LEST WE FORGET REAL HEROES

An Extraordinary Marine
By Col. Bruce Ogden, USMC (Ret). Forwarded by JayPMarine

Major Douglas W. Bogue, USMC (Ret) passed away on Sunday, 7 March 2004, at his home in Lompoc, CA after a protracted illness. Betty, his wife of some 59 years, and daughters Pat, Judy and Kathy survive him.

To understand why I characterize Doug Bogue as the Most Extraordinary Marine I have ever known, let's begin with the following citation:

“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the LEGION OF MERIT to SERGEANT DOUGLAS W. BOGUE, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: “For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States during and subsequent to his escape on 14 December 1944, from Prisoner of War Camp number 10-A, Puerto Princessa, Palawan Island, Philippine Islands. When Japanese guards began a systematic annihilation of all prisoners of war at the compound, Sergeant Bogue risked his life to escape by dashing through a barbed wire fence and tumbling down a nearby bluff to the edge of the bay. Although shot in the leg during this phase of the escape, he later managed to overpower and kill, with their own machine gun, three enemy guards who attempted to halt his headlong flight. Concealing himself among the rocks along the bay until nightfall, he then swam for a distance of four or five miles through shark-infested waters of the bay before reaching land. In extreme pain from his leg wound and further enervated by a five-day diet of snails and coconuts, he was finally rescued by Philippinos from the tuberculosis section of the Palawan Penal Colony. From there he made his way to a guerilla headquarters and eventually to the SEVENTH Fleet Headquarters at Leyte where he divulged vital intelligence information on Japanese installations, troop strength and morale, and facts relating to his escape which were to prove of extreme value in the pending amphibious operation against Palawan. His courage, daring and resourcefulness throughout reflect the highest credit upon Sergeant Bogue and the United States Naval Service.” Sergeant Bogue is authorized to wear the Combat “V”. For the President, /s/ Francis P. Mathews, Secretary of the Navy.

This award is remarkable in at least two instances: it was most certainly NOT the prevailing practice during WWII to award a Legion of Merit to an enlisted man, let alone a buck sergeant; and the citation contains an act of extreme heroism that, in my judgment, should have been rewarded with no less than a Silver Star for gallantry in action, or a Navy Cross. Apparently the problem was that Bogue was one of the first former POWs of the Japanese to return to American jurisdiction and the Navy simply didn't know the best way to handle the situation.

Let's rewind the tape for a moment. Doug Bogue had joined the Marines in the mid-1930s and served a seagoing tour before being posted to the 4th Marines in China. The 4th Marines were subsequently evacuated to the Philippines on the eve of the outbreak of open hostilities between Japan and America marked by the events of 7 December 1941. Bogue was captured on Corregidor when that garrison was ultimately overrun, bringing to a conclusion official resistance to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. He made two escapes from his captors; but was recaptured each time. In August 1942, Bogue was transferred from Bilibid Prison in Manila to POW Camp 10-A on Palawan Island to work on nearby airfields. The camp held 300 prisoners until September 1944 when the Japanese shipped half of them back to Manila.

McArthur's forces landed on Leyte the following month, after which carrier-based planes raided Puerto Princesa, dropping 72 tons of bombs and sinking two Japanese ships. General Hideki Tojo had by this time ordered the Japanese commander in the Philippines, General Yamashita, to kill all American prisoners in order that they not be liberated by the invading American Army and preventing them from making known the extent of their barbarous treatment during almost three years of captivity.

The Japanese painted a Japanese flag on the roof of the Palawan POW barrack, inviting the Navy to bomb it. The Navy demurred after being informed by the guerillas that 150 American POWs were being held there. The Japanese ordered the prisoners to build three air raid shelters between the barrack and a 50-ft cliff, at the bottom of which was a narrow bay.

