Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Lewis Goldstein,  ADBC Commander

ADBC Commander, 1955-57

Lewis Goldstein was captured in Bataan and made the Death March.  He was in O'Donnell and Cabanatuan and worked on the truck detail that drove the Japanese for the work involved in building of various bridges.  He was assigned to the Permanent Work Party at Bilibid until 1944 when he was sent to Narumi.

Lewis Goldstein worked  in the wholesale fish industry He was secretary of Liberty Fish Co., Philadelphia, and vice president of the Brownsville Shrimp Exchange and served as president of the National Fisheries Institute.  He died in an unfortunate plane accident.  The plane carrying 73 passengers  crashed in Elkton, Maryland in a turbulent storm on December 8, 1963 that caused a lightning strike to the plane.  At his death, he left a wife and a son and a daughter.

Many POWS who knew Goldstein said he was good-natured and could cheer up people when they fell prey to depression.  He also was a humanitarian, going so far as to pay for a pension for one of his Japanese prison guards who offered him extra bits of food.  He also paid for the funeral of a POW who had family and left no will.

Below are two tributes from the Quan regarding Lewis Goldstein.

"In Memoriam
Lewis Goldstein"

by James F. Cook

When any member of ADBC dies we are all diminished and perhaps drawn a little closer to one another.  It is especially distressing to lose a man who has done so much to make  ADBC a successful organization.

We all lost a good comrade and a good friend when the explosion of a jet airliner took the life of Lewis Goldstein on December 8, 1963, at Elkton, MD.  The Quan will receive other communications with respect to his life and death, but here I would like to refer to those I received.

Mrs. Elizabeth Elliott, Secretary of the Gold Star Mothers of Bataan and Corregidor, writes that, "The Gold Star Mothers have lost a very good friend, we all loved Lew. "She enclosed part of a column from a Boston newspaper ("My Boston") that the columnist entitled, "Fate Plays Both Ends."  It reads in part:  "To Tom and John Fulham of Wellesly, fate was a little rough on their friend, Lew Goldstein of Philadelphia.  The brothers run a wholesale fishery business here.  Lou ran onein his town.  They got to know each other pretty well."

"Lew was captured by the Japanese on Bataan," John said and "made that terrible 'Death March."  He lived through that and he even managed to survive a prisoner-of-war camp, chiefly because one of the Jap guards had enough pity in him to throw Lou a scrap or two of food now and then.  Lou never forgot him for that."

In 1959 (Lew's 40th birthday) Lew and Sue Goldstein went on a trip to the Orient with the express purpose of finding Mr. Shiminitzu (his prison guard).   It was almost an impossible search but he succeeded.  Between the newspaper and police he tracked down that Jap guard now a lumberjack now in the outskirts of Nagoya.  Lew set up a little trust fund that would pay him a pension for life, enough so he wouldn't starve."

This humanitarian gesture on the part of Lew says more about him than anybody can say.  We can think of only one thing to say, "Love thy neighbor as thyself, for the love of God."  There are other instances when Lew came to the aid of survivors of Bataan and Corregidor to the aid of their families."

Sam Moody writes:

"In Memory of My Friend, Lew Goldstein."

" I cannot remember where I first met Lew Goldstein.  It seems as though I always knew him.  I can remember him from Camp O'Donnell and the work details we were on after leaving the camp.

"I was on a work detail at a place called Gapan, and Lew, along with George Picirillo and Pop Sisks, was on a truck detail.  They drove for the Japanese for the work involved in the building of various bridges."  The main reason I can remember Lew was because he showed real leadership in Prison Camp.  He showed his true qualities of leadership in his concern for the other fellows and for the underdog.  He was always willing to give a helping hand."

"Later I saw him at Cabanatuan and he was still the same.  He took being a POW in stride, never once letting it get him down."

"In 1943 we were assigned to the Permanent Work Party at Bilibid and stayed there until 1944 when we were all sent to Japan.  We ended up at a place called Narumi about 12 miles north of Nagoya."

"During the 13 months in Narumi before being liberated Lew showed once again that he was a born leader of men.  He had the knack of taking over when the situation required leadership.  He knew how to talk to you and what he said seemed to be true, just, or the sensible thing to do."

"I know that at one point in my POW life, I was for far 'down in the dumps' that I could not have cared less about my future--but Lew was there at the right time to give the moral support I needed so badly."

"At the time of the liberation in September, 1945, there were over 200 Americans at Nurami.  It all took place so
fast that some of the POW's have not seen each other since that time.  In addition some of the American planes carrying men from Japan to Okinawa and the Philippines crashed, so none us really knew who was still alive until years later when the ADBC became a going organization."

"In 1955, a former POW died in Philadelphia, having no family and leaving no will.  At the time I was stationed nearby at New Castle, Delaware.  We found that out because the form POW had no one he was to be buried in a Potter's Field with no funeral or flowers.  Once Lew found out about this, he paid for the funeral and saw to it that the man was given military rites.  He and I paid our last respects to one that neither of us had ever known.

