Voyage Into The Night
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The opening of Tormenta Rey's self-titled debut album is reminiscent of Gershwin, with soaring strings and twinkling piano, before the listener is dropped into a late-night speakeasy in New Orleans, where Leilainia Marcus' muted trumpet clears a path for the low, gravelly tone of Stephen Rey's vocals.
\"I've been trying to make a late-night record for a long time,\" Rey said. \"I have a tendency naturally to write ballads and the dirge and just somehow things get taken into a faster context, a faster tempo. So, the idea was to keep some of these songs in their original state.\"
The album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo with producer Clinton Davis, who contributes piano, banjo and mandolin to the album, but Rey said the work of putting the songs together and developing an overall sound for the record began about a year ago.
\"The process was a year of planning, working, pre-production,\" Rey said. \"I think there's a common denominator and a relationship with everything I've done in the past, but this record is different because of working with Clinton Davis. We talked about the direction and the soundscape and what shape this record would take.\"
On the evening of September 23, Maine Maritime Academy hosted a gala featuring the premiere screening of the short film GalaxSea: A Voyage into the Bioluminescent Night, a sci-fi-inspired adventure documentary filmed in Castine and starring Castine resident Nora Spratt.
With U.S. forces about to retake the islands in late 1944, the Japanese began moving Jacobs and thousands of other POWs to locations closer to Japan. To do so, Japanese troops herded them by the hundreds into the holds of merchant ships that also carried supplies and weapons.
\"We threw our packs into the deep hold and quickly followed down the long ladder into the darkness, herded by the guards and their bayonets,\" Jacobs recalled several years later in a narrative, noting that where he was being held was not as crowded as some others:
In Death on the Hellships: Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War, Gregory Michno estimates that more than 126,000 Allied prisoners of war were transported in 156 voyages on 134 Japanese merchant ships. More than 21,000 Americans were killed or injured from \"friendly fire\" from American submarines or planes as a result of being POWs on what the survivors called \"hell ships.\"
The U.S. Army transferred these punch card records of World War II POWs to the National Archives as a unique series in its 1959 transfer of all of the U.S. Army's departmental archives. The punch cards came with tabs that separated them into presorted groups. In 1978 the Veterans Administration migrated the cards for the American Military POWs Returned Alive from the European Theater (92,493 records) and American Military POWs Returned Alive from the Pacific Theater (19,202 records) to an electronic format for a study of repatriated U.S. military prisoners of war.
Crowded into the foul and steamy holds of an unidentified ship were 750 U.S. POWs, most of them survivors of POW Camp #2-Davao, Mindanao, Philippines. Since February 29, 1944, 650 officers and enlistees labored on a Japanese airfield at Lasang. The other 100 had similarly worked on another airfield south of Davao. All 750 were marched shoeless to the Tabunco pier on August 19. On August 20, they were packed into the holds of the ship.
Boatswain Martin Binder was among the prisoners compressed into hold two of the Arisan Maru on October 11. There was standing room only. On the following day, the Japanese mercifully moved about 800 prisoners to hold one, which was partially filled with coal. Mercy did not, however, extend to providing water, and several died of heat exhaustion.
It was nearly dinnertime on October 24. About twenty prisoners were on deck preparing the meal. The ship was near Shoonan, off the eastern coast of China. Binder and the others suddenly \"felt the jar caused by hits of two torpedoes.\" Arisan Maru stopped dead in the water. After severing the rope ladder leading down into the first hold, the Japanese abandoned ship. Binder was first to escape from hold two and assisted in lowering a ladder down to those in hold one. Ropes were thrown down to those in hold two, as well. Wearing life belts and clinging to rafts, hatch boards, and any other flotsam and jetsam, the prisoners struggled in the rough waters of the Pacific.
The convoy was soon under way, bound for Takao, Formosa, and Moji, Japan. Divided into groups of twenty, the prisoners were \"fed small amounts of rice, fish and water.\" Crowded together on the floor, there was little sleep to be found as cramped muscles jerked spasmodically and neighbors were suddenly jostled. \"A Catholic padre, who had recently been brought from Mindanao, stood the whole night through that others might rest,\" refusing to trade places with one of those on the floor, recalled John M. Jacobs, one of the survivors, in a narrative later.
