WWII veteran, POW visits Greencastle-Antrim High School

August 31, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Col. Glenn Frazier describes his military experiences Friday at Greencastle-Antrim High School. In World War II Frazier fought in the Phillipines, survived the Bataan death march, three years of imprisonment and torture in Japanese prison camps.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Highly decorated World War II veteran and best-selling author Col. Glenn Frazier was on a mission of sorts Friday when he stopped by Greencastle-Antrim High School.

The 88-year-old veteran and POW traveled with his wife, Terri, from Alabama to Chambersburg, Pa., to work on his second book, a complement to his memoir, “Hell’s Guest.”

On his way to his publisher, eGenCo. in Chambersburg, Frazier made a side trip to Greencastle to share his story with high school students enrolled in social studies and human rights literature classes.

“I talk to any and every school that I can. That’s my first priority,” Frazier said in a slow, Southern drawl.

“I want everybody in this United States to know the value of freedom. So many people take it for granted. Young kids don’t even talk that much about freedom. But it’s the most valuable asset a person has, regardless of what they have,” he said.

Frazier shared his experiences of fighting a losing effort to save the Philippine island of Luzon from the Japanese to the infamous six-day Bataan Death March and three years of torture in Japanese prisoner of war camps.

Frazier grew up in Lowndes County, Ala., in the 1930s and joined the Army at 16. From July 3, 1941, to Dec. 6, 1945, he served in the U.S. Army Pacific Theater and was serving in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked.

There’s so much that’s not told about World War II in history books, Frazier said.

“I feel I owe it to the families that didn’t make it, and to the people in the Philippines that sacrificed. You would not believe what the Japanese did to the Philippine people,” Frazier said. “We deserve to be heard in history, because we saved the invasion of Australia.”

No one knows that on Dec. 8, 1941, the Japanese hit us (on the Philippines) with bombs, Frazier said.

“We were hit with two times the force Pearl Harbor was hit with. They hit us with wave after wave of heavy bombs,” Frazier said.

Six-thousand people were killed and nobody ever knew that, Frazier said.

In April 1942, Frazier endured the Bataan Death March.

“It was six days and seven nights with no food, no water and no sleep,” he said.

During the march, he saw men beheaded, buried alive and driven over with military vehicles.

“When I got to the end of the march, I could not pick up my feet,” Frazier said.

After the death march, he survived horrific conditions at Camp O’Donnell.

On Oct. 20, 1942, he was sent to Japan for slave labor.

“I was told that I was a guest of the emperor of Japan, and we were treated worse than animals,” he said.

As a POW, Frazier survived double pneumonia, torture and isolation.

After the first atomic bomb dropped, Frazier and his fellow POWs were told to dig their own graves — 6 feet long by 4 feet deep by 2 feet wide. After the second bomb dropped, the guards at the POW camp left. Frazier and his fellow POWs left the camp and returned to the United States.

“Hell’s Guest” came out in September 2007 and chronicles Frazier’s journey through the war. Frazier’s second book, which is in the early stages, will focus on his journey after the war, according to eGenCo. owner Vishal Jetnarayan.

Greencastle-Antrim High School counselor Jenniffer Everetts spearheaded efforts to get Frazier to speak to the students.

“I feel like any time you have a real life story you can bring in to the students to make history come alive, I think it’s very important to take advantage of those opportunities,” she said.

Greencastle-Antrim sophomore Ali Moats found Frazier’s personal account very insightful.

“It was really interesting. I learned some things that I didn’t actually know about the war,” she said.

She was shocked by the horrific treatment POWs suffered in Japanese POW camps.

“The way they were treated really struck me,” Moats said.

“I think it’s really unique having someone here from back then because in a couple of years we won’t,” sophomore Samantha King said. “It’s cool to be able to hear their stories.” 

“I knew that his story would be engaging, and I just feel it’s important for these students to realize the importance of what his generation did for our country to preserve our freedom,” Everetts said.

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