‘Pirate,’ Priest, and Korean Prisoner of War Emil Kapaun Embodied America the Beautiful

Daily Beast – Sincere Prayers

‘Pirate,’ Priest, and Korean Prisoner of War Emil Kapaun Embodied America the Beautiful

‘With complete disregard for his personal safety and unwavering resolve,’ he single-handedly inspired and saved the lives of hundreds of his fellow captives in North Korea.

Michael Daly       May 27, 2018

As we come to Memorial Day with at least the hope of a resolution with North Korea, we should remember U.S. Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun, who as a POW looked more like an eye-patched pirate than a priest, yet is credited with saving literally hundreds of lives with the pure power of spirit.

On a wartime Easter Sunday more than six decades ago, Kapaun caused an entire valley to fill with the voices of his fellow prisoners singing “America the Beautiful.” He posthumously received the Medal of Honor and is presently being considered for sainthood. The nephew who accepted the belated medal on his behalf in 2013 is certain Kapaun would be particularly pleased that there is now at least a chance of peace at long last.

“Wouldn’t that be something?” the nephew, Ray Emil Kapaun, told The Daily Beast on Friday. “That would be incredible. Without a doubt that would be good.”

At 61, the nephew is too young to have ever met his fallen uncle, but came to know him through the stories he heard while growing up. Soldiers who credited Father Kapaun with saving their lives told him that the Medal of Honor citation offers only a partial account of his heroism:

“Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, from November 1-2, 1950. On November 1, as Chinese Communist Forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Chaplain Kapaun calmly walked through withering enemy fire in order to provide comfort and medical aid to his comrades and rescue friendly wounded from no-man’s land.”

The priest had been smoking a pipe earlier in the battle and a bullet had suddenly left him with just the stem in his mouth. He kept on, carrying one wounded soldier to safety and then immediately returned to direct danger to save another. He would pause amidst bullets and shrapnel to bless the dead.

“Though the Americans successfully repelled the assault, they found themselves surrounded by the enemy,” the citation continues. “Facing annihilation, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate. However, Chaplain Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded.”

Kapaun remained with those who were too badly injured to withdraw.

“After the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defense in the early morning hours of November 2, Chaplain Kapaun continually made rounds, as hand-to-hand combat ensued. As Chinese Communist Forces approached the American position, Chaplain Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer amongst the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American Forces.”

Kapaun had just become a prisoner when he saw a North Korean soldier step up to an American who lay seriously wounded in a ditch. The enemy soldier aimed his weapon at the American’s head.

“Shortly after his capture, Chaplain Kapaun, with complete disregard for his personal safety and unwavering resolve, bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute Sergeant First Class Herbert A. Miller.”

The citation notes that Kapaun thereby “saved the life of Sgt. Miller,” but does not go on to report what immediately followed. The priest then picked up Miller and carried him for miles as the enemy force marched the captured Americans away from the front lines.

When Kapaun grew weary, he helped Miller hop on his one good leg for a time. Kapaun then resumed carrying him. They eventually reached a schoolhouse and were joined by another group of prisoners. The others included Lt. Mike Dowe, who would remember first encountering Kapaun during the ensuing death march, in which guards shot any stragglers.

“Who are you?” Dowe asked.

“Kapaun,” the chaplain said.

“Father Kapaun, I have heard about you.”

“Well, don’t tell my bishop.”

Kapaun urged on people who otherwise might have just given up.

“Maintaining a will to live is everything,” Dowe told The Daily Beast on Sunday. “You can just decide you don’t want to fight it any more and be dead the next morning. It was actually that will that Father Kapaun instilled in so many people.”

After four or five days, they came to a valley. Kapaun and Dowe were lodged in a separate officer’s compound on a hilltop surrounded by a wood fence. Kapaun led those of all faiths in prayer. He also set to fashioning a pot by hammering a piece of meat with a rock. He was partially blinded when a sliver of tin flew into one of his eyes.

“It didn’t bother him, he just put a patch over it and that was it,” Dowe would recall.

Kapaun would rise before dawn in subzero cold and make a fire and heat water in the pot. He would pour the hot water through a sock in which he had stuffed some beans that were nothing close to coffee.

“Hot coffee!” Kapaun would announce. “Good morning everyone! Hot coffee!”

Dowe would recall, “You just can’t imagine how good that tasted. Kapaun’s coffee.”

With his eye patch and a stocking cap, Kapaun looked nothing like a priest as he moved about the camp.

