November 21, 2014
More from Charles Leroy Myers (Chico High School
Graduate and Prisoner of War, Wake Island 1941)
“After Capture", continued)
We were told that we were to be executed as soon as American troops
landed in Japan proper. At the Tree Camp near the end of the war,
my father and I were stationed at the shop with two English prisoners.
They and my father were doing the mechanic work on the supply trucks.
My job was to maintain the forge and get parts from the main warehouse.
I was able to speak enough Japanese to get what parts were needed
for the shop. This also gave me an opportunity to trade for food
with the drivers. A group of American officers from the Philippines
were brought to our camp. They were paid in Japanese Yen. For some
reason officers were to be paid. We never saw more that 10 Yen in
all the years we were in Japan. I traded a camp meal for 50 yen
with a US Officer. This gave me money to trade with the truck drivers
at the machine shop. As the truck drivers were never paid very much.
We could trade with several drivers. Our bombers had burned a food
warehouse and one driver got Eagle Brand canned milk. This must
have been used for babies. I had built a storage container for my
loot: a large dynamite box beneath the floor of the shop. I had
about 2 gallons of rice and 2 or 3 cans of Eagle Brand milk and
a carton of raisins the Japanese had stolen from the Red Cross cartons.
One day it rained so hard all the men were kept in. The next day
when I got to the shop there was a big pile of dirt in the floor.
My rice had become sopping wet as the floor was hard packed dirt
the rain just ran into the box. By bank was broke. My dad helped
this time to take a chance on getting beaten or worse. The camp
sent out soup and grain in 5 and 8 gallon containers for the large
crew in the lumber yard. After they had served lunch, I borrowed
one empty container, started up the forge and cooked a huge batch
of rice pudding. The guards searched us every day when we came back
to camp. We were inspected by the same guard traded rice for the
copper cigarette case. We brought the container full of rice pudding
and lined up. They searched everyone, patting us down for contraband.
They never even looked in the soup can. They knew it was for soup.
Our crew all had dessert that night. I kept enough to trade for
more Yen and supplies. The good Lord must have been looking out
for us that day. At this camp we finally saw some Red Cross packages.
At Camp 18, we received one English Red Cross package weighing about
8 pounds. This one package was for each squad of 22 men, or just
a few spoonfuls per man. We knew the war was coming closer. Joe
True, was our interpreter at Camp 18 where we all had to learn some
Japanese or die. Joe was later killed. (to be continued.)
In last weeks article I wrote that we probably will never know any
more about him, referring to Pfc. Marshall J. Bragg, who died on
a Troop Train passing through Oroville. Well thanks to one of my
devoted readers, Mike Zink we know more of the rest of the story.
I always want to know more about American’s true heroes. Mike found
his Obituary and a website that I hope to pursue. Pvt. Bragg died
on the train of Coronary Thrombosis. He was a member of the Speedway
Virginia M.E. Church. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. L. R. Bragg,
two brothers, Stanley and James who were in the U.S. Army, and four
other brothers, J.B., Sam and Mack, and three sisters, Mrs. Harry
Hoops, Mrs. R.G. Hill, Mrs. R. L. Cruise. I hope to find somebody
of the above. 411 here I come; I just need to find time. As the
story unfolds of Charles Leroy Myers, I’m just so amazed of what
he and thousands of P.O.W’s went through and survived. Soon a story
on an Oroville POW on Wake Island.
Wednesday of this week Daryl Autrey, I and some of our Committee
Members will go to a meeting that will probably be the start of
many more, it will decide who gets the next round of money from
the SBF (Supplemental Benefit Fund), money that will come from the
Department of Water Resources, that will go to Oroville Projects
along our beautiful Feather River. Wish us luck.