (X) Died during transportation from Olongapo to San Fernando, PI.
Report Source: Individual has been reported through sources considered official.

CEM46861262_117290105524

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, also known as Fort William McKinley Cemetery, honors the American and allied servicemen who died fighting the Japanese in World War II. The Cemetery offers repose to soldiers who died in the Pacific theatre, which included the Philippines, New Guinea, and the Pacific islands. Courtney’s last official status is “missing,” his remains “unrecoverable.”

Courtney was a promising and rising young attorney in his father’s practice before his death; his siblings, including my mother, always told me what an outstanding person he was. I’m saddened that I never knew him, but I honor his memory, as I do that of all the honored dead. May they rest in peace.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Fukushima Ghost Towns

A haunting photo essay over at Business Insider shows images of towns inside the quarantine zone around the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant that suffered catastrophic failure after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In some ways, these pictures these pictures moved me more than the videos of the utter devastation around Sendai. It may be possible at some point for people to reclaim their homes, businesses, and lives – but radioactivity is nasty business, and as this post from PRI explains, the well-meaning officials of Japan are sailing in uncharted waters. Some of these areas may end up looking like the ghostly remains of Pripyat; only time will tell.

My heart continues to resonate with the Japanese people in the spirit of 2011’s kanji of the year, 絆 – kizuna, or “bond.” May they have strength for their forward journey.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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