Letters and Documents
It was January 1945 before the Marines were able to send the above news. His wife, Nadia, also sent this news to the family, but the news clippings don't have a date. Nadia Killebrew was last known to be at 62 Route Cardinal Mercier, Apartment 2-A, Shanghai. This was in 1946. No contact was had with her after that date. The family also has letters written after the war by North China Marines William Howard, Vic Ciarrachi, and John Ryan. Ryan says in his letter the Marines learned of Killebrew's death while they were still prisoners. They heard the news in a letter from the wife of one of the other Marines who were married. The wives were held in internment camps in China.
I hesitated about using a personal letter such as the one below, but it refers to almost all aspects of the POW experience: The comment about being a hell of a life these last 3 1/2 years but it is over with now-many POWs felt that way and did not have much to say, it was behind them. The comment you could feel it was the last quarter - one way or the other. The comment about being under US bombing raids. The comment about weight loss and gain (the 118 pounds was two years prior, actual weight in August of 1945 was typically 100 pounds). The comment about events back home which they had missed out on. And then the last sentence.
Doc did not know at this time his youngest brother had been killed while with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy early in 1945. His other brother was in the Army Air Corps. Again, this was typical of many American families during this time.
Official news of Doc's freedom came in the form of the telegram below. The letter above was written on Guam on 4 October and would not have gotten to the family by the time of the telegram.
Returning POWs were typically sent as soon as possible to the military hospital nearest their home town. After examination there they were usually given 90 days leave. Upon return they would decide whether to re-enlist or not.
At least some returning POWs were required to sign the document below. If some were, then it is probable they all were required to sign. Notice the date, this was not presented to them after they had returned to the states. They were presented with this document while still in the Pacific.The first part is actually an effort to protect individuals or organizations which may have helped them while captives or while attempting escapes. But the words "will not be published in any form whatsoever" to the "press, radio, or any persons" except military personnel would have come across very strong to these men. It is unlikely they were told it is okay to discuss your experiences with your family, just don't give away any important information. They were very probably told as they were presented with this document, by some one who outranked them, don't say anything to anybody.The bottom of the document is more important. The whole document is stamped RESTRICTED. Then come the words SECURITY CERTIFICATE. The majority of these men never saw any kind of a classified document. These stamps would have made an impression. Read the three statements just above their signature. Many of the POWs likely did not talk about their experiences because they believed they had orders NOT to. This document was not the only reason, but I will bet it had an effect.
These men were Marines of the old breed. They did not question orders. They followed orders. Well in to civilian life, they considered they had orders not to discuss their experiences.
The War Claims Act of 1948 authorized a payment of $1 per day of imprisonment for receiving insufficient food. A 1952 amendment allowed an additional $1.50 a day for forced labor. The deadline for filing was apparently March of 1952 for the $1 and August of 1954 for the $1.50. The following document records a payment of $1 a day. The date on the actual document is hard to read. It could be 1951, 1954, or some other year. Some POWs seem to have received one or the other of these payments, but it does not appear all of them received them. No record can be found of Doc Hoffman receiving the $1.50 per day payment. Others have told me they heard something about payments at the time but did not receive them.
The following are from the 1948 issues of the North China Marine Bulletin, volume 1, edition 2 and 3.
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