PVT Israel Goldberg was born in Massachusetts, the son of Russian immigrants who served with the Hq Squadron, 24th Pursuit Gp, US Army Air Corps in the Philippines at the outbreak of WW2. When the Philippines was attacked by the Japanese, PVT Goldberg was then assigned to the Provisional Air Corps Infantry, an infantry unit of airmen retrained as Infantry soldiers who fought on the front lines in the defense of Battaan. When the Bataan forces were surrendered he was among those who endured the 65 mile Bataan Death March to the northern POW camps of O'Donnell and Cabanatuan. PVT Israel Goldberg died at the notorious Cabanatuan POW camp on 11 August 1942 and was buried in Common Grave 108 in the camp cemetery along with nine other POWs who died that day. His great niece, Liberty Phillips who runs the Non-Profit, Operation Meatball tells us his story of sacrifice and their family's determination to have him identified!
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Welcome to stories of sacrifice, World War two, American P. O. W. M. I. A's Podcast, the Voice of the Missing in Action and the voice of those buried as unknowns and our national cemeteries. I'm your host and lead researcher John Bear. Over 75,000 service members are still listed as missing in action from World War two. Of those, over 30,000 are currently listed. Is Active Pursuit by the defense, P O W M I, A. Accounting agency. Active pursuit, meaning they could possibly be identified with the proper family reference sample DNA being on file with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The process of doing DNA reference material is easy, painless and free of charge. If you are the relative, um, of a missing service member, you can contact the service casually Office of the M I A. For information on how to provide a DNA sample, the service casually office Will millions melt to your home DNA donor kid that contains a donor consent form instruction form three cheek swabs and a shipping envelope. All you have to do is fill out the paperwork, rub the inside of your cheek with the swabs. Place the swabs back into the containers and fix the label the collected samples air, then placed in a pre addressed and prepaid envelope and then melt to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab at Dover. That's it. It's completely painless process. To get more information about your missing in action relative, you can visit our website U S P O W m I A family locating dot com. We can help you to determine if your relative is currently listed on the D. P. A. A active pursuit list and the next steps to help get them identified. Just visit our website or email John at U. S. P o W m I. A family locating dot com. Welcome to today's podcast. Today. We're talking about private Israel Goldberg, who was born in Massachusetts and was the son of Russian immigrants who served with Headquarters Squadron 24th Pursuit Group on the phone today I'm interviewing his great great niece, Liberty Phillips. How you doing, Liberty?
Hi there. Thanks for having me on Israel. Goldberg, Um, sometimes goes by the name Fool. He was born on January 2019. 13 to his immigrant parents, Daniel and even Goldberg. Samuel had come over, immigrated from Russia in 1904 I believe, and he became a couple years later in 19 await You were married and they had an older his older sister, Gertrude, who was born in 1911. And then Israel came along in 1913. They were really hard workers. And there's a funny story our family like to tell about. I think it's Samuel who had a stopover point in Poland on his way, and he told Penny Whistle earn enough money to come to America. And one day he kept his money, and so and his wife is or his mother. One of his family turned the stove on and burned up all the money, so he had to start all
over the tragedy. But they eventually made all made it over to America, and then it was born. So another is what kind of had a lot of tragedy throughout his life. Um, which partly affected why he joined the army before the war even started. Six months after he was born, his mom Eva, died. Now what I understand I don't know a lot about how he died. But he just gone into the hospital for a small surgery or checkup. And the story is that you should call for a bedpan to use the bathroom, and it didn't come. So she got out of bed equipped, banged her head and died.
