|Birth: ||Oct. 21, 1914|
|Death: ||Jul. 17, 1945|
From the Shreveport Times, May 28, 2012, page 1A:
By John Andrew Prime
Almost 70 years after he was murdered by his Japanese
captors, the spirit of a Shreveporter taken prisoner early in World War II lives on through his diary.
Navy Aviation Ordnanceman Doyle Waggoner didn't spend much of his 31 years in Shreveport, only a handful at most. He moved to Shreveport with his family from Arkansas around 1933, attended Fair Park High School and the following year joined the Navy.
Days after the Pearl Harbor attack, Times readers saw his picture in an article listing area soldiers and sailors in
harm's way. In May 1942, Waggoner was captured in the fall of the Bataan peninsula near Manila in the Philippine Islands and the loss of the island fortress of Corregidor.
Originally imprisoned in the Philippines, he was sent to Japan in 1944 on one of the notorious "hell ships" to be sold to work as a slave at Nagoya Branch 2 Narumi, one of hundreds of labor camps set up in the Home Islands. He and the other prisoners were fed barely enough to stay alive, living on at most a cup of water and a half a cup of rice a day.
The former Fair Park Indians football star is largely forgotten today, but he is an important part of World War II
history and his memory has been resurrected by an Indiana minister's attempts to get his diary, miraculously intact
after almost 70 years, returned to his family.
"It is fascinating, but it is not ours to keep," said Gary Nagy, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Hobart, Ind. "It belongs to the family or a museum of something. It belongs to the family and let them do what they want."
Nagy acquired the diary years ago from his uncle, Joe Nagy, who survived slavery in the same camp as Waggoner and saved the fragile papers. Cobbled from a cardboard rations box and a ragtag collection of discarded papers, the diary lovingly details the food and menus Waggoner dreamed of during his days of starvation and slavery.
Numbered dinner menus list oyster dishes, noodle and
vegetable soups, "mashed spuds," oatmeal cookies,
creamed peas, fried onions, mango pie, corn chowder,
"hamberg steak" and other dishes, as well as their recipes. It lists some people and places, but mainly the pages
hold a vision of a better future for a man robbed of his
youth and life while serving his nation.
Born in Arkansas in 1914, Doyle was the oldest child of Lester Waggoner and his wife, Anne, who also had five daughters: Helen, Minnie Jeanne, Mary Louise, Betty Anne and Alice Joy. Helen, Minnie Jeanne and Alice Joy all married Barksdale Field soldiers, while Betty Anne married a man from New Orleans.
Local records of Anne and Lester Waggoner show them out of the area by the early 1950s, and attempts to locate people who might have gone to Fair Park High School with Doyle Waggoner and remember him were unsuccessful. Doyle Waggoner's parents both are dead as are his sisters, leaving only relations two generations removed, who have
not kept in touch with one another.
The Times was able to locate two of Waggoner's nieces, Margaret Wallace of Huntsville, Ala., and Sharon Price of Brockton, Mass. Margaret Wallace is Helen's daughter, while Sharon Price married Betty Anne's son Adrian, who died in
Helen Waggoner Wallace, who died last summer, told her children about her brother, Margaret Wallace said.
"She spoke of him often, but he died long before I was born," she said. "Of course, he was her older brother and I know she looked up to him a lot. When I was growing up she spoke of him quite often."
Brutal treatment Mostly sad, Waggoner's end is detailed in testimony from the war-crimes trials of more than a dozen Japanese camp guards.
Waggoner "went a bit mental and used to raid the cook house at night for food," testified fellow prisoner Charles Osborne, who spelled the name as "Wagner" in his affidavit. "He was caught once and given the three-days-and-three-nights treatment, that is, being tied up legs hands and arms
and set in front of the guard room for three days and
three nights. On the morning of 17 July 1945 I went to the cook house to prepare breakfast. The Japanese had been looking for Wagner — he had not showed up for a parade. When entering the kitchen, I found bloodstained clothing on the table. We reported this and the Japanese started a search of the cook house. Wagner was found in the rafters resting on a board. He had tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat but did not succeed.
"He was taken out and tied up in front of the guard room and was kept there for three days and three nights.
During that time, he must have been beaten up one
hundred times. Every Japanese in the camp worked on him.
After his release, he was put in a cell and had a spoonful of rice, half a cup of watter three times a day. I used
to carry the food for Wagner to the Japanese guards. The
guard threw it away half of the time.
"About the tenth day after he was put in the cell, the camp medical orderlies went to see him. He was lying on the bed covered in human dung and soaked with urine. He was trying
to get water that was coming through a (hole) in the roof. His reasoning was entirely gone. The next day he was reported dead and cremated."
British doctor Walter Norman Riley testified that Waggoner "broke out of the barrack room one night in order to steal food from the cookhouse. He hid in the cookhouse on a shelf in the back of some vegetables, and on the following day
could not be found. All the men were confined to barracks whilst search parties went out to look for him. When eventually the cookhouse staff were allowed to go into the cookhouse to prepare a meal, one of the men found him. He had tried to commit suicide by cutting himself with a knife, but unsuccessfully. The Japanese charged him with attempting to escape, and he was sentenced to 30 days in solitary confinement ... (Waggoner) died of starvation after 21 days."
But U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Matthew David Monk, another former prisoner, offered a different account in a Times front-page story from September 1947.
"No doctor's examination was permitted and no Americans were allowed to see Waggoner," Monk's testimony reads. "The Japanese placed him in the casket themselves. It was the opinion of many of the men engaged in camp work, such as
the cook who had seen Waggoner placed in the casket, that he was still alive and breathing at the time."
His return home
After Japan's surrender, Waggoner's remains were reburied in the Philippines, but he eventually came home in the mass reburials of World War II dead in the 1940s and 1950s. He finally was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in October 1948.
Nagy tried to find the Waggoner family about eight years ago, with no luck. He recently tried again, getting a regional columnist, Jerry Davich, to write a few pieces on it, which got the attention of The Times and a handful of researchers across the nation. That led to The Times tracking down the surviving nieces.
Nagy would like to return the diary to the nieces or
get their permission to donate it to one of several museums that might preserve and protect it, such as the Bataan Death March Museum, the MacArthur Philippine Museum or the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla.
"I want this to be somewhere where future generations can look at it see the sacrifice and say these guys did not die in vain, and then go out and do something like vote," Nagy said.
"He's in a POW camp, starving to death, and is tortured to death for stealing a cup of rice? It can't happen again and we shouldn't let it happen again. Somewhere along the line this stuff has to be out there for people to see, to see what made us a great country."
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 12, Site 1176
Maintained by: John Andrew Prime
Originally Created by: John C. Anderson
Record added: Mar 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49244272
Neil B (John 3:16)
Added: May. 2, 2013
Memorial Day 2012 - We the People, of the great state of Louisiana thank you for your service, and sacrifice in defense of freedom. R.I.P. Aviation Ordinanceman First Class Waggoner.|
Added: May. 29, 2012