Janis Pardue Hill, PhD, Publishes – Telling His Story: POW #1000
May 02, 2023
BATON ROUGE - LSU alumna, Janis Pardue Hill, PhD, a retired university professor and lifelong educator, has recently published a memoir about her father’s journey as a prisoner of war on the Bataan Death March that occurred during World War II. In Telling His Story: POW #1000, Pardue Hill, as primarily a compiler and editor, provides the details of his story. This memoir covers both his entry into the US Army Air Corps and his experiences in, and after, World War II: the battle to hold Bataan; the surrender of Bataan; the brutal, inhumane treatment on the Death March and in the POW camps; as a slave in Japan, and as a survivor determined to live a Christian life. Pardue Hill reflects on what it was like to compile and edit her father’s story as well as her degree from LSU and a life spent “co-learning.”
Publishing a Legacy
“So many words come to mind—immediately—and they encompass a range of emotions. As I began, there were feelings of extreme joy at hearing my dad’s voice, figuratively speaking, describe his early life, entry into the Army Air Corp, and the trip across the Pacific to the Philippines. At times, as I transcribed words written by my father from many years past on the aged, flaking papers, it seemed as if he were actually talking to me. That was wonderful! Then came the feelings of tremendous sorrow—and horror—as I transcribed his words describing the infamous Death March and the brutal, inhumane treatment by the Japanese guards,” said Pardue Hill.
She continued, “Although I knew the basic details of the Bataan Death March and my father’s experiences as a POW in the prisoner of war camps and as a slave in the Japanese factory, I never knew the specifics of the atrocities he and hundreds of others suffered. It was difficult to comprehend how soldiers, even the enemy, could inflict such inhumane treatment on other soldiers. And, as I wrote in the introductory chapter, it was painful to know that someone like my kind father, a man of great faith, had endured that. I find myself even now, months later, thinking about the struggles he must have gone through. In one of the POW camps, he lost a first cousin to pneumonia, and on burial details, he was forced to bury friends in mass graves.”
“I began to understand truly and completely why the World War II soldiers are called ‘The Greatest Generation.’ They never gave up! At one point in his account of their defense of the Bataan Peninsula, my father wrote, they ‘dug in.’ They were near starvation, outnumbered by a well-equipped Japanese army and fighting with only antiquated WW I rifles they had found and refurbished as best they could; yet they were determined to hold off the Japanese for as long as possible. For months those men had trusted and believed the reports and messages that the military and the powers in Washington actually planned to send the airplanes and arms promised them to protect the Philippine Islands. Unfortunately, those promises were never honored. Because FDR and the military were more concerned with assisting the British in the fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany, the Philippine troops were ignored. What is often ignored, as well, is that the weeks the Bataan warriors held off the Japanese is now recognized as the critical time the Allies needed to begin to remove the threat to Europe. Sadly, those defendants on Bataan suffered mightily for that time, digging in and hanging on. They believed in their country and the freedom it offered, and like my dad, they never considered themselves heroes. That spirit is the essence of the men of ‘The Greatest Generation.’
Perhaps, the most compelling aspect of editing my father’s journals and writings was reading in great detail the story of the miracle of his Bible. Even after being directly hit by a fragmentation bomb, confiscation in one of the prisoner of war camps, and disposal on the hell ship, the Nissyo Maru, his Bible always made its way back to him. As he described himself and his buddies searching through the devastation after the bomb hit their jungle hide-out, I realized that really was a miracle. His helmet, guns, and other belongings were completely destroyed, but the Bible survived in near pristine condition. And, yes, the Bible, his most treasured possession, came home with him. Now, it is one of my most precious possessions.” Telling His Story was awarded an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival held in April 2023. It was also exhibited at the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans January 27-30 and at the London Book Fair held April 18-20.
About Dr. Pardue Hill
In December 1999, Hill graduated from LSU with a PhD in Curriculum Theory with an Emphasis on English. She holds a BS in English education, an MA in literature,
and a PhD in curriculum theory. When asked about her experience at LSU, Pardue Hill
said, “My LSU journey was the fulfillment of a dream I had dreamed since post-graduate
study for my MA at Louisiana Tech, a dream which had been placed ‘on hold’ for family
and teaching. Amazingly, twenty years into my career, the opportunity to take that
trek down the road ‘less traveled by,’ as Frost wrote, appeared. Thus, with the blessings
of a supportive husband and children who encouraged me, the decision was made to follow
that dream. A lifelong learner and student, I relished every class of my yearlong
residency, despite my weekly four hours’ (one way) drive south to the LSU campus and
Pardue Hill continued, “My major professor, Dr. William E. Doll, who directed me into a study of Alfred North Whitehead and his Cosmology, was a kind but strict mentor. Under his mentorship, the study of Whitehead’s process philosophy led to the focus of my dissertation. I was also blessed with a stellar committee, Dr. William Pinar, Dr. Earl Cheek, Dr. Flo Durway, and Dr. Joe Green—as diverse and brilliant a group of educated minds a doctoral student could find on any university campus. Each contributed invaluable support and guidance. My time spent with them in their classes, at varied meetings and conferences, and as a GA for Dr. Flo stand out in my mind as treasured memories.”
Teaching…and Becoming a Co-Learner
Pardue Hill has worked in secondary and university classrooms, as a Program Coordinator
in the Louisiana Department of Education, and as a Curriculum Coordinator in the Ouachita
Parish School System. Hill looks back on her time in K-12 schools fondly as she said,
“Most prominent are the actual faces of the many students who sat in my classroom
who have become successful in myriad and varied professions. I even remember where
most of them sat. It is a pleasure to hear from them when they email me with words
of appreciation and how they think back to our class. Those words are worth the long
hours of grading essays and research papers late into the night and on weekends. I
have also heard from a great many of them who have ordered Telling His Story for both
themselves and their fathers. I appreciate their pride in their former high school
teacher and hope it will encourage them to make similar connections to their fathers
and grandfathers. That too was one of my goals.”
Hill recalled seeing a “switch” in her classroom as she gained more experience. “With experience and research came the knowledge that the teacher is more successful and effective as a “facilitator” of knowledge. I remember vividly the change in the classroom atmosphere when the voices of the students became the most prominent ones in my classroom. I remember the difference when I began telling my classes at the beginning of the year that I wanted to learn as much from them as they did from me. And I showed them that I meant that. It was a “scholarly” conversation, and their thoughts were as important as the voices of the renowned critics and the teacher. Students recognize when teachers respect them. Becoming a co-learner with them made all the difference in the world as did showing them how much fun you, the teacher, was having sharing ideas and interpretations.
I remember one day during a discussion on The Great Gatsby, a student shared an interpretation that I had never had a student share, even though I had taught the novel to many seniors. I got so excited, praising the young man, and commenting on this new “previously undiscovered” insight. I guess I made a scene because, immediately, another student said, “You really like this stuff, don’t you, Dr. Hill?” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I really do!” I remember thinking how important it must be to the students to see that their teacher truly loves what she is doing", said Pardue Hill.
Learn more about Telling His Story: POW #1000.
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