« PreviousContinue »
up to the same compensation which was received by the military and the other civilian internees.
Mr. HINSHAW. That is not altogether the whole story. If you will pardon me? They received compensation at their regular rate of pay for overseas service, which, of course, is considerably more than the compensation for services paid by those who were in the Armed Forces and detained. They received the Armed Forces overseas pay. These other persons received the standard rate of pay for which they were hired for overseas service.
Mr. KLEIN. Did they receive it for the period they were incarcerated ?
Mr. HINSHAW. Yes, they did. After they got out that was available to them in a lump sum. It was in some cases quite a sizable amount. Then there were other persons who were hired by various people, for instance, General Electrica Co. I believe paid off its employees in the Philippines for their services but nothing beyond that was paid in consideration of the great suffering, and so forth, that was caused these people.
Mr. KLEIN. Does this bill provide for payment to the heirs of people who may have died as a result of those hardships?
Mr. HINSHAW. We will have to go into that in executive session and find out what the thing includes. The bill has been passed by the Senate and is here in the form of S. 541. We never have had this precise question, as I understand it, although some mention was made of it in the earlier hearings. They were at that time not included.
In a later bill they did authorize the Navy to pay the employees of the contractors their full wages during the time that they were detained because of course the Navy contracts were necessarily abrogated and canceled at the time of the capture, for instance, of Wake Island. They could not be paid any more without authority of the Congress, that is, the contractors could not. Later on, detention benefits were paid in full as salary for the time they were absent.
Mr. KLEIN. Thank you very much.
Mr. HINSHAW. Unfortunately, Mrs. Mary H. Ward, president of the Workers of Wake, Guam and Cavite organization was taken ill on the way to the hearing this morning and is unable to appear at this time. We are very sorry to hear that and will offer Mrs. Ward an opportunity either to make her statement or to present her statement for the record at a later time.
These workers were, as I understand it, all or practically all members of the American Federation of Labor. And that is the organization which she represents. They are mostly included in the machinist organization.
Is Colonel Wing here?
Mr. HINSHAW. We will hear now from Lt. Col. Paul R. Wing, United States Army, retired, of Mathews, Va.
Will you have a chair, Colonel ?
STATEMENT OF LT. COL. PAUL R. WING, UNITED STATES ARMY,
RETIRED, MATHEWS, VA.
Mr. Wing. If you will pardon me, I read badly.
Mr. HINSHAW. I find that is the case with a great many of these people who suffered from this imprisonment and starvation.
Do you wish me to read your statement for you?
My name is Paul R. Wing, lieutenant colonel, USA, retired. I live in Mathews, Va.
I appear before this subcommittee in support of the proposed amendment to S. 541 now pending before this committee. The proposed amendment is as follows:
At the proper place in the bill insert the following:
Jurisdiction is hereby conferred upon the United States Court of Claims to hear, determine, and render judgment upon the claims of any prisoner of war as defined in section 2005(a), title 50, App. United States Code, who suffered permanent physical disability as a result of failure to receive proper food, medical attention, or who endured forced labor contrary to the terms of the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, referred to in section 2005 (b) of title 50, App. United States Code.
Actions under this section shall be instituted within 1 year from the date of this amendatory act.
If this amendment is enacted, it would permit those of us who were imprisoned by the Japanese to go into court and prove the extent of our physical disabilities as a result of forced labor and improper treatment under the Japanese. As I understand it, this proposal could apply only to those of us who are still alive. It would not apply to the widows of prisoners because, I am informed, national life-insurance benefits are available to them. Therefore, the number affected surely would not be great in view of the high mortality rate since the end of the war.
In November 1940 I was recalled to active duty with the Photographic Section of the Signal Corps, United States Army, after having completed more than 16 years of work in the commercial motionpicture industry in Hollywood. I had received in 1935 the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences Award for the best work of that year as assistant director of the Paramount production, Lives of a Bengal Lancer.
