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Authur W. Jones 1940

Arthur and Herman Smith

Last Name: `
First Name Middle Initial:
Nick Name:
Street:  4721 MICHAEL DR City & State: DEL CITY, OK E-Mail:  Awjones3@aol.com
Zip: 73115 Phone:  (405) 677-2958 Spouse: DOROTHY J
Conflict: WWII Service Branch: Marines Unit: F CO, 2 BN 4TH U.S.M.C.
Theater: Pacific Where Captured: CORREGIDOR Date Captured: 05/06/42
Camps Held In: LAS PINAS, CABANATUAN, HANAWA, BILIBAD How Long Interned: 1197 days
liberated / repatriated: liberated Date Liberated: 08/15/45 Age at Capture: 21
Occupation after War:  COMPUTER PROGRAMER

Military Bio:

Born in July 1920, Arthur Jones enlisted in the Marine Corps during the late part of 1939. Following his graduation from recruit training at San Diego, he was assigned to “F” Company, 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marines, in Shanghai, China. From there he was assigned to the Olongapo Naval Base in the Philippines. His company commander was Capt. A. C. Shofner. “Jones was my company runner,” retired Brigadier General Shofner recalled recently. I recommended him for a citation. He received a Purple Heart in a most unusual manner—for a wound received from the Japanese while in a POW camp. “I have many recollections of Jones while in the Fourth Marines. Jones is one of the best Marines I have ever known. Here, then as Jones lived it, is the story of a young Marine, a Fourth Marines plaque and a simple order: “Hang on to that plaque.” “When Pearl Harbor was bombed,” Jones recalled, “my company was awakened by the bugler sounding “Call to Arms!” This was the first time I had really taken notice of Capt. Austin C. Shofner. It was this captain who took charge that morning, issuing ammunition to the men and with dry humor remarking that our play days were now over and that now we could start earning our money, which later on proved to be the understatement of 1941! Marines prepared the base for defense. Later, they would be ordered to demolish the naval base and move to Bataan. On Bataan, the Marine commander requested permission for the Fourth Marine Regiment to join the 31st Infantry, then fighting on Bataan. The request was denied and the Marines were ordered to Corregidor. Immediately the Marines went to work making beach defenses against a Japanese invasion. Jones continued: “On Corregidor I was stationed with a group of Marines at Middleside. Our job was to prepare that part in case the Japanese penetrated the lower level of the fortress. One day during the siege of Corregidor, I was told by Sgt. Begala to report to Capt. Shofner. I had been picked to be the company runner. That pleased me because I had come to admire the captain for his courage and stamina. He had never ordered one of his men to do something that he himself would not do.”

All units in the Philippines were under the command of the U.S. Army. “They put up a terrific battle against overwhelming odds,” Jones said. The Allies were ordered to surrender on May 6, 1942. “It fell to Capt. Shofner to pass the word to the Marines about the surrender,” Jones said. “The repeating of the order to his Marines was a time of great emotion. This was the first time in history the Marines had been ordered to surrender. “After the order was given, Capt. Shofner broke his Marine sword over his knee. He then handed me a Fourth Marines plaque he had brought from China and told me to hang on to it. “This, “ said Jones, “I expected to do against all odds!” The Colors of the Fourth Marines were burned so they would not be captured by the Japanese. There was much ill feeling, many felt that they were giving up without a better battle, but the decision had been made. “After being taken prisoner,” Jones recalled, “I was moved from one camp to another. We were forced to build a landing strip. During my prison camp days at Cabanatuan and Los Pinos, the plaque was taken from me twice by Japanese guards who “roughed” me up on both occasions. The plaque was taken again by a Japanese guard after he clubbed me with his rifle when I told him I was a Marine, but he returned the plaque to me again.” The work became harder as the days went by, and Jones began losing his strength. They were working 12 hours a day with pick and shovel.

It could have been worse. Capt. Shofner made the infamous “Death March” but later managed to escape. He continued to fight the Japanese as a guerrilla and was eventually evacuated from the Philippines by submarine. Following a leave, he rejoined a Marine unit and continued the war. He fought the Japanese at Okinawa—the Mt. Shurin area. “I was losing weight and I was losing strength,” Jones recalled. “I knew that I had to do something in order to survive. One night on our return from work detail I was looking in the bag I had with me when I glimpsed the Marine Corps plaque. This brought me a new surge of strength and determination. The next day, I had a pick go through my foot. I was put on the injured list and permitted to get medical attention, which in turn gave me the rest that my body needed. I was sent back to Cabanatuan and then shipped out to Japan. In Hanawa one day I had the Marine plaque out when a Japanese guard was getting ready to rough me up with his rifle butt. He asked if I was a Marine. I replied in the affirmative. This guard could speak broken English. I told him the story of the plaque. He told me that he knew of the Marines and said they were brave fighting men. He then turned around and left me. The plaque, I’m sure, saved me from a beating.”