affected this really affected on Israel and Sister Gertrude's life growing up because they will first. Well, they lost their mom at a very young age, and a couple of years later their dad, Samuel, remarried. And after that Israel defender really strained relationship with his father, they were heard to the steppe. Mama's the woman and she wasn't it. It wasn't like a wicked step mom, but she just difficult. So when Israel was about 29 in 1940 1940 I think it is. He signed up with the Army Air Corps and was shipped overseas to the Pacific. Um, his sister, Gertrude got married a couple of years before. There wasn't really anything to hold him back home, so that's where he went. And then, obviously a few a year later, war breaks out and he's captured. So there's not a lot of information between what happened when he got over to the Pacific US station in the Philippines. Here's with headquarters Squadron 24th Pursuit Group at Clark Field, and I don't have seen some of his letters. I don't There's not a lot, but what sense is, Actually, it was really enlightening and away
on what was
going on in the mind set. I just I think most of us kind of assumed that the war starts it Pearl Harbor Day on December 7. But in this letter I have from him, um, October 30th 1941 for like a month and 1/2 would like hardly a month before Pearl Harbor. He is riding his family, and he's talking about on upcoming Something is about to break out. If you don't mind, I'll read you the letter
he wrote. Oh, we'd love the O. Kind
of give you a picture in tow, Israel on what's going on? So he says, you're Gert, Fred and Baby Howard. So Gertrude is his sister. Fred is my great grandfather. Gertrude, in front of my great grandparents in Baby Howie is my grandfather. They said your Gert Fred and baby Howie, How are you all? I'm feeling fine right now, my address is the above one. I don't know how long I'll be here, but right this address. Anyhow, the situation around here is tense to put lightly, and we are not expecting the best. However, we feel that they're wearable is so down sooner or later. So the sooner the better. Right now, I'm making $46 a month and expect to make more very soon. I'm saving at least $10 a month and save more if I can. If I ever get out of here in one piece and I expect to, this boy's gonna blow himself to a good time when he gets back to the States
as I'm putting my money into
the U. S. Army. Fine, I am. Things must be booming right along at home. I hope Fred is getting his share, baby, How he needs shoes. You know, the baby must be a cute rascal. Now, how you get, how does he get along? We gotta and how is gotta give him my regards. I sent him a couple of cards lately. I'm working in the group headquarters personnel section right now, and I'm getting to be quite a clerk. I keep the records of all the officers in the group. They go strong for all the insurance they can get on insurance. Man Paradise. I'll close this letter now because I haven't much more time to write. Give my regards to Barbara Sonny. Any aid? In fact, all the little and Big Goldberg's. Nelson's Phillips isn't all my family tells Hotta and Pond Not to worry as ever, Uncle Tool P s Don't forget regards, Azadeh. So there's kind of an inside family joke in this letter which when I read this, I was just I don't know. I got this amazing feeling that Okay, I know my uncle. So he he talked about an insurance man paradise and one of the fam. One of our family things is that my grandfather and my great grandfather was a bunch of my relatives were all insurance men, but they were terrible businessman because they gave away is much insurance. Is they sold? You
know, they just wanted
to help people.
it was kind of a joke, like here. Everybody out here, they want insurance. So that's his letter from October 30th 1941 and there had been he One other telegram he
um earlier that year, where he just says he's doing fine, but that's the last letter we have from him. Then after that, obviously, Pearl Harbor was a tent in the Philippines Warhead, Pecan fell and April of 42 Gertie, his sister, got a telegram on April 17 1942 saying, Your brother, Private Israel Goldberg reported a prisoner of war of the Japanese government in Philippines, letter following from the adjective general and then a month later in May. So exactly a month later he got. She gets another telegram saying report now received from the Japanese government through the International Red Cross that your brother, Private Israel Goldberg previously reported a prisoner of war died on May 13 in Southeast Pacific area. The secretary of war shares your grief and extends his deep sympathy letter to follow. So the date obviously is inaccurate because, oh, this is May 1943 but the dates an actor because he died August 11 1942 but it wasn't reported until the following day. So there's some. There's some confusion in her letters about when he died and finding that information out. Um, black. After that, he proceeded for, like, the next several years and all of us into the fifties, I think, to write the department of the Army and everyone she possibly could to try and find out more information about her. But she never did. And he named my aunt after him that it broke her heart and honestly, never got over it because they were very, very close. That bomb, they had growing up. Kind of, You know, them against the world and everything. It was just It was a huge loss for her.
