Citizens of Walla Walla, by your magnificent efforts
culminating in today's celebration of his Walla Walla
origins, and most important, the values that he stood
for, have earned every right to claim him as your
Others with even more claim than either family or Walla
Wallans, are those who fought so bravely under his
command and suffered the hopelessness and ignominy and
and brutality of Japanese captivity along with him.
As unassuming and modest a general as he was, his troops
of all ranks, and fellow captives, virtually worshipped
his leadership, bravery, sense of duty, patriotism, care
for his troops, and willingness to share their dangers
and privation. An example of his caring is illustrated
at the death bed of fellow POW, Col. Paul D. Bunker,
USA, artillery officer from his General's command
on Corregidor. In "Skinny's" own words:
"I sat with him for a part of the last two
hours of his life. He had moist beriberi.
His legs, feet, arms, and hand swollen
incredibly from the water with which he had
tried to assuage his hunger. He did not
know me. Colonel Bunker died and was
cremated in the rags in which he had
carefully sewn a bit of the American flag he
had had to pull down from Corregidor."
such individual who expressed to me, in 1950, his
affection for this extraordinary leader was retired
Dutch Major General Schilling, captured while defending
Java and who shared freezing prison quarters during the
harsh Manchurian winter with "Our" General. His natural
reserve was abandoned when he heard my surname,
Wainwright, and he poured out fond memories of, and
admiration for a fellow captive, his senior
In New Mexico of the economically depressed 1930's,
virtually every town had family members who were
National Guardsmen. After winning and all-Army
anti-aircraft contest, these weekend warriors were
Federalized and almost 2,000 of their state's tiny male
population were sent to serve in the 200th, and its spun
off 515th, AA Battalions at Clark Field, Manila, and
finally Bataan, where almost all but the three who had
died in battle were captured. They had been the first
to fire on attacking Japanese aircraft and among the
most cohesive units to surrender on Bataan. Only half
returned alive to the US 31/2 years later. Many more
died shortly after repatriation from the aftermath of
malnutrition and gratuitous maltreatment. Regardless of
their horrible ordeals, all survivors and families I met
after moving to the state in 1955 until Veteran's Day
over 50 years later when hugging seven of his few
remaining troops, the name Wainwright was almost magic.
New Mexicans' universal affection for their
General had encouraged us to name our youngest son
Jonathan Mayhew, born in New Mexico in December 1961, 20
years after the Battle of Bataan began.
The late Col. Henry Peck, commanding the New Mexico
Guard's 515th, stated that his General was "a
wonderful fellow...a right down-to-earth officer and
considerate of everyone under him. He was always
thinking of the welfare of the men, even in [POW] camp."
One very emotional moment came during February, 1987 at
a Rotary luncheon in the Manila Hotel. Upon my
introduction as a visiting Rotarian, the name Wainwright
brought over 200, mostly Philippine, business and
professional leaders to their feet and a thunderous
applause for the memory of their general. After
all, the bulk of his army consisted of their people and
he had shared the same dangers and privations leading
the Philippine Scouts, Constabulary, and raw recruits
from the Lingayan Gulf to the Bataan battle front, and
Corregidor and POW hell-holes to follow.
Only two weeks ago, I talked again with retired Army
Col. Tom Dooley in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, his
General's long time military aide-de-camp. On December
8, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day in the Philippines, Major
General Wainwright awarded 1st Lt. Dooley WWII's first
Silver Star. Col. Dooley stated, "My time with him was
marvelous, except of course, the POW camp years. He was
a great person!" This from an officer who stuck by his
horse-loving Cavalry general even though, as Col. Dooley
confessed to me, "I hated horses!" Dooley well
remembered his General telling the officers your
hometown joke about being so proud of the town's name
you say it twice. Isn't it amazing that with all they
went through together, such a simple bit of humor was
memorable? "Skinny," though a general, was an
unpretentious guy. He autographed a group picture to
Dooley as one of the "Battling Bastards of Bataan."
This sad poem, composed by his men, goes as follows:
We're the battling bastards of Bataan,
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam
No, uncles, no aunts, no nephews, no nieces,
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces
And nobody gives a damn.
