Decades�Later, Marine Tells Prisoner Of War Experience
(December 29, 2010)
|PLATTE CITY, Mo. (MCN - 12/22/2010) — At the Platte City
library, Oct. 23, hundreds of veterans gathered to reminisce
their days of service in combat. The event called Veterans
Salute, is hosted annually and invites all war veterans to
showcase artifacts and share their stories. |
Although this year's event highlighted the Korean War, there
was one veteran present with a unique experience from World
Ben Lohman, a survivor of World War II as a prisoner of war
captured by the Japanese, continues to share his story
Lohman served with the 4th Marine Regiment, which was
originally stationed in Shanghai, China.
“We were called the China Marines,” he said.
Because of the vulnerability to the Japanese, which were
starting to pose a threat to Americans at the time, the
Marines at Shanghai were eventually pulled out and sent to
the Philippines. It wasn't long before the U.S. would see a
“Two days after we landed in the Philippines, the Japanese
attacked pearl harbor,” Lohman recalls vividly.
American forces in the Philippines were constantly attacked
by the Japanese while in the Philippines. Until that time,
the 4th Marine Regiment was commanded by the Navy. After the
move control was transferred to the Army. After several
months of continuous bombing, it was getting harder and
harder for the troops to fight back. During most of the
flights, enemy planes flew several thousand feet higher than
the range of the American weapons. Although a lot of the
bombs missed their targets, the frequency of the bombings
made up for it.
Eventually, the American troops were surrendered to the
Japanese by the commander, at the time an Army general. They
now became prisoners of war.
“While we were in the Philippines, we all became POW's for
the Japanese,” said Ben Lohman, 91, a veteran of World War
He remembers that even though the Japanese severely punished
the Filipinos for aiding the American POW's, the Filipinos
were eager to help however possible.
“They did whatever they could,” he laughed.
After several months as POW's in the Philippines, the
Japanese began to transport the POW's to Japan. They were
sent to several parts of Japan. Lohman was sent to Osaka to
work on oil tanks.
“As we traveled, we made several stops were they needed some
workers and they just dropped off 50 to 100 guys there,”
After arriving at Osaka, Lohman spent more than three years
as a POW. He remembers working with rarely any days off.
“You really had to bear down on that training to survive,”
said Lohman referring to basic training in survival.
He also admits that the leadership and his young age helped
him face the tough times.
“I was a healthy guy,” he admitted. “If you put your mind to
it, if you told yourself I'm going to survive, you would
One of his most memorable moment as a POW was his last day.
During holidays, the Japanese would grant the POW's a day
off for rest. For this one day, he remembers the Japanese
being more generous than normal.
“The man came in and said ‘you get one more day,'” he said.
We thought wow they must have really had a party tonight,”
he said as he laughed, although whenever he laughed he would
stop as if the reality of it was not as amusing at the time.
“Then he comes back again the next day... and says ‘from now
on we will be friends',” he said as he erratically explained
that the message must have been related to the dropping of
the atomic bomb.
The prisoners were dumbfounded. Not long ago they had been
prisoners with limited rights. Now they were on their own,
free, and with no direction.
“We just started to make our wake to Yokosuka naval base,”
After arriving at Yokosuka, they finally returned home. He
remembers not having told his mother when he was back
“I had told my mother when I was in Japan that I was finally
released,” he said. “But she had no idea when I was coming
back. I remembered I had sneaked into the house. She was
washing dishes at the time and she nearly dropped them.”
Lohman vividly remembers the days after he arrived home from
the war. He talked about dealing with post traumatic stress
disorder and how his time as a POW affected his life.
“I know a little about the service, a lot about survival and
a lot about preparing to die,” he said. He paused briefly
and added, “I didn't want to know about (preparing to die),”
he said as he laughed.
By USMC Cpl. Jeffrey Cordero|
9th Marine Corps District
Marine Corps News
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