You died? Yeah. So, yeah, that that Go ahead. It's okay. That letter that he wrote home, you know, you said it was in October of 41. Yeah. Yeah, it was probably That's Ah, that was right. When General MacArthur's making the big build up there in the Philippines because they kind of kind of new things were getting ready to hit the fan, if you know what I mean. Right. So they were bringing up all the all the troops that they couldn't build up and heard all that the president would allow? No, because at that time they had a Europe first policy. So most of the troops and supplies we're going to Europe. Yeah, that's that's That's amazing that he got that letter home and and, uh, I was able to communicate with its sister before war broke out. There was Was there any other letters after the war broke out, or was that just pretty much it? That that's
the last one? Um, the letters that might my aunt has from Gertrude. There's just a little stack. And so I think I don't know for positive. I mean, I I really hope there's another one. But as far as I understand, the one from October 30th is the last letter Peacock and home or or survived, I should say,
in Gertrude. So it's But you know what? It really is a special one because it has so much. It has somewhat slow history, and it just like everything from the joke about the insurance to my grandfather, Howard, who was born in 1939. No, he was born in 1941 beginning of the year because, actually, yeah, today's his birthday. Um, yeah. So it's just a treat. A real treasured letter, and it passes together parts of the story. I have only so that I have never seen him. His military service photo. But a couple of years ago I always wondered what he looked like. I was like, What is his role look like? Wondering. It looks like a couple years ago that my grandmother and she pulled out a photo of him, and I knew that he was him and two other men from birdies wedding in 1938 I think. And I knew him immediately because it's incredible. Israel's never married, never had any kids. But my one of my younger brothers is The spitting image of him was remarkable to me that this man who died, you know, 79 years ago has a great great nephew who carries his faces. Years knows everything
is just incredible. That's cool. Yeah, Yeah, maybe so. He was with the headquarter squadron. 24th pursuit group. Um, do you know much about, uh, after war broke out? What? What his duties were. Do you have any inclination to loser? I don't
and I have done is done research to try and find out, but I've never really come up on anything the closest I got to
I used in a World War two veteran who was He wasn't in the same, um, squadron. He was in, like one of the like a brother squadron. True, right next to it. And my friend told me, He said, Oh, I know I know your uncle's outfit And this is what was happening the days around Pearl Harbor when it was bombed in when the Philippines were hit.
So the veteran
was able to tell me a couple. But his outfit got pulled out pretty quick
when when Clark Field was bombed was bombed about, I think, 68 hours after after Pearl Harbor was. And that's right. As soon as soon as, uh, Clark Field was bombed, they actually re trained most of them Air Corps, a CZ infantry eso, members of the 31st Infantry and others on commission officers actually trained a lot of these Air Corps guys as infantry, and they were actually put on the front lines in the battle. I don't know if he knew about a lot of that.
Oh, you know, on Lee a little bit, that that's really interesting. Um,
they called him the Provisional Air Corps. Infantry.
The provisional idea. Okay. Wow, I didn't know that. All right,
We'll send you some stuff on it. Oh, I'd
love to. I've talked to other rat to who are regular. One of my prince. He was a Philippine. He was a captain in the Philippine Army, and he's kind of described it a little bit. And honestly, um, I I read about the Tanah lot and read about things that, you know, my uncle would have gone through in baton. But I think we kind of all forget before months for a couple of months before Baton Falls. You know, when they're fighting so hard and running short on food and supplies and guns and everything, you just you don't you don't realize when baton, however, was exhausted, they were already exhausted. I mean, that's why we had to surrender, but well, it's is the well, off is a relative. It's kind of hard on my heart to think about my uncle having to go through all of that before the nightmare of Bataan.
Yeah, they were there were on the front lines. They were on the front lines, his infantry and and actually held the line and counterattack Japanese in a few spots and they fought valiantly. That's that's for now. So, yeah, So, uh, they go through and, you know, they end. They go through the fighting and stuff in General King entered, ended up surrendering on 9 April 1941 which kicked off the Bataan Death March. What do you know about Israel and his his march north, where the Camp O'Donnell.
So after that, I don't know anything, actually. So growing up, I'd always been told Israel died on the death march. So all my life, I thought I had a relatively died on the death market. It was only when I started doing research and found out it was a lot more complicated that he made it to the camp and then died and everything. So I don't I don't know anything that happened to him after that, until the great record of him dying of malaria and anemia. I don't know what I've read about what other men went through, and it's it's a nightmare. It was a real nightmare having to survive the long march and then the cattle cars and then the different camps to the disease and hunger and no water and the Filipinos civilians on the side trying to help the prisoners and then being killed because they're helping the prisoners. So it's It's really a terrible nightmare I read a couple years ago. I think the best book I read that helped fill in what happened because I don't have the ability to know what happened to Israel. Um, are you familiar with the book? Tears in the darkness. Okay, that
that kind of filled in a
lot of gaps.
Yeah, and I recommend all the listeners if they can get that book and read it. Read it.
Yes, absolutely. I listen to the audio book. Actually, when I was driving to the baton March and I had a 17 hour drive, and I think it's a 17 hour audio book and I looked into it from start to finish, and it was really gutting because I was I was listening to the story of my uncle the whole time. You know, of the men who went through this with him. So I highly recommend it. Absolutely.
Yeah. So when did we need your family? Find out. Now you're the one that kind of started this process of, ah of trying to get Israel um identified. It's not correct.
