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  The Hell We Call War    
   by Jack McGrath Med. 511 PIR  
  After the Los Baños operation, we spent the evening in New Bilibid Prison.  The prison was empty except for death row.  There were three or four men who had been condemned to death before the war.  They pleaded with us to release them.  We didn’t do it.  Their death row was a horseshoe-shaped room with maybe eighteen cells.  The open end of the horse-shoe contained the electric chair.  It was mounted on a raised platform clearly visible to all the death row inmates.  When a man was executed, each prisoner moved up one cell.  Each cell had a small framed slate fixed to it.  Chalked thereon was the man’s name, his crime and the date of his execution.  The current residents were all guilty of killing their wives.  Their executions were delayed by the war.  
  We left the next day for a town named Santa Rosa, and miracle of miracles, we were trucked there.  It was late morning when we arrived.  I don’t know which unit captured the town, evidently the Japanese were surprised, because there was no damage to the place.  Not one pockmarked building.  A trooper from A-511th told us to check out the basement of a large yellow building on the square.  We did, and were greeted by a scene from Dante’s Inferno.  The place was jammed with Filipino guerrillas questioning and just planning to torturing other Filipinos accused of be Makopilis (traitors).  These Makopilis were being knocked about and cut like you wouldn’t believe.  The floor was carpeted with blood, so much of it, that you could hardly walk.  We walked by sliding our feet along the floor.  One Filipino asked me, if I wanted to box, and with that he hit one of the prisoners in the face.  I declined the offer.  The prisoners were all fettered one way of another, chains, ropes or handcuffs.  One prisoner had a piece of his ear cut off and he was forced to eat it.  When asked how it tasked, he said very good. These prisoners were being subject-   
  ed to pain -- lots of it.  No one cried out, no one pleaded for mercy.  Earlier I had formed an opinion that the Filipinos were a brave lot; now I concluded even their traitors were brave.  I mean this in a complimentary way.  They impressed me then and were to impress me more before this day ended.  
  The Filipinos told us that the following Sunday, there was to be a soiree at the graveyard where a number of the prisoners would be killed.  Someone suggested that the Filipinos move up the execution date to today so we could witness it, to which they agreed.  There was a large open space alongside of a church; this was to be the arena.  
  An American Major tried to put a stop to the spectacle, but was hooted down.  The prisoners were brought out in groups of three and four, then they were tortured and killed; not one asked for mercy.  They were very brave men.  There must have been twenty or so, all told.  Then for the piece de resistance, a woman was brought out.  Her arms were bound behind her.  A well dressed good looking women then started punching the bound one.  She did this to the cheers of the Filipinos in the audience.  We later learned that she was a well known movie star.  She beat on the poor prisoner until she was visibly exhausted.  The female prisoner was then marched throughout the crowd with a sign attached  that stating her crime.  Her only crime was that she had married a Japanese officer.  This officer had burned two or three hundred Filipinos in a church.  Her punishment was to be burned also.  
  She was tied to a stake, straw was placed around her legs up to her knees.  Five gallons of alcohol was then poured over her and she was set on fire.  Not once did she cry out, not during her beating or when the flames consumed her.  As her hair was burning, her mouth opened as though to pronounce the word, “Oh.”  As her bonds burned through, her right hand sprang forward amid the flame and sparks.  Then she burned out and the show was over.  Sherman was right - - - War is Hell.  
  Jack passed away on Oct. 01, 2015  
  Editing provided by Leo Kocher    
  Courtesy of “WINDS ALOFT” Quarterly publication of the 511th PIR Association