Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Donald Versaw

1921-

Donald Versaw at wwii museum 24 April 2012 

 Donald Versaw lives in Lakewood, California.  He was born 1921 in Bloomington, Nebraska, and joined the U.S. Marine Corps on Armistice Day, 1939 in Chicago.  Following recruit training and a short term with the Marine Corps Operating Base Band, San Diego, he was sent to Shanghai, China for duty with the Fourth Marine Corps Operating Base Band, San Diego, he was sent to Shanghai, China for duty with the Fourth Marines Band where he played the French horn.  In late November, 1941, the regiment was withdrawn from Shanghai and shipped to the Philippines.  When World War II broke out the Fourth Marines were part of the garrison that heroically defended Corregidor against a massive Japanese onslaught.  He was an infantryman in E Company Second Battalion, Fourth Regiment.  When Corregidor was surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942, he spent the next three and a half years as a POW in the Philippines and in Japan.   During captivity he was held for two years on Luzon Island at work camp near Clark Air base.  In July 1944, he was moved to Japan in the Hellship Nissyo Maru,(often confused with the Nissho Maru) owned by Daido Kaiun (today a Mitsui Company).  He was sent to Fukuoka-7B Futase on Kyushy to be a slave laborer mining coal at Nittetsu-Futase Tanko Kaisha (still Nittetsu Mining Company, Ltd., however there is a supermarket now at the site of the camp).  This company paid enlisted men 5 sen per day for their labor.  (A sen is one hundreth of a yen and one yen was equal to ten American cents).  Deductions were made at the rate of 50% deposited in Japanese Postal Savings Plan where the funds remain today.  Following repatriation, he stayed in the Corps.  In 1950-51 he served in Korea with the 1st Marine Division in a photo unit.  After retirement in 1959, he served in Korea with the 1st Marine Division in a photo unit.  After retirement in 1959, he worked in the aerospace industry for 13 years on the Saturn and Apollo programs.  He completed 10 years of Civil Service divided equally between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Air Force retiring in 1984 with a total of 31 years federal service.  He is a Life member of American Ex-POWs and served two years as a Chapter Commander and its Treasurer for a number of years.  He is a life member of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion Post 142 Bloomington, Nebraska, the China Marine Association, and Marine Corps Musicians Association.

 

More on Donald Versaw:

 

From Japan Dialogue On POWS Donald Versaw

 

 

This information comes from Biographies of Participants Commemorating the Defense of the Philippines Bataan and Corregidor, Washington, DC, April 24-25, 2012