CDR Arthur G. Beale
U.S. Navy, WWII POW Survivor, In Memoriam
By Shannon Van Buskirk, Co-Founder of GovX
My grandfather, Art Beale, joined the U.S. Navy in July 1940. As a Commander in the Navy, he was on duty in Manila Bay on December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My grandfather remained at Cavite and Sangley Point until December 24, when he was evacuated to Corregidor via Destroyer USS Peary. The Japanese took him prisoner on May 6, 1942, and he was a POW from May 1942 to August 1945. He survived some of the harshest treatment that occurred during WWII. He survived many harrowing camps, and part of his time as a POW was spent on the Oryoku Maru, a Japanese ship. More than 1,600 POWs were loaded aboard the Oryoku Maru in Manila on December 13, 1944, enroute to Moji, Japan. There were only 450 who survived the 45 days aboard the ship. Of the 450 who survived while on the ship, due to lack of medical care, starvation and inhumane treatment, 161 died in Japanese work camps shortly after arrival. That left only 271 men of the original 1,619 who survived to be liberated in August 1945.
It is amazing anyone survived with the conditions they were forced to endure. The story of my grandfather’s time on the Oryoku Maru has been documented; however, it is so difficult to read since the cruelty and depraved brutality was so extreme. It is hard to imagine that anyone could survive, let alone not go mad. The details have been documented by four survivors, one of them my grandfather: Read The Oryoku Maru Story
My grandfather was rescued by a six-man American parachute rescue team and Russian troops in August 1945 after more than four years in captivity. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Although he came back barely 60 pounds, my grandfather went on to create a wonderful life for himself and his family. He was a very successful businessman who worked in the aerospace industry and invested in real estate in Orange County, California. I am very proud of my grandfather because he lived a very happy and long life and somehow moved past those terrible years as a POW. He passed away a few years ago at the age of 94 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Physically, he went through so much during the war; however, he was always a hard worker with a great sense of humor and was so proud of his country and the men he served with.