Beriberi was prevalent among the American prisoners. There were no vitamins. One night, fluids in Jones’ chest became so great that he could barely breathe. He grew weaker. The congestion hurt so much…. Jones tried to forget the pain by thinking of better things. His mind traveled, but eventually came back to the plaque of the Fourth Marines. “I got to my feet and with all the strength I could muster I began to jog up and down the length of the barracks. Oh, how it hurt.” I don’t know exactly what happened but the fluids in my chest seemed to go someplace else and the pain eased. Again, due to the Marine plaque, I had a will to survive.” Following the surrender of Japan, the prisoners left Hanawa for Sendai, where they boarded ship, sailing to Yokohama. “I had procured a colored parachute when food was dropped to us at the prison camp at Hanawa,” Jones said. “I took the ‘chute and wrapped the plaque in it. At Sendai, a Marine lieutenant asked us to discard most of our possessions. I guess this was for health reasons.” Jones told the lieutenant the story of the plaque, and he gave permission for Jones to take it aboard ship. At Yokohama, Jones was transferred to the USS Rescue, a hospital ship. “We were a sorry looking mess,” he recalled. “My weight at this time was 70 pounds, soaking wet. I was in a room waiting to be examined by a doctor, when a corpsmen saw the parachute and asked if I was saving the “pretty” parachute.” Hell, no!”, Jones replied, and he repeated the story of the plaque. The corpsman apologized for asking a “stupid, thoughtless question.”

Jones returned to the United States. His parents told him that Col. Austin C. Shofner had written following his escape from the Philippines. The colonel said that he had seen Jones and that (at the time) Jones was in good health and high morale. (Prior to Shofner’s escape, he and Jones had talked. Jones knew of the escape attempt, but he had contracted malaria so badly that he decided not to go. Jones felt that this resultant dizziness and weakened condition might jeopardize the escape.) Jones and Shofner corresponded following World War II but never met face to face. Then, one day, a friend of Jones told him that Col. Shofner had been killed in Korea. “I couldn’t fully accept that,” Jones said. “For some unexplained reason, I felt in my heart that we would meet again. In 1973, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor held a convention in Kansas City. One of the coordinators for the convention was a former member of the Fourth Marines and he started the wheels turning for the first reunion of the old Fourth Marines. “I attended the reunion,” Jones said, “and I asked a GySgt. Farrell what had happened to Capt. Shofner.” “He’s not dead!” the gunny said, “Hell, he retired from the Marine Corps as a brigadier general!”

Jones later made contact with General Shofner in Shelbyville, TN. The former company runner hoped to return the plaque to his former company commander. “I wanted to carry out that order,” Jones grinned. “But, you know, I was so excited about the trip and meeting with Captain, I mean General Shofner again that I forgot to pack the plaque!” But then 31 years later, the company runner completed his mission. Jones and the general agreed that the plaque should be presented to the Marine Corps Museum. “The plaque has a story which tells about the discipline, loyalty, spirit, stamina and fortitude of the marines. May the training and discipline, loyalty and pride…and the esprit de corps, remain with Marines as long as there remains a Corps,” Jones said. “I’d like to add this,” he continued. “In telling the story of the plaque, I don’t mean to stress the ordeals that the prisoners suffered. The majority of the Marines accepted the ordeals. We expected hardships and we were determined to survive. I recall those Marines…Kindel, Regala, Roswell, Malone, Damouth, DuPont, FeFleur, Buskirk, Good, Jakubizack, Haynes, Helmick and many others…they were all strong, rugged God-fearing, wonderful men of the Marine Corps. At times when the going became exceedingly rough during my days as a Japanese POW and conditions were testing men’s courage, morale and faith, I could always experience a renewal of purpose by just a glimpse of that Marine Corps plaque, knowing it to be a symbol of the Corps and the individuals who make up the Corps.

“The plaque gave me the courage to shake off despair and to carry on...against all odds.”

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