Monday, November 6, 2017

Remembering Two Veterans

This Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day. Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Practically every family has one or more veterans in its family tree: living and dead. My assorted families are no exception; and, I have written about a few of them. In honor of Veterans Day, I decided to highlight two World War II veterans for whom I have pictures and some details about their service: One survived the war; one did not.

R.W. Harriman
Robert W. Harriman, 1921-1944, was from Wisconsin. He served
Henri-Capelle American Cemetery - Google image
with the U.S. Army Air Force, 836th Bomber Squadron and the 487th Heavy Bomber Group as a pilot. He was killed over Germany on December 24, 1944. He is buried in the Henri-Capelle American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and a Purple Heart.  The Henri-Capelle Cemetery possesses military historic significance as it only holds fallen Americans of two major offensives: first, the U.S. First Army's drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg into Germany; and second, the Battle of the Bulge occurring December 1944-January 1945 in Belgium and Luxembourg. Robert is my husband's 3rd cousin 1x removed.

G.S. Oliver
Glenn Stuart Oliver, 1919-2012, was a member of the Minnesota National Guard that was ordered to Federal duty in 1941 as a member of A Company, 194th Tank Battalion. He was stationed in the Philippine Islands when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Ten hours later, he lived through the bombing of Clark Air Base on Luzon Island, Philippines. For fourth months he fought with other soldiers to slow Japan's conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, he became a POW when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. He was part of the infamous Bataan Death March. As a POW, he was held at Camp O'Donnell in the Philippines. He, along with other POWs, was selected for transport to Japan in early October 1944. His POW detachment was sent to the Port Area of Manila. [1]

Arisan Maru - Google image
One thousand eight hundred three POWs were boarded onto the Arisan Maru on October 11, 1944. On October 24, 1944, late in the day, the ship was in the Bashi Channel of the South China Sea. The POWs, on deck preparing dinner, watched the Japanese run to the bow of the ship and then to the stern. The ship had been hit by two torpedoes. The POWs were forced back into the holds, and the Japanese covered the hatch openings with their covers: They then abandoned ship. After the Japanese were gone, the POWs climbed onto the deck. Most had survived the attack. For two hours, the ship got lower and lower in the water. Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers, as they wanted to die with full stomachs. At some point in time, the ship broke in two. POWs took to the water on anything that floated. Some swam to nearby Japanese ships, but they were pushed away by Japanese sailors with poles. Five men found an abandoned lifeboat with no oars. During the night, they heard the cries for help which faded way until there was silence. Glenn was one of nine men who survived the sinking. Glenn Oliver is the 2nd cousin 2x removed of my children.

As we pause on November 11 to honor all our military veterans, living and dead, it is good to remember the words of Patrick Henry, one of our country's found fathers: "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."

[1] The Battle of Bataan and the 194th Tank Battalion. Minnesota National Guard,

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