American POWs of World War II: Forgotten Men Tell Their Stories

By Tom Bird | Go to book overview

Ken Curley

Ken Curley like John Emerick, originally enlisted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was part of the peacetime army in the Philippines as well. He was captured on Corregidor. He was able to survive over 42 months of imprisonment by the Japanese because, he claims, of his profound hatred for his captors. Like Emerick, he suffers from severe postwar trauma. His story begins with his entrance into the service.

Work was scarce; there was hardly any to be had. So I enlisted in the early part of '41, and I went overseas later that year. First, we landed in Hawaii for refueling and supplies. They were going to take me off the ship there and put me in the MPs there because I was tall. They were always trying to get MPs over six feet. Somehow, I got out of that. Then we cast off, and I had a little fight on board ship. What happened was a company of eight or nine engineers got on the ship, and they were looking for a place to bunk. I guess they were going to try and outrank us and take our bunks. This one engineer then came up and sat on my bunk, and said to me, "I guess I'll take this bunk. It looks like a good one." I said, "Over a pig's ass you will. Get your ass off there or I am going to throw you overboard."

I used to be able to handle myself pretty well. When my guys saw me doing that they followed suit. We had a bunch of guys from New York. We had a Lieutenant Walters; he was from Pittsburgh. And some one went over and told him, "You better come over 'cause Curley is going to throw one of these new engineers out through the window."

He finally came over and quieted everybody down.

-13-

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