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Jack Schwartz



Jack Schwartz, 102, was born in San Fransisco and received both his bachelors and masters degree in civil engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. After college, he joined the U.S. navy and was part of the civil engineer corps.

Mr. Schwartz was a Navy Lieutenant J.G. stationed in Guam as an engineer when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. Two days later, he and others were taken prisoner by the Japanese. Schwartz was held as prisoner of war in Japan for the duration of the war – three years and nine months. Schwartz kept a diary during most of his captivity that he still has today.

Mr. Schwartz said he knew more or less what was happening in the war because the Japanese published an English Language newspaper throughout the war and copies would circulate. Later, he wrote a study about how each country’s media reported the war. “Everyone likes to report that they are winning,” he said.

Released: After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on Aug 14, 1945. Two days later at the Rokuroshi camp in the mountains outside Hiroshima, “the Japanese Commander came in and said “hostilities have ceased,” and they walked off and left us there,’ Schwartz recalled. The newly free prisoners wrote POW on the rooftop. A B-29 spotted it and planes began dropping boxes of food. Two weeks later, rescuers arrived.

Jack Schwartz served 22 more years in the Navy. He moved to Hanford, CA in 1962 and began working as the public works director and city engineer for 18 years. Schwartz has married twice and has a stepdaughter, a son and a grandson. His hobby is wood turning and making items out of wood. He is part of a local writing group “The Remington Ramblers” in Hanford.