Henry Peck Oral History (Part 2 of 2)
Henry Peck was born January 1, 1921 in Huron, South Dakota. He joined the Minnesota National Guard in September 1940 at the age of 19. Peck served as a corporal in the 194th Tank Company A during World War II. He was stationed at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Peck survived the Bataan Death March and then held in the Philippine Islands as a prisoner of war for over three years before being shipped to Japan. He left Japan after the Japanese surrendered. Peck lost his first wife Lilah, and an infant son before his death on February 28, 2011. He was survived by his second wife, Erma, and his five children: Patricia, Pearl, Ramona, Connie, and Henry. He was buried at the Lake Edward Cemetery outside of Brainard, Minnesota.
Peck enlisted in September 1940, prior to the United States’ entrance into World War II. Peck was deployed to the Philippines where he was stationed at Fort Stotsenburg north of Manila. He remembered hearing about the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Peck said he shipped to a location south of Manila. He recalled holding the line in Bataan from January 1942 until April 1942, when the company surrendered to the Japanese. Peck went into great detail about his experience as a prisoner of war during the Bataan Death March. He contracted malaria then had to march from Bataan to San Fernando while being extremely ill. Peck boarded a train to Camp O’Donnell at San Fernando, where he would remain for six weeks before being moved to Cabantuan. He described being held on the hospital side of Cabanatuan, where POWs who were ill were sent to die. Peck recovered and assigned to a detail in Batangas from the summer of 1943 until March 1944. In October 1944, Peck said he was moved to Japan, remembering the abuse that he experienced at the hands of Japanese guards. He described working in a copper smelter in Taiwan until January 13, 1945, including starvation. Peck recalled being transported to Moji Bay in Japan and stayed there until the surrender in September 1945. Peck remembered that when he enlisted, he weighed 160 pounds. When he returned in the fall of 1945, he weighed 90 pounds but quickly weighed 200 pounds. Peck completed his interview by describing all the horrors that he still experiences, including nightmares, and stated that there was nothing good from his experience as a Japanese prisoner of war.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "Henry Peck Oral History (Part 2 of 2)" (1990). World War II Veterans. 48.