39th Bomb Group (VH)

[Search Tip: Use " " for better search results ex. "John Q. Doe"; "City of ..."]
Sgt Sherwood C. Kiernan
Left Gunner

Sgt Sherwood W. Kiernan, left gunner on 62nd's Crew 52, missing in action since 24 May (1945) is the second Group man to have been found as a Jap PW. Too late for last week's "Blockbuster" which carried a meager account of the deliverance of crewmate Sgt Lloyd R. Hill from the Japs, Sgt Kiernan paid a visit to the Group, on his way to the states, and recounted his experiences.

It was a thinner Kiernan that spoke with his buddies of the 62nd Bomb Squadron. In the 81 days that he was a prisoner of the Japs, Kiernan said he lost 56 lbs.

As told to 1st Lt Harry B. Eddy of the 62nd, Sgt Kiernan related his a tale of danger, suspense and Japanese hostility.


It started on the May 23rd night raid on Tokyo with Crew 52 operating as pathfinder. As their plane approached the target, all HELL broke loose on the ground, filling the air with flak. Number four engine was shot out with the resulting fire spread to the right blister.


Map of Bail Out Area
appearing in "The Blockbuster"
22 September 1945, Vol. 1 No. 15

The wounded plane fought its way out over Tokyo Bay and there Airplane Commander Capt Richard E. Paquette gave the command, "Bail Out." Sgt Kiernan declared that when the order was given all the men in the rear of the plane were ready with Sgt Hill bailing out first.

With the suspense of his jump over with Kiernan found himself only three-quarters of a mile off the shore. The city was a mass of flame and cast an ominous glow for miles around. He quickly inflated his little life raft and navigated his way to a nearby breakwater where he hid his chute under a pile of rocks. The Sgt then inched his way cautiously to a small wooden bridge under which he buried his life raft and kept out of sight until he could formulate a plan of action.


The following two days were spent in hiding, but on the third night Kiernan forth in search of a possible avenue of escape. He discovered an unoccupied fishing boat pulled up on the beach and decided that with it he might transport himself to less dangerous territory.

Just when escape seemed within his grasp he was discovered by a Jap patrol. His weakened condition and lack of food made resistance foolhardy, and he was taken in custody. Questioned at great length, he was transferred to the Japanese Military Police Headquarters in Tokyo.


Here he was received with contempt and abuse, and in the process of interrogation was systematically beaten with bamboo sticks till his back was bruised and swollen. The Japanese who questioned him used flawless English and asked him many questions concerning tactical information.

That was Kiernan's initiation to Kempeti, the MP prison in Tokyo. Food consisted of water and a rice ball, which diminished daily for the size from the size of a softball to a little bigger than a golf ball. Conditions were appalling. The prisoners were abused, several dying of burns and lack of medical care.

One morning the guards came and took Kiernan and others to another prison camp on little island in Tokyo Bay. Conditions here were much improved.

On 29 August, Navy LSI's rescued 137 Americans from the island and delivered them to a hospital ship. There were screened and segregated for further disposition depending on their individual physical and mental condition.

The above account is taken as written from "The Blockbuster" newspaper dated 22 September 1945 Vol. 1 No. 15 and submitted by Elmo Huston, FE, P-7 for use on the this site.

Crew 52 Main Page

POW Main Page

62nd Squadron Index Page

Source: "The Blockbuster" dated: 22 September 1945 Vol. 1 No. 15
Submitted by Elmo Huston, FE, P-7