Dr. Calvin Jackson and the Bataan Death March

Dr. Calvin Jackson and the Bataan Death March When discussing World War II, many think about Hitler and his reign of terror throughout Europe. We talk about the Holocaust and the immeasurable cruelty faced by those the Nazis deemed “sub-human”. By the European theater was not the only place during the war where people both military and civilian faced cruelty and evil. The Pacific theater was without a doubt one of the worst parts of the war and the Japanese just as cruel. A perfect example of this cruelty came in the form of a forced march beginning on April 9, 1942 after American and Filipino forces surrendered to the Japanese. Upon surrendering 76,000 prisoners were forced to march 60 miles in sweltering heat without food, water, or shelter. According to reports, 5,200 Americans would die from what would become known as The Bataan Death March. One of the men involved in the march was Kenton native Dr. Calvin Jackson. Jackson’s involvement in the march started when he and a friend were captured by Japanese after their car broke down in Luzon on April 9, 1942. During his march, Jackson would keep a journal, telling of the horrible conditions and treatment of the American and Filipino prisoners by the Japanese. Keeping such a journal was forbidden so Jackson hid it in his trousers and in the mud to keep the Japanese from discovering his secret. In his journal, he tells of men being left on the side of the road to die, of the lack of food and water, and once they reached the prisoner camps, the unsanitary conditions. Being a doctor, Jackson struggled with the lack of medical supplies and his inability to help those who were suffering. During his imprisonment, Jackson was unable to get word to his family. An article in The News Republican dated September 7, 1943 contained an article detailing Jacksons success at getting word to his mother after 17 months. After his release, Jackson would undergo physical therapy to help built up his strength. Part of this therapy was learning how to weave cloth. An example of his work can be seen at the museum in the new military exhibit. After the war, Jackson returned to Kenton. His journal was put in a drawer and was not looked at again for 40 years. One day his wife discovered the journal and encouraged Jackson to transcribe and publish it. The manuscript was completed in 1991 and took it to Ohio Northern University, Jackson’s alma mater, who agreed to publish it. The book had 4 republishing and was sold throughout the United States. Jackson died in 1995 at the age of 91.

Historically yours,

Sheena Striker

Assistant Director

Hardin County Historical Museums, Inc.

223 N Main Street Kenton, OH 43326