UNFORTUNATELY THE CONTRACT WOULD EXPIRE LONG BEFORE EMMETT, OR HIS BROTHER GLENN WERE TO SEE THE SHORES OF HOME AGAIN.
At 11:55 o'clock a.m. on Dec. 8th, life was to take a drastic turn for the 1200 civilians and 400 Marines temporarily residing on Wake Island. For at that time 27 Japanese planes bombed and machine gunned Wake Island.
On Dec. 23 the Marines surrendered the Island to the Japanese. The captured men, stripped of clothing, were left to kneel on an airstrip for four days, while the Japanese awaited word from superiors. The Japanese were not in the habit of taking prisoners alive. One day a sign in English was hung. It read if you follow all of the rules, all of the time, we may not kill all of you. Those who were to be taken as POW's were crammed in the hold of a ship, which was to be their home for almost 30 days. Destination: China. The next four years were spent deprived of adequate food, clothing, warmth, human dignity, open space, nor any of the freedoms we so often take for granted.
Emmett managed to keep a diary hidden for many of his captured years. A small, home made, canvas diary, which, if brought to the attention of the captors surely would have meant death, or worse, for Emmett. Brief entries were made daily, a link to a normal, saner world, perhaps.
1942 Shanghai POW camp
Jan. 24 - Landed in Shanghai, China and were put in internment camp.
Feb. 16 - Mark Stanton died of Malnutrition, he was taken to town and cremated....
May 7 - Radio announces fall of Corregidor, Killed viper. Bought two bowls of burned rice ten Cigarettes per bowl.
June 12 - The Doctor has started operating on shrapnel wounds etc. Starting today we get bread twice per day. One fight today.
June 18 - Lonie Riddle was shot and killed.
June 19 - The body was taken to town for cremation. The adjutant of barracks seven went to the brig for six months. Joe Walters went hay wire and is being held in brig.
June 24 - Five cases of malaria in camp.
July 7 - Sick as hell - stomach.
July 26 - 6 fellows from #4 in brig for stealing canned goods. Barracks confined.
July 27 - Two men from #3, some from #5, caught for stealing canned goods.
#4 stood attention for forenoon. All stand until confession is made.
July 28 - Took seven men to town to be tried in military court.
Aug. 2 - Malaria getting bad... Jan. 1 - I'm sick as hell with diarrhea. Got one doughnut apiece. Five new prisoners came in. Aviators. Clear, cold & windy.
Jan. 7 - Chow cut again. I'm so hungry can hardly go on.
Yet it would be nearly 2 more years of captivity. Somehow Emmett and Glen managed to survive. Emmett had spent four years of his life in prison camp, celebrated his 21st birthday in a place impossible to comprehend. It would be many years, before the United States and the Military recognized any of the 1200 civilians who served four longs years as prisoners of war.
A bomb had stopped the war, the prisoners were released in August 1945, yet it would be two long months in Guam before Emmett was to see home again.
I guess four years in prison camp had taught him to appreciate and enjoy life each day, the fresh air, the taste of homemade ice cream, the smell of baking bread, the sound of rain on a tin roof. He was one of those rare people who are truly generous of heart and nature. Passing along his knowledge the best way he knew how, usually unbeknownst to you.