Some World War II Vets Want Compensation For Being Used As Slave Labor
Posted May 29, 2001 8:16 a.m. EDT
FUQUAY VARINA — Some World War II veterans want to be paid, not by the Japanese government nor its citizens, but by companies that used them as slave labor. Thousands of soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines now in their 70s and 80s endured years of forced labor, beatings and starvation.
Dallas Burroughs, 86, was in the Philippines during World War II. He was a member of the Army Air Corps when he was captured and forced to work for a Japanese company for three-and-a-half years.
"The factory was called MKK, which was owned by Mitsubishi, and we were slave labor," he says.
Burroughs, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, has a small box which contains remembrances of World War II and his lost time as a laborer in a factory -- time which veterans' organizations say should be paid for.
Before his imprisonment in Manchuria, Burroughs survived a 60-mile Bataan death march, but he says life in the camps was not much better. Thousands of soldiers died of disease, starvation and beatings.
"If you couldn't make it, you couldn't make it. You were bayoneted or shot. If you got sick, I'd see bodies lying in the ditch," he says. "The least, little infraction or anything, you'd get the devil beat out of you one way or the other."
Veterans of the slave camps each want to be paid $2,000 by the Japanese companies. Burroughs thinks it will never happen. He says World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day.
There is a bill before Congress calling for passage ofJustice for United States POWs. More than 27,000 Americans were captured by the Japanese. Only 16,000 made it home.
The Japanese companies, which profited from slave labor, have never offered apologies or payment.