Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Malcolm Amos PictureHoward "Malcolm Amos
Feb. 18, 1922-October 5, 1011

Malcolm was born in Denova Colorado on Feb. 18, 1922.  He graduated from Afton High School and then joined the US. Army.  He served as a medic in Manila after the war began in the Philippines and was at General Hospital #2 when Bataan was surrendered.  He survived the Bataan Death March and then went to O'Donnell and Cabanatuan Prison Camps.  At the end of January 1945 the 6th Rangers liberated him.

After coming back to the states, he married Loraine Nelson in Oct. 1945 and they opened Amos Grocery in Iowa and worked there until 1977.  He had seven children.  Amos served his community in many ways.  he was fire chief, city council member, mayor, school board member, veterans affairs board, and Union Country Supervisor.   He joined in on committees to further growth in his town such as the completion of 3 Mile Lake, Afton Golf Course and housing projects. 

He also had membership in the Afton Masonic Lodge, American Legion, VFW, F.O.E. Eagles Lodge.  He served as State Commander of American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.  Malcolm Amos visited the Philippines at least a dozen times and also traveled to Kenya, Russia, Scandinavia, India, Thailand, Peru, Galapagos and Spain.

Malcolm Amos interview with Peter Parsons Subic Bay January 2006

HMA: I was at the Cabcaben Hospital Number Two when the Japanese came down and that's where we surrendered-at the hospital. Just a few days after that I started on the march with the Japanese and we went about eighty miles from Cabcaben to Capas, but on the way, the Japanese were terrible. They didn't feed us or give us anything to eat or water or anything like that.

We had lots of Filipinos along with us too, and the Japanese, and I just walked along. I saw one time, they snatched a baby away from one of the ladies along the road, threw it up in the air and run a bayonet in it and then I realized, if you couldn't walk, if you fell down and couldn't walk, well, they ran a bayonet into you and left you lying there on the ground. And I did see the Japanese soldiers—every once in a while, they would grab some girls that that was along the way and take them back behind a shack and you'd hear them screaming and we knew that they were getting raped.

I don't know for sure, I can't remember, but I think it took us about six, seven, or eight days to make this march into Camp O'Donnell; and out in Camp O'Donnell, the first day, they had fixed up a kitchen of some kind and cooked us some rice soup. This soup—it was moldy, full of maggots, full of weevils and everything. And the fellows that were close to me looked at that stuff when they went through the line, and they said, "I can't eat this stuff, I'm not going to eat this, I'd rather die than eat this stuff." Then they took that soup and dumped it into the garbage, and they died—that's all there was to it.

I was there in this camp a couple of days and me and a friend of mine, we decided—the security was poor in the camp because I guess they didn't know that what they were going to do with us at that time since we'd only been there a couple of days—and so we took off and went to the hills. I don't have any idea where we thought we were going to go, but anyway we were up on the mountain, south of the camp, and we went down to a creek, lifted rocks to get the shrimp—fresh water shrimp—that was how Filipinos called them, (we call them crawdads) but anyway, that's what we ate, and we ate them raw.

I don't know how many days we'd been there but one day we were surrounded by several Japanese while we were on the creek. I figured that would be the last of us, but for some unknown reason, they thought that we were on a work detail down on Bataan somewhere. They loaded us all on the truck and they took us down there and dumped us off back at the place called Little Baguio. There weren't so many people there—they'd all left—but there was a work detail there and they thought we were on it. This work detail was supposed to load steel rods for the Japanese. We worked all day; all morning long we'd load those rods and then the Japanese would leave; and anyway they had a truck there and after the Japanese left, we'd go out in it and scavenge for our food—we didn't have food and we did pretty good that way. We got rice and we got bananas and pineapples. So we stayed there.

I don't know how long we stayed there. Anyway, we went around and we found different things —we probed for them because before the capture, if anybody had anything that was worth anything they threw it into a foxhole and covered it up.

