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Santo Tomas Internment Camp

Pacific Paratrooper

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, aerial view.

Santo Tomás Internment Camp [STIC] was the largest of several camps in the Philippines in which the Japanese interned enemy civilians, mostly Americans, in World War II. The campus of the University of Santo Tomás in Manila was utilized for the camp which housed more than 4,000 internees from January 1942 until February 1945.

Over a period of several days, the Japanese occupiers of Manila collected all enemy aliens in Manila and transported them to the University of Santo Tomás, a fenced compound 50 acres (22 ha) in size. Thousands of people, mostly Americans and British, staked out living and sleeping quarters for themselves and their families in the buildings of the University. The Japanese mostly let the foreigners fend for themselves except for appointing room monitors and ordering a 7:30 p.m. roll call every night.

American flag draped over balcony of building as…

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First Hand Account – Home Front on Luzon

Pacific Paratrooper

Fellow blogger at and author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, Rosalinda R. Morgan, remembers a story her father told her about discovering the Americans had returned to Luzon.  The pictures here have been taken from her Photo Gallery, available on her blog.  Please be sure to visit her.

Mr. & Mrs. Mateo Rosales on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

My father told me this story of what happened in his town when the American soldiers came back to rescue the Philippines.

One night, they heard a loud explosion. It was dark around where my parents were camping in their makeshift village. There were nipa huts scattered under dense mango trees and roofs were covered with leaves. One by one, men came out and looked where the noise was coming from. It was a moonless night. It was total darkness except for the lights coming from the explosion.


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Tail of Plane is Altar

Father Regan celebrates Mass at Kirtland Field on January 9, 1943


The Museum is looking for the following:

People often ask us what kinds of things we are looking for to put in the museum. Here’s a short list of items we’re focusing on right now:

•Plates, mugs, glasses from any military installation
•Collectible spoons that have different cities on the handles-both from US and overseas
•tees from military installations
•Food product boxes, cans, alcohol bottles ( empty) with labels that reflect the military. ( We are doing a new kitchen exhibit.)
•Military or patriotic Christmas tree ornaments
•DODDS, DODEA or International school memorabilia
•Beer Coasters from overseas
•Scrapbooking supplies- military & travel stickers, photo mounting tape, acid-free albums, etc.
•Military unit patches

Your tax deductible donation can be mailed to:

Museum of the American Military Family
PO Box 5085
Albuquerque, NM 87185

•We are also collecting written memory pieces from spouses and kids who were stationed in Bad Hersfeld or Fulda at any time. These can be emailed to us at:

Thank you for helping us grow!

Christmas 1954

by Allen Dale Olson

At the Port of Bremerhaven on December 5, 1954, I marched off the USS General Patch on to a waiting train for the overnight ride the length of Germany to Zweibrucken to be processed into my first assignment out of Basic Training at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. My job was to be a Forward Observer for an artillery battery, but privately I felt confident that what a  Chaffee sergeant had told me would come to pass: I would go into Special Services to play baseball and basketball.

Anxious as I was to see Germany, the dark December night revealed nothing, and the illuminated town names in stations through which we passed meant nothing to me – Kaiserslautern, Darmstadt, Giessen. When I first learned I was headed for Germany, I was hoping to land in one of the Lutheran shrines or art cities I had learned about at Valparaiso University – Munich, Augsburg, Cologne, Berlin – or one of the cities so often reported on during the war – Frankfurt, Mannheim, Nuremberg.

Zweibrucken, on the French border meant nothing to me, and, of course, I could not know in 1954 that in 1975, I would cut the ribbon for a new American high school on the Zweibrucken Air Base.

I was held up for several days at the Zweibrucken Processing Center, while many of my shipmates went off to places I had never heard of – Karlsruhe, Ludwigshafen, Hanau, and Heilbronn. Part of the hold-up, I was told off the record was to determine whether there was a place for me on the Zweibrucken basketball team. The sergeant had already tabbed my basic training buddy, a six-foot-five-inch former basketballer from the University of Illinois who said he would not accept an assignment unless they took me too. Neither of us stayed in Zweibrucken.

My assignment was to be in Wurzburg – and his, another town I had never heard of. We got off the train in the central station and were loaded into trucks for a bumpy ride up the steep Main River Bank to Emory Barracks. My buddy was sent immediately to the post gymnasium to meet the athletic staff. I was left alone in a two-man room, and, as I started to unpack, the corporal in charge of quarters came in to tell me I was headed to Leighton Barracks to “try out for the band.”  He was holding papers I had filled out back in Basic that I had played in the Ball State University Concert Band and the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra.

Another truck ride down one river bank, up another to Leighton Barracks, Headquarters of the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One). I was met in the First Division Band building by Corporal Eddie Dacko, first trombonist and the NCO in charge of the brass section. He had a trombone at the ready and somewhat kindly but also somewhat dubiously asked me to play a C-minor scale, then a pedal tone B-flat. He handed over the trombone score of a Sousa march and a passage from the 1812 Overture, asking me to play them. After a few more tests, he smiled and said let’s go see Sergeant Berardo.

