What of the



From Returned Missionaries




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 Yanagida Collection)

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 on time. 

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 area and 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, as being hot and unusually strangely quiet. It was a world of insects, thorny bushes and shadows. Crouching along 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 for many hours from some unknown wound.


There were, strangely, no helmet or weapons in sight. The Japanese soldier was half sitting against 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 army uniform.


Bullets began to snap through the branches overhead. I looked around him closer for his rifle, but 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 younger girl.


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 cutting off 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.


After 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 this Person?" 

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 in Osaka 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 brother. 

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 we knew must be the one. Leaving our shoes in the kitchen hallway, we bowed to a wrinkled old man with rough 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 family and 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 today? 

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 attended Webster, Bryant Junior High and West High Schools. 

On Oct. 22, 1942, at the age of 17 he enlisted'in the U.S. Marine Corps "after drinking 1½ quarts of water to make the required weight". In 1944, he fought the Japanese at Tinian Island, Here in his words, 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 1980.)