While we were there we went to this medical place—we were probing for medicine and stuff like that—and we ran onto a fifty gallon barrel of alcohol. Fifty gallons! and we took that back into the camp and we had pretty good time. Well, you know? We had a commanding officer, my commanding officer that I had before the war, he was at this place and he had to have an appendectomy. What ruined the whole thing was one of the boys got a gallon of that alcohol and took it to his tent and set it up there. When I brought that colonel a drink-it was a whole gallon of alcohol-well, you know about how that went over—that officer ordered them to get rid of the alcohol, you know, and some warrant officer took an axe and chopped a hole in the barrel and drained all the alcohol out of it.

Anyway, we loaded up all the steel and loaded up the trucks—everything we could find around there we thought we could use—loaded up on the trucks and hauled it in to Camp O'Donnell and the Japanese had us stash it in an old building. Everyday we'd go over to the building and steal some stuff out of there. I don't know, once in a while, we got beat up for doing-for stealing, I guess. There was one guy who had a golf club without the handle and he'd give you one blow across the back of your head and neck. Anyway, we finally got all the stuff out of that warehouse.

I stayed in Camp O'Donnell until they closed the camp and I helped release all Filipinos. And they were dying fast. I think the death rate when I came in there, it was four hundred thirty or something like that died in one day. When anybody died somebody stole his clothes and so they were naked, you know, they were buried twenty to a grave. It's either that or be on a burial detail digging graves. I stayed there until we went to Cabanatuan.

Everybody was dying from malaria and dysentery - those were the two most dangerous things, the worst-there was no medicine, you know, to take care of the malaria or the dysentery either one; and that's what everybody was dying from.

(Peter Parsons: What was it like for you when you got liberated? Were you there when

the Rangers came in? Can you tell us what that night was like?)

HMA: Well, it was about nine o'clock at night; I was talking to some friends and then there was some shooting started up. I thought—maybe the guerrillas were attacking—they would sometimes attack the camp and then run away, so we thought that maybe it was guerrillas until the bullets started to go through the shack we were in.

I lay down and crawled off in ditch there and they were all shooting. Being a medic, I had a ward that I took care of that I had patients in. I found out the Rangers were there and they said, "Go to the main gate, we're the Rangers, we're going to get you out." So I ran down to this ward where these people were supposed to have been real sick, you know? That's what we were there for—to take care of them. The Japanese didn't want them because they were all sick; and I went out there and there were only three people left in that ward. I don't know—there were forty people there before and they'd all left but these three: one of them didn't have any legs, one of them had one leg and another one was a heart patient.

There was one Ranger down there and it was his job, I guess, to check that building out and we threw the three patients on a litter-he was on one end and I was on the other—and we went to the main gate and started north. Then somebody came along and relieved me. I only weighed ninety-seven pounds and they relieved me, and we walked all night long until we got to a river and we crossed that river and the Filipinos were nice enough to have these carabao carts; they had hay in them and they hauled the people who couldn't walk. There were airplanes flying back and forth all the time. On the first night, I think we covered twenty-seven or twenty-nine miles. Then they picked us up in trucks and drove us to Lingayen Gulf.

One of the worst things I saw in that camp was-I don't know what this American did, but the Japanese took him and stuck a hose up his rectum and blew him up, you know? And then they jumped on him and of course, naturally he died. Another thing that they did in this camp was they put you in a small building and set you out there in that sun, you know? There was no room enough to stand up. I saw others in there, but never had to go in there myself.

And then we had another fellow that—this was just before the Great Raid, oh, probably a couple of weeks maybe, and there was an order that some of us to go to work on a farm, a hundred of us had to walk to the farm to do something. This one officer stuck up for these patients, the prisoners, hell they couldn't hardly walk, they were sick, you know? The Japanese got mad at this officer and they made him kneel down and they just practically beat him to death. They carried him in off the farm. This officer then, he went over to the Japanese side and told them - I don't know whether it was a colonel or the commander of the Japanese—he said, "Don't ever send me back out on that farm, if you do," he said, "I will kill that guard if I get a chance," he said, "I know you will kill me, but I will kill that guard."