Yes. Um, So his name was one that we just talked about periodically, Like World War two was brought up for someone, as I had been told. Growing up. Oh, you had a great uncle. Great great uncle who died during the war, did it. But I didn't know anything about it. And then in 2014 I just I was kind of like, OK, I'm ready to stop here, to start looking and finding out about this not mythical uncle, but, you know, he's kind of all it is, his family lore. So I started looking into it, and that's when I found out Oh, he died in the camp. Well, let me read about this camp. And then And then there was the possibility of Oh, in fact, he doesn't have a great he's buried in an unknown grave. And what does that look like? And that's kind of heartbreaking to me. I always have always my family group going to battlefields and cemeteries because we're really big on history, and I always looked at the unknown Graves and I would think who's buried there? You know whose family doesn't know where he
but at so after I learned that my uncle is buried in one of these unknown graves, I did. My heart even broke more now because now I know I'm one of those families who has. There's a nice little plaque somewhere in Manila, which is unknown, and my uncles there, but no one knows it. So that's when I started looking into it. Seeing art, What can we do? And it's kind of a terrifying process. E just started asking questions and trying to see how honest, actually, I started writing baton Better. I looked up. What Baton? Survivors were still alive. And I found out there was one in San Antonio. His name? Woz. Um, Joseph Alexander. He was supposed to be the youngest baton survivor, and I'm so excited. So I wrote him cause I'm not. I'm going to meet him and talk to him. I was kind of not even I thought maybe he'd know my uncle, you know, And I was like, No, no, but I wrote him, and unfortunately he got sick and he passed away. But his wife wrote me a beautiful letter. He read my letter to him and he he died before I could meet him. But that letter affected me so much because I eat. Basically, it was like I was getting this consent from this baton better. And it was like, Go find your uncle. So ever since that night always ended, honestly, I haven't found a lot on him, you know, bit here and there. People sending me papers and things like that. The milk. Uh, it's not a milk carton you sent. It was,
uh it was death certificate reported that it was actually filled out in the hospital. It's on the back of Ah, back then, it was canned milk. So it's on the back of your fascinating That
was, you know? So when I first found out he died in a POW camp, then I had hundreds of questions. Is how did he die? And of course, your thought immediately goes to the worst possible option that you heard, which is, you know, brutally murdered by a guard or this or you know, so many options. Or is that how did he die in finding out that he died of disease? You don't know. It's kind of horrible was almost a relief. It was almost like, Okay, he was sick. He wasn't murdered. He wasn't killed. He didn't starved. I mean, he probably starved to death, too, but it wasn't something horribly violent. It was just kind of a relief. There's a little bit here and there have really made him come alive in so many ways. You know, his photo and the letters and learning about how he died and the people who were around him at the time.
Yeah, and but in a sense, it was It was kind of a horrible death because it could have been cured pretty quick with just a little bit of medicine that the Japanese were holding.
And you know that you're you're
I know that because this other batons that I met and became friends with he had two friends who sacrifice their life for him by the vet has the same thing. He had manera malaria and anemia, and they, um, found ways to find those little food to smuggle the man and keep that alive. And so sometimes you have to pause Incredible that, you know, you got a couple men lying in the bed next to each other, sick and dying. You know, one person gets what they needed and can survive, and the others can't do it. Yeah, there's a lot to take in and didn't think about,
um, but it's still it's still kind of early. He did.
It wasn't a horribly
brutal because because that's what you think of when you think about a Japanese POW camp. If you think about the most brutal thing you think about Louis Zamparini, you know, um,
exactly So So
I I've just been kind of following Han Boom Gretel Trail. Little, little What's called, um,
breadcrumbs here and
there, Right in line you're I finally wrote the Army Casualty of office and said, I get his I. D p f and which is the Indo individual purse idea. Oh, I always get it wrong. Individual personal death off
individual deceased personnel file
right on, and I got to redo that. It's
pages. I think I want to save 70 page. Is this old sensitive information from, ah, the burial recovery? He was buried with 10 or 12 other men, and their names are listed in different files. And in 1947 I believe you know better than I do. Probably a lot of the bodies were taken out and reburied in Manila
and, yeah, they were transferred to the middle of mausoleum. Uh, it was above ground storage and then they were reburied after they couldn't make any identification. Wow.
Yes, that's right. So Oh, after I got the the only casualty office sent me that they were able to a sign a genealogist to do research on a case who then in her turns wonderful woman. She got my aunt to submit a DNA sample. And that's kind of where it is now. 2020. We have the DNA sample submitted, which is good, because is not really a lot of other options besides her. And it's moving forward from there to see if it's possible to get in contact with some of the other men's relatives who were buried
Israel. It's very daunting, but I mean, it's possible because it's been it's happened before and obviously you've been working on things like this.
