Tag: POW

Robinson’s Rescues

 

This is about a World War II Navy Chaplain, Charles Robinson, who helped free the first Allied POWs in Japan. I’m posting this on Ricochet partly because I was irritated by the recently discovered comments by the Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock in the Georgia special election for Senate, who orated from the pulpit that people cannot serve the military and God. I didn’t find this to be true during my Navy career, whether one was serving as a Chaplain or just an adherent of a religion. Some of the people I respected the most were men of the cloth and I still value their friendship and the time we served together.

The essay is unrelated to the politics of the moment, so if you’d like a break from news about the election, the essay is safe to read. I doubt any of you have heard about Father Robinson, but his story is one that is worthy of sharing and, I believe, undercuts the narrative that Reverend Warnock peddles. Father Robinson pursued studies in theology that led him to become a Jesuit Priest almost 100 years ago, and he went overseas to Japan for his first posting. What he learned while in Japan ended up helping hundreds of prisoners of war in the Tokyo area who had been tortured or were starving at the end of the war.

The full essay is based on a research project for a history class I completed earlier this year. The professor described how Father Robinson had accomplished a mission of mercy for the Jesuits at the Jesuit Sophia University in Tokyo, and due to my Navy background, she suggested I research it for the term paper. My research determined that he had done a lot more of consequence before his rescue mission to Sophia. At the war’s end, he was stationed onboard the Battleship USS Missouri (BB-63), which arrived at the entrance to Tokyo Bay a few days before it would host the surrender ceremony on 2 September 1945. Of the tens of thousands of sailors who came to Tokyo Bay and were present for the surrender ceremony, Father Robinson had a skill that ended up being critical for rescuing hundreds of prisoners of war (POW) languishing in Japan’s numerous POW camps. He used his knowledge and abilities with distinction, in ways that helped smooth the process of quickly freeing the first group of POWs and saving other lives.

A True Hero’s Homecoming: Retired USAF Colonel, Congressman Sam Johnson

 

The news media condemns itself, as does our political class, once more, with their relative silence. A true American hero, whose virtue was proved in the skies of two wars, the hell on earth of the worst part of the Communist Vietnamese torture chambers, and in the halls of Congress that so often corrupt, has been called home. Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, retired Congressman Sam Johnson went home on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at the age of 89. There is a famous photograph of Colonel Johnson reunified with his wife, Shirley, after seven years of captivity. At the end of May 2020, I believe they were reunified a second time. We do not know what Heaven is actually like, but we may well imagine these two people embracing again in bodies not ravaged by this fallen world.

Sam married his high school sweetheart, Shirley in 1950, shortly before graduating from Southern Methodist University. They remained faithfully married for 65 years until Shirley was called home before Sam. Shirley Johnson’s obituary confessed their faith:

During Sam’s captivity, Shirley’s faith in the almighty God became more real. Prior to the POW years, she and her husband had faithfully attended church. In the blink of an eye, God was comforting her, and her faith blossomed so that she was reliant on God for the answers to her life’s tribulations. This undying faith stayed with her the remainder of her life and became a hallmark of her quiet strength, gracious manner and gentle personality. [. . .] Sam and Shirley remained inseparable, enjoying seeing new places and learning about new cultures. They found the greatest joy however, spending time with family and giving praise and thanksgiving to their Lord and Savior.

National Former POW Recognition Day

 

Today, April 9, 2020, is National Former POW Recognition Day. President Trump issued the annual proclamation yesterday. This may seem like an odd day, disconnected from familiar weekends or events, but it is a very specific date, fraught with terrible significance.

March 28, 1988, President Reagan signed Public Law 100-269, “A joint resolution designating April 9, 1988, and April 9, 1989, as ‘National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.’

Whereas the United States has fought in many wars;

Christmas Eve 1968: Remember the USS Pueblo

 

Fifty years ago today, Christmas Eve, 1968, the USS Pueblo crew arrived home in San Diego, California. They had been held and tortured by the North Koreans during the past 11 months. This incident happened in the context of the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive and uprisings and unrest across Europe and the United States. The Pueblo’s crew was returned after the election of Richard Nixon to be President.

The USS Pueblo incident began on January 23, 1968.

On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, is engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S. reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but the North Koreans turned their guns on the lightly armed vessel and demanded its surrender. The Americans attempted to escape, and the North Koreans opened fire, wounding the commander and two others. With capture inevitable, the Americans stalled for time, destroying the classified information aboard while taking further fire. Several more crew members were wounded.

Member Post

 

This is the first of two essays of which I mean to deliver myself, concerning American Christians at war. I’m enough of a movie critic to raise an eyebrow when people start saying Christian things in stories. It’s pretty rare; it occurs usually in period pieces. I’ve a few things to say about this that you […]

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