General was just another "Battling Bastard" - with
Both he and his wife, Adele, were "Army brats" of modest
financial resources, but in spite of that, in the late
1930's Col. Wainwright was Commandant of Fort Myers,
Virginia, right outside of that other Washington, the
District of Columbia. This was considered a most
prestigious assignment for your "Gentleman
General," but the social obligations were extensive,
extremely expensive, and beyond their income. Because
of this drain, he eventually asked for reassignment. In
January, 1939 he was promoted to Brigadier and in
September, 1940 he was transferred to Fort Stotsenburg,
Luzon, P.I. as a Major General assisting Philippine
Marshal Douglas MacArthur, retired U.S. Army
Chief-of-Staff, in training that soon-to-be fully
independent country's army.
Skinny's wealthy replacement with a wealthier wife was
none other than that furious Col. George S. Patton who
pictured himself stuck with a white glove social
assignment while Wainwright and other peers would soon
be off to glory in the impending war. How mistaken he
Another survivor/admirer is former Naval Aide-de-Camp,
Lt. Malcolm Champlin, now a retired judge in Oak; and,
California. His General gave him an M1 rifle
under most hazardous circumstances during the Bataan
fighting. Let me read you a poignant story from Duane
Schultz's Hero of Bataan: The Story of General
Jonathan M. Wainwright:
"Champlin slipped on his dark glasses to
shield his eyes from the dazzling glare of
the sun. He looked up at the sky and saw,
"directly in front of the sun, a black speck
was hurtling down in a direct line towards
us and as I looked, the speck grew larger,
second by second, and it grew wings, and the
wings were dipping from side to side."
"Get the hell out of this car!" Champlin
yelled. "Everybody get out! Quickly!"
Wainwright, Dooley, and Pugh turned to look
at him in surprise. Champ shouted at them
again and leaned over to release the catch
on Wainwright's safety belt. He leaped out
of the car, carbine in hand, and ran for the
cover of the trees just beyond the road.
The others were right behind him. The
stream of bullets from the Japanese plane
sliced up the road, tearing into the scout
"Bastard!" Champlin yelled. He fired the
carbine until the clip was empty.
When the plane was gone, the others raised
their heads and came out from behind the
bushes. Tom Dooley went to examine the
riddled scout car and counted seventy-two
bullet holes in it. "Jesus," he said, "that
was a close one."
Champlain glanced at Wainwright. The
general had "an amused expression on his
face and the twinkle in his eyes that could
not be mistaken."
"Well, you let off some steam, didn't you
son," Skinny said. "You kind of like that
gun, don't you?"
"Yes, General, I guess I do."
"It's yours son. Take it and thanks for
spotting that plane. He'd have gotten us if
you hadn't spotted him coming out of the
"But General," Champlin said. "This is
"Who's fighting this war?" Skinny said.
"The pencil pushers in Washington or you and
I? Keep it son. It's yours."
asked the General why he continuously exposed himself on
the front line with his troops...the answer from
"A General is supposed to see that his
men get plenty of food, ammunition, and
rest. We are very short on all three. The
one thing I can give them is morale."
talked with Judge Champlin last week, this former Naval
Officer's loyalty and admiration for his General
had not dimmed over the 55 intervening years since that
incident. The rifle and note of authorization from the
General hang on his wall.
General Wainwright faced battles and POW camps
courageously. However, one fear weighed heavily on his
mind during the 3-1/2 years from the fall of Bataan and
Corregidor until the liberation from the Japanese POW
camp at Sian, Manchuria, and that was, to him, the most
horror of professional disgrace.
Cut off from hope of re-supply, with food, medicine, and
heavy weapons all but non- existent, Army nurses and
civilians in his special care, and they, along with all
his troops, facing extermination, he disobeyed absent
Macarthur's impossible orders and surrendered, after
advising President Roosevelt as follows:
"With broken heart and head bowed in
sadness but not in shame I report to Your
Excellency that today I must arrange terms
for surrender of the fortified islands of
With many guns and anti-aircraft fire
control equipment destroyed we are no longer
able to prevent accurate bombardment from
the air. With numerous batteries of of
heavy caliber emplaced on the shores of
Bataan and Cavite the enemy now brings
devastating crossfire to bear on us,
outranging our remaining guns.
Most of my batteries, seacoast,
anti-aircraft and field, have been put out
of action by the enemy. I have ordered the
others destroyed to prevent them from
falling into enemy hands. In addition, we
are now overwhelmingly assaulted by Japanese
troops on Corregidor.