“He looked more like a pirate,” Dowe would remember. “But, when he would walk into some place, a whole new aura would just descend on it.”

Kapaun would slip out at night to minister to the enlisted men, going from to hut, aiding the sick, giving blessings and encouragement. He was a Catholic priest who embraced all faiths and encouraged Jews and Protestants to join in saying the rosary. He also would bring any food he was able to forage or steal from their captors. He would encourage hoarders to share with others.

When the guards punished Kapaun by forcing him to stand naked in the cold, he had less to strip off because he had given away some of his clothing. He remained unbowed.

On Easter morning, Kapaun took some of the officers up to the ruins of a church that happened to be within their compound. He produced a purple stole he had managed to keep hidden, along with a missal. He had fashioned a crucifix from some bits of wood.

As Kapaun led the officers in a song, the other prisoners heard them and joined in. Their combined voices echoed through what they came to name Kapaun Valley.

“‘America the Beautiful’ swept down through the enlisted men, all through places on down the hill, all the way down practically to the river,” Dowe recalled.

The guards had by then come to recognize this pirate-looking priest as a threat.

“They were scared of him,” Dowe told The Daily Beast. “They wanted to get rid of him. They saw him as a symbol for everybody in the camp, a symbol of resistance. They didn’t understand that spirit of someone who’s loyal to his God and his country, and who instilled that spirit in all the men around him wherever he went.”

The guards saw an opportunity when Kapaun’s health faltered. He fell ill with pneumonia along with maladies that accompany malnutrition.

Just when he seemed likely to cease being a problem, Kapaun began to recover. The guards decided to go ahead and consign him to what was known as “the death house,” a small room caked with feces and infested with maggots where prisoners were left to die, without food and unattended. His fellow prisoners were met with force when they sought to prevent his removal.

“Hey, Mike, don’t cry,” Kapaun called to Dowe. “I’m going where I always wanted to go, and when I get there, I’ll be saying a prayer for all of you.”

He blessed the guards as they carried him off.

“Forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

Kapaun died on May 23, seven months after he was captured, two months after the Easter service. He was 35 years old. His body was consigned to an unmarked grave.

Two years later, a truce was called, and the surviving POWs were freed. The prisoners emerged with a 4-foot crucifix they had fashioned with scavenged wood, with radio wire serving as the crown of thorns.

Dowe noted that the survival rate in their POW camp was double that in the two other valleys where American prisoners were kept, the only significant difference being this remarkable priest.

“Because of him an awful lot of people survived,” Dowe told The Daily Beast. “He keep people alive in a spirit of cooperation in what we called Kapaun Valley.”

Dowe added, “I owe him my life, like so any others did. Hundreds, literally hundreds.”

Dowe went on to become a noted physicist. He was one of the prime movers in a decades-long push for Kapaun to receive the Medal of Honor.

The day then came in 2013 when the White House called Kapaun’s elderly sister-in-law, his sole brother having died. She hung up.

“She thought it was a prank call,” her son, Ray, would recall.

The White House called back. Ray represented family at the Medal of Honor ceremony. President Obama noted that the Catholic Church had deemed Father Kapaun a “Servant of God,” a step toward sainthood. Obama spoke of when Kapaun slipped from hut to hut, offering prisoners a blessing.

“One of them later said that with his very presence he could just for a moment turn a mud hut into a cathedral,” Obama told the gathering.

Obama also spoke of the crucifix the surviving prisoners carried out in their first moments of freedom.

“It was a tribute to their friend, their chaplain, their fellow prisoner who had touched their souls and saved their lives,” Obama said.

Dowe was at the ceremony, as was Miller, who had seemed just an instant from death as he lay in a ditch gazing up into the barrel of a weapon held by an enemy soldier. He had closed his eyes, but there had been no shot and he had opened them to see a figure he would later learn was Father Kapaun standing between him and the enemy soldier.

After all the years that might not have been, Miller had Parkinson’s Disease, and his hands were shaking when Ray went up to him and held out the Medal of Honor for him to hold.

“His hands just want rock steady,” Ray later reported. “He’s crying. I’m certain everybody else around us was crying.”

Obama had quoted from Kapaun’s letters back to Kansas after he first arrived in Korea.

“In his understated Midwestern way, he wrote home, saying, ‘this outdoor life is quite the thing’ and ‘I prefer to live in a house once in a while,” Obama noted. “But he had hope, saying, ‘It looks like the war will end soon.’”