At noon on 15 December 1944, the Japanese guarding the 150 POWs working on the airfield, ordered them to return to their barracks, announcing that; “Americans, your working days are over”. When they arrived back at camp, the guards shouted; “air raid, air raid” and the POWs entered the three shelters. They noted that additional machine-gunners and riflemen had been posted around the camp perimeter. Suddenly Japanese soldiers carrying buckets of gasoline rushed forth and doused the prisoners before setting them on fire. As the Americans tried desperately to escape this death inferno, they were mowed down by machine-gun fire or bayoneted. Doug Bogue, and two prisoners named Kozuck and Sceiva made a dash for the barbed wire fence. Kozuk and Sceiva were shot to death in the fence. Bogue was shot in the right leg, made it through the fence and down to the beach, where the citation picks up the narrative.

Some 139 American prisoners burned to death or were fatally shot or bayoneted. There were 11 survivors. Ten years later, in 1954, 123 of the 139 former prisoners were reinterred at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, MO. The other 16 bodies were buried at private cemeteries according to the wishes of their next of kin. The Marine Corps unveiled a plaque in their memory in the barracks chapel in May 1978. The plaque lists the 11 survivors by name.

Sergeant Bogue was promoted to Master Sergeant and assigned to duty with the forces occupying conquered Japan where he served as Provost Marshal at Yokosuka Naval Base pending duty as a material witness during the war crimes trials of the personnel indicted for the Palawan Massacre, the worst massacre of American POWs in United States history. He then served with the 6th Marine Division in Tientsin, China until they were evacuated in 1949 when the Communists under Mao Zedong defeated the Chinese forces under Chiang Kaishek.

Less than two years later, MSgt Bogue was assigned to Korea with the 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, where he received a battlefield commission in 1951. When I reached the regimental camp of the 12th Marines, 3rd MarDiv, on the lower slopes of Mt. Fujiyama, Japan in the summer of 1954, I was assigned to B-1-12, commanded by Captain D. W. Bogue. During the next six months before he rotated to Korea once again for duty with the 11th Marines, Captain Bogue taught me everything I ever needed to know in preparation for combat with the enemy.

During the six-months pre-deployment training prior to engaging in combat operations in Vietnam in 1965, as Operations Officer of 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, I did my level best to impart the invaluable lessons that Doug Bogue had taught me a decade earlier to all of the battalion officers. And when I commanded the 1st Bn, 11th Marines in Vietnam in 1970-71, I commanded that battalion as I envisioned Doug Bogue would have commanded it had the roles been reversed.

Doug Bogue was the quintessential Mustang. He had served with one of the most distinguished regiments in Marine Corps annals — the 4th Marine Regiment — the China Marines. He had been blooded in WWII under the worst human conditions known to American fighting men. He had earned a battlefield commission and continued uninterrupted duty in the field with his beloved Marines.

He was my living ideal of what constitutes a professional warrior. He taught his officers to lead from the front. We were the only firing battery in the regiment in which a commissioned officer held reveille with the troops at 0500 six days a week. The battery fell in online in front of their squad tents, with their rifles, for muster, rifle inspection by the duty officer, and morning calisthenics.

We lieutenants inwardly resisted at first; but we quickly learned that it was an essential evolution in the Marine way of taking care of their men. We soon knew every man in the battery, his strengths and weaknesses. We marched more often, spent more time on field training exercises, and shot better than the rest. And when we swung out for a hike with full gear down the slopes of Fujiyama to Lake Yamanaka or Lake Yoshida, the only regimental battery to wear those hated suspenders every time we held field training, our chests filled with pride in the knowledge that we “were the best” for we were in fact and in deed, the “Battling Bastards of Baker Battery” — we were “Bogue's Pogues.

I never saw him again. But we kept in touch by telephone each 10th of November and by exchanging Christmas greetings. I would have loved to see him in the comfort of his family circle. Perhaps God ordained that he not have a son to carry his name — but he had all those Marines he had raised from boy to man. Instead, he could practice his special brand of tough love on Betty and the three girls.

Doug was born on 12 April 1918. He has outlived most of his contemporaries with whom we served together in 1954. According to his wishes, a memorial service will be conducted at Moffett Field by his Marines, after which his ashes will be scattered at sea.

I know that should I happen to look on Heaven's scenes, Doug Bogue will be there fulfilling his part in ensuring that the Marines live up to the reputation for military professionalism that he helped forge. Semper Fidelis, good and loyal friend.