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Remember Bataan, Never Forget!


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ASMIC2971

I was a 21 year old PFC reporting to my unit, I left in processing with the reminder to “Remember Bataan, Never Forget”


SSG James McComas was born in Brainerd, Minnesota and at some point joined the MN National Guard. He was one of the original members of A Company 194th Tank Battalion who were sent to the Philippines. After the war broke out he spent the early months of 1942 fighting on Bataan. Two of his tank crew were killed on Bataan, he would survive the fighting. 

He survived fighting on Bataan only to be greeted with the Death March, of which he survived as well. James would see many men die in the POW camps on the Philippines, but himself he would survive. 

Eventually James was put on the Hell Ship the Erie Maru along with 749 other POWs. The use of unmarked ships wasn’t new to the Japanese, the US Navy knew that as well but couldn’t confirm which ships were carrying POWs, so luck played into James’s hand again. 

His Hell Ship was sunk by a US Submarine, of the 750 men on board, James would survive the sinking and future machine gunning of survivors by the Japanese. 

Luck played one last fortune for James as he was picked up by Filipino guerrilla and made his way back to Minnesota. 

Of the 58 Brainerd Boys who marched into captivity 79 years ago on this date, James was one of the 31 who made it home alive. 

“Remember Bataan, Never Forget” I know I won’t, will you?

BC284F15-7332-41A4-90D0-D144B8257921.jpeg

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Wharfmaster

Retribution is mine sayeth the B-29.

 

NEVER forget.

 

 

W

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Jim McComas came home and was the sad bearer of the news that many of the Brainerd men were never going to come home; killed before the surrender while fighting, dying as POWs in camps and on the Death March, and being killed on “Hell Ships”. 

 

His escape was big news in Brainerd and of course to the US Army as well, as his post escape debrief and the info he passed on brought confirmation of and details about the absolute savagery of the Japanese who ran the camps and dealt with the POWs.

 

He spent his life after the war as a Police Officer serving the citizens of Brainerd. He died young, at age 51, in 1971 and is buried at Fort Snelling. I would assume that the war played a role in his dying young, probably before he could even retire. Rest easy.

 

Of all the Brainerd men in the 194th, only one remains. 

 

 

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ASMIC2971
On 4/10/2021 at 9:17 PM, MWalsh said:

Jim McComas came home and was the sad bearer of the news that many of the Brainerd men were never going to come home; killed before the surrender while fighting, dying as POWs in camps and on the Death March, and being killed on “Hell Ships”. 

 

His escape was big news in Brainerd and of course to the US Army as well, as his post escape debrief and the info he passed on brought confirmation of and details about the absolute savagery of the Japanese who ran the camps and dealt with the POWs.

 

He spent his life after the war as a Police Officer serving the citizens of Brainerd. He died young, at age 51, in 1971 and is buried at Fort Snelling. I would assume that the war played a role in his dying young, probably before he could even retire. Rest easy.

 

Of all the Brainerd men in the 194th, only one remains. 

 

 


You’re correct on that as well, his life outside WWII are parts I’m still filling in on my research quest. 
 

James was an advocate for the current memorial outside of the Brainerd Armory at the same location of the award ceremony where his family would have received this citation in 1984. 

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Thor996

Thank you for posting the remembrance. So horrible what those men suffered over there in the PI both during the war and after.

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Salvage Sailor

They were remembered, and avenged

 

BATAAN MEMORIAL SOCIETY, 1945

 

Bataan Memorial Society 005.jpg

 

Bataan Memorial Society 004a.jpg

 

Bataan Memorial Society 003.jpg

 

Bataan Memorial Society 001.jpg

 

 

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I got to ride around Bataan in a jeepney 30 years ago.  It's one hell of a place to fight a battle in. 

Mikie

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Oddly enough, Major Mike Dobervich, a Philippines USMC POW, of Ironton, MN, escaped the Phillipines prior to James McComas. Ironton is close to Brainerd.

 

Dobervich escaped with Colonel William Dyess. A book details their escape.

 

Dobervich came home to the Brainerd area before McComas, and although he had nothing to do with the 194th men, what he reported had happened to the POWs in the Philippines must have been terrifying to those who had men in the 194th, since nearly nothing was at the time known of their fate. 

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The Dobervich family sent six sons off to war, Mike was a POW and escaped, his brother Sam was a Marine LT who was KIA on Iwo Jima.

 

History rightly remembers “The Bedford Boys” for their sacrifice and losses on D-Day with the 29th Division.

 

For some reason Brainerd has been forgotten except by a few. Not only did the sacrifice of the 194th in the Philippines take a lot of their men, but the rest of the war did not spare Brainerd their share of additional losses around the world while in the armed forces.

 

Brainerd paid dearly.

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