More than six decades later, the war has yet to be officially declared at an end. We can at least dare to hope for peace as we come to his Memorial Day.

“No sincere prayer is ever wasted,” Kapaun once said.

The Story Behind the Most Decorated Military Unit in U.S. History

Mental Floss – History

“Go For Broke”: The Story Behind the Most Decorated Military Unit in U.S. History

By Kyla Cathey     May 28, 2018


In 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain Steve Rogers single-handedly frees captured Allied soldiers from a Nazi base. “What, are we taking everybody?” one soldier asks, referring to another soldier who appears to be Japanese. “I’m from Fresno,” the soldier retorts.

The scene was a hat tip to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese-American regiment that, during World War II, became the most decorated unit in U.S. history—a distinction it still holds. Members of the 442nd earned 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, five Presidential Unit Citations in just one month, and 9486 Purple Hearts, along with thousands of other honors, during the regiment’s two active years in World War II. Yet when asked about their distinguished service, most of them said they were simply doing their duty.


In the months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and Arizona were interned under Executive Order 9066; about two-thirds were U.S. citizens. Americans of Japanese ancestry were also reclassified as “enemy aliens” and were no longer allowed to join the military. Despite the fact that Japanese-Americans had served in the military for decades, many already-enlisted troops were discharged from service. The government even seized items like cameras or radios from Japanese-Americans, in case they might use them to spy.

Although some protested these measures, others sent letters and telegrams to President Franklin Roosevelt and Secretary of War Henry Stimson arguing that Japanese-Americans, even the second generation known as the Nisei, were not to be trusted because they were “fanatically devoted to [their] country of origin and emperor,” as one California woman wrote. Several cities, 16 California counties, a variety of social clubs, and even some members of Congress registered similar concerns. Some congressmen even called to exchange Japanese-American citizens for Americans held prisoner by Japan.

The Nisei troops, as they were often known, wanted the opportunity to prove that their loyalty was to the United States—not Japan. Many of these soldiers had witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor and the aftermath, and they wanted to support their country in any way they could.

Just weeks after Washington gave the military ban order, a group of ROTC students released from the Hawaiian Territorial Guard decided that even if they couldn’t serve as soldiers, they still wanted to help. They gained the approval of regional commander General Delos Emmons to form the Varsity Victory Volunteers, a labor support battalion that included more than 160 students and other individuals of Japanese descent. In early 1942, the group began building roads, fences, and military bases under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Hawaii is our home; the United States is our country,” the youths wrote in a letter to Emmons volunteering their services. “We know but one loyalty and that is to the Stars and Stripes.”

But the Varsity Victory Volunteers were just the beginning. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Hawaii National Guard also included more than 1400 Nisei members—about half its total. The Nisei troops were ordered to turn in their weapons and ammunition and segregated from their fellow soldiers. Concerned about the Nisei’s potential response if Hawaii was again attacked by Japan, military leaders sent them to the mainland, and eventually to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. There they formed the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), with the separate referring to the fact that they were initially an orphan unit without a larger regiment. They were also known as the One Puka Puka (Puka is Hawaiian for “hole,” as in zero).

The 100th Infantry Battalion receiving grenade training.


One Puka Puka quickly distinguished themselves during their training, and after watching the “triple-Vs” and the 100th in action, the War Department pushed President Roosevelt to change his stance on Japanese-American military service. He did so in early 1943, and the Army soon asked for 4500 Japanese-American volunteers. They got an overwhelming 10,000, mostly from Hawaii. Nearly 1200 volunteered from internment camps.

“I talked to my father, and he said, ‘Well, you’re an American citizen, so if they want you to join the Army, it’s your duty,’” veteran Stanley Matsumura said in Peter Wakamatsu’s documentary Four-Four-Two: F Company at War. He and his friends did just that.

“I was 19 and living in Yoder, Wyoming when I first heard the news of Pearl Harbor,” Hashime Saito wrote to Dear Abby in December 1980. “I canceled my plans to enter the university and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army.”

At his brother’s wedding at Poston Relocation Center, Technical Sergeant Abe Ohama told friends and family, “All of us can’t stay in the camps until the end of the war. Some of us have to go to the front.”

The volunteers became the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.


At first, the 442nd wasn’t particularly welcome in Europe. When Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall offered the regiment to General Dwight Eisenhower in France, the latter turned him down with a polite, “No, thank you.” Instead, they found a home with General Mark Clark in the Fifth Army, fighting in Italy.

