ENSNARED IN A SPIDER'S WEB
A World War II POW Held by the Japanese
By Morgan Thomas Jones, Jr. with Linda Dudik
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In December of 1940, Morgan Thomas Jones, Jr. enlisted in the New Mexico National Guard and chose his stateís regiment to fulfill what was to have been one year of military service. Instead, Morgan ended up serving more than five years in the Armyómost of that time as a Japanese prisoner of war. This memoir is one of the last written accounts of an American who survived the defense of the Philippines, the Bataan Death March, captivity in various prisoner of war camps, a torturous voyage on a Hell Ship, and forced labor in a copper mining camp in Kosaka, a town north of Tokyo, until the Americans were liberated.
But the book does not end with his liberation. While in Kosaka, Morgan had struck up a relationship with his guard, Ogata San. Some thirty years after the war ended, Morgan traveled back to Japan in part to see his old friend and he shares the story of that 1978 journey in his last chapter. Ogata San passed away one year later, but even today Morgan still exchanges gifts with his guardís widow.
In writing his memoir, Morgan drew on handwritten notes he made inside his Bible during the war, notations in a journal he kept as a prisoner, and a scrapbook his mother had put together while the Japanese held her only son. They, like Morganís book, are testimonies that speak to values and faith too often forgotten in a more modern America.
Morgan Thomas Jones, Jr. was born in 1916 in Kansas but spent his childhood and adolescent years in Clovis, New Mexico. After high school, he graduated from Texas Tech in Lubbock with a Business degree having worked for the Santa Fe Railroad in the summers. This later evolved into a full-time position. When he enlisted in one of the National Guard regiments, the 200th Coast Artillery, Morgan and his unit ended up in the Philippines in the fall of 1941. He and others from New Mexico became some of the earliest American prisoners of war and Morganís one-year enlistment became five years, five months, and five days. He spent most of that time as a POW.
After Morgan came home in October of 1945, he returned to his job with the Santa Fe Railroad where he met his wife, Marguerite, who also worked for the railroad. Having spent forty-five years in a management position, he retired in 1980. Although his wife is no longer living, today he lives in a retirement community in California where his children and grandchildren visit him regularly. But he remains a son of New Mexico, proud of his National Guard unitís service in World War II and proud of his lifelong association with the Santa Fe Railroad that influenced New Mexicoís history.
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