On the morning of December 14, after collecting the bucket from the ship's kitchen, the mess representatives returned to their holds and began doling out rations. Suddenly, there was the roar of planes and the firing of the antiaircraft guns. Prisoners heard the acceleration of plane engines as they went into their dives and then pulled up, followed by the deafening detonations of bombs. Several messmates scrambled down the ladders, buckets in hand, as bullets ricocheted about them. One of them, Chaplain Ed Nagle, was struck through the leg. \"He continued down the long ladder with the bucket, blood streaming from his wound,\" Jacobs recalled.
Above the holds, gun crews stood and died at their guns. Their blood trickled over the deck and into the holds. New crews replaced the fallen, just as the next flight dived and strafed the decks. The spray of bullets was quickly succeeded by the detonations of bombs that \"bounced\" the ship about \"like a cork in a tub.\" In futile defiance, the Japanese gun crew officer shook his spear at the onrushing planes.
The POWs endured seventeen such attacks before sunset. Only Oryoku Maru remained afloat. All other craft were sunk or departed. That night a Japanese officer ordered some medical officers topside to tend the wounded. \"Decks, cabins, dining room and parlor were littered with dead and dying,\" reported one officer. Working by candlelight without medicine or bandages, the doctors rendered what little assistance they could. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the Japanese sent the medical teams back to their holds.
The night was filled with the \"groans of the wounded\" and \"the screams of the crazed.\" John Jacobs remembered, \"[Latrine] Buckets were soon filled to overflowing, but the guards did not permit them to be brought topside for emptying. Above the holds, the prisoners could hear the sounds of passengers being loaded into lifeboats. A cable broke, spilling screaming women and children into the sea. By morning, passenger removal was completed.\" To those in the holds, it was apparent the \"Japanese intended leaving us to go down with the ship.\"
On the morning of December 15, U.S. Navy aircraft returned to finish their task. Their bullets and bombs went unchallenged. Between attacks, a Japanese guard shouted down to the POWs that they were going ashore, wounded first. About fifty healthy prisoners rushed up the ladder, only to be surprised by returning planes. Minutes later, Jacobs clambered up the ladder, discarded shoes and clothes, and dove into the water as three planes soared overhead. With the aid of some floating bamboo, he swam the half-mile to shore.
Jacobs and two others collapsed on a seawall, but only briefly. A Japanese soldier suddenly emerged from the neighboring woods, raised his rifle, and fired at one of Jacob's companions. The soldier slumped, Jacobs recalled, \"blood pouring out of his heart.\" The Japanese soldier then took aim at Jacobs, who dove into the water with his surviving companion. Safe for the moment, they watched as the enemy soldier shot at other prisoners swimming for shore.
On December 27, the prisoners at San Fernando boarded the Brazil Maru and Enoura Maru and sailed for Takao, Formosa, part of the TAMA #36 convoy, bound for the POW camps near Moji, Japan. Landing craft ferried them from the pier to the ships. To board the landing boats, the men ha to leap twenty to twenty-five feet straight down into the boats. Any reluctance was swiftly punished by a bayonet prodding. Many were injured in their jumps.
Both Brazil Maru and Enoura Maru had been hauling livestock, and no effort had been made to clean out the manure before placing the prisoners in the holds. There were no attacks or food during the voyage to Takao. The ships docked there on New Year's Day 1945, and the prisoners received their first food since leaving San Fernando, \"five moldy hardtack type of biscuits\" and some rice. Each day guards came down to count the number of survivors. Twenty-one prisoners were buried at sea during the voyage to Takao, five from Brazil Maru and sixteen from Enoura Maru.
On January 10, Jacobs was asked to look into the forward hold where a bomb fragment left a gaping hole. \"There were mangled Americans, some 300 of them, piled three deep and pinned down with large steel girders and hatch covers,\" he remembered.
On January 12, forty-five coffins were removed to the beach and burned. One-hundred and fifty more were taken to a cemetery the following day. This gruesome task done, the survivors of this second attack were transferred from Enoura Maru to Brazil Maru. Finally, on January 14, they sailed for Moji, Japan, arriving there on January 29. Of the 1,619 POWs who boarded Oryoku Maru on December 14, 1944, 497 arrived in Moji. An estimated 500 died aboard the Brazil Maru during the voyage from Takao to Moji. Soon after Brazil Maru's arrival, wrote E. R. Haase later in his diary, \"senior medical officers were asked to sign 1001 death certificates representing our loss from 13 December to Jan 31, a rather heavy toll.\" 59ce067264