So yeah, we just had another case similar to yours. Um, the remains were just actually disinterred here about a week ago on arrived in Hawaii, So oh, wow. Well, so it's it's it's definitely possible, and it's it's likely it's just the d p. A. And they're just so backlogged in their lab that they're not getting things done in a timely manner when I mean my family manners in. A lot of these men still have sisters in, you know, sisters and brothers that are still alive. And they don't have too many more years left to see their brothers. You know, their brother come home and be identified, so yeah, well, I wish they could, uh, remove that backlog in the lab. Right. So eso what's there? That was the last word then you had from, Ah, the government side of it was the government genealogist was able to get a relative of yours closer to Israel to get the DNA sample. Yes, that's
the last, I think because I'm so distant from him technically because I'm a great great niece. They were going doing more contact through my great aunt, his meat Disney. Um, so I haven't heard from them since about it, and it's just I think it's just been slow,
really, really really goes up.
I I have to check the date, but I think I got in touch with the Army, probably last spring, and they assigned They signed the deal. Uh, several months later. Like I want, I think three months later, through four months later.
Okay, so this is all real fresh them? Yes. So, what are your what? Your family's hopes here. What? What? What? Uh, you know, have have they decided on where they're gonna when he's identified? Have the you guys decided on where he was gonna be? Where you're going to be buried in? Um, you know, this is
an entry, right? This is an interesting question, because there hasn't There hasn't really been a lot of discussion. I've been as the main one. Kind of heading it up. I thought about this a bit. He has a headstone. So Israel has a headstone in Beverly, Massachusetts, where he was from where he was born. There's got the documentation where they request the military headstone for him back after the war. And for me personally, it's the end of the day. What I would love more than anything else in the world is to be able to identify what remains possible and have him reburied, You know, in Manila in a proper grave with the name and a headstone. I don't think he needs to come back to Massachusetts. And honestly, I think you know, it's it's a big thing to talk for the dead. Oh, this is what they'd like because you don't know. But knowing, having grown up around lots of military and other servicemen, I think he would love nothing more than to be buried at Manila with the rest of his buddies, who he fought with for so long. So if we could just get him a proper burial on headstone with with the name so that when people when little Children, when other people walk through that cemetery, they go, Oh, Israel Goldberg died 1942. He would hear that pra here, the human. There is someone some other son, some sisters brother buried in this grave as opposed to just being a name on a wall or unknown grave. You know, that's what I would like. I think that's what the rest of the family would probably like. A Well,
yeah, hopefully, hopefully we can get this done don't done in our lifetime here.
I would love that. And you know what? If nothing else, um, it's I knowing that this opportunity and possibility is out. There is very it's helpful for other people because I have other friends who have relatives who work in my eyes and POW and to start on the process of my own uncle. It kind of gives hope for the other people. And if anything, at the end of the day, even if we never figure out if we can't ever get Theoden proper identification for him. I do know that in the last six years that I've been, you know, taking the baby steps trying to find him. Israel has gone in my family from being, you know, family lure. Family missed being a riel, living, grieving relative who had personality and humor and worked hard and sacrificed. I mean, he's become so real to me now, and the rest of my family it's not. It's not just one of those distant relatives you hear about, but I have no connection to. So I think I'll be great if nothing else happens, and I know at least he's now. He's not gonna be forgotten. And we've given him a little bit more life than he had the last, you know, 79 years.
Exactly. We'll see. Yeah, you know, it's, uh, you know, it's it's the same thing. I hear from a lot of these families. You know, that sometimes they spoke about him. Sometimes they didn't. You know, a lot of you know, after 79 years, these men are getting so distant from living relatives now that the memories are fading for lack of a better term, right? And, uh, that's just did you know, it's just what? What would be your recommendation If there's another family that might be listening to this podcast? What is your recommendation to them? If they might have a missing in action relative and haven't really taken the steps yet? What? What would you recommend them?
Um, I'd like to see first as family members. They know I ask all your family members for what information? Because you never know what nugget you're gonna find. I that's the first step and then honestly distort Googling, researching. And then very easy is submitting a request for they're either military personnel file. You can do that through ST Louis, there's a fee. I think there's a fee attached, or you can go there in person or animal in my air POW writing to the Army Casualty Office requesting it. I mean, that's the That's the first step to finding out more about the relative. I think a lot of people, I think, the idea of writing the military very intimidating process. But it it's it's easy. You just follow the guidelines step. The information is out there. You didn't have to read it and e mail
right away. No, exactly. It's a pretty simple, simple process that you know on. Don't be afraid to give a DNA sample either.
