Belly of the Beast: A POW's Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival Aboard the Infamous WWII Japanese Hell Ship Oryoku Maru
Judith L. Pearson
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"The Belly of the Beast (is)...a searing tribute...(to) America in its bleakest hour." —Senator John McCain, author New York Times bestseller Faith of My Fathers
On December 13, 1944, POW Estel Myers was herded aboard the Japanese prison ship, the Oryoku Maru, with more than 1,600 other American captives. More than 1,100 of them would be dead by journey's end...
The son of a Kentucky sharecropper and an enlistee in the Navy's medical corps, Myers arrived in Manilla shortly before the bombings of Pearl Harbor and the other six targets of the Imperial Japanese military. While he and his fellow corpsmen tended to the bloody tide of soldiers pouring into their once peaceful Naval hospital, the Japanese overwhelmed the Pacific islands, capturing 78,000 POWs by April 1942. Myers was one of the first captured.
After a brutal three-year encampment, Myers and his fellow POWs were forced onto an enemy hell ship bound for Japan. Suffocation, malnutrition, disease, dehydration, infestation, madness, and simple despair claimed the lives of nearly three quarters of those who boarded "the beast".
A compelling account of a rarely recorded event in military history, this is more than Estel Myers' true story—this is an homage to the unfailing courage of men at war, an inspiring chronicle of self-sacrifice and endurance, and a tribute to the power of faith, the strength of the soul, and the triumph of the human spirit.
"An inspiring look at one of World War II's darkest hours." —James Bradley, Author of Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys
"A searing chronicle." —Kirkus Reviews
much longer to heal than their bodies would. Each man reacted to his new freedom in a unique way, ranging from extreme elation to complete apathy. Some of the men couldn’t talk enough about their experiences, while others preferred to sort things out in their own heads. With the help of a former POW who was a chaplain, the medical staff aboard the hospital ship was able to help those who needed it over the rough spots of repatriation. The priest advised them to treat the POWs by following two
here to see the pecker-checker after a night on the town? I hear the girls on Blood Alley are just about the lowest class you can buy.” “That’s no way to talk about the Marines and what they do with their girlfriends,” Stover told him. “Besides, some of those girls are probably clean.” “Yeah, Stover, and I’m an admiral in the Navy,” Myers said. “There can’t be—” He was cut off mid-sentence when three MPs clattered in, all shouting at the same time. “Get ready, you guys!” “Where’s the doctor?
slipped into the dark recesses of thirst-driven madness, the corpsmen all felt as though they weren’t working hard enough to save those around them. They redoubled their efforts, pulling long shifts on the Death Hatch throughout the night, working in total darkness, with patience and kindness. They were rewarded with very little sleep during the day because of their increased activities in the hold. The POWs who were crippled relied solely on the corpsmen for their base existence. They shifted
daily at the hospital, mostly from the coal mines. Feeble and sick, they could scarcely walk in under their own power. Human dignity and decency were absent from their lives and their feeling of self-worth had disappeared. They had been forced to become animals, with the single goal of surviving just one more day. An officer Myers had met aboard the ship from the Philippines was interned with him at Pine Tree Camp. He told Myers one day that the camp’s conditions were so bad, “a healthy pig would
have died.” Myers didn’t disagree. In addition to guard beatings, slow starvation, fevers, and pneumonia, the Pine Tree Camp prisoners also had to contend with the camp commandant, Sakamato, who was as odious as Hata, the camp’s doctor. Sakamato had no reservations about delivering beatings to the prisoners, whether for “just cause” or for sport. Nor did he do anything to prevent the prisoners from being stoned by civilians as they plodded on their work details outside the prison walls. Pine