Warren Reese Stewart, Jr.
|Warren Reese "Stew" Stewart, Jr.|
|Born||February 25, 1917|
|Died||February 1, 1993 (aged 75) |
from Lung Cancer
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1939-1945|
|Battles and Campaigns|
|Prison of War Camps|
|Relations||Warren Reece Stewart, Sr.|
|Other work||Mechanical Engineer Draftsman|
Warren Reese "Stew" Stewart, Jr. (February 25, 1917- February 1, 1993 ) , was not only a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, he was a diarist. To step into his diaries is to be crushed by the oppression of his circumstances. The very cadence and grayness of his daily life is palpable in the monotony of what he ate, what he wrote about, and what is palpable in his silence. Faced with a starvation diet, he even kept a diary of the foods he imagined, and sought escape by creating recipes for them. He also kept a wonderfully detailed roster listing prisoners in the camp.
Blue-eyed, Warren Reese "Stew" Stewart, Jr., was born February 25, 1917, to Warren Reese Stewart and Callie Albright Stewart. Warren grew up in Birmingham and then Wilson Dam, Alabama, graduating from Ensley High School in 1938. He was wiry and athletic, and in August 1939, after a year at the University of Alabama, enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. After Basic Training at Ft. McClellan he flew to Hickam Field, Hawaii. From Hawaii he was transferred to Clark Field on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
On December 8, 1941, he was eyewitness to the Japan attack that devastated Clark Field. During the ensuing weeks of retreat, his unit moved to the Bataan Peninsula where they boarded the S.S. Mayon and sailed south to Mindanao. Arriving there on New Year's Day 1942, Warren embarked on a string of assignments that took him to Dansalan, Mumungau Hospital, Maramag, and Dalarig.
Ordered to surrender to the Japanese on May 10, 1942, Warren's unit began their march to the prisoner camp near Malabalay. He remained at Malabalay until September 30th when he was transferred to Cagayan, and there boarded the Takahoma Maru bound for Manila and Bilibid Prison. After a brief stay in Bilibid, he was marched back to the docks and was loaded with nearly 2,000 other prisoners into the dark holds of the Tottori Maru, a freighter bound for Japan.
After 36 days aboard the hellship, where he nearly died from dysentery, Warren found himself in Osaka, Japan. Along with other prisoners, he was offloaded and taken by train to a work camp on the island of Kawasaki in the Yokohama industrial area.
From November 1942 to July 1945 he worked there on various job-details including the steel mill, coal docks, oil refinery, brick factory, and chemical plant. During July 1945, he was transferred from Kawasaki camp 2B to Hitachi camp 6D where work included smelting, truck repair, and fire reclamation. In the fall of 1945, he was liberated and returned to the United States.
Upon returning home, Warren enrolled in a correspondence course in mechanical engineering and worked part-time on the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1946, he began full-time work for the TVA, and in 1979 he retired as a Mechanical Engineer Draftsman.
Because of his experience as a prisoner of war he suffered from an enlarged heart (a consequence of beri-beri). He underwent back surgery as a result of beatings he had received. He also suffered from various skin conditions, neuropathy in both legs, and nightmares as a result of his imprisonment. His disability rating following the war was 140%.
He died of lung cancer in 1993.
Stew and Blackie, as Warren and Alfred knew each other during the war, were separated before the war ended because Warren was transferred to another camp. Then, owing to the devastation of the bombings that brought to pass their liberation, and because there was no way of communicating with each other, both Warren and Alfred thought the other had been killed. Not until they met at a reunion many years later did they discover they had both survived. They remained, ever after, the best of friends.