"Lew helped to give the ADBC a good start toward becoming the respected organization that it is.  All of us who had come in contact with Lew were indeed fortunate.  ADBC can be proud to have had such a man as a member; his family can be proud of him for the way he lived; and the United States Government can be proud of the manner in which Lew served them in time of war and also in time of peace.  Yes, all of us who knew him can be proud--for a little bit of his kindness, his consideration for his fellow men, his tolerance, and his understanding of life my have rubbed off on us."

"Lew, wherever you are, you are missed by so many of us.  May God bless you and your family.  May we all take comfort in the fact that if they do have Work Details in heaven, you will be giving someone a great big helping hand."

Lewis Goldstein has served ADBC well, not only as National Commander for two years but in many other capacities.  The 1951 Convention of ADBC was held in Philadelphia, and Lew was Chairman of the Finance Committee.  Anyone who has worked with a convention knows that one of the toughest jobs is to make the convention a success.  Lew went to work and raised over $1400 by his own efforts.

In the 1951-52 Congressional hearings before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce with regard to bills that would pay former POWs a token subsistence allowance and a token compensation for forced labor and inhuman treatment while they were POWs.  Lew Goldstein and Al Senna were among those who testified.  Al has sent me a copy of the hearings, and I would like to quote parts of Lew's testimony.  It is further revealing of the kind of man he was.

(Lew is speaking as a witness before the Committee):

"I came home.  A lot of my friends did not, and they stayed over there.  When I came back home and saw what happened here in this country--God bless America; it is the finest place in the world; you believe me when I tell you that, and no one knows better than the boys who were overseas and got home and saw the kind of place they were living in and saw some of the Japanese prisoners and the German prisoners and the Italian prisoners who were living over here and living the life of Reilly.  More power to them.  That is the American way of life; that is wonderful; that is good.  But why we have to take money that was confiscated by our government and and give it to anybody else before you take care of our own we cannot see.  We have boys in our organization who cannot afford to buy clothes for their own families because of the high cost of living.  The work which they are doing, they cannot do, they are not physically able...

"I am more fortunate than the rest of them...if I want to take a week off or a month off, it does not make any difference; my brothers take care of the business.  But how many boys can do that?  So on behalf of those boys I am here fighting for them, because it is nothing but what is due them.  That is all it is..."

In the question and answer session that followed Lew's strong opening statement, Lew was emphatic in asserting that "our boys"  should receive compensation first before any other individual or group should be paid from seized enemy assets.  He decisively parried tricky questions by Congressmen can could not be shaken in his belief that POWs should come first.

The 1955 ADBC Convention at Boston put out a magazine commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of ADBC.  In the "Claims to Fame Department" Lewis Goldstein is listed: "Still has the best sense of humor.  Is a very successful business man in Philadelphia."  Eight years later at the time of his death Lew was president of the National Fisheries Institute, a trade organization.

The last time I saw Lew was at the ADBC Convention in Miami in 1962.  He looked well and happy and was in the prime of his life.  His death was a shock and saddened the holiday season for 1963.

My Friend Lew Goldstein
by Gilbert Soifer
December 8, 1941 has always been a significant date for me.  Now I have another terrible December 8th to remember.  On that date in 1963 Lewis Goldstein was killed in a plane crash in Maryland.

Of all the men I met while a prisoner of war Lew had always been something special to me.  My first meeting with Lew was in Cabanatuan in January 1943.  It did not take me long to recognize the strength of Lew's character.  He was always optimistic, a spreader of the good "scuttlebutt."  How well I remember visiting Lew in the so called "hospital" at Cabanatuan just after he had an emergency operation for hemorrhoids.  He was in a bug infested bamboo bed, eating peanuts (scrounged by some friend), and as cheerful as ever.  Another pleasant memory is a pancake "quan" at Cabanatuan.  At this time Lew, two other fellows, and myself each ate thirty large, heavy hot cakes washed down by three canteens apiece of coffee!  Without question, because of his unique qualities of vigor and cheer, Lew knew and had more friends while a POW than anyone I had ever met. 

Of course Lew was just the same in his post-war life as he had been as a POW.  The only difference was that he now had countless friends all over the World.  Lew traveled a great deal in his business and where ever he went he made and kept friends.

Lew was National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor for two years.  As our Commander he did an outstanding job.  Lew called me before his election and asked me if I would serve as National Secretary.  I told Lew that I had no special desire to be Secretary but the fact that he wanted me to help him was enough to make me agree to serve.  Just the opportunity to work closely with Lew for two years was worth all the hard work that went along with being National Secretary.  Naturally Lew and I occasionally had some disagreement concerning some of our organizational affairs.  I was usually the first to flair up.  Lew would just look at me with a smile on his lips and in his eyes and quietly say, "Now, now, Sarge, take it easy."  I don't know how Lew found out that I disliked being called, "Sarge," but he had and he never had any difficulty in smoothing out our relationship.

I'm sure that Lew's many friends in the Fish Industry had no difficulty in deciding that he was the right man to be President  of the National Fisheries Institute.  At this funeral I met several members of the Institute.  They all sorrowfully agreed what a loss of their industry had suffered because of their death.