The 100th finished training and went first, initially joining the 34th Infantry Division, one of the divisions that made up the Fifth Army. They soon earned their reputation in blood. Whether out of a desire to prove their loyalty or just a gung-ho spirit, the Nisei soldiers went after military objectives with a single-minded ferocity.

They entered combat in Italy on September 29, 1943, and soon saw fighting in the southern part of the country. The battalion fought in Salerno and the Volturno river, where the soldiers surprised their fellow American troops with their first banzai charge. (In Japanese tradition, a banzai charge is a last-ditch, often suicidal attack, and the exclamation is a traditional battle cry.) According to the Go For Broke National Education Center, named for the regiment’s motto, the banzai charge occurred after a sergeant heard that one of the most respected officers in the battalion had been either wounded or captured: “Many of the soldiers of the 100th had known each other since they were children. Their dedication to one another was such that they never left a man behind, even in death.” The sergeant turned out to have heard mistakenly, but the impression of dedication on their fellow soldiers remained.

Yet the 100th truly earned their reputations at the Battle of Monte Cassino. General Clark called the battle “the most grueling, the most harrowing, and in one aspect perhaps the most tragic, of any phase of the war in Italy.” Fighting began in blizzard conditions in the middle of January 1944, and the goal was to take the Gustav Line, a defensive line the Axis forces had created along the natural mountainous landscape of the area that blocked the Allies from Rome.

The battle to take the high ground was long and bloody for everyone involved, and the 100th was no exception. In fact, it was at Monte Cassino that they gained the nickname “The Purple Heart Battalion.” The Monte Cassino Abbey, atop one of the mountains, overlooked an open field with little cover for troops and provided Nazi soldiers and artillery a place to entrench themselves. From behind walls, they fired at any Allied troops who dared to rush the mountain.

On the night of January 24, the 100th’s A and C Companies crossed the dangerous field, checking for tripwires and maneuvering over freezing, flooded irrigation ditches before finding cover behind a wall. When B Company moved to join them after sunrise, only 14 of the 187 men made it to the wall, according to the Go For Broke center.

The company was ordered into reserve—kept away from the action and allowed to rest—but joined the fighting again on February 8. They made good progress and held a key hill for four days but retreated again when the 34th Division was unable to keep up with their pace. Finally, after Allied air reinforcements bombed the ancient abbey into ruin on February 15, the 100th sent wave after wave up the mountain, losing 200 more men before they were relieved.

Their commander, Major Casper Clough Jr., told a correspondent with The New York Times that they were the best soldiers he’d ever seen. “They are showing the rest of the people they are just as good citizens as the next John Doughboy,” he said.

General Mark Clark fastens citation streamers on 100th battalion flags for outstanding performance of duties in the Mediterranean theater.


Because of the battalion’s heavy casualties—the 100th had lost about 800 of its 1300 soldiers since arriving in Europe, more than 200 over just four days at Monte Cassino—other Allied forces took over at Monte Cassino. The 100th regrouped to receive reinforcements, then fought their way over 40 miles from Anzio, Italy, north to Rome, where they were soon joined by the rest of the 442nd and officially attached to the regiment.

By May 1944, when the 442nd’s Second and Third Battalions sailed for Europe, the 100th had racked up a stunning three Distinguished Service Crosses, 21 Bronze Stars, 36 Silver Stars, and 900 Purple Hearts. The Second and Third Battalions quickly showed they were determined to not only uphold the reputation of Nisei soldiers in Europe, but to add to it.


When the three battalions met outside of Rome to capture the small town of Belvedere, the Second and Third Battalions volunteered to lead the fighting, allowing the 100th to stay in reserve—but One Puka Puka wouldn’t be held back. The 442nd destroyed the German troops, took the town, and captured a huge number of enemy weapons. They even decimated an entire SS battalion alone, losing only four of their own men.

By then, French commanders were asking the regiment to join the fighting in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France, near the border with Germany. The 442nd fought in Bruyeres and Belmont, but perhaps their most famous campaign was the rescue of the 141st Infantry Regiment’s First Battalion—known as the Lost Battalion.

A 442nd squad leader looks for German movements in a French valley


During fighting in the Vosges Mountains, the 141st’s First Battalion had been cut off from the rest of the Allied Forces and nearly 300 men from Texas were trapped by 6000 German troops.

