US Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum in Wellsburg Continue POW Education | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo of Warren Scott Jim Brockman, executive director of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum, Education and Research Center in Wellsburg, uses a digital scanner to record the pages of a book in the museum’s collection.

Located in the Brooke County Public Library, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum, Education and Research Center was launched to remember the many American servicemen who fought the Japanese invaders of the Philippine Islands during World War II.

As part of the library building, the museum was closed for some time due to the pandemic, but it has reopened and welcomes visitors and contributions of items that can help it tell the story not only of these veterans, but other aspects of the war, said Jim Brockman, its executive director.

The museum began in 2002 as a large exhibit created by the late Ed Jackfert and his wife, Henrietta, to educate people about the atrocities suffered by tens of thousands of Allied soldiers held in Japanese POW camps. .

Among them were approximately 72,000 US servicemen and Filipino scouts who took part in Bataan’s infamous death march.

Captured following a three-month battle with the Japanese, troops were forced to walk 65 miles in the grueling heat to a train station to be transported in suffocating wagons to POW camps.

But before that, more than 10,000 people had died of illness, starvation or dehydration or were killed when trying to fetch water or falling behind.

Although he did not participate in the death march, Jackfert, an infantryman of the Army Air Corps, had been imprisoned in such a camp and had spoken of having been transported in a “hellish ship”.

He said the ships earned this name not only for their inhuman conditions, but also because they were not marked, as prescribed by the Geneva Convention.

Jackfert said the poor conditions experienced by prisoners of war were exacerbated by the fact that they were forced to work for Japanese companies which contributed to that nation’s war effort and benefited financially from their work. slave.

As the leader of the US defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, a national group of surviving prisoners of war, Jackfert campaigned for the Japanese government to issue an apology in 2009.

It was followed in 2015 by another from Mitsubishi Materials Corp., which also donated $ 50,000 to the museum.

Two years later, the Hubbard and Meriwether families collectively donated $ 500,000 for a museum and library expansion that allowed the museum to display several of the hundreds of artifacts that were donated by others. ADBC members and many other veterans and their descendants.

In recent years, the museum has expanded its collection to include other items reflecting the service and experiences of others during the war.

Brockman said his most recent addition is an extensive collection of newspapers and magazines published during the war and in the years leading up to it.

The periodicals were owned by Matt Camilletti, longtime owner of City Plumbing, Heating and Supply and active member of the community, who died on March 7. They were donated by Margaret White on behalf of her family and relate the main developments of the war.

An October 17, 1941 issue of the Herald-Star reports that the torpedoing of the USS Kearney, an American destroyer responding to an attack by German forces on British and Canadian ships near Iceland, led Congress to demand the armament of Merchant ships.

The same issue reported on the efforts of Communist troops to repel a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

The problem predates the United States’ entry into the war following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

A special edition of the Herald-Star in Camilletti’s collection bears the title, “Continent invaded. Allied forces land in France.

Dated June 6, 1944, it announced the landing of thousands of soldiers in Normandy, the first step in the liberation of France occupied by the Nazis, during what many call D-Day.

Camilletti’s collection includes April 13, 1945 issues of the Wheeling Intelligencer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporting the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“There was a huge funeral when FDR passed away. They spared neither time nor expense, ”noted Brockman.

The April 4, 1945 issue of the Wheeling Intelligencer reported on the surrender of Germany in what seemed to many to be the end of the war.

But the battle against Japan would continue for several months until the Wellsburg Daily Herald could proclaim on August 15, 1945: “The world is at peace.” Japan surrenders. The big guns are still here after 12 long years.

One story below is titled “Town and County Celebrate End of War with Parades”.

“Each of these (issues) is important because it tells an important story in history,” Brockman said.

He and Chloe Cross, an intern at Franciscan University of Steubenville, noted that other stories and magazine advertisements tell a lot about life in America at the time.

For example, a survey of the 1930s Cosmopolitan issues reveals not only that women’s fashion has changed a lot, but also that the magazine was less about fashion and more of a showcase for fiction at the time.

In addition to Cross, Brockman is helped by two other interns: Brody Hynes, also from Franciscan, and Jonathan Wynn from West Liberty University.

“We have some great students and others want to come here,” Brockman said.

He explained that the students will help him create a digital record of the periodicals and place them in protective sleeves.

He noted that while many of them are in surprisingly good condition, having been stored with very little protection, their thin, yellowed pages nonetheless have brittle edges and would not stand up to frequent handling.

Brockman has said so often that such things are found in the attics and basements of their original owners by descendants who do not know what to do with them.

Of the items that bolster the museum’s efforts to educate about history, he said, “We’re very happy to get this stuff. We don’t want everything to rot. “

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