By John W MacDonald
John "Mac" MacDonald of Missoula, Montana, has just issued a book detailing his experiences as a prisoner of war under the Japanese during World War II in the Philippines. Titled, "A Normal Life: Mish Kid and Prisoner of War," the book outlines the story of his missionary family during the harrowing years they were imprisoned by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945.
Fourteen at the time of his family's capture by the Japanese, MacDonald, now 90, has been a resident of Stevensville and Missoula (MT) since his retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 1969--a career he pursued four years after returning to the United States in 1945 at the age of 16, just before the war ended.
MacDonald's missionary family was serving in Legazpi, 325 miles southeast of Manila, when the Japanese invaded the country in December 1941. He details in the book how the entire family at first "took to the hills" near Legazpi to evade capture, but were ultimately found by the Japanese and imprisoned, first in Manila and then in the infamous Los Banos Interment Camp, roughly 30 miles south of Manila.
He details the day to day struggle of the internees to stay alive during their imprisonment as both a starvation diet and threats of brutality were constant factors in the Camp. MacDonald uses both text and period photos to tell his story, including a number of fantastic photos of the prisoners' daring rescue by the US Army and Philippine guerillas from miles behind enemy lines on Feb. 19, 1945 (The same day the US flag was raised over Iwo Jima by US Marines).
MacDonald has lived in the Stevensville and Missoula areas since his retirement from the US Air Force, where he served as a pilot, flying 130 combat missions over Communist lines in Korea, followed by an intelligence assignment in Virginia where he met and married his wife, then 10 years flying B-47 bombers for the Strategic Air Command and finishing with three years in Japan and Vietnam flying C-130s. He returned to Missoula--his mother's hometown--where he completed a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Montana, and subsequently taught in Missoula high schools for two years.
In 1975, the family, with a daughter and three sons, moved to Stevensville, where he had built a home six miles east of town. He became active in Christian ministry through the Cursillo program with a special emphasis on prison ministry -- first in Montana, then in Washington and now at a second prison in Montana. In 1992 he and his wife opened a video rental store in Stevensville and later participated in a Christian outreach program to Moscow, Russia. In all, he was invited by the Russians to return for such programs some 25 times in 14 years. His wife died in a car accident in December of 1996 and he sold the video shop a year later. He remarried in 1998, moving to Missoula where he still lives.
MacDonald's book of 160 pages was issued in 6x9-inch format.
ISBN: 978-1-938707-44-5 -- $19.95