General Parker stepped up to the microphone and told the prisoners that we were free men. America had won the war and all prison camps were being liberated.
After the close of the worship service a few hours after formal liberation, the sky was white with parachutes dropping supplies to Hoten. Food, clothing and much needed medications were quickly carried into camp and distributed. The Japs also dumped all the Red Cross packages they had withheld from us for so many years right into our laps.
Many men became ill on their first full stomach in three and a half years. Some of them became drunk on just regular coffee.
Soon, we could hear trucks and tanks rolling into the city. The Russians entered Mukden from the Sobi Desert. They were capturing all of the Japanese forces, rounding them up and loading them on trucks and trains. They all passed into captivity and were never repatriated after the war. Presumably they died in Siberian slave camps.
When the Russians arrived, the Russian propaganda officer told us, "It is indeed a pleasure for the Red Army to have the privilege of liberating the prisoners of war."
We all cheered for a long time. It had been a long way from Bataan. When the men were released in August 1945 there were only 4,000 Bataan survivors still alive; a little more than a third of the original American forces captured.
Though we hadn't officially been released from duty, every night many of us would go over the wall of the compound, sometimes a hundred or more.
I was able to get a truck driver's permit and several of us would go into town, load up with supplies and come back to camp. I saw the Russians taking a group of Japanese prisoners down to the railroad yards to unload the trains and when they finished they just shot the Japs right there. They didn't bother bringing them back to their barracks.
After a couple of weeks of seeing what was going on and wondering when
I could go home, I just went out to the landing field where the American
planes were bringing in supplies and when the next one got ready to take
off, I pulled out one of the wheel chocks, threw it in the plane and crawled
in. I sat down and the plane took off. The crew members never said
a word even though they knew I wasn't supposed to leave.