(U.S. Naval Historical Center via Wikimedia Commons)
CONCORD, Calif. — In tandem with the approaching 75th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion — the deadliest home-front disaster of World War II — an California congressman has added an amendment to a federal bill that would exonerate 50 survivors of the accident who were convicted of mutiny for refusing to return to work in unsafe conditions.
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton has played a major role in military history over the past 77 years, and John Farritor is one of the rare men who has seen that history unfold from the start.
The Vista, California veteran, who turned 100 on Tuesday, is one of the few surviving Marine veterans who marched 55 miles from Camp Elliott in San Diego to christen the newly opened base near Oceanside in September 1942.
He also fought with Camp Pendleton-based divisions in some of the Corps' most defining and deadly battles of World War II and the Korean War, including at Iwo Jima, Bougainville, the Pusan Perimeter, the Inchon Landing and the Chosin Reservoir.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
(Scott Rains/The Lawton Constitution via Associated Press)
With the Trump administration planning to move 1,400 migrant children to this fortified Army post later this summer, a small group of Japanese American World War II internment camp survivors came to the gates Saturday to make their opposition known.
"We are here today to protest the repetition of history," proclaimed camp survivor Satsuki Ina, 75, of San Francisco, one of about two dozen former internees and their descendants in attendance.
Met by uniformed military police, the protesters, some in their 80s, were told they did not have permission to congregate and might face arrest. "You need to move right now!" one of the officers shouted. "What don't you understand? It's English: Get out."
But the survivors, carrying thousands of origami cranes as a symbol of solidarity, refused to leave until police from adjacent Lawton, Okla., arrived and let them speak. They then moved to a park where a crowd of about 200 was waiting.