Candie wasn’t his little girl any more. She was a married women, she had children and grandchildren.
He was gone now and Candie was thousands of miles from home. She knelt and wept at the prison camp where he had suffered.
She walked along part of the 70 miles he was forced to walk as a prisoner of war, aware that 70 years before he had passed the same fields, seen the same mountains in the distance.
He was so young when he was forced to experience atrocities that would shape his life forever.
He was my father Ken Davis Sr and Candie is my sister. She has honored his life and his faith in a very personal and inspiring way.
I am writing this on Veteran’s day. My dad was part of what has been called “the greatest generation.” He and countless others sacrificed so much to insure our freedom.
Shortly after enlisting dad was captured defending Bataan. He endured the infamous Bataan Death March, two prisoner of war camps, a death ward in Bilibid Prison in Manila, a Hell Ship transport, and a forced labor camp in northern Japan. His body and health were ravaged and his will to survive severely tested. But survive he did! And thrive he did.
When he was finally liberated in September of 1945, my dad weighed ninety pounds and had learned lessons few twenty-four year olds could even imagine.
It would take three months in three different hospitals to nurse Ken back to his normal weight, but his experience as a prisoner of war would stay with him. His faith and his character forged in the fires of war would carry him through the rest of his life.
In one of the hospitals dad met another ex-POW who showed him a picture of his sister, Hazel Brown. Dad said he was going to marry her. Three months later he did, and contrary to the doctor’s conclusion that he would be unable to father children, he fathered five.
I was the only boy.
His favorite son!
Candie retraced the steps of his suffering, she saw the places he was held prisoner and endured forced labor. She saw what make him into the man that he was.
God was with my father during every moment of his captivity. His faith and his suffering shaped all of us. The last 8 years of his life dad suffered from Alzheimer disease. A prisoner in his own body. He was set free from all pain, oppression and sorrow when he went to be with Jesus in 2006. He left behind a family of love and faith forged by war.
Candie’s book “Forged by War will help you look your own family in a new way. It will give you a great appreciation for what they have done for you.
I beg you not to forget the sacrifice of men like my dad, just because Veteran’s Day has passed. Each day give thanks for all those who paved the way for our freedom with their suffering and blood.
Grab a tissue, read “Forged by War” and be prepared to take an inspiring journey that may change your life. Please let me know how the book impact your life.
Who in your family has served in the armed forces? I would love to know their name and where they served. I refuse to forget.
My uncle was classified as MIA in the Korean War. His remains have never been found. Dad said his brother would never have survived being a prisoner. Consequently, my dad and another of his brother’s served during the Korean War as well, but not in frontline situations. My brother also served in the Marines. So proud of all those willing to sacrifice so much to keep us free. Will we remember? How many truly appreciate their service? Thank you for keeping the memories of such heroes alive.
Julie, I had an uncle that died in prison camp and several others that served. Please tell any of you family that served in any way how much I appreciate their sacrifice. Blessings
I was able to get a copy for the book from my mom, (Nancy [Davis] Anderson). What a blessing to have a bit of Ken Sr’s story preserved!
I wish you could have met him Dan.
My father was in the Navy, a gunners mate. His hearing is nearly non-existent now. He joined the Navy immediately following Pearl Harbor, against his parents wishes. I believe had just turned 18.
Proud of him and of ALL who served/serve in our military.
I am so thankful for your fathers service.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love your post Ken. I wish I would have found the time to personally shake your hand at the SCORRE conference.
My father has talked many, many times about the brave men who endured the Battaan Death March. They were his heros, he was too young to fight in WWII, but old enough to follow the battles on the radio and in the news. Your father was an incredible man who blessed the world by being in it and of course you were his favorite son!
You are certainly one of my favorite comedian/speakers, I can’t think of the last time I laughed so hard. Loved my SCORRE training/experience. Thank you.
My great g-pa all the way back to the French-Indian War right up the road from Charlotte, NC in Salisbury and I was raised in Ohio! He operated a Ferry for the soldiers in the American Revolution as well. My g-pa W. Spurgeon Enochswas in the army and fought in WWI in France somewhere. My Dad served in the Air Force out in Wyoming (and why my folks ended up out west and in Beaver Creek:) My brother in the Air Force Reserves in Delaware. My nephew Andrew Kirby Dunn fought over in Iraq and is suffering from PTSD. If you could pray for him, he is really struggling and isn’t close to God.
