Finds Japanese Flag Wrapped Around Dead Soldier”
from George Updike
“With the 24th Infantry (Victory) Division on Mindanao, May 31, 1945 — (Delayed.) — This hard-fighting group of infantrymen from all over America proudly displays a shrapnel-torn Japanese battle flag captured near Digos as this Victory Division neared the end of its sweep across Mindanao to capture Davao. The banner was wrapped around the body of a dead Nipponese.
Private First Class George Updike, RR 4, Lebanon, Ind., holds the trophy. Others in the photo are (left to right) front row: Cpl. Vincent E. Knoy, Rushville, Ind.; Pfc. Clarence A. Slavinski, Buffalo, N.Y.; Technical Sgt. Walter E. Chipman, Lynn, Mass.; Pfc. Walter E. Bock, Pinconning, Mich.; Cpl. Eugene Cozine*, San Leandro, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Walter Botto* (mostly hidden), Vallecita, Calif.; and Pfc. Mario Cavilli*, San Francisco, Calif,. Rear row: Pfc. Walter E. Bledsoe, Salina, Kas.; Cpl. Tony Beltran, Madera, Calif.; Pfc. Eugene P. Stringfellow, Lexington, Ky.; Pfc. Updike; Pfc. Gerald A. Dunn, San Francisco, Calif.; Pfc. Clifford H. Kurz, San Francisco, Calif.; Pfc. Clifford Owens, Wellsville, Ohio; and Pfc. Chase Morris, Cheyenne, Wyoming.” (* Cozine, Botto, Cavilli, and one other did not survive Zig-Zag Pass in Luzon.) ###
Member George Updike sent us the above article that appeared in the Lebanon, IN, Reporter, in an early June 1945, issue. George says: “I ‘retrieved’ the flag, which was wrapped around the waist of a dead Japanese soldier, as we moved along a road in southern Mindanao. It was blood-stained, so I later washed it in a stream, and was drying it on a bush after we stopped for the night. A photographer, apparently assigned to the 24th Hdq., spotted the flag, took our photo, names, and hometowns. I have the flag as my WWII ‘memorabilia.’” George also supplied a small print of the original photo from which the cover photo was derived.
George, who very kindly sent the article and photo at my request, said: “I know you are very busy getting the Taro Leaf produced, but please return the photo and clipping when convenient—these are my most valued memorabilia!”
Thank you so much for your trust, George! The photo at right is one I took of George at the Columbia reunion, where George was a “first timer!” Ed.
You may reach George at: 38 Grouse Lane, Brevard, NC, 28712, 704-877-4585
Updike, George, 2008, The Taro Leaf, Vol 62(1), Winter, page 3.