Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Dr. Eugene Jacobs


 Eugene Jacobs Presentation at ADBC Museum 2012


Eugene Jacobs PictureEugene Jacobs was born in Schenectady, New York on May 10, 1905.  He graduated from Crane Junior College in Chicago and the University of Michigan Medical School in 1929.  He entered the Medical Corps in 1930.  Eugene Jacobs served in World War II as a captain and a doctor, as Commanding Officer of Camp John Hay at the thirty five bed station hospital.   In December 1941, the camp included members of  the 43rd infantry of Philippine Scouts and a housekeeping detachment.  Right after Japan struck Pearl Harbor, they chose Camp Hay for their target initiating Philippine involvement in World War II.  After burying their dead and caring for the wounded, they were advised to advance to Bataan.

Dr. Jacobs traipsed over rugged trails and he hooked up with others as a Guerilla regiment under Major Everett Warner.  On April 1, he was ordered  to move to Palanan on the East Coast and their regiment was renamed the 14th Infantry Regiment.  Finally in June, Colonel Warner surrendered and on July 20, 1942 and Dr. Jacobs boarded a truck to Cabanatuan.

Jacobs became a Medical Officer and took charge of Group 2 Dispensary.  With little in the way of medical supplies sometimes all he dispensed was advice.  The medical team told the men to eat charcoal from the kitchen to treat their dysentery.  Patients died at the rate of 30 to 50 a day and 2400 people died during the first eight months of the camp.  The prisoners suggested that they start a farm at Cabanatuan thinking they might get extra to eat but the Japanese sold the products to the Filipinos around Cabanatuan.

In September 1944, the camp residents noted American planes, and the Japanese decided to ship out prisoner to Japan for slave labor.  During his internment Dr. Jacobs drew sketches of camp life and individuals.  Before shipping out to Japan, he buried his 110 sketches in a Mason Jar.

His group went to Bilibid prison, and in November he developed dengue fever, suffering the symptom of feeling like every bone in his body was breaking.  On Dec. 13th he learned they would board on the Oryoko Maru .The next day, the Americans bombed the ship and on the 15th the continuing strikes proved more deadly and explosions shook the ship.  Mr. Wata, a Japanese interpreter told them to leave the ship.  Men died or were wounded trying to get off the ship.  After Jacobs and his friend Cy Delong swam and then waded to shore, they stopped to rest on a sea-wall.  Eugene watched as a Japanese approached from behind and shot his friend.  Blood poured from his friend's chest.  Next the Japanese gathered the men on the tennis courts where he aided in setting up a hospital to  treat the wounds.  After suffering in intense heat during the daytime, and cold at night they left the courts to go on a railroad trip to San Fernando.  Some men had to ride atop the train, and Jacobs rode  inside bearing the stifling heat. 

Once at Lingayen Bay, Jacobs had to jump from the pier onto a barge about ten feet down. Next he started out towards the Brazil Maru and then put on the Enoura instead. Proceeding north, the prisoners were freezing in their summer garb. In Taiwan, all the men were transferred on to the Enoura Maru  on January 9th the ship was bombed.  Jacobs viewed three hundred Americans mangled and piled up as a result of direct hit.  The Japanese came and put mercurochrome on minor wounds, but did nothing to treat the major wounds.  The survivors were put on the Brazil  Maru.  They suffered with cold and starvation and disease.  On Jan. 19, the ship anchored in Moji and the medical group went to the Japanese Prisoner of War Hospital.  Jacobs thought he was going to lose his life as he endured extreme pain in his legs and feet and then no feeling at all.  At the beginning of March he was taken to Fukuoka Camp #22.  In April his weight was 90 lbs. as he had both pellagra and beriberi.  At the end of April he transferred to Camp Hoten in Mukden, Manchuria (now China).  He was able to recover some at Hoten, and on August 16, the men learned that Japan had surrendered.  In Kunming, China, he stayed in the hospital until August 30.

After arriving in San Francisco in September he reunited with his wife Judy.  Once they were on the east coast, he stayed at Walter Reed for two months.  In April he became the father of  a baby boy.  Dr. Jacobs stayed with the U.S. Army Corps reaching the rank of Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1965.  He had three tours of service at Walter Reed, two in the Office of the Surgeon General, one each in the Department of Defense, the War Claims Commission, and the Office of the Secretary of the Army.  For his service he received the Medical Combat Badge. the Distinguished Unit Citation (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Pendant, the Purple Heart and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.  

Jacobs was awarded the 1956  Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize for the most useful original  investigation in the field of military medicine, and the 1963 and 1964 George Washington Honor Medal.  In addition, he received the U.S. Army and Medical Service Medallion.

When he went back through the Philippines on his way home from Mukden he tried to retrieve his artwork, but could not locate it.  He finally found his sketches at the Pentagon.  When the Sixth Army Rangers rescued the prisoners left at Cabanatuan they also found his buried drawings.  On the back of the drawings was the note unidentified artist. 

In addition to his medical and artistic achievements, Dr. Jacobs wrote over thirty professional articles and penned the book "Blood Brothers."  This book can be viewed at the Project Gutenberg site. 

Eugene Jacobs passed away on Feb. 24, 2000.