Click on each World War II veteran to read their story.
Harold Poole, an 89 year-old widower from Salt Lake City, enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in 1940. He was later assigned to the 20th Pursuit Squadron and served as an armament man in the Philippine Islands. He was awarded the Silver Star for “gallantry in action” during the bombing of Manila on Dec. 8, 1941.
A robust 180 lb. young man at the start of the war, Poole sunk to 97 lbs. during his four-year internment as a Japanese prisoner of war. In 1943 he was shipped to Japan and put into forced labor until the end of the war in 1945.
An Ohio native, James Huff enlisted in the US Army Air Corps with the intention to become a pilot. He served as a crew chief in the 20th Pursuit Squadron, stationed in the Philippine Islands during the break out of WWII.
Huff survived the infamous death march across the Bataan Peninsula following the surrender on April 9, 1942. After spending time in prisoner of war camps in the Philippines, Huff was taken to Japan and used as a slave laborer in a steel mill and later, a carpenter shop.
At age 18 John Bristow became a part of the 20th Pursuit Squadron at Hamilton Field, California. Not old enough to be a pilot, Bristow worked in communications servicing radios. His first taste of war came on December 8, 1941 during the surprise attacks on Manila.
During his time as a prisoner of war, Bristow was sent to Japan where he worked at a railroad factory, receiving one day off every two weeks. “We were always cold and always hungry,” said Bristow. Today he resides in Sacramento, California.
Lester Tenney served in the Company B 192nd Tank Battalion on the Philippines Islands. As a prisoner of war he was one of the first to be shipped to Japan and used as a slave laborer. For three grueling years he worked for Mitsui in coal mines that were reopened after being deemed too dangerous to work in.
Following the war, Tenney sought legal action against the Japanese companies for his mistreatment. It wasn’t until 1999 that his case was brought to court. Tenney, who authored the book “My Hitch in Hell,” lives with his wife Betty in Carlsbad, California.