WHY I LIVE IN JAPAN from the Deseret News
of February 3, 1961
By H. Ted Price (Picture of H. Ted
Price below taken in about 1948 is from the Toshiko
The official records say that the battle
for Tinian lasted 13 days. This may have been true on
the big colored maps up in the Fleet Marine Force
Headquarters, but the enemy did not always get the word
In fact, it was quite
easy to get yourself killed long after the folks back
home were reading the
"gyrenes" had secured another Island. In August 1944, I
was visiting a buddy in a nearby 8th Marine
camp on the bluff back of Tinian Town when a
lieutenant yelled down the tent row for a quick squad.
An earlier patrol had run into a group of
enemy soldiers with automatic weapons in a nearby cliff
needed help. I grabbed a carbine and fell in line.
In staggered single file we quickly
crossed a burned-over sugar cane field. I remember it,
hot and unusually strangely quiet. It was
a world of insects, thorny bushes and shadows. Crouching
the path, we began to hear rifle fire and the high
pitched whine of rapid firing Japanese machine gun.
Suddenly, a hand signal up ahead melted
our line into the shadows, and I saw a Japanese soldier.
At first, I thought that he was trying to hide or play
dead, but a closer look indicated that he had been dead
hours from some unknown wound.
There were, strangely, no helmet or
weapons in sight. The Japanese soldier was half sitting
a large tree, and he looked about 18 or 19 years of age.
He had a clean-cut, innocent look that appeared
strikingly out of place, lying there dead in a dirty
Bullets began to snap through the
branches overhead. I looked around him closer for his
I couldn't see it. I did, however, see
some pictures clenched in his hand.
There was another motion ahead, and the
line of crouched Marines began to move forward again.
I had to
go, but I stopped to take the pictures out of his hand.
One was a snapshot of a group of soldiers around a field
radio. The other was a pretty Japanese girl, about 18 or
19 years of age, in a formal kimono, together with a
At that moment I was
struck with thoughts of my own family and friends
waiting at home. I realized that this dead enemy soldier
and I must have shared some of the same hopes and plans
for the future. He probably had this girl friend and a
mother and father waiting somewhere for him to come
home. Perhaps they were wondering where he was and
praying that he was safe, just as I imagined that my own
mother would be
doing. I wished that I could somehow reach his family
and tell them what I thought about
their son and how
sorry I was. Putting the two pictures into my dungaree's
pocket, I moved along the dark path.
Shortly after the picture
experience on a Sunday, another Marine and I were sent
out on a work assignment. The official battle for Tinian
was over, but a Japanese log barrier over a nearby road
had to be removed. I
tried to humor our lieutenant with a quote of "six days
shalt thou work and on the seventh..." but he
wasn't in a very spiritual mood. So we went.
Taking one end of a heavy coconut log, we
started to lift—and then there was a blinding flash that
has never stopped burning. Hours later on
a cot in a muddy hospital tent a Navy corpsman was
my burned clothing and spreading
petroleum jelly over burns that covered much of my upper
body. In the darkness
I heard tired Navy doctors going over the cases. When
the doctors came to my cot, I heard a voice say,
"This boy won't make it and even if he did live, he'd
lose those fingers and probably never see again.
I felt I was balanced on
the very edge of death and with slight effort, I could
drift in either direction. I chose to fight for life.
Lying there on that dirty cot with other men dying
around me, I made an agreement with my Heavenly Father.
I knew that he heard and answered prayers and that He
could heal my
shattered body. I promised that if He would give me back
my life, I would attempt to use it for doing good
and to tell others of Him. From that moment on I had a
strange assurance that I would get well and to the
amazement of some of the Navy's best doctors I did.
the war I returned to Salt Lake City, and in 1947 I
received a letter signed by President George Albert
Smith of the Church calling me to be the first post-war
missionary to Japan. With two old
suits and $27, I
went. In 1950 while in Japan I met a famous newspaper
reporter, and one day I told him
about my pictures
from a dead soldier on Tinian Island. I mentioned that I
would like to find the family, if
possible and help
them with relief food and clothes from America, if they
were in need. Perhaps, they had never heard about their
son. With 85 million people in chaotic postwar Japan,
however, finding one
unknown face in the
masses appeared impossible. The reporter, Tsuji San,
asked to borrow the two Tinian pictures,
and the next day, June 10, 1950, millions of readers in
all parts of Japan saw them in their morning
papers. An impassioned editorial was
titled, "Seeking Family of Lost Soldier, Do you Know
Immediately our little
missionary headquarters were swamped with phone calls,
telegrams, and visitors
coming to name the lost soldier. And each writer and
caller gave a different person's name to the picture.
Letters started arriving from distant islands of Japan
and crowds of people arrived by train, bicycles
and on foot.
I naturally felt terribly sorry for all
those who came and worried about ever finding the real
parents. Amid our prayers for some
solution, the answer came. Into the Asahi Press Office
walked an 18 year old girl with a picture
identical to the one from Tinian. She had been the
little girl in the
picture. The dead soldier was her
A few days later we drove to the little
village of Tondayabayashi near Osaka where the poor farm
family lived. This was one of the hardest
tasks of my mission, but it was too late to turn back
now. When we
reached the village, we walked between
two lines of silent people to a modest farm house which
knew must be the one. Leaving our shoes
in the kitchen hallway, we bowed to a wrinkled old man
hands and to his graying wife.
The doors on the family shrine stood open
with candles lighting a picture of the dead soldier son.
Behind the son's picture generations of smoky genealogy
tablets were crowded into the shrine cabinet. The
close friends sat in a semi-circle on the straw mat
floors around the lighted picture.
Presenting an obviously needed box of
warm clothing and canned foods, I told them briefly of
the eternal teaching of Christ that had brought us to
Japan. Then I asked the old father the question that I
could not avoid: How did he feel about me, an ex-marine
who had fought against his own son, coming here
Whenever I hear people find fault with
others they have never seen or know, I recall his words:
"It has been six years since we heard from our son, and
we have wondered each day if he was dead, or lost, or
wounded somewhere. Now we know that he will never come
home, but your kind visit here today is almost
like having our
son come back. You shall always be welcome here."
(Newspaper Editors Note: One of
the most interesting news stories to break in Japan
since the end of World War II concerns H. Ted Price, a
former U.S. Marine and a missionary to Japan for the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mr. Price
is presently in Japan as a member of the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization
Service. He was born June 3, 1925, in
Atlanta, Idaho and later moved to Salt Lake City. He
Webster, Bryant Junior High and West High
On Oct. 22, 1942, at the age of 17 he
enlisted'in the U.S. Marine Corps "after drinking 1½
of water to make the required weight". In
1944, he fought the Japanese at Tinian Island, Here in
is what happened during the Tinian
campaign that years later made news in Japan.)
(WWF Editors Note:
As many of you know President H. Ted Price served as
president of the then Tokyo North Mission from 1977 to