There is a limit of human endurance and that
limit has long since been past. Without
prospect of relief I feel it is my duty to
my country and to my gallant troops to end
this useless effusion of blood and human
If you agree, Mr. President, please say to
the nation that my troops and I have
accomplished all that is humanly possible
and that we have upheld the best traditions
of the United States and the Army.
May God bless and preserve you and guide you
and the nation in the effort to ultimate
With profound regret and with continued
pride in my gallant troops I go to meet the
Japanese commander. Good-by Mr. President."
was first recited to me by the lovely Philippine guide
on Corregidor. She felt it in her heart and mind. I
Wainwright feared that he had let his country and its
army down, though in truth, the opposite was the case.
Only after his rescue from Sian, Manchuria, 26 year old
Sgt. Harold B. Leith, first told him that he was
"considered a hero there," after General Wedemeyer in
Chunking received him with great joy as a "genuine
hero;" after he stood behind MacArthur on the deck of
the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and then was assigned to
preside over the Japanese surrender of the Philippines;
only after President Truman awarded him the Medal of
Honor in a simple White House Rose Garden ceremony and
he had addressed both houses of Congress; and after
literally millions of Americans cheered him in the
streets all over the country and his beloved Army gave
him a fourth star and a Corps to command; finally then
did he put those false fears behind him and he could,
for a time, be at relative peace with himself.
As noted, your literature describes him as a "Gentleman
General" and that was surprisingly true enough for a
once hard riding, hard drinking cavalry officer of the
old school. He was First Captain of Cadets of his West
Point class of 1906, showing promise early in his
career, but his roots tell us something more.
We all here know that then Cavalry Lt. Wainwright, his
father, was posted to Fort Walla Walla in the 1880's as
a protection against Indian raids. Captain Wainwright
fought in Cuba in the late 1890's and Major Wainwright
dies during the Moro uprising in the Philippines in
1902. His father's brother, Ensign Jonathan Mayhew
Wainwright, USN, of the U.S.S. Mohican, was killed June
19, 1870 while boarding a pirate ship in Mexican
waters. Grandfather Commander Jonathan M. Wainwright,
USN, died at the hands of the Confederates who boarded
his warship the USS Harriet Lane, January 1, 1863 in
Galveston Texas during a Civil War battle.
Great-grandfather, Episcopal Bishop of New York,
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright was our first ancestor in
The Bishop's father, Peter Wainwright, married Elizabeth
Mayhew, whose father, Jonathan Mayhew D.D., of Boston
and Martha's Vineyard, in the mid-1700's delivered a
number of sermons against "arbitrary authority" which
were described by the signers of the Declaration of
Independence as the "warning gun of the revolution".
That cleric, the first Jonathan Mayhew, is to this day
credited with "the first definitive suggestion of a
union of the colonies."
"Our General", your communities General, his
family's, his troops', and all Americans'
General, bearing the weight of such an intellectual
military legacy, lived to the fullest extent the
following admonition of his mentor, his deceased
father's first cousin, my Great Uncle Mayhew:
"Virtues and achievements of forebears
alone yield little claim to superior
regard. A good pedigree has true value only
so far as it affords stimulus to credible
and blameless living. To prove one's self
worthy in one's own right - to be some one
on one's own, rather than assume to shine by
reflected glory which one had no part in
creating - is what really counts. Not so
much to be proud of one's ancestors as to be
one of whom one's ancestors might be proud!"
philosophy was equally well expressed by President
"I have no use whatever for the man the
best part of whom is underground. I believe
in pride of ancestry, but only if it makes
the man or woman try to carry himself or
herself was as regards the duties of the
day. The thing to do is to feel that if you
had ancestors who did their duty, it is
doubly incumbent on you to do your duty."
celebration we affirm that "the best part" of our
General clearly is not "underground". Your beautiful
monument stand for high bravery and leadership and, as
he would wish, a reminder of what can happen to our
nation and its troops when we fail to remain prepared
and vigilant. Thoughts for all of us to ponder, as he
certainly did - these ideals by which he lived and led
his troops, one of whom said:
"We like him. We admire him. He's a real
man. We'd do it again, and die for him."
thanks from our family to you who have been so kind
enough to honor Walla Walla's and all America's General,
and to listen to what we believe he stood for.