On little rest and with a shortage of men, the 442nd answered the call to rescue their Texan brothers. The mountainous terrain was made more difficult by the icy weather of October 1944, and the 442nd had to travel on soggy dirt trails and fight through German roadblocks to reach the trapped men.

The 442nd’s Second Battalion won a hill from the Germans and took prisoners, but while it helped break the German line, it wasn’t enough to free the trapped men. The Lost Battalion—which had gone without food for several days—beat off five waves of German attackers. The Third Battalion tried to fight from the outside, but got no closer to reaching the Texan troops.

Seeing no other choice, the 442nd decided to “go for broke” straight up the middle in another banzai charge. One of the leaders of the charge, Private Barney Hajiro, single-handedly took down two German machine gun nests. After six days of fighting, the Nisei managed to break through to the lost Texans.

Whether they were still trying to prove themselves or not, the 442nd did just that in the rescue. The Milwaukee Journal summed up the shifting opinion about “Our Heroic Nisei” on November 8, 1944, just days after the campaign:

“At the last minute, relief troops got through. Who were they? Japanese Americans of the famous 442nd regiment—the outfit that had already blazed its way to glory in the toughest spots in Italy. What the relieved Yank soldiers think of their Nisei buddies is best expressed by one grateful private who said: ‘Boy, they are real Americans!’”

For their valor, Governor John Connally made all the surviving members of the 442nd “honorary Texans” in 1963.

The 442nd continued to fight in major battles in France and Italy through the end of the war, often on the front lines. They guarded 12 miles of the French border in what became known as the Champagne campaign, and joined other American forces in liberating the Dachau concentration camps in April 1945.

Thousands of the regiment’s men were killed or wounded in the war, including future Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, who was nearly killed in two separate incidents—once, when a bullet to his chest was stopped only by two silver dollars, and again when he nearly bled out in battle refusing to leave his men behind.


Back on the home front, the 442nd’s reputation helped to build bridges between Americans of Japanese ancestry and their fellow citizens. Army officials authorized more widespread publicity for the 442nd—provided it wouldn’t give away key military intelligence. By then, war correspondents on the front were already eager to share stories about the Nisei troops.

Lieutenant Edward Chasse relayed the bewilderment of German troops captured by the 100th to the Associated Press. In a story published by the Oakland Tribune on February 17, 1944, Chasse said, “We got some prisoners and they didn’t know what was happening. They wondered if the Axis had turned against them.”

Writing for The New York Times and San Francisco ChronicleC.L. Sulzberger described an interaction between a captured German officer and an American interpreter after the prisoner saw members of the Nisei regiment. “Said the German to an interpreter, ‘But they look Japanese; it can’t be.’ Said the interpreter, ‘Sure, didn’t you know they were on our side? Or do you believe this stuff Goebbels puts out?’”

Members of the 442nd who sacrificed their lives on the front became some of the human faces of the war—such as Pfc. Sadao Munemori, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Glendale, California, native was killed on April 5, 1945 when he and his fellow soldiers were pinned down by enemy fire. He attacked enemy gun nests alone so his comrades could escape; he nearly made it out himself, but threw himself onto a grenade just feet from safety to save his fellow soldiers.

But while the Nisei soldiers of the 442nd came home to praise and gratitude from some Americans, others were unwilling to look beyond their heritage.

As interned Japanese-Americans and Nisei veterans were returning to their West Coast homes in the spring of 1945, the War Department began receiving reports of what it deemed terrorist attacks against them.

“In the most recent instances reported to Washington, cars have driven by Nisei homes at a high rate of speed and the occupants have fired into the house,” one newspaper reported. “In one case, the homeowner was a returned veteran. With him was a Nisei friend in uniform on furlough.” Fortunately, they were not injured.

Some attacks were more subtle. A Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Spokane, Washington, drew attention after it denied membership to Private Richard Naito. His former commanding officer, Virgil Miller, sent an angry complaint to the post, arguing that “When supposedly reputable organizations such as yours violate the principles and ideals for which we fight, these young Japanese Americans are not the only ones to wonder about our war aims.” Corporal George Gelberg, representing a group of veterans stationed at nearby Geiger Field, wrote a letter to the editor of the Spokesman-Review, saying, “The men wished it to be understood that an attack on any minority group in our country strengthens the hands of the Fascist enemies who have been beaten on the military field.” Other Nisei veterans organized a campaign to apply to the post, and when news of the rejection reached the national VFW organization, they issued an apology and stated that Japanese-American veterans were welcome to join.

