Li Naw was sitting against one of the prop roots, under a large Banyan tree near edge of his village, guarded by a dozen Japanese soldiers pointing their automatic rifles directly at him. His wounded right leg wrapped in a bloody piece of cloth ripped from one of the dead villagers laying nearby. His eyes were darting left and right looking for his oldest son. His wife and daughter were lying dead on the elevated porch of his now burning basha in the center of the village.
With the war going badly in Europe in 1941, President Roosevelt formed the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) and named his longtime friend, William J. Donovan, answerable only to the President, as its first director on July 11, 1941. Less than a year later, the COI was transformed into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) – an arm of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with collecting and analyzing strategic information and performing covert military operations.
It all started in September of 1995, when an military veteran of World War Two from Columbus, contacted me. For anonymity sake, let’s call him Jonathan Preston. Jonathan had found out from a friend that I was a writer and history buff. He wanted to meet with me and tell me about his experiences in World War Two. It was now fifty years after the war ended, everything was declassified and he could finally talk about it. The term “declassified” caught my interest. When I asked him to tell me a little about it over the phone, he said, “No, but trust me, you’ll want to hear what I have to say.”
By now, another cold front had moved in, and rain was falling as well as the temperature. It was perfect weather for intelligence gathering. The enemy would not have the alertness they would normally have if the weather were clear and sunny. German sentries would be more concerned about staying dry and keeping warm than keeping a lookout. The temperature was now in the teens. Plus, the Germans had a tight ring around the beachhead.
In January 1944, according to the American military intelligence agent who told me his story in November 1995, and the basis of my book, Operation King Cobra, the US Army Chief of Staff sent him to the China-Burma-India Theater of war to work jointly with the British Special Operations Executive. His irregular warfare assignments (sabotage and raiding operations) were so classified that they were verbally delivered by Army colonels flying into Calcutta, India, directly from the Pentagon.
We may not like to admit it, but governments have a tendency to rewrite history. Whether it’s to hide atrocities, hide secret policies or because politicians get caught up in the corruption of money and power, it happens and the United States of America in no exception. In fact, over the last six decades the American and other government have kept hidden much of the atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War Two.
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