Greeting from the “Bear”
One of the guards, a sadistic and exceptionally strong soldier, would begin his watch by entering a room and beat the man in the seat nearest the door – often this guard would hit with such force that the man would fly across two or three beds. To equally divide the beatings, the men would alternate turns in the chair next to the door when the “Bear” came on duty. The “Bear” was about 5’11” and weighted about 180 pounds.
A Common Occurrence: General Harassment
A variety of reason could be cited for incurring the wrath of the guard. In other instances there was no apparent reason for menacing behavior on the part of the guards.
Punishment and Abuse in the Corridor
One form of punishment was to hold a chair overhead for long periods as the guards would beat, bruise and abuse the prisoners. Another source of amusement for the guards was to threaten the man with death by placing an AK-47 muzzle up to prisoner’s face and after a pause pull the trigger. Click! No bullet, just fun for the guards and nervous relief for the victim.
During “Hell Week,” a misnomer since it lasted longer than a week, the abuse was extreme. Rather than requesting to use the latrine and walk alone through the corridor past the menacing guards, the men choose to suffer throughout the night in agony because their bladders were close to bursting.
“Super C” Says Hello
A senior colonel at that time, “Super C,” as he was dubbed, stood about 5’9” tall. He had fairly round eyes, normal high cheek bones and wore expensive oxford shoes. His hair was jet black, probably with the aid of some shoe polish and parted down the middle, combed straight back and receded slightly on both sides of his forehead. When he smiled, his slightly protruding front teeth were especially noticeable. He was not a completely unlikable person and seemed to be a good leader. He weighed about 175 pounds and had a trim waist.
They May Not be Marlboros, but they’re Free
Although each room was limited to a single package of cigarettes per day, the “clean-up” girl would respond to Jim Kell’s placing a crumpled cigarette in the ashtray in her presence. The plain but young and fairly attractive girl would then leave, and about fifteen minutes later she would return with a new package of cigarettes. A North Korean brand called “Calmagi” (Seagull) had a picture of a gull on the pack. They were tolerable to smoke.
Florence Nightingale at Work
During the summer, inoculations were administered to guard against “Japanese sleeping sickness.” i.e. encephalitis. All eight members of Chief Kell’s room marched to the sick bay where the shots were given by “Flo” (Florence Nightingale). Prior to the shot, a medical attendant, in observation of universal medical standards, dutifully swabbed the injection area with alcohol. Flo, however, used the same needle on all eight men and did not even wipe the needle between injections. She did not require a refill between the eight injections because he gave each man a portion of the vile in the syringe.
Two weeks later, Hayes became sick and was subsequently quarantined with either yellow jaundice or hepatitis. Although there was much concern among the others who were “on the same needle,” no one else in the room contracted the disease.
By CAPT Ron Samuelson, USN, (ret.)