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Silence of a Soldier
William J. Duggan
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There comes a time in our lives when we meet people who are outstanding individuals. What they exude is a
certain simplicity and honesty, and a complete lack of braggadocio. They are aware of their own shortcomings.
When it comes to a choice between their own needs and the needs of others, they place the others first. It is
refreshing to meet such people. The stories within this book are the memoirs of a unique person and his ever
loyal wife. It was her strength and love that formed the basis for his survival. Within these pages the
personalities of Bub and Treg emerge as both ordinary and heroic.
The Merrills are in the autumn of their lives. Yet, that same spirit that kept their hopes alive during the
almost hopeless years of Japanese imprisonment, still prevails today. Illness has become a daily companion.
Yet, when you are with them, their love for one another cannot be hidden. I doubt seriously that death will end
their love. Bub still addresses Treg as Dear. Treg refers to Bub as her one and only love. Impatience is a malady
of the aged. Flair-ups happen, but they are always followed by a thinly veiled apology. One great element of
their friendship is the humor that goes back and forth between the two of them. I would sometimes drop in
unannounced. I would ask Treg, “Where is Bub” She would answer, “I don’t know....haven’t seen him in years.
Or I would ask Bub, “How’s Treg feeling today?” He would answer, “She doesn’t have any! Each time a
different set of replies would be forthcoming. Sometimes, I would “pop” in and ask “ Am I on time for lunch?”
Treg would shout out, “No, but I will change clothes and be ready in a minute! Their good sense of humor
simple pervaded their lives.
The brutality of the Japanese during WW2 has always been somewhat a mystery. In conversations with Bub,
it became clear that he understood the problem. To him the war with Japan was a clash of cultures. Their
traditions of Samurai and Banzai completely colored their military behavior. Bub often said that the Japanese
officers were equally brutal toward their own soldiers as the were toward the American prisoners. The most
disconcerting part of Bub’s experience was the total unpredictably of any given Japanese at any given time.
They were simply arbitrary. On many occasions, the Japanese could be both brutal and merciful. To this day
Bub does not understand this ambiguity.
(Return to Contents)
World War II was a war of devastation. The following official reports are indicative of the destruction.
Germany was a brutal force against humanity, especially in the Holocaust. Japan was equally brutal in the
annihilation of Peking and Manila. The treatment of prisoners of war by the Japanese was simply horrific.
Today, Germany and Japan are stabilizing forces in the struggle for global peace.
The following appendices are not meant to demean the Japanese. They are meant to remind mankind as to
the depths of degradation to which some nations had fallen. We as a nation must be careful not to allow such
atrocities to be committed again either by ourselves or by others. The appendices are as follows:
(Return to Contents)
CAMP O’DONNELL REPORT
AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR INTERNED BY THE JAPANESE IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Prepared by the Office of Provost Marshall General,19 November, 1945.
Once arrived on the area at San Fernando, the prisoners were crowded into boxcars and taken to Camp
O’Donnell, located near Capas in North Luzon Because of the starvation, disease, and brutal treatment they
received, 2,000 Americans and 22,000 Filipino prisoners died at Camp O’Donnell. Eye witness reports
Corporal Arthur A. Chenowith.....Although the Japanese had plenty of food and medicine, 1600 Americans
and 20,000+ Filipinos died of disease and starvation. Captain Mark M. Wohfeld...........Lacked cooking water.
Water from a murky creek two miles away had to by carried in oil drums on bamboo poles. For drinking water,