A Sailor’s Horrific Tale of Life as a POW
Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Alvin A. Andrews died in 1961 at the age of 42, his life cut short by hardships he suffered while being held by the Japanese as a POW for three years during World War II. Andrews spoke little to his family about his wartime experiences, but his daughter Denise, who was five years old when he died, remembers his refusing to allow rice in the house. After his death, his family discovered a trunk containing memorabilia from his days in the Pacific. Among the items was a long letter by a fellow sailor named Arthur D. Emard, who apparently had been captured along with Andrews in Corregidor. Soon after the war, Emard wrote in vivid detail about what he and his fellow prisoners endured. Much remains unknown about the letter, including how Andrews came to have a copy of it and the identity of the “Skipper” to whom it is addressed. Presumably he is John Morrell, captain of the USS Quail (the minesweeper both Andrews and Emard served aboard), who escaped with some of the crew to Australia after the ship was scuttled.