By Iuliana Petre
Killeen Daily Herald
Marye Scantlin just can't escape the military and its impact on the men in her life: Scantlin's grandfather was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I; Scantlin's father was a veteran and prisoner of war during World War II; Scantlin's husband is a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Scantlin's son is currently a captain in the U.S. Army and a veteran of the current war in the Middle East.
On Friday morning, Scantlin visited with more than 75 students at Peebles Elementary School in Killeen to talk about her father's – the former Lt. Col. Robert W. Jackson's – experience as a prisoner of war in Bataan, Philippines, during World War II.
Serving as a secondary source and telling the stories her father had told her, Scantlin also shared with student documents, photos, letters and telegrams that her father, his sister and his mother preserved from that time.
"The war in the Pacific is often referred to as the forgotten war," Scantlin said, adding that the war in the Pacific was brutal, nasty, dangerous and a lethal war. Of the more than 25,000 Americans who fought in the Philippines, only 5,000 returned to the U.S., Scantlin said.
Over a four-year period – from 1942 to 1946 – Jackson and other men, of whom about 32 were officers, were Japanese prisoners of war and were transported to more than six POW camps.
The prisoners were subjected to the 20-mile Bataan Death March at the time of their capture. From that point forward, they were subjected to dehydration, starvation, beatings and were expected to take part in propaganda broadcasts.
Near the end of the war, Japanese military leaders ordered that prison guards kill all of the prisoners by any method required.
After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese military leaders and prison guards realized that the war would soon end. On the day the war ended, prison guards put down their weapons and became prisoners while the prisoners became prison guards, Scantlin said.
On a diet of about a half cup of dirty rice a day, Jackson lost more than 25 pounds of body weight and required a cane to walk.
During his time as a prisoner, Jackson kept himself busy talking to the other men, writing poetry, recipes and other things in his personal journal, which was preserved and exists today, and reading from a Bible, the same Bible from which a minister preached at Jackson's funeral.
Contact Iuliana Petre at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7469.