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For week ended December 19, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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Two LDS survivors of Bataan sue Japanese (Two Men, Still Haunted by War, Seek Justice)

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.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information