Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Date of birth: Nov. 27, 1918
Dates of service: April 3, 1941, to March 29, 1946
Hometown: St. Vrain
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Unit and specialty: 200th Coastal artillery
In his words: They had been cut off from support and stranded without food and supplies when they were captured by the Japanese and forced to walk approximately 65 miles in the infamous Bataan Death March. Three and a half years of his life were spent in a POW camp, enduring brutal imprisonment by the Japanese.
Time in the camps was horrific. Meals consisted of “just old soupy rice for breakfast, dry rice for dinner, and water.
At night Roach said “we’d talk about what we was gonna do when got back, how we was going to eat ‘till we was gonna die.” Bread, meat and something sweet to eat — things he recalls wanting the most.
Roach said one morning the Japanese left. “We knew there was something wrong.” The men were able to get some radios and tune into a Yokahama station. It was then that they learned the war was over. Following instructions from the radio, they marked the roof of the prison and waited.
“After a week of that they dropped barrels and sent a plane with rations. We had plenty to eat from then on. We stayed until some officers came up there and put us on a passenger train” he recalls.
When he finally reached home, he says “I’d gained a lot of weight.”
Lee “Sam” Scott
Date of birth: July 24, 1924
Dates of service: 1942 to 1945
Hometown: St. Vrain
Lives in: Logan
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Rank: Machinist Mate 2nd Class
Unit and specialty: Attached to the 53rd CBs; demolition
Veterans organizations: 3015 VFW Post 77, American Legion, Rotary club, Military Order of the Cooties
In his words: Simple and to the point, his father’s advice was “son, be a man.” These words motivated Scott to keep his chin up when times were tough: “That’s what I worked for when I was in. If times were good, you were happy. If times were bad, you tried to be a man. You got along, you were there to make the best of it” he said.
Often the island jungles were cleared with the aid of demolition experts such as Scott, who made it possible for the CBs to construct air strips and other needed strategic infrastructures.
In Hawaii, they were clearing an area for the construction of new barracks when “we set a little bit too big a charge and moved a two-story barrack over about six inches off it’s foundation. We had to get a crane to put it back. We corrected our mistake and went on about our work.”
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: