Last night at our Book Club we had a special treat. Helen Josephine, the wife of Lorren Stoddard came to visit with us. She lives in Salt Lake and is the aunt of one of my Book Club girlfriends. Her husband was one of the men mentioned by Louis Zamperini over the radio airwaves as they were held captive in a Japanese POW Camp during WWII. The book is a fascinating read, her story was equally enthralling. It felt as if we had stepped into the book, experiencing it from a different angle, as we listened to a bright, spry 90-year-old “Aunt Jo” tell her side of the story. She was a new bride living in southern California when her husband was taken captive by the Japanese after drifting almost 4 days at sea with 3 others on a two-man life raft.
Reading and hearing about the experiences these men and women had was sobering. My parents were born in 1930 and not involved directly in the conflicts of WWII, which I so often equate with Europe, not the Pacific Rim. My grandfather, however, was a huge fan of General MacArthur. My grandfather and his 4 boys were pacifists. As Mennonites, they refused to go to war, so when the Korean War came around, my father and my uncles were conscientious objectors and did two years of service, helping in Africa, South America and on the East Coast. My father was a hospital administrator in Maryland.
As I read this book and have read many others about the horrors of war, I too, feel that I might be one to volunteer for peace, and would go just about anywhere to avoid the horror and destruction that comes with power and dominion mis-applied.
Here is Lorren Stoddard’s Japanese Prison Camp Journal.