Survivor Memoirs

In the decades after World War II, many civilian survivors of Wake Island took pen to paper to write recollections of their experiences on Wake as workers, the battle for the island in December 1941, and forty-four grueling months as prisoners of the Japanese. Some fleshed out their memoirs as autobiographies, including memories of their youth and postwar lives; others zeroed in on the war and how they faced the challenges that befell them from 1941 to 1945. I collected many memoirs from survivors themselves or their family members over the years, though I did not utilize them as sources for my book. (See my July 2013 blog post Memory). I recently donated some to Idaho State Historical Society in Boise to add to the collection of the Survivors of Wake, Guam, and Cavite.

Here is a list of the civilian survivors’ published books, memoirs, and oral history accounts that I know of (not including media interviews and articles). Please contact me at if you know of additional works.


Abraham, Theodore A. Jr. “Do You Understand, Huh?” A POW’s Lament, 1941-1945. Manhattan KS: Sunflower University Press, 1992.

Astarita, Joseph J. Sketches of POW Life. Brooklyn NY: Rollo Press, 1947. [A “visual” memoir]

Burton, John. Traveling Life’s Twisting Trails. NY: Vantage Press, 1992.

Hokanson, Walter N. The Man Called Swede. 1st Books Library, 2003.

Kephart, Rodney. Wake, War, and Waiting. Stanley ND: Exposition Press, 1950; reprinted Hassell Street Press, 2021.

Mace, Frank. The Story of Wake Island: Before, During and After Life as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese for 44 Months. WA Cheney: privately printed, 2004.

Taylor, William. Rescued by Mao: World War II, Wake Island, and My Remarkable Escape to Freedom Across Mainland China. Sandy UT: Silverleaf Press, 2007.

Whitney, Hans. Guest of the Fallen Sun: In the Prisoner-of-War Camps in Japan and China. NY: Exposition Press, 1951.

Biographies by family members

Magnino, Leilani. Jim’s Journey: A Wake Island Civilian POW’s Story. Central Point OR: Hellgate Press, 2001. (James A. Allen’s story, well written and documented by his daughter with his help.)

Lewis, Calton. Wake Island: The Story of a Civilian POW at Niigata, Japan 1941-1945. IN Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2006. (Siegel T. Lewis’s prewar and wartime experiences, compiled long after his death by his son. No citations.)

Leavitt, Ellen D. W., EDD. They Never Wavered: Forrest & Esther Packard During War Years. UT: Brigham Young University Print Services, 2005. (Forrest Packard’s family story and wartime experiences, well researched and compiled long after his death by his granddaughter.)

Memoirs, oral histories

Note: ISHS is Idaho State Historical Society, 2205 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, ID 83712 (208) 334-2620. The “Survivors of Wake, Guam, and Cavite” collection of 16 boxes is in manuscript collection MS 0738.

Abraham, Theodore A., Jr., personal narrative, “Ted Abraham Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project,

Aki, Patrick K., oral history interview, 2011: “Go for Broke National Education Center,”

Brown, Herbert C., Memoir: “Wake Island: The Alamo of the Pacific,” ISHS, MS 0738, Bx 8: F38

Crawford, Elmer L., Memoir, Kacie Josifek; personal narrative, “Elmer L. Crawford Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project “Elmer L. Crawford Collection”

Comstock, Benjamin F. Jr., personal narrative, “Benjamin Franklin Comstock Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project,

Dennis, William M., Memoir: “Four Years of Living Hell,” ISHS, MS 0738, Bx 8: F34

Dodds, Darwin H., LP Recording (also in CD format) “The Wake Island Story” and other materials, ISHS, MS 0738; “Darwin Halbert Dodds Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project

Gillespie, Robert P., Memoir: “My Surprise Visit to the Far East or 46 Months under the Japs,” ISHS, MS 0738

Green, Arnold R., personal narrative “Arnold R. Green Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project “

Haakonstad, Clintton H., Oral History, ISHS, OH996

Hoskins, John R., Memoir, 2002, in possession of John R. Hoskins family

Howes, Claude D., “Testimony of Claude Davis Howes,” copyright Don Matthews,

Johnson, Malcom D., Memoir, 1994, originally on VHS, transferred to DVD in 2015, in possession of Jody Johnson, Surprise, AZ, also possibly ISHS, MS 0738, Box 8, F18

Kay, Logan S., Memoir: “By the Dawn’s Early Light,” ISHS MS 0738;

Lee, Edwin M. S., “Eddie,” Memoir: interview with daughter Lana Lee, 2009, in possession of Eddie Lee family

L’Esperence, J. Paul, Memoir, ISHS, MS 0738

Mace, Frank R., Memoir, ISHS MS 0738, Box 8, F3-F4 [possibly including his book or loose-leaf memoir]; Oral history, “The Portal to Texas History, 2007,

Marcotte, Clayton J., Memoir, at Fruge Family Tree in, accessed 2009

Miller, Joe E., Oral History interview by Ron Wilper, 8/6/2006 (Tucker & Assoc. Realtime Court Reporters, BOI)

Myers, C. Leroy, Memoir and Poetry Memoir, ISHS, MS 0738, Box 8, F8-F9

Newell, Glenn L., Oral history, ISHS, OH1933

Nonn, Leo L., Memoir: “Leo Nonn’s Story,” 2003, ISHS MS 0738, (possibly in Box 6, F6); personal narrative “Leo Louis Nonn Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project

Riddle, Pearson, Jr., Oral history, “Working for the CCC and Going to Wake Island,” The Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum,” 2015,

Rumpel, Fred R., Memoir: “My World War II Experience,” ISHS, Box 0738, Box 8: F35; “Prison Camp: Writings by Fred Rumpel Dec 23, 1941, to Aug 25, 1945” ISHS, Box

Santos, Elvin J., “Buddy,” Memoir: “War Record,” 1994, ISHS, MS 0738, Bx8: F36

Savitz, Harvey E., Interview in “Voicing the Realities of War,” Jenkins High School, Chewelah, WA, 2000, in possession of daughter Linda McCanna, Chewelah, WA

Streeter, Mark L., Memoir: “They Called us Traitors,”

Tomko, Aloysius “Tommy,” Memoir, diary, and documents; “Not an Ordinary Man,” edited by Daydra Peery, 2000, in possession of the Peery family, Post Falls, ID

Wardle, Isaac J., Memoir: “Statement in Defense of Wake Island” and “Related Activities before the Defense of Wake Island – December 1941” ISHS, MS 0738, Box 8: F13

Young, John O., Memoir: “WWII Japanese POW,” 1996, ISHS 0738, Bx 8: F37; personal narrative, “John O. Young Collection,” Library of Congress Veterans History Project