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When History Meets Itself

The guy over the Dot with his hands' up is
Harry Corre


Birthday Party Unites Three

Former Prisoners-of-War

From the Orange, CA Register, July 23, 2008



   Santa Ana, CA .  Staring into the computer, doing research on World War II, 51 year-old David Sanchez couldn’t believe the face that he saw smong a sea of faces in a picture of Americans and Filipinos surrendering to Japanese forces on May 6, 1942, at Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor, in the Phillipines.

          “He was right in front ---leading the men out.” Sanchez said. “I saw him, and it was like looking in the mirror at myself.  There is my father.”

          Sanchez, of Huntington Beach, excitedly met with his father, Bill Sanchez of Monterey Park, to verify whether the face in the photo really was Sgt. William Sanchez, who would have been 24 in the picture. “His jaw dropped when he saw it,” David Sanchez said.

          Saturday night  some  other pieces of an unlikely puzzle were in a room together as David threw a surprise 90th birthday party for his father in Santa Ana.

          Harry Corre, 85, was there.  Bill Sanchez has known Corre for 10 or more years through veterans meetings.  What they didn’t realize until four months ago was that they are standing right next to each other in the historic propaganda photo from Malinta Tunnel. At one of the former POW meetings, Bill Sanchez showed the photo to Corre.  “He says, “That’s me outside the Malinta Tunnel,” Corre said, “and I say:’Gee, that’s funny.  That’s me standing next to you.’  We never knew it for 60-odd years.                                                          

                                       Read on for the whole story  

The Living Truth of War:
it from the Veterans who lived it.
Whenever a nation’s recorded truth is not shared among all countries, the timeline is warped and history and education become a clash of parables. Even 45 years after WWII, when a large Japanese news media came to America to visit Major Gordon, and other Veterans like him who had spent over three years in Japanese camps, the reporters repeatedly said, “We never knew American POWS were tortured...We never knew...”
        Is it possible that the Japanese people did not know?
Or was it that they did not want to know?
After all, on the other side of the coin, there are some in our country, who heard that our troops were torturing the enemy - and they simply refused to believe it - or they just did not want to know.
Like most of us, I'm going to give my country the benefit of the doubt. After all, we are the good guys, aren't we? Do you suppose those on the other side think the same about their country? What do you think? You will know when you finish this story.

         Courage of a POW

 Getting it from the Veterans who lived it.  
By Roy Livingstone

  Harry Corre was a witness, a participant and a victim of the savagery of war few men can attest.  The Japanese captured him, not once, but twice.  He fled the Bataan Death March; he escaped in shark infested waters; he nearly died from disease; he was among the first American prisoners to be shipped into Japan; he was beaten, tortured and made to work as a slave in a condemned section of a Japanese mine; he survived two cave-ins and was buried alive, and finally he witnessed the bombing of Nagasaki.

             Harry was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in May of 1941. He was given the choice of serving in Europe or the Philippines. I was going to be smart, said Harry. I wanted to stay as far away as possible from the fighting in Europe, so I chose the Philippines (Even though the U.S. had not yet entered the war, Harry knew that it was only a matter of time until the Americans were involved.)
       Within hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Corre and the other troops on the Philippine Islands saw Japanese reconnaissance planes in and around Luzon Island.  Corre was sent to Bataan to help turn hundreds of civilians into soldiers.  After he was on Bataan three weeks and under constant attack, 12,000 Americans and 60,000 Filipinos were ordered to surrender to the numerically superior Japanese.  Corre was a part of the Bataan Death March and suffered for two days with no food or water.  Corre witnessed hundreds of men shot, bayoneted for falling from exhaustion, dehydration and battle wounds.  Corre knew he had to escape and on a dark night, dove off the side of the road into the jungle.  For three days, Corre fled and made his way to the shore on the other side of the Island.  Corre found some driftwood and a tree log and made his way through shark-infested waters.  After what I had seen on the march, I was more scared of the Japs than what was ahead of me.  Corre made his way to Corregidor and one month later again, was surrendered to the Japanese.
      After a couple of weeks on Corregidor, Corre was shipped to Manila and from there to a Japanese prison camp where he contacted Diphtheria.  He was shipped to Zero Ward, the last stop for most prisoners - the men were dying at the rate of 171 a day.  Since Corre could walk, he was placed on burial detail.  The men were beaten daily with clubs, rifles, bamboo poles and anything the Japanese soldiers could locate.
      Within a year, Corre was shipped to Kyushu, Japan in a group of men forced to work in Japanese coal mines.  Corre and the others were known as the first 500.  He was compelled to work in a condemned section of the mine, often 10 - 14 hours a day.  While working there, Corre came down with yellow jaundice, and constantly suffered from a running fever and wounds that would not heal.  One day, while working with a pick, the sharp end bounced off a rock and went through his foot.  Fortunately for Corre, the pick went between the bones in his foot.  Since the bone was not broken, he was forced to continue working.  When his shift was over, he and the other men were forced to march for two miles back to camp.  The last meal of the day was a cup of rice and if lucky, watered down soup. We were starving and very weak, yet the Japs forced us daily as slaves to work in the mines to further the Japanese war effort.
While working in the mine, Corre was caught in two cave-ins.  He suffered numerous cuts and bruises on his head and body the first time, and the second time, he was trapped for more than six hours under coal, rocks and timber.  He was buried so deep it took more than two hours to dig him out.
         On the morning of August 9, 1945 Corre was working topside due to his injuries from the cave-in. Suddenly, from across the bay, Corre saw a flash and then heard a tremendous roar from an explosion. Looking across the bay to Nagasaki, I saw a tremendous cloud rising. It was like some time later, he said, I learned I had seen the mushroom cloud associated with an atomic bomb.
        A few days later, Corre woke and found that all the guards had fled the prison.  Marine fighter planes buzzed his camp and food was dropped into the site by American bombers. In a matter of weeks, Harry, and thousands of other Americans were on their way to their homeland, and freedom...

        His ordeal never ended.  "I am still frightened to go into a room that is not lit up and I constantly wake up thinking I am in a cave in.  I still think of the 150 - 170 men I buried, day after day.  I still remember starving men with hollow eyes and skin stretched over bones and legs and feet blown up like balloons with beriberi.  I still remember the men who were shot and bayoneted because they were sick or wounded.  I still think of the indignity of being beaten for no reason other than I was an American.  I still remember trying to swim against the current in shark-infested waters.  I remember.  I cannot forget." 


         In 1945, upon my return to the USA, I was 22 years old and had been a POW 3 ˝ years under the worst conditions imaginable.  Having survived the Japanese I realized I could survive anything.  After various jobs and ongoing education, I moved to California and went to work in the Aerospace Industry and became an Engineer working on spacecraft, missiles and laser design, participating in launch activities at Cape Canaveral, Florida and later became assistant Project Manager on the Star Wars Project  at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.  Upon retiring from TRW after 26 years; finding myself bored with retirement I joined Lear Jet Aeronautics as a Quality Engineer working on military and commercial aircraft design and manufacturing processes.
         In 1999, I became acquainted with another POW and started going to the VA in West L.A., joining with o
ther POWs to apply for VA benefits.  The following year I was asked to take over the office of the POW Service Officer. Since then I have been the POW National Service Officer for Greater Los Angeles VA Hospital Center which includes three hospitals and at the request of The Los Angeles VA Regional Office.


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