“The galloping Ghost of the Java Coast




Whether its forty-two months or twelve hundred and Eighty-Six days, in any case this all adds up to three and one half years. That is a long, long time to be completely cut away from our United States and our won­derful way of life. That is just part of the story as related by Chief Jack L. Smith of the Whittier Navy Recruiting Station today. Chief Smith is a survivor of the ill-fatted U. S. S. Houston sunk in the Java Sea Battle on March 1, 19142. After swimming ashore from mid-night till dawn, Smith was greeted on the beach by a squad of Japanese Soldiers and spent the remainder of the war as a guest of the Emperor. The Japs used Korean soldiers as occupation troops and was therefore used as guards in all the Japanese prisoner of war camps. It was in the closing days of the war, when the Korean troops began to see the light, as they fully realized the end was near and the facts were known the Japs were not winning the war as they had always been led to think. In this way we were able to obtain material red, white and blue bunting. The Koreans helped us to smuggle this material into the camp, In their way of thinking this would make the them our friends and all would be forgotten. Our little flag was made late at night undercover on a very old type of a treadle sewing machine. Believe it or not, but it was just a little questionable just how our American flag was constructed, the placing of the stars and just how the red and white stripes were alternated etc. After the flag was finished, Smith had to sleep on it under his rice straw mat for safe keeping and out of sight of the Jap guards. At the first Sign of our famous B-24's on a leaflet dropping run of freedom, in Saigon, we grabbed our flag and ran out between the huts and waved, and waved it hoping they would see, us. It didn’t do to much good but it did help our morale, tremendously last knowing we had our flag flying and truly knowing just what it stands for. When liberateration time did come to our little band of Americans, two- hundred and six men, this very sane flag was flown over our but in Saigon, French Indo-China. In April of 1945 the Japs took all of the officers out of our camp and was made into a enlisted man's camp, of which Smith was elected to take charge of the group of Americans. Chief Smith is probably the only Petty Officer in the United States Navy who has had the title of  Sergeant Major, as the Japs Just didn’t understand Navy ratings