[eng]Display depicts experiences of Prisoners of War

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Roel R.
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Lid geworden op: 21 sep 2003, 01:50
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[eng]Display depicts experiences of Prisoners of War

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WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Public Library will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II with the dedication of an expanded display of writings, photos and other items depicting the horrific experiences of 27,465 servicemen captured by the Japanese during the war.

Maj. Gen. Allen E. Tackett, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, will offer comments on the display, titled "Defenders of the Philippines, 1941-1945, Bataan/Corregidor POW," at the event, which will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 15.
Fighting with Japan ended on that date, sometimes referred to as V-J Day, 60 years ago. The day on which Japan officially surrendered - Sept. 2, 1945 - also has been known as V-J Day.

Also on hand for the dedication will be Ed Jackfert, the Wellsburg man and former World War II POW who initiated the exhibit three years ago with a donation of books, photos and his own writings on the experiences of the thousands of servicemen who were captured in the Philippines and forced to walk what became known as the Bataan Death March.

Jackfert was among 12,000 servicemen who, captured after fighting for 150 days during which their rations and medical supplies were depleted, were forced by their Japanese captors to walk 15 miles per day for six days without food or water in excessive heat.

Those who fell were killed by their captors through gunshots, wounds inflicted by bayonets and beheadings.

Expanded with the help of Jackfert and other former POWs, the new exhibit depicts the course of the march, the route taken by the "hell ships" that carried the prisoners to Japan, the conditions of the POW camps and the rescue about three and half years later by American troops of the small number who had survived.

Jackfert said 40 percent of all Americans in Japanese POW camps died as a result of mistreatment, starvation, lack of adequate medical attention and other atrocities.

Some died as a result of "friendly fire" from attacking Allied Forces because the POW camps weren't marked as such.

As a past national commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, a group comprised of survivors of the POW camps, Jackfert hopes the exhibit will serve as a reminder of the violations of human rights that occurred in them.

Mary Kay Wallace, the library's director, said, "Over the years I have met World War II Prisoners of War survivors of the Bataan Death March, hell ships, slave labor camps and have listened to their stories, and have read accounts of their captivity. The hardships the members of our armed forces endured during captivity were incredible and beyond the realm of justification. The total violation of human rights that were inflicted by the hands of their captors must never be forgotten."

The library director said she considers it an honor to be a steward of the collection of personal accounts, books, audio- and videotapes, maps and other items in the collection, which she said is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States.

"My cataloguers, Susan Roeder and Dorie Tennant, and I will do our best to preserve these cherished resource materials for future generations," she said.
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