Then the final blow came with President Roosevelt's speech on the status of the war. It was the death knell of Bataan. He outlined the magnitude of the American tack. He spoke of American groups in Greenland, Ireland, and England and of help to Russia, China and India. He spoke of miles of ocean between America and Japan and the necessity of defending Australia and the almost insurmountable difficulty of relieving the Philippines. The curtain had rung down, it was only a matter of time.
Russ was fighting on the front lines and had learned to live on two hours sleep. At the end of a patrol, he would work his way into the center of a big clump of bamboo and lie down on the ground with his ear pressed against the earth and sleep like this, awakening at the first noise.
The Japanese had no walk-through. They had to fight for every foot of ground they gained.
One work detail that I was on was shoveling coal from one pile to another. With me, was a group of about six or eight Americans. A Jap colonel had told them where to pile the coal but a great big, very tough Japanese guard wanted it done differently. This particular guard had made life very difficult and downright dangerous with constant threats of beatings and death. Many prisoners had bad bruises and broken teeth from his blows. So I decided this was my chance. I told the guard that Colonel Mickie wanted the coal "here" but the guard said "Nayda [No]. I want it here," as he pointed to another spot.
Finally the guard became angry with me, but I stood my ground and firmly requested to be taken before Colonel Mickie. The guard, thinking of what the Colonel would do to me, obliged, and we marched off. The other men in the work detail thought that they had seen the last of me, for Colonel Mickie had a violent temper and had been known to break two by fours over prisoner's backs. But neverthe-less, I pressed to see the colonel.
Once in front of him, I started explaining that the guard thought Colonel Mickie's way to pile the coal was wrong and the guard's way was right. Well this was like waving a big red flag in front of a bull! Colonel Mickie drew his sword and grasped it in both hands and charged, not at me, but at the big Japanese guard. I thought for sure the guard's head was about to be chopped off. It really scared me. But Colonel Mickie stopped just short of beheading the man and began a torrent of words. The guard quickly apologized and said that Colonel Mickie was absolutely right and he would never cross him again.
When I reappeared unharmed and grinning while the guard was crestfallen, the men were anxious to know what had happened. I told them that the guard was almost killed, but was let off with a fierce lecture
The guard didn't give anymore orders to us and now when I approach to ask him a question he just turns away, saying do what you want to do. The guard didn't want to be taken before Colonel Mickie again.