I am going to order your sisters book and pass it on to my Dad. He just read the book, German Boy and loved it. Amazing what the people of “The Greatest Generation” endured and my family will never forget along with your family.
God Blessing You,
Carolyn Enochs Mance
My father served as a Combat Engineer stationed in Alaska during the Korean conflict. Although he never saw combat he kept reminding us that they were there to slow down the Russians if they ever came accross the Alutian Islands. Thankfully the cold war never escalated into an actual war
That war never materialized because of people like your father! Blessings Roger.
Great post, Ken. Loved “Forged by War,” and I certainly needed the tissues at the end. My grandfather served in the Navy in Germany and France in WWII. And my father served in the Army in Vietnam. I was raised in a courageous, patriotic family who understood the value of sacrifice. And remembering. Thank you for being the same.
Your heritage shows in your character Michele. Proud to be your friend.
Wow!!! What an incredible story. I will absolutely look forward to reading her book, as I’m sure Todd will too! Thanks for posting this Ken!
Your welcome Erica!
Beautiful post, Ken. You have an amazing heritage.
grandfather, Sargent Major Paul Van Baker, had a 40 year career in the
Army. He started out stationed at Scoville barracks in Honolulu. Then he
served in Korea. After returning from the Korean
conflict he taught
Military Science at the University of The South in Suwanee, TN, where
he met my grandmother and married her. He later moved to Baton Rouge and
taught Military Science at LSU and ended his career as assistant to
Brigadier General Atlanta Army Depot which was later renamed Fort
Gilliam in Forest Park, Ga. He was a man of honor and courage. His legacy lives on in my heart.
God bless you and thanks!
Thank you for your comment Amy and for honoring your grandfather by remembering
my grandfather, Daniel DenBleyker, served in WWI
my children’s grandfather, Frank D. Barr, Sr. served in WWII
An honorable legacy mama Barr
God had plans for your Dad, Ken and He had a mission for you as well. My Dad who went home to be with the Lord in 2002, was Merchant Marine in WWII on board a ship that dodged mines as they were on the way to supply other war ships. He was a great man of God and served Him and his family all of his life. Love you Daddy!
You know then, how his service forged who he was and who you are. Bless you for honoring him, Danease.
I’ve read the book – and it’s fantastic! Candie you did a great job recounting your dad’s story….
My grandpa served in WW1 in France as an ambulance driver. He got mustard gas in his lungs there and had breathing issues his whole life. He lied about his age so he could enlist with his brother. He was 17 not 18. They both came home safely.
So young and so committed. Thank you Karen, I did not know this story.
Wow! I’m going to put this on my wishlist and grab a box of tissues. Thank you for honoring your father in such a great way.
Thank you for your comment Sundi
Great post Ken. What a great recount of your Father’s life. I will have to read the book now. My Dad served in WW II in the Philippines, Manila, Mindenow and Lahti. I had one Uncle, who I never knew, who served in WW II in the European Theater, 82nd Airborne Paratrooper and was MIA for 48 years. His remains were found in 1992 in a field in Holland and he is now resting in Arlington National Cemetery. He survived for ten days in Operation Market Garden, he was one of the men who made the crossing of the Waal River in canvas boats. (watch the movie “A Bridge to Far” ). He had also fought in the battles of Salerno, Anzio and Sicily. Another Uncle who served under General Patton, and at some point was his driver. He I know was saved later in life before he passed away. My Father is a great man of faith and loves God. He will be 91 in Feb. 2013
Ray, I have seen “A bridge to far” What brave men. To see a bit of dad’s experience watch “The Great Raid” based on the book Ghost Soldiers. Cabanatuan is the prison camp my dad spent time in. Thank you for your comment.
I appreciate your words about your father, Ken. My dad served in the ETO during WWII and was wounded during the final weeks of the war while on patrol in Germany. He never spoke of what he went through during his service. Dad too had Alzheimers, in addition to Parkinson’s, during the last 3 years of his life. We lost him on May 19th of this year, one day after his 87th birthday. I look forward to reading “Forged by War”.
My grandfather (Army – France) and grandmother (Waves – Washington D.C.) both served in WWII. I’m very thankful for their service all the men and women who have served this great country. Can’t wait to read this book!