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Bataan Diary

Somebody Gives A Damn!

Dr. Paul Ashton

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From the book "Bataan Diary"
Page 8 of 12
While some absorb the entire attention of such a group as Sasaki's, others have to await their turn, so immobilization by cutting the hamstring tendons in the back of the legs, or by fracture at the knees is necessary. Two or three are hung by the wrists to the limbs of trees. During the process they are kicked, fracturing ribs and face, while arms are broken like twigs for a fire. The torturers always gleefully expose and remove the genitals of those swinging from the branches. Immobilized waiting victims, bleeding from leg wounds (and severed hands in some cases), are made to lie still while spiral mosquito punks burn on the bare skin of their bodies in several areas. The water treatments are not used where water supplies are not plentiful. So after eating their lunches, liberally chased with beer, the Nips became bored. They finished off the hanging ones with bayonets and left them to swing. Several clumsy attempts were made to behead men too weak and shocked to kneel; they were just hacked to death, and all were left in the woods, some still moaning. The revelers then piled into the trucks and drove back to camp, dismissing the scene from their minds. So what else is new?

For this, Sasaki was tried by the War Crimes Tribunal several years later and executed. The remainder of the participants must still be stained by this memory, which can only be blurred by drink or dotage!!

What good there is in recounting, secondhand, what occurred that day, especially in the festive spirit in which it was done, is beyond me, except to document the fact that such monsters really do exist. I could never convince my own mother that anyone could perform such acts. The obvious inability of the Oriental, at least our guards, to put themselves in the place of the victims for even a minute was demonstrated. I believe that if a vote had been taken, it probably would have come out thirty to one, Sasaki being the only one who would have initiated such an orgy. The others had to follow.

He was an enigma, a monster. I decided to have him try his motorcycle again, and in that way I abrogated my Hippocratic oath another time, to keep his disease active, partly in order to get him out of circulation and thus possibly prevent more killings. Furthermore, I resolved to use his illness in order to get to Bilibid where I might secure a more plentiful supply of medications, for him, but more for the men of the salvage party. It worked out that way, and I was able to take several trips to Bilibid, one of which stands out in my memory to this day.

There were several sergeants in Sasaki's group of guards. One of them was Heda Gocho, who, though the middle in rank, was far and away the leader of the group. Heda Gocho was also said to have among his relatives a high military officer, and therefore the rule that made him unsuited for high military rank applied here also. He seemed to be undisputed in knowledge and leadership. Even the ranking sergeant deferred to him, and Sasaki was afraid of him. He was said to be able to speak seven languages, and was thought to be a member of the secret police, though why such a superior being should have been wasted on an obscure guard group was mysterious. He never spoke English to me except on the trip to Manila and then it was heavily flavored with Japanese accent. It was a fun trip.

Heda and another Japanese sergeant borrowed a truck and used me as an excuse to go to Bilibid and have a day in Manila. The weather was fine and it was great to drive up the coast road, through the little towns of Bataan, still ruined by the fighting a year before. We passed through Cabcaben, where we had one of our positions and where General Wainwright had surrendered us. Then on to Abucay, where we had a collecting station in the old Spanish church on the square, through Orani, where the 12th Medical Battalion had its first position in Bataan, and where the full brunt of the war first came to us. On up to San Fernando we went. It was a large town and boasted several theaters.

Copyright 1997 Paul Ashton, M.D.
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