Upon recall to active duty I was ordered to Fort Monmouth, N. J., to the Signal Corps Photographic Center where I wrote, directed, and assembled the first Army training film, Three Inch Anti-Aircraft. Upon its completion I was ordered to the Philippine Department as photographic officer in September 1941. Upon the outbreak of World War II, I was assigned to the Signal Corps GHQ and became executive officer for then Brig. Gen. Spence B. Akin, Manila.
May I place in there the reason for my going as executive officer to the Chief Signal Officer for General MacArthur was the fact that there were very limited photographic supplies in the Philippines, so my work as a photographic officer would be rather unnecessary.
I was General Akin's executive officer on Bataan immediately prior to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's departure for Australia. At that time,
I was transferred to Corregidor where I was stationed when that post surrendered to the Japanese in May 1942. I was then taken prisoner by the Japanese and sent to old Beilild Prison in Manila and later to Cabanatuan where I was confined almost 3 years.
When removed from Bellild to Cabanatuan I was crowded at the point of a bayonet with other prisoners into a metal boxcar where I had to stand, all doors being closed, in terrific heat for nearly 10 hours. We were marched from the railhead at Cabanatuan to the site of a prison camp. At the end of that day, I rationed 3 oil drums of stagnant water to approximately 600 prisoners of war. That was the extent of the water received for that day. Very fortunately it rained that night and we caught water in canvas.
One of the first duties prisoners were required by the Japs to perform was to construct a barbed wire compound.
In about 3 months my vision began to fail. Prior to that time it had been so excellent as to enable me to complete moving-picture productions for both Paramount Studios and the Army. I lost more than 50 pounds within that 3-month period due entirely to lack of food. The only food I was given consisted of boiled rice, boiled commotes, and boiled corn. This “diet” was seldom changed. The only animal protein furnished was the casual butchering of two caribou which was divided among six or seven thousand prisoners. This was the sole food I received during the entire 3-year period.
I would like to state there that that is a little misstatement in view of the fact that I was able, through the black market, to purchase a can of cornbeef for $10 in gold. I had connections with the Chinese in Manila and they very nicely accepted my checks. They were thoroughly discounted between me and the getting of the $10 can of cornbeef.
The only medical attention I ever received during my imprisonment occurred when transferred from the prison camp to the prison hospital, for failing vision and beri-beri, was drops of cod-liver oil which was placed in my eyes, for what purpose I am unable to understand. Cod-liver oil has a high vitamin content, but it is not absorbed by the membrane of the eye. It is a rather hot, painful treatment. I managed to buy through the black market a small supply of liver extract, vitamins A and D, thiaminchloride, quinine, and codeine, at very, very
top prices. The codeine used to relieve the pain of dry beri-beri. The edematous type of beri-beri is not so painful but the dry type is exceedingly painful.
Today my vision is such that I am unable to read without the aid of a magnifying glass. I cannot pass a physical test for an automobile driver's license. I could not accept a lucrative offer of employment the Screen Directors Guild of Hollywood made to me in 1945, as soon as my release as prisoner became known to that organization. They courteously and thoughtfully sent me out a new screen director's paidup card, and I could have gone to work, but that was not to be.
I filed claim under the War Claims Act of 1948 and received $1 per day for lack of proper food and $1.50 per day for forced labor, covering the period of my imprisonment; the total amount paid me under the act was a little over $2,500. I don't think I can add very much to that.
I am represented here by Robert Klepinger. And if either you gentlemen or Mr. Kleinger care to ask me some questions, I will attempt to answer them, if possible.
Mr. KLEIN. Colonel, of course in no sense is this intended to go into your experiences because we all appreciate how horrible they must have been. But I am interested, from a legal standpoint. The bill, I believe, would provide that any of these benefits would come from the war claims fund. Your amendment, if it were adopted, it would seem to me, would provide that you or a person similarly situated could go into the Court of Claims and get a judgment if the court so felt, and the money would be paid out of the Treasury of the United States.
I am just wondering whether this amendment, Mr. Chairman, properly belongs in this type of bill. I would agree they should get some compensation, more than what was provided under the War Claims Act. I am wondering whether this is the proper way of doing it, how
Did you say Mr. Klepinger is here?
