My name is Paul Laird Ashton (Paul L. Ashton Jr.) I accompanied my parents to the Philippines
on the twentieth and fiftieth anniversarys of the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. I grew up being
affected by war all of my life. I have been to war sites and have seen what the horrors of war
have done, met many people who were there and heard their stories. On the fiftieth anniversary
I met an old prisoner of war named Harold Hicks (pictured here at the gravestone of his brother
Owen). They were captured and interned in a prison camp called Cabanatuan, a hell hole way out
in nowhere (it takes all day by bus to get there from Manila) and all is gone save for the monuments.
Early on, the Japanese learned to control the prisoners and foil escape attempts. They would put
the prisoners into groups of ten, making those ten responsible for each other. When one man in
the group made trouble, escaped, or attempted escape, all were punished. The group was lined up,
the order was given (every other man step forward). Those that did so were forced to dig their
own graves and were shot. The remaining prisoners in the group were forced to bury their comrades.
Harold Hicks and his brother were unfortunate to be in just such a group. Someone in their group
attempted escape and Owens Hicks paid the ultimate price. He was shot to death in front of his brother
on August 1, 1942.
This was the first time Harold had been back to the P.I. since the end of the war. He had not known of
the existence of his brothers grave, and it was an emotional moment for him when he discovered it.
This was the last time I saw Harold Hicks and he has since passed away. May he finally rest in peace.
There are so many stories like this, however I thought you should know his.