President Barack Obama and guests after signing a bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the 442nd Regiment and 100th Battalion.


In 2011, nearly 70 years after Japanese-American citizens were interned and briefly banned from military service, the 442nd was honored for its members’ sacrifices. Congress awarded the veterans of the 442nd, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service, which performed intelligence work against the Japanese military, with Congressional Gold Medals—the highest civilian award Congress can bestow.

During the ceremony when the awards were delivered, Representative Adam Schiff of California, who co-sponsored the bill honoring the veterans, said: “These American heroes did defend our freedoms and our ideals … even when these ideals were denied them at home.”

Bloody but forgotten WWII battle still haunts soldiers

Associated Press

Bloody but forgotten WWII battle still haunts soldiers

By Mark Thiesen and Mari Yamaguchi, AP  May 28, 2018

In this Aug. 1943 file photo, a bugler sounds taps during a memorial service while a group of G.I.s visit the graves of comrades who fell in the re-conquest of Attu Island, part of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. May 30, 2018 will mark the 75th anniversary of American forces recapturing Attu Island in Alaska Aleutian chain from Japanese forces. It was the only World War II battle fought on North American soil. (AP Photo, File)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — William Roy Dover’s memory of the World War II battle is as sharp as it was 75 years ago, even though it’s been long forgotten by most everyone else.

His first sergeant rousted him from his pup tent around 2 a.m. when word came the Japanese were attacking and had maybe even gotten behind the American front line, on a desolate, unforgiving slab of an occupied island in the North Pacific.

“He was shouting, ‘Get up! Get out!'” Dover said.

Dover and most of the American soldiers rushed to an embankment on what became known as Engineer Hill, the last gasp of the Japanese during the Battle of Attu , fought 75 years ago this month on Attu Island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain.

“I had two friends that were too slow to get out,” the 95-year-old Alabama farmer recalled. “They both got bayonetted in their pup tents.”

Joseph Sasser, then a skinny 20-year-old from Cartharge, Mississippi, also found himself perched against the berm on Engineer Hill when a captain with a rifle took up a position about 10 feet (3 meters) away.

“I noticed about after 30 minutes or so, he was awfully quiet,” Sasser said. “We checked to see if he had a pulse and if he was alive, and he was not.

“We didn’t even know he had been shot,” said Sasser, also 95.

American forces reclaimed remote Attu Island on May 30, 1943, after a 19-day campaign that is known as World War II’s forgotten battle. Much of the fighting was hand-to-hand, waged in dense fog and winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph).

The battle for the Aleutian island was one of the deadliest in the Pacific in terms of the percentage of troops killed. Nearly all the Japanese forces, estimated at about 2,500 soldiers, died with only 28 survivors. About 550 or so U.S. soldiers were killed.

American forces, many poorly outfitted for Alaska weather and trained in California for desert combat, recaptured Attu 11 months after the Japanese took it and a nearby island, Kiska. It was the only WWII battle fought on North American soil.

The Japanese staged a last-ditch, desperate offensive May 29 at Engineer Hill.

“Japanese soldiers surprise American forces on Attu with a fanatical charge out of the mountains,” recounts an Associated Press chronology of WWII events in 1943. “Savage fighting rages throughout the day and into the following night.

About 200 Japanese soldiers died in the assault, and the remaining 500 or so held grenades to their bellies and pulled the pins. It was the first official case of “gyokusai,” a Japanese euphemism for annihilation or mass suicide in the name of Emperor Hirohito, which increasingly occurred in other Japanese battlefields.

Tomimatsu Takahashi told Japanese public television network NHK in 2010 he was being treated for a bullet wound when the order for the final charge came. “I was going to die, I thought,” he said.

But as he headed out to fight, he collapsed, likely because he hadn’t eaten in days. He was captured and sent to several mainland POW camps — including in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago — before he returned home to Japan’s Iwate prefecture in 1947.

His family already had a funeral and grave for him.

“I felt so relieved to be home,” he said. “But I never thought I was lucky to be alive. I thought I survived because I was not lucky. I felt I was not supposed to come back, because those who went to war were not supposed to come back, and that’s what we were taught.”

After the battle, Dover said things went back to normal for the American soldiers — except one thing: “Somebody had to bury those Japanese.”

During the war, the U.S. Army buried the Japanese soldiers’ bodies with care, built a memorial, set up a grave post and paid respects to the spirits, said Nobuyuki Yamazaki, whose grandfather died on Attu.