Absolutely, there's nothing terrifying. I mean, if I if I could give a DNA sample, I would have done it six years ago. Uh,
no way I can't
just a simple cheek swab, right? While
in today, I think, um, there's so many DNA groups out there, you know, to help you learn about your and 23 me. So if you are, have you even considered doing that? You Then it is definitely consider. Doing it with the military sends you the kitten. It's taken care of. No problem. It's not like they're gonna use it for anything else.
Knowing they have thought that's the whole thing is they can't use it for anything else. It's it's actually protected. It's under the HIPPA laws and everything else. So all that impressed with his private, they don't give it out. It's It's very well protective, protected. It's it's actually managed by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and over. And, uh, it's a pretty well protected system. So it's not online where anybody can look at it or anything else. So it's Ah, it's a very well protected system.
So basically there isn't any reason. Tell Mookie the double negative. There's no reason, not identity.
Well, I appreciate you telling us telling us about Israel and, uh, in the steps that you're taken Toa try to get him identified. Now I know you. Ah, are a founder of a nonprofit group, Operation Meatball. Can you talk? Can you tell the listeners a little bit about what you do there?
Yes. Um Oh, cut it down short because the operation meatballs for kind of run long. But Operation Meatball is the nonprofit. I started with my two sisters about six years ago, which it dedicated to honoring the last veterans of World War Two and according to stories for future generations and honestly providing practical encouragement and life enrichment programs for the guys who are now in their nineties. I mean, I have got my breakfast with him once a week, and they're all like 95 96 97. So, um, we started it. And it is kind of linked hand in hand with Israel story because in a way, I want to give the living World War Two veterans the honor and the love and appreciation which I can't give my uncle because he died. We started it back in 2014 to my sisters and I and our family went to Normandy for the anniversary of D Day. I knew from D Day veterans, and we talked with veterans, would always been interested in history, and after getting back from that trip, we realized this was a mission that we had toe follow because there's so few veterans left. And, um, you know, we don't we don't have I've never had the ability to talk to a world. One veteran I wanted to, But they died before it could, um, in civil war veterans, You know, this is it happened over 100 50 years ago, but we don't have any stories of what it was like to know them. We have stories from the war, but not from who they were the individuals. So my two sisters, Faith in Jubilee, we'd like we have to do this. We have been given a time. When I was 17 my sister Jubilee was 16 and then faced with 14 we're like, Look, we've got this time. Where? Finishing school. Ah, we're we We need to devote this. So we the last six years we've done everything from put on us those style programs that car me, them's my sister. Faith. See things magnificently from music. In the 19 twenties fifties, we've collaborated with programs like Honor, Flight and in everything from the shows to home visit and personal one on one time. With that, where we just talk to them more than just their military service is What was it like growing up? Tell me about your family. What? What motivated you to become the type of person you are? Because the veterans who served in World War Two. They obviously they were very unique and very special. Everything they went through, it's almost like they've been prepared and trained for it by having to go to the Great Depression and learning how to just fight hard through everything. And so that's what we d'oh I don't you know the veterans. There's less of them now Listen, when I started is only a handful of world or two that's left, but they're still out there. So part of what a woman does is encourage other people to give them ways to find over to veterans and meet them and talk to them and ask them about the story so that, like the ones who didn't make it back, we can so honor to the ones who are still living as well.
That's a cool. That's a cool mission they're on. And I'm jealous because you get to go to all these old battlefields and stuff. D'oh!
That you know there's nothing like going to a battlefield and over been really black to be able to help take veterans back at different times. And I'm not in the military. I've never been in the military, and I've never been in combat, but saying There's standing with an Army paratrooper. It's a place where he was wounded, you know, there's nothing like it in having him points to you exactly where the sniper was. That shot him.
was doing in his friend is it's incredible. I'm getting chills thinking about it. And I'm my Children are probably never gonna get to meet a World War two veterans honestly. So I wanted to take every moment I can and record their stories and capture it so that my kids and my grandkids can learn about it. You know, secondhand vicariously. Yeah,
exactly. And it sounds like you're gonna be taking a little trip here in the next. Ah, all against here in a couple weeks. Uh, yeah. Tell us a little bit about the Bataan Memorial death march, and you're you've been doing it for quite a while, so I'd like to hear a little bit more about it.
