This Day In History: 1945-03-29
A veteran of Bataan, who spent three years in Japanese prison camps in the Philippines left after having spent part of his three month furlough visiting friends and relatives in the Mahwah area. Staff Sergerat Leon A. Nice Jr was the son of Leon A. Tice who was employed for a number of years on the Birch farm on Valley Road in Mahwah. The younger Time had enlisted in the regular army in 1939. At the time of the Japanese attack on Manilla on December 8, 1942 he had been overseas for two years and was scheduled for discharge on December 24, 1941. The medical Corpsman was assigned to Sternberg General Hospital in Manila. He and his unit worked day and night for three weeks taking care of those wounded in the continuous air attacks. Eventually he was evacuated to the Bataan Base Hospital where he was when Bataan fell to the Japanese on April 9th. He succeeded in avoiding capture until the 24th. He was first sent to the notorious Billbid Prison in Manila and then to Cabanatuan Prison Camp five days later. While in the camp he and his fellow corpsmen set up and operated a small camp hospital. Their work was seriously hampered by the almost complete absence of any medicines or supplies. He was still there when the 6th Army Rangers liberated the camp on January 30, 1945. After a 25-mile forced march, carrying 50-60 of the more seriously ill prisoners, the captives reached the American lines and freedom. At the time of his liberation he weighed 108 lbs instead of his normal 150. He returned to San Francisco on March 8th for his 90 day furlough. He spent some of it in this area and some with his father, then living in Pennsylvania. He reported that he was not expecting to be sent overseas again. He was to report back to a rest camp at Santa Barbara, California at the end of his leave.