Author Rick Peterson
The Road to Bataan
The Bataan Death March
The San Fernando Train Ride
Clark Field Concentration Camp
The Hell Ships
The Nomachi Express
Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation
University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History
State of the State Address Tribute
KSTP TV Newscasts
Duluth TV Newscasts
KTIS Radio Interview
Rick P./Paulette K.
Alf's Christian Faith
Alf's Letter to God
Alf R. Larson
Alf R. Larson
Erik Paulsen's Tribute
Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal
Bataan Death March Route Map
Philippine Department of Tourism
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)
You went to Camp Nomachi by train?
Yes. I arrived in September 1944 and stayed there until the end of the war. The camp had been prepared for us. It was all set up and waiting. I think the Japanese had previously used it for their troops. There were two large barracks with toilet facilities, running water, and a mess hall. The barracks offered us two tiers of bunks with tatamis, big straw mattresses that were harder than a brick! Each prisoner was issued two blankets and a "neck-breaking," hard pillow.
Did it have a fence around it and look like a prison camp?
There were several strands of barbed wire fence about ten feet high.
Did you have time to get acclimated to your new surroundings?
Everyone went to work the next day. You acclimated to the camp as you went along.
Was the compound lit up at night?
The perimeter had lights. There weren't any searchlights scouring the camp.
How did the Japanese transmit orders?
They had an interpreter. The officer in charge of the camp would tell the interpreter what he wanted. The interpreter, in turn, would tell our officers. The officers would disperse us accordingly. Japanese military and civilian guards were there all the time. They came, did their shifts, and left.
Do you want to see a picture of the Nomachi POW camp?
The Japanese commander in the photo with our American camp commander, Lieutenant Sense is "The One-Armed Bandit." He arranged for this picture after the Japanese surrender and sent the negative to Lieutenant Sense. The Japanese camp commander is in the second row and Lieutenant Sense is here. I weighed less than 100 pounds in this picture, as did everyone else!
What happened to that Japanese camp commander after the war?
Nothing. He wasn't a bad guy. He had lost an arm fighting in China, which is why we called him "The One-Arm Bandit." As long as you did your work, he left you alone. Each week, in the wintertime, we were issued a couple pieces of wood for heat.
We had one pot-bellied stove right in the middle of the barracks, which was supposed to heat the whole place. It never did. When he got drunk, he would come in our barracks and tell us to "fire the stove up, get it hot!" "I'll get you more wood tomorrow," he would say. We fired it up but never got any additional wood. He promised, but I don't think he had the wood to give us.
Why would he come in there?
I had no idea why he came in! He had Saki in his head and would come in "roaring drunk." He didn't beat anybody. He never beat or physically abused anybody that I saw.