World War II/Afro-American Soldiers
?Submitted by Mrs. Joanne Emerick
Subject: Benny Rosell/World War II/Afro-American soldiers
I am an American History instructor at Hoxie High School, Hoxie, Kansas. I am doing a research project involving a colleague of mine who just retired from the teaching profession, and I need help! I found your web page and thought you might be able to provide me with the information I need.
My colleague, Benny Rosell, was a 10-year-old boy in 1945. A Filipino, he spent the World War II years running and hiding from the Japanese on his home Philippine Islands. Nineteen forty-five found him and his family near Parang on the southwest coast of Mindanao. Benny was "adopted" by Black soldiers who were camped on the coast at Parang. He stayed in their tents, was fed by them and went to church services with them. Benny's father was a minister, and Benny could sing Christian hymns. When the soldiers left (their job was "driving duck boats on the shore," according to Benny) Benny wanted to go with them to the United States, but of course, he could not. Benny came to the United States at the age of 17, became a United States citizen, married, and became an award-winning high school debate coach. He is also an ordained minister in the Christian Church. Benny's lifelong dream has been to find the soldiers who befriended him in 1945.
Benny will retire from the ministry this year. His congregation has asked me to help find the men he stayed with, as a surprise for Benny. I have read every book available on troops in the Philippines during World War II. I have sent hundreds of e-mail messages, made phone calls to possible units, etc. I still have not received the break I need to make this reunion possible. Without a specific unit or regiment name, I am looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, a historian never gives up!
A recent phone call from a white veteran who was at Parang at the same time as Benny suggested that the 103rd Colored Division was the only Black unit there. However, in speaking with military archivists at many forts, I am told there was no 103rd Colored Division, and the 103rd Infantry was in Europe. I do not know where to turn next.
If you have any suggestions as to where or how we might find the Black soldiers who were camped at Parang (definitely Army) in the spring of 1945, I will be extremely grateful for your help.
Mrs. Joanne Emerick
Social Studies Instructor