A tribute to my father-in-law, Carl “Dennis” Rohlfing, WWII POW

Published on March 7, 2012 by

Before POW

My squadron received orders to ship out to destination “PLUM”.  We left Salt Lake City on October 21, 1941.  We arrived in Manila noon November 20 on Thanksgiving Day.  We were served sauerkraut and wieners for Thanksgiving dinner.  We left Manila November 29th for the island of Mindanao to set up an airbase.

On December 8th, 1941, instead of the 7th due to being on the other side of the International Date Line, we learned that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

On May 6th word came that all the Philippine Islands had been surrendered to the Japanese.  We were taken as prisoners of war to a Philippino army camp in the middle of Mindanao.  We were moved from this camp October 17th and shipped to the Davao Penal colony.  Others were shipped down from Manila to help run the colony, these were the men who had survived the Bataan death march and were in very poor health. POW photo

May 1944 we received the first letters from home since leaving home and it was one and a half years old.  June 6, 1944 we were shipped to Japan. The trip took 3 months of deplorable conditions, which normally took 10 days.  Arrived at Moji,Japan, September 1, 1944 where we worked in the copper and acid factory.  For two weeks we drilled out on the cold beach with only a hat, shoes and underwear on.

On June 18th, 1945 we had the first bombing of our factory by the allied forces.  August 15, 1945 stopped work at the factory and on the 24th we were notified that the war was over.  It came just in time for me as I had a hard time getting any sleep for many nights due to the fleas, bed bugs and lice that were about to get the best of me.

On September 4, 1945 we marched out of camp waving flags some of the men had made, while U.S. and British planes buzzed overhead.   I arrived back in Salt Lake City, October 21, four years to the day after leaving.

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