Deenah Rue McCurry, SN 2956252. He was born in 1918 in Tennessee, the son of Russell Conway McCurry and Hattie Loretta Whitson.
The bespectacled McCurry joined the Navy in April, 1941, and upon completion of boot camp and his Service School, shipped out to the Philippine Islands.
McCurry was stationed in the Philippines when the island was conquered by the Japanese. He was captured with the fall of Corregidor and was at first reported to be Missing in Action (MIA). His family did not know if he was alive or dead until early in 1945 when they received word that he had been killed as a result of his POW transport ship, the Oryoko Maru, being sunk by American planes. This information was obtained from captured Japanese documents. While the POW transport ship did in fact get bombed while transporting prisoners, including McCurry, that was not how he died. According to information on documents used in the trial of several Japanese soldiers after the war (GENERAL HEADQUARTERS SUPREME COMMANDER FOR THE ALLIED POWERS LEGAL SECTION, APO500, 25 Feb. 1947, File No. 014.13, Public Relations Informational Summary No. 510 – Subject: U.S. vs Junsaburo TOSHINO, Shusuke WADA,et.al), McCurry actually was murdered by the Japanese along with other Allied POW’s as reported below. Some of the incidents dates and dates of death noted in this report are not correct:
“On the morning of 20 December 1944, 500 of the men were taken to San Fernando, Pampanga and the second group left on the 21st. The first group was placed in the provincial jail, and the second group in the movie house. While there, the prisoners were finally issued a canteen of rice. There was a spigot at the theater with running water and by keeping order everybody received enough water. Ample water was also available at the jail.
About 1800 hours on 23 December, WADA came to the two group commanders and wanted the 15 sickest men to be selected for return to Manila for hospitalization. Among the group selected were Lieutenant Dwight D. Edison, Lieutenant John W. Elliot, Lieutenant Colonel Ulysses J.L. Peoples, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Samuel W. Freeny, Pharmacists Mate 2/c Deenah R. McCurry, Second Lieutenant Hyman V. Sherman, Major Wendell F. Swanson and eight other unidentified American Prisoners of War.
About 1900 hours, a truck was brought to where the group was waiting and the sick were driven in the truck to a small cemetery on the outskirts of San Fernando, Pampanga. When they arrived at the cemetery there were a group of soldiers who had dug a hole about 15 feet square. When the guards on the truck had dismounted, they took up positions about the hole. Two of the guards brought one of the prisoners to the hole. He was told to kneel at the edge of the hole and to take a position as though in prayer. The prisoner was brought to the hole and he was bayoneted and decapitated. This procedure was followed until all fifteen of the prisoners had either been bayoneted or decapitated. It is alleged that at this execution both WADA and TOSHINO were present, that they supervised and took part in it”.
“Toshino” was Lt. Junsaboro Toshino. He was found guilty of murdering and/or supervising the murder of at least 16 men and was sentenced to death at Yokohama, Japan. Wada was Shusuke Wada, a civilian employee of the Japanese army (some sorces say he was a sergeant in the army). He spoke English and served as an interpreter as well as commander of the guard when Lt. Toshino was unavailable. Wada, whose charges were the same as Lt. Toshino’s was found guilty of causing the deaths of numerous Allied POW’s by “neglecting to transmit to his superiors requests for adequate quarters, food, drinking water and medical attention”. Wada was sentenced to Life Imprisonment at hard labor. Other guards received prison sentences or were acquitted.
He is buried in plot A, row 15, grave 6, Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Phillippines.
Activity during WWII
Pharmacists mate. Captured in Philippines when Manila fell in early 1942. Maintained records of personnel captured at great risk to himself until he was killed by the Japanese in December 1944.
–Submitted by his sister, Fern M. Lavinder
The Johnson City Press, 19 December 1943
Mr. and Mrs. Conway McCurry of Unicoi received a card last week from their son, Deenah R. McCurry, pharmacist’s mate second class, who is a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippine Islands. It was the third card they have received from him since he was taken prisoner when the Japanese capture the Philippines, his father said. The card, which was headed “Japanese Prison Camp No. 3, Limit Fifty Words,” also had some Japanese words printed on it and apparently was a standard card of the Japanese army for war prisoners. The message, which was typewritten read in part: “Since capture I have been working in a hospital under the direction of the Japanese. Received last mail in November, 1941 …. Save copies of Like Look and Time. Am well.” The message was signed with pen and ink and McCurry said it was his son’s hand writing.
- Rank: Pharmacists Mate Third Class
- Date of death: 22 December 1944
- County: Unicoi
- Service Branch: Navy
- Division/Assignment: Canacao Naval Hospital
- Theater: Pacific
- Conflict: World War II
- Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Prisoner of War Medal
- Burial/Memorial Location: Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XIX, Top Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Deenah R. McCurry
Click a thumbnail below to view at full size.