Yamazaki was among a delegation of Japanese soldiers’ descendants who attended a 75th anniversary celebration this month in Anchorage. The families have formally petitioned the Japanese government to have the remains returned, Anchorage television station KTVA reported.

“Japanese people find great comfort when the remains of the Japanese are buried in our homeland,” Yamazaki said.

The Aleut people living on Attu Island also suffered losses, becoming the only North American community to be imprisoned in Japan during the war, according to the book “Attu: The Forgotten Battle,” by John Haile Cloe.

While Kiska was unpopulated, about 45 Aleuts lived on Attu Island. When Japanese forces invaded, the Aleuts were captured and sent to Japan’s Hokkaido Island, where about half died, most from malnutrition or starvation.

The survivors never returned to Attu. The Army said it would be too expensive to rebuild their village, and they were relocated after the war.

The battle over Attu proved to be unimportant to the rest of the war, possibly why it’s forgotten today. However, American planes did use the island to bomb the northernmost reaches of Japan. And author and historian Cloe, who died in 2016, told the AP in 1993 that the Army learned much about amphibious landings and Japanese tactics from the battle.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now owns Attu Island, which is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Seventy-five years later, 102-year-old Allan Seroll of Massachusetts, who worked in communications including Morse code for the Army Signal Corps, still carries the burden of the Battle of Attu.

“I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can’t go back to sleep,” Seroll told KTVA. “That’s what this has done to me. That’s how much it affected me and still does.”

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

Is trump the Worst President in History?

Is Trump the Worst President in History?

Robert Reich

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

Is Trump the Worst President in History?

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

Posted by Robert Reich on Friday, May 18, 2018

Trump signs executive orders aimed at loosening clout of federal labor unions

USA Today

Trump signs executive orders aimed at loosening clout of federal labor unions

Gregory Korte, USA Today       May 25, 2018

    Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images

Washington – President Trump wants federal agencies to fire low-performing workers, negotiate better union agreements and slash the time that federal employees can spend union activity and still be paid.

Those directives appear in a series of executive orders Trump signed Friday, the afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend.

Andrew Bremberg, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the orders fulfill a promise in Trump’s State of the Union address to overhaul the federal workforce.

Then, Trump asked Congress to “empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

But labor unions representing federal workers said the moves were part of a politically motivated assault on the merit system.

“It’s basically an attempt to make federal employees at-will employees, so you cam make them political employees, so you can hire anyone who had a bumper sticker for you in the last election,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal employees.

“This would begin the process of dismantling the merit system that governs our civil service,” said Tony Reardon of the National Treasury Employees Union. “It is worth remembering that many of these federal employees are on the job over this holiday weekend protecting our borders, ensuring our food supply is safe and welcoming visitors to our national parks.”

More: ‘Hire the best and fire the worst’: Trump proposes biggest civil service change in 40 years

The executive orders aim to:

► Make it easier agencies to fire low-performing workers by limiting the amount of time that workers can spend on probation, encourage firing instead of suspensions, and requiring agencies to share information about bad employees so they don’t hop from one agency to another.

► Get tougher at the bargaining table when the government negotiates union contracts. The order centralizes negotiating strategy in the White House Office of Management and Budget, which will post copies of federal labor agreements online.

► Limit the amount of time that federal workers can spend on union business. The federal government spent almost $175 million to pay workers for this “official time” in 2016, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That includes time spent lobbying Congress and representing workers in disciplinary actions — practices Trump wants unions to pay for themselves.

Pruitt spent whopping $3.5 million on personal security in first year as EPA chief


Pruitt spent whopping $3.5 million on personal security in first year as EPA chief

Much more than his predecessors.

Patrick Smith     May 25, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the house Energy and Commerce Committee’s environmental subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The focus of nearly a dozen federal inquiries into his travel expenses, security practices and other issues, Pruitt testified about his agency’s FY 2019 budget proposal. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars on personal security in just his first year in the position, CBS News revealed Friday.

This is far more than his two predecessors from the Obama administration, who CBS News says spent between $1.6 to $2 million annually on security.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the spending, telling CBS News that an “unprecedented amount of death threats” necessitated the additional costs. Wilcox also promised that the agency would continue to release the costs of Pruitt’s security detail on quarterly basis in an effort to be transparent.

This revelation, however, did not sit well with some lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “Everything Scott Pruitt said about his wasteful spending turned out to be false,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) said in a blistering statement.