Both men welcomed me to the band. After explaining that I was awaiting a decision about baseball and basketball, they explained that the band is year-round – warm barracks, dress uniforms, important ceremonies and that between seasons the athletes slept in pup tents, did field exercises, and worked around the clock. I was hooked. Two more truck rides up and down the river banks to get my “stuff” and move into the band building where I would share a room with Corporal Ray Bruce, a drummer, with whom I would be reunited in 2013 when I moved near his home in Albuquerque.

It was Christmas season, and the first general rehearsal I enjoyed with the band included a selection of concert Christmas and holiday music. A couple days later I went through marching drills and memorized the ceremonial music we would play many times over the next months.

Dacko then put me into a small brass choir and on to one of those trucks for a ride out the Leighton Barracks gate into a residential neighborhood, home to the Division Commander and most of his senior officers. We played carols, strolling from house to house, enjoying not only the music, but also receiving the thanks of the officers and their families.

Over the next few evenings, our little ensemble strolled through German neighborhoods where we received not only thanks but little gifts of candies, pastries, and an occasional bottle of beer. (Fortunately, the experienced members of the choir had known to make sure the truck stayed nearby to haul the loot.) How today, in the 21st-century I wish we could re-create the good will the German citizenry bestowed on us in the 1950s.

Christmas Eve we were trucked down to the Marktplatz, the city’s main square, where we set up in front of the Hofkirch (City Church) to serenade the strollers, worshippers, and general public. At midnight, Herald Trumpeters fanfared the beginning of Christmas, and we joined in with rousing carols such as Joy to the World” and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Our early morning performance ended with Germans and Americans singing carols together, and for a very short time on that cold Christmas Eve in 1954 it seemed that world peace had really arrived.


Sneak a Peek

Hinges of History


Yeoman Anne C. Fee takes a peek at the gift she’s wrapping as part of the “Wives and WAVES” Committee in December 1944. The group wrapped a thousand presents for Navy and Marine casualties at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Merry Christmas and and enjoyable holiday season!

The photo comes from the National Archives.

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Tokyo Army Hospital, 1953: A Veteran’s Christmas Carol

Paul Zolbrod

Hearing “Gloria in “Excelsis Deo” for the first time while a patient in Tokyo Army hospital on Christmas morning, 1953, stays with me as a cherished memory. I may have heard it before then, but its melody and lyrics never registered the way they did then and still do each holiday season since. I now consider it my personal carol. Here’s why, along with the song’s English version.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Shepherds why this Jubilee,
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be,
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Come to Bethlehem to see
him whose birth the angels sing.
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Just seeing the words written out fills my mind’s ear come Christmas morning. I am back in that austere hospital ward, brightened by a Christmas tree I was lucky enough to help decorate, by a visit from a revered Catholic cleric, and by how the song resonated with me through the Hospital intercom then and still does.

Hospitalized for over a month with what doctors called a mysterious blood disease, I should have been back home already. I was granted an early discharge in ample time to begin second semester classes at the University of Pittsburgh, where I had been accepted. But with no official diagnosis I could not be released from active duty. Bad enough that my twenty-first birthday came and went on December tenth. But at least I became ambulatory soon thereafter and was getting around after being confined to my bed for several weeks, my temperature now normal, the confining symptoms nearly gone, and my energy returning.  (more…)

Lucky Seven

Allen Dale Olson is the Museum’s Secretary/Public Affairs and recalls a Christmas during the depression, long before WWII would impact families around the world. Olson would serve in the Occupation Army in Germany in the early 1950s. 

In 1936, our mailing address was R.R. 1, Gary Indiana. R.R. for Rural Route. Not even an F for RFD (Rural Free Delivery), just R.R. No zip code. No box number.(A few years earlier, my father’s address had been just Arnold Olson, Miller, Indiana.

R.R. 1 extended from Gary, in Lake County, into our subdivision of dirt roads without names, except for the family names on mail boxes – Peterson, Borg, Johnson, Nordeen, Tranberg – Swedes all strung along roads which surely challenged the mail carrier in bad weather.

There was enough snow in 1936 – my first year in school – that I felt I had reason to believe that the mail couldn’t get to us. I wasn’t worried about Santa Claus; after all he had a sleigh and reindeer which could fly. But I had learned in my first six years that there were grandparents and aunts and uncles way off in distant Ohio that sent things at Christmas, things we kids didn’t normally see, things like toys and comic books.

The Great Depression made our family cautious about spending money, and such little surprises as my parents would spring on my brother and me were most often articles of clothing or a book to help me with Miss Sevick, my first-grade teacher. (more…)

Please consider supporting MAMF through CFC this year…

The Museum of the American Military Family is part of the Combined Federal Campaign ( CFC). Our CFC number is 57056. Please consider supporting us on CFC.

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