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   By Lois McCoy Bourinskie  
  February 20th, important date to me!  It was the day I was born in an infirmary in the Los Baños Prison Camp in the Philippine Island as WWII was in its final stages.  This is my story.  
  In 1939, my mother had completed a college degree in Education in Pennsylvania.  Teaching positions were hard to come by then, so when she heard of a job offer from her aunt Leanora, who did missionary work in the Philippines, she was most excited.  The teaching position was in the hills of Bagio, north of Manila, where there was a gold mining operation.  It was to teach the children of the engineers and families assigned there.  My mother, Mildred took a freighter to Manila and began teaching school and enjoyed the social life in Manila.  She dated sea captains and business men.  Millie, as my mom was known, loved to bowl and one evening she met Oscar McCoy, who was asked to bowl at the YWCA.  Oscar was known as Mac to his friends and had been working for Republic Steel of Ohio, as their representative in the Philippines.  They began dating and then courtship followed.  However, a major interruption to this romantic interlude was about to take place.....WWII and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.  
  My dad was captured first and interned at Santo Thomas Prison Camp in January 1942.  It had formerly been a University.  At bayonet point he was herded into Santo Thomas along with thousands of other Americans, British, Australian, Dutch and Italian citizens.  My mom was urged by Oscar to turn herself in before the Japanese found her first and either raped or killed her.  After getting the message, Mom turned herself in at the gates of Santo Thomas in February of 1942.  The men and women were separated and housed in the crowded college facility.  Prison was rough on them, but their love held strong.  My dad proposed marriage, but the Japanese said, “no!”  Santo Thomas became more and more crowded, so another college was commandeered....Los Baños Agricultural College, which was about 35 miles south of Manila.  My dad volunteered to help set up the new prison and along with my Mom, was sent to Los Baños.  At Los Baños, the captors separated unmarried residents, so my folks were forced to live apart.  Eventually they convinced camp officials to allow them to get married.  On their “day” (April 18, 1944) they were married in their rags and celebrated with a can of Spam, some rice, tomatoes and one duck egg.   My parents, along with the other thousands of prisoners, were starving.  My father weighed 88 pounds when he was liberated. My mom suffered with beriberi and malaria, diseases that had killed dozens of internees.  The commandants and Japanese troops guarding the inmates ranged from kindhearted to sadistic.  Some captives were shot, after being found with only a few grains of rice in their pants cuff.  Following the war, one Japanese official was hanged as a war criminal for his crimes.  His offenses included the killing of several camp children and the murders of dozen of Fillipinos in reprisal for the Los Banos liberation.   
  My mom found herself pregnant a few months after they were married and was afraid to be bringing a new life into this camp of starvation.  Her thoughts were, how would she have enough nourishment for herself, let alone to feed an infant?  Other lives crossed my parents path.  One was Dorothy Still Danner, a Navy nurse, who was also imprisoned in Los Baños.  Dorothy was on duty in the prison infirmary the day I was born.  I wasn’t due until the end of February, but the Camp Doctors, as well as some other prisoners, knew something big was afoot.  The Filippino guerrillas got word to them, that the Japanese were losing ground fast to MacArthur’s returning soldiers.  The Camp Doctor decided it was prudent to encourage labor before the due date, and on February 20, 1945 he proceeded.  Being my mom labored quite long, the doctor took a break from the infirmary, and while he was gone, I came into this world and landed in the capable hands of Dorthy.  Here, in Dorothy’s own words from her book, “What a Way to Spend a War”, here are her memories of this event......  
  I wasn’t looking forward to the long hours of the night shift.  About the only exciting thing I could expect was, one baby yet to be born, and it arrived on February 20, 1945.  Now it was Friday, February 23rd, just one more day and then back to day shift.  I took the three day old baby into the linen closet where it was a bit warmer.  You started off on the wrong foot, didn’t you little princess, I cooed, and hurriedly changed her diaper.  You are like a de-feathered chicken on my Mom’s sink, ready for the stew pot.  As baby Lois, yet unfocused eyes tried to locate the sound of my voice, I need to worry, you’re too tiny to make a meal.  I’ll fatten you up  bit with some overly diluted powdered milk (which was a poor substitute for mother’s milk) but it would have to do.  I cuddled the blanket-wrapped baby close, as I cautiously tried to bottle feed her.  The infant bottle had long since passed the stage where it should have been thrown out.  The nipple was soft and the hole in it was too big for such a watery formula.  “Careful, little lady,” I whispered, putting her on my shoulder to burp her.  The night passed slowly (I was sitting in my ragged Navy sweater)  
  when dawn begin to break.  I wrote 2-23-45 on each patient’s routine progress chart, when the sky began to lighten and by 6:50AM the kitchen crew had a fire going.  The nurses of the day shift were getting ready to take over, when an orderly complained...”Would you look at those Japs out there doing calisthenics.”  A column of pinkish smoke ascended  into the sky, followed by the sound of planes.  With a yawn I went to check the baby and then suddenly shouted...”They’re going to kill us.”  I grabbed the blanket-wrapped baby and placed her in a basket under a bed, to protect her from the sounds of gunfire.  We rushed outside to see a bold banner attached to the fuselage of the lead plane reading...RESCUE.  