Yes. So the Baton Memorial death march happens in March every year, and they've had I don't remember how many they've had to 30 years. Almost. They've been doing this and a couple of years ago, I heard about it. It's a marathon. It's 26.2 miles in the middle of the New Mexico Desert at White Sands Missile Range. They get about 7 to 8000 marchers and runners out there every year. I will tell you I did the whole marathon once, and then I've done the half, and a couple of times I've never experienced so much physical exhaustion and pain and suffering a love marathon. But this was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. You're literally walking through the desert, running through it 95 degree temperatures. It's almost perfectly simulated, but they do it every year to honor the baton March, the baton veterans and the survivors and everyone who died. And it's incredibly moving because you're surrounded by thousands of American men and women in military and everyone almost everyone has. You know, I'm marching through this baton person. I'm marching for this. Everyone is marching for someone who is in baton. They're being remembered, and it's a miserable experience. But when I'm so happy, you and your because it makes you appreciate in a very small way, what are soldiers experienced? A baton we can't we don't know. We don't have a parent. Japanese guards prodding us along and taking on water away from us what we want, but in a small way, like, Wow,
you're you're being it and killing you If you fall behind
right, It's the Bataan Death March what was excruciating in every way and so to be able to simulate, in a very small way that it's an honor. And it's something I'm so proud to do for my uncle. It's another bridging of the gap and trying to connect a little bit what seeing the other guys went through. And my sister face is doing it with me this year. And I told her when I asked if you wanted to do it, I said, Do you want to do this? It's the most miserable, horrible,
painful experience you'll ever have
in your life. Probably will. Probably worse than childbirth, I'm sure of it. But you want to do this
since I was like,
absolutely, definitely for my uncle. Of course. So And you know what? You know what this is? This is Oh, I'm getting excited thinking about this. One of the most moving incredible parts of it is when you leave on that march and, you know, I've got 26 miles of desert. There are baton survivors sitting in tears, shaking hands and sending you off with good luck. You know, you're gonna do great. And when you get back, you've march 26 miles and you're exhausted. You want to die there? The baton veterans are there again, welcoming you back. I mean, you can't help but cry because it's they know what you're doing. And you know what they've been through. So there's kind of this silent understanding of what's about to happen, and it's It's magnificent. It's so magnificent.
Tell it, tell us a little bit about the Colonel
Colonel yet Colonel Ben Colonel's pardon. Um, I met Colonel scarred, and the first time I went to Baton, he was He was only 100 then, um, you're gonna be 100 and three to center Summer. His name is Ben Garden. And during the battle of, um, telling before it happened, it felt he was a captain in the Philippine Army and he received two silver stars in that four months and four Bronze stars. And then he survived the March was in a POW camp. He survived three hell ship, two of which were sunk under him, basically anything that could be thrown at him. He got. Then he went, worked in a Japanese POW camp in Japan. What he went through was so unbelievable that even today he's 103 there. His family and his relatives were still hearing things for the first time. I think it was just a couple of years ago he pulled out accepted Spoon that he had brought with him from the Tampa and no one had ever seen these before. But he pulled them out and he was like, Yeah, he's there what I had in the camp, he almost died. He had two friends from Clinton days who gave their life for him. Hey, nursed him when he was sick. They rub his feet. Two, help him with his pain and they smuggled in food at the cost of their own life. So he might. He the last 11 or 12 years, he's marched multiple miles of the Baton Memorial. Death marks in their honor. He I think he goes eight miles most years. The last year he just did three, which when you're 102 years old, three miles in the desert
is unbelievable. And I went
with him one of the years I marched the whole eight miles with him, and I've never seen anything like it. You didn't complain. You didn't talk about being tired. When we hit the stands, you got really serious. And he was just quiet. But every mile he paused. He goes with what's called Bins Brigade. Of all these Clinton friends who just march with him in every mile, Marker will have a witty comment and
or something to
encourage us and keep us going. And it I've never seen anything like it. I've never met 100 103 year old who does anything like that. So he attacked You have been scarred, and you just google his name. You'll come up with. He did a documentary. 60 minutes. There's tons of articles on him. His last name is Spelt S k a r D o N magnificent man. And when I asked him so I met him the first time I met him and was talking to him. I asked him about my uncle because you never know, You know, there's only 155,000 pow. So who knows? But I asked him. I said, Colonel started. My uncle was in camp with you and he was sick and he died this year, et cetera. And he said, When did your uncle die? And I said he died August of 1942 and he told the colonel's car. Looked at you in August. He said July and August had the highest death basic. Come on, Antoine, he said. We lost 100 men a day and his eyes just got moist. If he's telling me this and I you know, I got my eye started the water because here's a man who 70 you know, 75 79 years after the fact. He still gets emotional knowing all the men that just that died around him. And yet he survived. So it was special. He's very special.
