Back to Bataan - A Survivor's Story
Written by Rick Peterson
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Author Rick Peterson



The Road to Bataan

The Bataan Death March

The San Fernando Train Ride

Camp O'Donnell

Clark Field Concentration Camp

Bilibid Prison

The Hell Ships


The Nomachi Express

Camp Nomachi

Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation


University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History

Governor Pawlenty
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

In Memory:
Alf R. Larson
Star Tribune

US Representative
Erik Paulsen's Tribute

Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal

Bataan Death March Route Map

Philippine Department of Tourism

Star Tribune:
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)

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Clark Field Concentration Camp

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Clark Field - 1938 -- U.S. Archive Photo We went to Clark Field by truck. When we got to the camp, we realized where we were. The cook detail had been sent there ahead of us to set up kitchen service. The Japanese had given them a pig. It was rancid! You could smell that pig almost from Clark Field to Camp O'Donnell, I'll swear. Whew! It was ripe and full of maggots! They were boiling the pig in this big vat filled with water and the maggots were floating on top. We were all wondering, "What are they going to do with this?" "Eat it," everyone said. An American by the name of Sergeant Shadoan, was the head cook. He was cooking the pig. I didn't know him before, but we became good friends. We ate that pig, believe me! It was the best food we had since before the war. But, one pig for about 200 men doesn't go very far. Everybody got a little piece.

You hadn't had any meat for a long time?
That's right.

What did you have to eat with it?

You even ate the bugs? (Jane)
Absolutely. They were cooked and it was protein.

Oh, ick! (Jane)

What was that camp being used for?
Clark Field was a big American air base. After capturing it, the Japanese used it as an air base too. There wasn't much left standing after they bombed it. They put us in these long bamboo huts. They had built them before the war as quarters for Filipino scouts. Because of all the bombing damage there were lots of materials to be scrounged up. The only way we could get things was to go around in details and clean up. The Japanese let us keep what we could carry back. Everyone was able to get hold of a bunk, a mattress, and some blankets. That was the most fortunate thing that happened! Also, we could keep clean because cold running water was available all the time. We even had flush toilets. The chow wasn't good, but it wasn't any worse than what we had before. In fact, it was better than what we were fed on Bataan before the surrender. Clark Field was one of the best-maintained concentration camps in the whole danged island group. We had people come in from Camp Cabanatuan and other camps. Everyone said Clark Field was the best one of all.

Were there any black markets there?
There weren't any at Clark Field. Some black markets existed in other camps, including Cabanatuan. Of course, there weren't any in Japan.

Was there much activity going on at Clark Field after the Japanese occupied it?
We could hear activity all the time even though we were a little ways from the base. We couldn't see the their planes taking off until they were airborne.

How long were you at Clark Field?
I was there for quite a while, from the end of May 1942 until June 1944.

I didn't know that. (Jane).

You got there and basically set up the barracks and the camp. What role did the Japanese have in this?
They oversaw everything. We had Japanese guards around when we were on the work details outside the compound. But, they didn't talk to us. They talked to our officers. The American officers took charge and divided us up into platoons. Our officers consisted of a captain, two first lieutenants, and the medical officer who was also a captain. I was a staff sergeant and one of the higher-ranking noncoms. I became a platoon leader and assigned work to everyone under my charge. Also, I was responsible for three barracks. The only benefit I received from this position was extra work for myself!

How long did it take to get everything functioning?
We arrived at Clark Field on the first day. The second day we organized the camp as best as we could, and on the third day we started working in platoons.

Did you have a perimeter around the camp?
They had a one strand of barbed wire around the bamboo barracks. The Japanese would walk around and patrol it once in a while. We could have gotten out any time. But, there was no place to go. It would be like being captive in the Everglades.
You could walk away but look out for the alligators! Plus, the Japanese offered a 100-lb. bag of rice to any Filipino who would turn in an escaped prisoner.

Were there a lot of bugs around?
Yes. Mosquitoes were very bad in the Philippines.

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