MORNING BUSINESS
(Senate - March 08, 2017)

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[Page S1686]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                            MORNING BUSINESS

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   REMEMBERING THE SOLDIERS OF 2ND BATTALION, 131ST FIELD ARTILLERY 
                                REGIMENT

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, this week, we remember the brave men of 
Texas who gave so much to preserve freedom in the Pacific and survived 
the greatest horrors of World War II. Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 131st 
Field Artillery Regiment from Camp Bowie, TX, a Texas National Guard 
unit, were fighting alongside Australian forces on Java, an island in 
Indonesia, against invading Japanese forces. On March 8, 1942 the 
Americans and their Australian allies were captured by the Japanese. A 
report was never filed by the Japanese to identify the captured unit. 
As a result, the Texas soldiers had disappeared and were dubbed ``the 
Lost Battalion.''
  They were combined with survivors of the USS Houston, CA-30, which 
had been sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait on March 1, 1942, and 
dispersed to POW labor camps located in Burma, Thailand, and Japan to 
work as slave laborers. They worked on the Burma-Siam Death Railway, 
building a railroad through the jungle and into the coal mines, docks, 
and shipyards in Japan and other Southeast Asian countries. For 42 
months, the men of 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery and the USS 
Houston suffered together through humiliation, degradation, physical 
and mental torture, starvation, and horrible tropical diseases, with no 
medication.
  Five hundred and thirty-two soldiers of the battalion, along with 371 
survivors of the USS Houston were taken prisoner. As many as 163 
soldiers died in captivity, and of those, 133 are estimated to have 
died working on the railroad.
  In August of 1945, after 42 months of captivity and forced labor, the 
survivors of 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment and the 
survivors of the USS Houston were returned to the United States. March 
8, 2017, marks the 75th year since their capture on the island of Java, 
and these soldiers deserve to be remembered for their heroic service 
and sacrifices in the Pacific theater of battle.

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