Mr. HINSHAW. Will you state your name and your address and of course your employment ? STATEMENT OF ROBERT F. KLEPINGER, ATTORNEY AT LAW,
WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. KLEPINGER. My name is Robert F. Klepinger, 1025 Connecticut Avenue NW., Washington 6, D. C., attorney at law.
Colonel Wing is not only a client but an old friend of mine. When he posed the problem to me I suggested he ought to inquire as to the provisions of some of these pending bills. Looking at the number which I think is 7711 and S. 541, I just drew the roughest draft of an amendment with the idea that committee membership or staff would maybe revise it to maybe take any judgment that could be payable under such a provision out of the war claims fund rather than the general fund of the Treasury, in which manner judgments of that court and district courts, under special acts, are paid.
I do not know the solution to it. Undoubtedly the committee might want to put a ceiling on it. Colonel Wing tells me in his judgment, based on his experience, that perhaps there would not be 200 or 250 military prisoners of war who were in this shape. In other words, he told me the other day that he had seen some fellow prisoner, a comrade of his at Walter Reed who is in excellent shape and of course could not qualify to come under this.
Mr. KLEIN. In other words, you feel that this would apply to all military prisoners of war who, as a result of experiences in these prison camps, have been more or less permanently disabled ?
Mr. KLEPINGER. They have to establish that as the language provides. I believe the language would apply only to those imprisoned at Bataan and_Corregidor by the Japs.
Mr. KLEIN. Don't you think in all fairness it ought to apply to all military personnel no matter where they were stationed ?
Mr. KLEPINGER. Yes. I was so wrought up about his problem that I only drew it for those at Bataan and Corregidor.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think I can add at this point, with some reasonable degree of accuracy, that the disability claims on account of the sort of treatment, starvation, in other words, that these men received, resulted in beri-beri, and so on, has not yet been recognized in the Veterans' Administration regulations and the Veterans' Administration I believe have a report of the subcommittee in connection with 7711 to the effect that they are on the way to the completion of a study leading to the possible enactment of regulations which will recognize starvation as one cause for permanent disability.
Now it has just never been necessary before World War II to do such a thing because nobody suffered this terrible malnutrition that these prisoners of war of the Japanese did suffer.
I presume when that is done they will be enabled to receive compensation of a higher order than they would receive as claimants under the Court of Claims. Mr. KLEIN. Does the Veterans' Administration recognize any
injuries occasioned by imprisonment as disability, service connected? Do they pay any pensions?
Mr. HINSHAW. I don't believe they have recognized malnutrition.
Mr. KLEIN. I am talking about any injury, any result of treatment as a prisoner of war.
Mr. KLEPINGER. I think the answer to that is No.
Mr. KLEIN. In other words, the Veterans' Administration only recognizes injuries that were actually occasioned in battle?
Mr. KLEPINGER. That is right.
Mr. KLEIN. But not as a result of being a prisoner of war, is that right?
Mr. HINSHAW. I don't believe so because, of course, there could be no military medical attention and record of such an occurrence. It wouldn't be in the military record.
Mr. KLEPINGER. That is correct. I think this precise situation is not covered by statute or by regulation.
Mr. KLEIN. You say the VA is making a study on this point ? Mr. HINSHAW. They are.
Mr. KLEIN. I am concerned about where this money is going to come from. We have a problem here. This is a war claims fund. It is a question of whether this money should come out of that fund and whether, if there is a judgment in the Court of Claims it could be paid out of those funds.
Mr. KLEPINGER. I think by act the provision could very easily be included in it that provided any judgment under this act could be paid specifically out of the war claims fund.
Mr. KLEIN. Also it would help you if the VA should decide that that is a compensable injury which they ought to pay for.
Mr. KLEPINGER. Here is a suggestion, if I may make it, if you want to take the proposed amendment seriously in the committee: Why not put a proviso in it letting the claimant have his alternative choice, to sue under it or to make claim under any veterans regulations, because, if that is not done, pretty soon two or three hundred of these fellows are not going to be in this world any more.