Was a living hills. What it wa ce Yeah, yeah. So he's gonna be there this year.
Um, I have to find out. I need to call them and ask. I hope so. He's been there every year. Well, first, I think 11 or 12 years so I hope I hope you can make it again this year.
out there with Ben Brigade all in orange. You can't miss him. I mean, it's the best advertising for Clinton. You'll ever see
way. Wish you we wish you a very good luck on the march. I know. I know. I probably wouldn't make it the 1st 2 miles, so
it's Yeah, I am. I I'm gonna make it as far as I can. But you know what? Knowing knowing that people have done it before.
Exactly. So you signed up for the four Marshall, You doing the half? I'm
doing the full
doing folding. I'm
doing this whole. There was half a moment where I asked my sister said you wanted and 1/2. And he said, Are you kidding? If I'm gonna suffer, I'm gonna do it the whole way.
U s so
nothing or nothing. Well, is there anything anything that I might have missed or anything you want to bring up That, uh, you might we might have forgot to talk about
I don't think so. I did. I would just encourage anyone listening. Look into your family history. It's It's wonderful that there's so many things promoting it now, you know, promoting and ancestry and looking into it because it's so important. Um, there's a quote from a long time ago. I think it was general robbery. Lisa's history teaches us to hope, and I grew up with the understanding that you have to look at the path you look at history. You know what's gonna happen and how to interpret what's gonna what to do in the future. You have to, because otherwise you move forward into ignorance and you want to know where you came from. So learning about Israel in my family and everything, it went through all the hardships, the penny whistles, the burning it
working hard and Israel dying, you know, for me. He gave up his life for tons of great grains, neck nieces and nephews. He would never meet, and he didn't know they would exist. But he knew he was doing the right thing. And it's just really moving and emotional, and I encourage everyone. Please look up your family. Talk to your family. If you have grand parents or great grand parents, our uncles, let's ask them questions. It doesn't need to be intimidating. You'll be really grateful. Someday you are. Now you'll be really critical.
Yes, exactly. Every one of those men died for the freedoms that we know. Enjoy. Yeah. All of us.
Yes, The quote you have. I think it's on your website about they gave. They gave their Oh, I'm gonna mess up the quote. Um, now, e I know. It's so well. Fuck, it doesn't run out of my head. But they gave up their future. Um, some of these guys. Israel is forever 29 years old. He gave up the rest of his life the possibility to have Children to have a future so that other people could, too. People like bin Garden could. So it's wonderful.
Yeah. Yeah, that quote. Great. When you go home, tell them of Tellem of us and safer for your tomorrow. We gave our today. Thank you. Yes, that's one
of my favorite quotes
of old time. That's exactly what they did to you. Well, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast, liberty and telling us about your Uncle e Israel and, uh, telling us about Operation Meatball. And you're you're suffering and sacrifice at the battalion. Manu Memorial Death March Coming up lengthy. Oh, I was just on their Web site the other day looking into it a little bit more. Um, for our listeners for Operation Meatball. How how can ah, people looking up find you and I know what you do.
Yes, so you can just don't look up Operation meatball dot com And we're got a Facebook page. And then on Instagram, it's just operation people literally like operations. And then people like meatballs and spaghetti sauce
and you're on Facebook, instagram and all days to you.
Yes, not Twitter, because I'm maybe a millennial. But that's way above my pay grade. I can't figure it out, but instagram Facebook and then operating on people dot com.
Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out the booth tweet every once in a while. Yep. Already. Well, thank you for coming on the broadcast. Thank you for listening to stories of sacrifice. World War Two American P O W M I. A's in the Philippines. This has been a production of the U S. P o W m I. A family locating you confined us on the Web at U. S. P. O W M I. A family locating dot com opinions expressed in this podcast our own and given in the best intention overall, the p o w m I. A accounting community is doing what it can with limited resource is it is our hope additional federal funding will be provided along with additional partnerships established to disinter process remains of our own knowns located in the national cemeteries. You can help by contacting your congressional representatives and asking that the implement DNA leave policy for those unknown pow. Thank you for listening.