The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2010

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






The Cry of the Bojong Bird

Bizarre, Fascinating, and Wacky World War I & ll Secrets.

by Cecil Owen

The young Filipino man was running down the path blindly; screaming at the top of his lungs. Stringing around his waist and behind him was his…. Bowels! He had just been bayoneted in the abdomen by a "harpon," a Japanese soldier. He had been caught by a patrol of fifty. Then, laughingly, they allowed him to run away. They wanted to see how far he would run before he dropped. He was able to run five kilometers before he collapsed.

Immediately, word was sent to me and I said, "Bring him to me." "He is dying," they told me. "Then I can't do him any harm," I said.

Now, I am not a doctor, or a medic of any kind. I have a medicine chest and a book called 'Miracles of Modern Medicine.' I also have some old readers digests with medical articles in them. Just who am I then? Ensign Iliff David Richardson of the United States Naval Reserve. But curious enough, I am also Major David Richardson of the Filipino Guerrilla Army. And I am commander of a network of outlawed radio stations, under control of General  MacArthur in Australia. They are set up on the southern part of the Philippine Islands of Samar and Leyte. The time is September of 1944. My radio station was set up near the "barrio" (village) in the mountainous jungle of southern Samar. All of our radio stations had to be very portable, ready to move at any time.

The young Filipino was brought to me on a homemade stretcher. When I examined him, he looked like he was already dead! But all of the local people expected me to perform a miracle. His bowels were all there, outside of his body, and his face was a ghostly white.

Jeremiah 4:19: "My bowels, my bowels. I am pained at my very heart, my heart maketh a noise in me." Philemon verse 20: "Yea brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord, refresh my bowels in the Lord."

Cecil Owen

If ever a set of bowels needed refreshing, now was the time. His bowels were not punctured, so we washed them very carefully. He was then given some sulfadiazine, and he became conscious. I tell you what, when I saw the bad condition he was in, my heart sank, because I had not figured on anything that drastic. The medical book was of no help at all. It said how to give pills and shake down a thermometer, but nothing about  a grave situation like this. And I was the only one there who could even read the book! So it was up to me for sure, not ducking that. I do not know a thing about how to put those bowels back, or even where they belong. But they do not belong outside of his body like that. Everybody knows that, and he will certainly die if they stay out. So if he is willing, I will try my best to get them back inside. Ask him, for some people might prefer to die in peace, and not be mauled around and made to be in pain before dying. No one prefers to die in peace. The drowning man grabs the straw…  the falling man grabs the air.

A man leaned over and said something to the young man in the Visayan Philippine dialect. "He says he wishes for you the best of wishes, sir." I tried real hard to push them back in, but they just would not go. It made me so sick that I nearly fainted. My hands were trembling, but I forced them to work. After a while they stopped trembling, and then my legs began to tremble. I felt like a dog trying to slide down a barnyard wire fence. I could not figure out how so much had worked out through the small hole that the bayonet had made.

Finally, I had to take a razor blade and make the hole longer. I spread the opening with my fingers, and began to push once more. It took two hours altogether to get all of his bowels back inside.

Next, I had to find something to sew up the gaping wound. All I could find was some course abaca fiber. Abaca is what the Filipino call Manila hemp. Twine and rope are made from this plant, also a hot whiskey called Tequila. I did not know what kind of a stick to use. My book did not have the answer for that either. I had to use pliers to push the big sailing needle in and out. The young Filipino was watching me as I yanked onto the needle with my pliers. He never once uttered a single sound, although the pain had to be acute. He said, "I like the pain, for it tells me that I am still alive."

It took seven long painful stitches to sew up the opening. They were waiting for me when I came out of the hut. People from everywhere were there, even the young man's wife. They had been afraid to come in to help, because of the blood and wound. Even his wife did not have the strength to come in and help. Sadly I said to them all, I am sorry but he will not live. "At least he will not have the mark of the Japanese on him when he goes to God," one said. "He will have the mark of the American when he goes to God. That is much better for that is the mark of love."

Although I did the very best that I could do, I was right. And everyone was satisfied with the efforts. But the young Filipino man would die that very evening.

