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World War II Veteran: Glenn McDole

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Time Frame: ca. 1940's

McDole was at the Cavite Naval Base in the Philippines when the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began. Because the Philippines are on the other side of the international dateline, the battle began on December 8, 1941. McDole surrendered to Japanese forces May 6, 1942. He was eventually sent to the Palawan Island Prison Camp.
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In late 1944, fearing an American invasion, Japanese commanders made the decision to kill the prisoners in Palawan. In November, McDole and the other prisoners were ordered to dig three trenches, and several pits, as bomb shelters. What the prisoners were actually doing was digging their own graves. On December 14, a false air raid was signaled by the Japanese guards and the executions began.

(Glenn McDole) Then they came into the camp hollering, “Get in your trenches! Get in your trenches! The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!” Well, as hysterical as they were, we knew we better get down there calm. And when we got down in there, I stood in the opening of our trench and kept the men informed what was happening. Next thing you see, this bunch of Japanese come into the prison camp carrying buckets and torches. They came up trench A and went with buckets of gas and torches, and out came this guy screaming and hollering, 'Human torches.'

During previous air raids, the men in McDole's trench had been planning an escape through a tunnel they'd dug. The tunnel led to the edge of a cliff and a sixty foot drop to the beach below. When the Japanese threw the gasoline into the first trench, McDole, along with all the men in his shelter, escaped through the tunnel. After several days and nights of evading capture, McDole swam seven miles across open water to another part of the island. He was eventually found by Filipino natives and evacuated in January of 1945. Only 11 of the 150 prisoners in the camp that day escaped with their lives.

 


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