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WWII Sacrifices

Regarding “Serene by the Sea in Flores” (June 25): It was gratifying to see a positive article about a beautiful place in the land of my birth that has seen so much economic difficulty and strife over the past few years. Indonesia’s Flores island is an undiscovered paradise.

The article referred to the airport in Maumare as a convenient way to get to Flores. I would like to share a forgotten World War II footnote about this airport.

I, along with my fellow prisoners of war held by Japan, had the unfortunate task of building the first airstrips on Flores to accommodate military aircraft. The Japanese army would use explosives to blow up a section of reef and then have the POWs dive into the ocean to collect the pieces of shattered coral. We would use this material to build the runway after clearing heavy growth from the shore area by hand. We worked 12 to 14 hours per day with minimal meals.

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Many of my fellow POWs died on beautiful Flores building these airstrips.

PIETER WIERSMA

Arcadia


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