Summarized by Kent Larsen
Two LDS survivors of Bataan sue Japanese (Two Men, Still Haunted by War, Seek Justice)
Los Angeles Times 14Dec99 P2
By Mike Downey
Harold Poole and V.O. "Johnny" Johnson, two LDS survivors of the Bataan
Death March are taking advantage of a change in California Law and suing
the Japanese for their mistreatment during the war. California recently
extended the statute of limitations on claims by Holocaust victims, POWs
and other victims of World War II to 2010.
Both Poole and Johnson were stationed in the Phillipines as part of the
Army Air Corps in 1941 when the Japanese attacked soon after Pearl
Harbour. Poole managed to get his hands on a machine gun and aimed at
the attacking Japanese bombers, but the gun jammed. With bombs dropping
around him, he disassembled the weapon and reassembled it, getting it
firing again. He was able to shoot down one Japanese plane, earning the
Silver Star in the process.
Nearly 20,000 U.S. troops, including Poole and Johnson, were captured by
the Japanese and forced to march to Bataan, where those that survived
the march were shipped to Japan to work as virtual slaves in Japanese
factories. Poole worked for the company that is now Nippon Steel, while
Johnson worked for a predecessor to chemical company Ishihara Sangyo.
The two men are suing the corporations, not the Japanese government.
The idea to bring the lawsuits came from BYU-trained lawyer Jim
Parkinson, who discussed California's extended statute of limitations
with fellow BYU Law School alumni and current U.S. attorney for Utah
Paul Warner. Warner told Parkinson that his father-in-law, Poole, had
survived the Bataan Death March and soon Parkinson's firm, Herman,
Middleton, Casey &Kitchens had the case. The case was announced
December 7th, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
Parkinson is very impressed by his clients, "In my life I've never been
around people I've been more impressed with. I've tried a lot of cases,
but these people have transformed me. I'm humbled just to speak with
them." Parkinson says that his clients just need to feel compensated for
thier experience, "What they need now is closure."
But Poole can't be too angry with the Japanese. His son served an LDS
mission in Japan.