  The Japanese soldiers were doing their calisthenics in their loincloth (as was their habit) at the usual appointed time of 7:00AM.  To prevent the internees from taking their rifles, during calisthenics, they always locked them in gun racks.  
  After much gun fire, the sawali-covered fence around the Camp was penetrated with ungainly box-shaped vehicles with tractor treads.  A USA Major and a Colonel jumped from the front AMTRAC and magnificent healthy American soldiers followed.  Their faces were smiling and their pockets bulged with hand grenades and K-rations.  
  Dwight Clark, on this day was a 21 year old corporal with the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion.  Earlier in February 1945, the 672nd asked for volunteers to participate in a rescue mission.  They were informed, “it would be a suicide mission and that half would die and that half of the prisoners would die.”  “We were macho guys, the kind of who would stand on a corner and whistle at the girls.”  So without thinking about it, we volunteered for a mission that is yet to this day celebrated as one of the most memorable and successful raids in military history.   
  Slow on land and slower yet on water, the AMTRACS were both loud and lumbering.  They were powered with aircraft engines.  Stealth was one of their traits, but 59 AMTRACS, one carrying Dwight Clark, crossed the waters of Laguna de Bay and emerged undetected near Los Baños on the morning of February 23, 1945......25 miles behind enemy lines.  
  It should be noted, that on this raid, the 511th Airborne paratroopers and guerrilla forces killed most of the Japanese guards at the Los Banos Camp, (with the rest running in the hills).  Now all that remained, was for the attackers to torch the Camp, load the prisoners and escape.  
  There was a mix of deliriously happy internees, some could barely walk, others had to be taken out on litters, my mother being one of them.  There was chaos and celebration as the soldiers tried to get the internees (2,147) loaded on the AMTRACS.  The American commanders were worried that the civilians would not be loaded fast enough, before the Japanese got wind of the rescue effort and reach the scene.  
  Shortly after Dwight Clark's AMTRAC was packed with internees and began to roll out of the Los Baños Camp, a Japanese machine gun opened up on them. Clark bolted for one of the two .50 caliber machine guns, on the AMTRAC, to return fire. An internee, nurse Edwina Todd was frozen with fearwhile huddled on the gun platform. Clark asked her to move several times but she couldn't. As enemy fire continued, Clark grabbed the .50 caliber machine gun handles, straddled the petrified nurse and fired back. It was over in seconds, after a P-51 spotted the enemy machine gun and silenced it, with no harm to the civilians or the rescuers. When Clark stopped firing, he heard the cry of a baby, looking down, he saw what he had taken for just a bundle of clothes included a tiny baby....Lois McCoy.  
  For a half century, Clark worried that when he fired the machine gun during the rescue, that hot shell casings that rained down on the woman and baby had burned them.  In the confusion of the rescue, he was never able to find out.  
  Through a series of reunion meetings during the mid 1990’s, Clark was in Seattle, WA where he met George Juliano, a Philippine native who had been raised in Los Baños.  They met a number of times at Los Baños reunion meetings in Portland, OR.  Once when internee, Robert A. Wheeler was finishing his talk at one of these reunion meetings he finished with a conclusion, "that no internee life was lost...not even a three day old baby girl?"  Dr. George Juliano, who was sitting at Clark’s table, that evening mentioned that he knew “the baby.”  Dwight couldn’t wait to speak with George after the meeting, so he could get my name, phone number and address.  Dwight returned home to South Carolina and pondered how and what he would say to the lady, who had been the three day old infant on his AMTRAC, fifty years ago.  
  One October evening after a day’s work at the hospital, while I was stir-frying some vegetables for dinner, the telephone rang.  I picked up the phone and a man’s voice asked...”Is this Lois Bourinskie?”  I said yes, and then this man asked again....”Is this Lois McCoy Bourinskie?”  I said yes. Then this man said....”I’ve heard you cry.”  I knew right away it was Dwight, as I had been told I  would be getting a call.  Dwight asked, “Do you have a scar on your face?”  “Not at all,” I said.  As we talked I also told Dwight that the lady who sat on his AMTRAC that he had to straddle was a Navy nurse who had carried me out of the Los Banos Camp.  My mother was on another AMTRAC with my dad.  They had put all the hospital patients in one AMTRAC.  (As a side note: In 1966 when I graduated from nursing school, I sent an announcement to this Navy nurse, from her once 3-day old patient.)  
  We lived in the Philippines until I was 6 years old.  I have six siblings.  My dad will be 90 at Thanksgiving and my Mom is in her mid eighties.  They live in San Jose , California.  
  The nurse, Dorothy Still Danner who brought me into this world lives in Idaho and Dwight Clark (the gunner on the AMTRAC, that rescued me) is now Rev. Dwight Clark and lives in Greenville, SC.  
  Since that October phone call in 1998 I have been in contact with Dwight by phone, e-mail and letters.  We had never met, until he picked me up at the Portland, Oregon that night.  I am now 56 years old and have been windowed for ten years and I work as a registered nurse at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.  I am also an artist, practicing my skills on painting watercolors and acrylics.  I also do beading and enjoy doing rubber stamp art on my own cards and gifts.  I have two adult children...Paul, age 33 and Annie, who is soon to be 26 years old.