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Bluffton residents brush with history c. 1940s

By Fred Steiner

In November 1945 Bluffton resident Betty Steinman experienced a brush with history like no other person in Bluffton.

It is one of several interesting brushes with history that Bluffton residents reported in The Bluffton News. Some of those accounts follow Betty’s. The accounts in this feature are from the mid-1940s. 

Betty, whose nephew Jeremy Szabo lives in Bluffton, was an eye-witness to the war-criminal trials of Japanese at Manila. She wrote about her experience in a letter to her parents Forrest and Joyce Steinman, which was published on the front page of The Bluffton News in late November 1945.

Betty was on her was to the Philippines to Japan in Red Cross welfare work, when the group she was will stopped in Manila.

Here is her interesting account of the trial in her letter:

 “This morning I had one of the most exciting experiences, seeing Yamashita’s trial. I wish you could have seen it. When we walked in Yamashita was on the stand talking in Japanese.

They had to use an interpreter for everything that he said and everything spoken to him, so it was quite drawn out. He is quite heavy and had a crew haircut.

When he spoke he hardly moved a muscle in his face, in fact it was hard to know if he was  talking or not.

They had mikes all around to pick up voices and news reels and flash photos were taken at regular intervals.

They had a ten-minutes recess every hour. We were up in the balcony and went over to a window where standing directly below me was Yamashita. I could almost reach down and touch him. He was just standing smoking and talking now and then to another Japanese. He looked up in the window at us several times. To listen to his side of the story, he is an innocent as a newborn babe.

President Roosevelt
From April 1943 – Pvt. Harry Bogart had an unexpected privilege of serving as one of the honor guards for President Roosevelt when he visited Camp Robinson, Arkansas, recently. 

Harry had practiced for the activities with his unit for two or three weeks but was under the impression that they were getting ready for a visit by an army general.

 He was much surprised to see the  President who stopped off at the camp on his way to the historic meeting with the Mexican president.

General George Marshall
From April 1944 – Donald “Buddie” Luginbuhl – he’s a corporal now with the army in Shreveport, Louisiana – still rates as an accordion artist.

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