Suddenly, we heard the unmistakable cry of the Bojong bird, and everyone just vanished into the jungle. We could not tell if this was a real Bojong bird or a native using a Bojong to warn us.

A Bojong was a conch shell with a hole cut in the end. A conch was a large spiral shell of a marine mollusk. This was used to warn us of approaching Japanese. A Bojong bird was a large parrot type of jungle bird.

(The natives could not pronounce his unusual first name, Iliff, so he went by his middle name, David. David Richardson was born in Denver, Colorado. His father was a Methodist minister, and his mother a school teacher. She could teach Latin, Music, English, or History. So he inherited a high degree of intelligence from each parent. He is a slender person of average height, with a somewhat handsome face. His hair is an unruly brown, making it hard to comb down. In early 1940, at the age of twenty two, he was already an Ensign in the United States Navy. He came to the Philippines onboard the U.S.S. Bitttern, a mine sweeper. When WWII started, he transferred to the famous "expendable" motor torpedo boat squadron 3 of John Bulkeley. His torpedo boat was the famous PT-34, until it was blown up. Then, he involved himself in the Guerrilla movement on Leyte Island. David worked himself up to become Chief of Staff  for Colonel Ruperto Kangleon. Ultimately, he became head of the Radio Network which would light General MacArthur's way back to Leyte. This is the Major Richardson of  the Philippine Guerrilla Army that the Japanese posted a 10,000 (ten thousand) peso reward for.)

The Japanese were constantly monitoring our radio broadcasts, trying to pinpoint our location. Some months we had to  move two or three times. They would also send out a  patrol of fifty to search for us. My own radio station headquarters were near the village of Tacloban on Leyte.

The Filipinos were afraid of the Japanese because of their barbaric tactics, but they would still help hide us, if they could. The Japanese began to gather up all the Conch shells they could find. Any native found with one would be shot. But this did no good, for the Filipinos could imitate the cry of the Bojong bird very well.

Besides the Japanese patrols that were sent out, we also had to watch out for the "BC," meaning Bureau of Constabulary, which was Filipino police working for the Japanese. They are hated by the natives, as they raid their houses to loot and burn, but they were not nearly as barbaric as the Japanese were.

In spite of all of the war actions that were all around, the Filipinos loved to have a good time.

I certainly had to get used to their eating habits, especially their meat. They love to eat snakes, mostly large pythons and wild pigs. But I never did develop a taste for their monkey meat. It is what they do with their meat that really knocks you. The meat is all tough, so to tenderize it, they leave it out in the sun for days. Then it is burnt a little bit in a fire; that is their idea of cooking.

Last Saturday they had a big fiesta and a big cock fight was the main attraction. There was a lottery with a first prize of two thousand pesos. Little numbered balls were put in a large mahogany cylinder. Twenty balls rolled out one by one into a glass maze. They rolled around until each one dropped into a numbered basket. The baskets were numbered according to the fighting cocks they had. If your ticket drew a cock, you were in the running for the big money. The twenty roosters were all put in a big pit together and fought a free-for-all. The two thousand pesos ($1000 American dollars.)  went to the ticket holder on the winner of the free-for-all. But there was a prize for everybody who drew a cock. What a bloody mess that  free-for-all turned out to be. But the Filipinos enjoy cock fights, the way we Americans do football or basketball. My main team was ten United States Army Air Force enlisted men, who had escaped hidden in a Wrigley Spearmint Gum wagon and one sailor off my old PT 34 Torpedo boat. We were regularly receiving supplies and firearms from submarines while our radio stations were keeping tabs on Japanese movements and warships for General MacArthur .

"Listen, do you hear that? It is the cry of the Bojong bird. I must be going… Good-bye!"

Ensign Iliff David Richardson, U.S.N.R., was promoted to Lieutenant and awarded by General MacArthur the Silver Star Medal with oak leaf cluster in lieu of a second silver star, and in addition, wore a blue ribbon with an oak leaf cluster representing two Presidential Unit Citations.

American Guerrilla in the Philippines  by Ira Wolfert
The Military Channel on Television.