“Internal EPA documents show that he requested unprecedented security before taking office, then exaggerated threats against him to justify the expense afterwards,” Beyer continued. “Pruitt tried to downplay his travel costs, justified them through false comparisons to his predecessors, and hid the extent to which these trips were orchestrated by lobbyists and industry. When aides objected or came forward, he had them sidelined or punished.”

EPA watchdog contradicts Pruitt’s story on need for 24-7 security detail

Pruitt has been plagued in recent months by numerous ethics issues, leading to at least 10 open investigations into his conduct as EPA administrator, and forcing Pruitt to hire a white-collar defense lawyer.

His suspiciously cheap rent for a Washington, D.C. condo that just happened to be owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist blew up into a massive scandal. His schedule is filled with speeches to industry groups he is supposed to regulate. And his response to another scandal concerning huge pay raises for two EPA staffers was so unconvincing that not even Fox News was buying it.

Pruitt’s ethics woes show little sign of going away. Just last week during a congressional hearing, he inadvertently revealed that he had an EPA employee help him house-hunt during her personal time without paying her, a violation of federal ethics guidelines.

Pruitt is not the only Trump administration official with spending problems. Fellow officials have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on frivolous items such as antique desks, office renovations, and dining sets. Pruitt may have outdone them all — and broken the law, according to a government report — with his $43,000 soundproof booth, however.

Trump officials went on a taxpayer-funded shopping spree. Here’s the bill.

Lawmakers have grown frustrated with Pruitt’s scandals, as shown in last week’s hearing. A few Republicans have finally lost their patience as well, joining calls for him to resign.

He still has the backing of at least one person, though. His boss, President Trump, maintains that Pruitt is doing a “great job.”

This anti-choking device saves lives

In The Know Innovation

May 17, 2018. This anti-choking device saves lives

LifeVac helps save people when they are choking

This anti-choking device saves lives

Posted by In The Know Innovation on Thursday, May 17, 2018


Personal Note: A friend of mind worked as an EMT. He was returning from a emergency call when a women flagged them down. Her 2 year old daughter was riding in the back seat of her car when she started choking on some bubble gum that lodged in her windpipe. The EMT’s desperately attempted to remove the bubble gum and suction the stuck gum but all they could get out was a sticky fluid. They rushed the baby to the hospital but she couldn’t be resuscitated. The EMT’s were devastated. I wonder if this could have saved the little girl.  John Hanno

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

May 25, 2018

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa… Arizona’s 2018 senate race is stuck in the craziest parts of the 2008 presidential race.

Profiles In Discourage: Joe Arpaio’s Second-Wave Birtherism

John McCain is a “gangster” and Obama was born in Africa… Arizona’s 2018 senate race is stuck in the craziest parts of the 2008 presidential race.

Posted by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday, May 25, 2018

The Real Patriots Are the NFL Protesters


September 27, 2017

This local sportscaster in Dallas is woke.

— via The People For Bernie Sanders

Kneeling doesn't disrepect the flag or veterans.

This local sportscaster in Dallas is woke. — via The People For Bernie Sanders

Posted by act.tv on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This Is How Much Costco Employees Really Make

Readers Digest – Lifestyle

This Is How Much Costco Employees Really Make

Juliana LaBianca, Reader’s Digest         May 24, 2018

There are many reasons to love Costco: they’ve got great prices on everything your home could ever need, they’re generous with their free samples, and they make fantastic rotisserie chickens. But in addition to all of that, they’re also amazing for one other reason: they pay their workers really well—and take care of them too. By the way, here are five things you might want to know about those Costco chickens.

According to Glassdoor, the average cashier salary at Costco is $14 per hour, with a range of $8 to $23; that’s compared to the national average cashier salary of $9.15 per hour. Front-end assistants, the employees who help customers around the store, take home an average $13 per hour, with a range of $10 to $21. Additionally, both hourly and salaried, part-time and full-time employees are eligible for benefits.

On top of being compensated fairly, Costco employees—plain and simple—just love working at Costco. One 2014 Glassdoor report found that Costco ranked number two in the United States for compensation and benefits. The ranking was determined solely based on reviews by employees on the site in the 12 months leading up to the report. The retailer ranked right between Google, which was number one, and Facebook, which was number two.

But even though Costco employees are well compensated, there’s still a few things they’re keeping to themselves. Learn the 15 money-saving secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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