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13 November 2000


"Corky"


Major Robert Farmer, United States Marine Corps, (Retired)



In 1956, I was with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines at North Camp Fuji, Japan. At the time., we had a Staff Sergeant named Corky who was the battalion police sergeant. Everyone called him "Corky." If you called him Staff Sergeant, he would chew you out. Corky appeared old to us, but was probably in his mid-thirties.    


He was an ex-POW from WWII, a survivor of the Bataan death march and  everything else that happened after that. Corky was treated cruelly by the  Japanese and survived one of the "hell ships" that transported American POWs  to mainland Japan.  He was actually imprisoned for a time at North Camp,  Fuji. Fuji had been a Japanese Army base in WWII.    


Corky was a little guy, about 110 pounds soaking wet. Most of the time,  Corky was an amiable Marine, who was always smiling and everyone in the  battalion liked him. Of course, Corky had some mental and drinking problems.  On occasion, we would find Corky in one of the "benjo ditches" passed out, and we would just carry him back to his room and put him in his rack. Corky  worked directly for the battalion Commander, also a WWII vet, who protected Corky and would let nothing happen to him.    


The American POWs had been sent to Fuji to build a road that ran over to the  Lake Yamanaka area. It was a mountain road that had to be literally carved  out of the side of a mountain. There was a stone wall, four to five feet  high, that ran along the road. Just looking at the heavy stones in the  wall, you could imagine how much labor it took.    


One day Corky was taking some of us on a working party on that road that he worked on as a POW. We were on the back of a truck. Corky was looking very  intense and started telling us, so-and-so is buried there, we would go a few more hundred feet and he would say so-and-so is buried there pointing to the  center of the road. He did this a number of times. We asked, "What are you  saying, Corky?"  He said that while they were building the road, if someone, for whatever reason was not working fast enough, or for some minor  infraction, they were beaten to death and buried on the spot. That was the  first and only time I ever saw Corky with tears in his eyes. We hurt for him  and we never spoke another word for the rest of the trip.    


A few months later, I was in the S-2 office and heard the Battalion Commander yell, "Bring my jeep - Corky is in the Gotemba jail!"  We heard  that Corky was walking down the street in Gotemba and recognized a Japanese  policeman as one of his former guards. A guard that had been unusually mean  and cruel.  Corky went bizerk and attacked him with a club. It took five  Marines to get Corky off him. Of course, Corky was arrested and put in the  Gotemba jail. This was a serious crime and they were charging Corky with  attempted murder.  


The story goes (as only Marines in the barracks can tell)  the CO demanded Corky be released immediately. At first they said, no. But, they changed their minds when he walked out to his jeep and got on the radio and  told the XO to put the battalion on alert, with full combat gear and to get  ammo ready to be issued. I do not know this for sure, but I heard it from more than one source. I hope it was true.   


Whatever happened, Corky was in the battalion area the next day, banged up, with a black eye and a few other scrape marks. Nevertheless, he was smiling.    


I am telling this story in memory of Corky.