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A Kimono Wearing American Traitor


 Hollis Blakesley

I recently read some disturbing island lore. It seems immediately after the 1942 surrender, American troops were astonished to see one of their own emerge from Malinta tunnel wearing a kimono and approach the Japanese offering to serve as an interpreter. According to the story, the offer was accepted. This collaborator was directly involved in the summary execution of an American army doctor by the Japanese. 

A Corregidor connection exists with the Japanese-American Iva Toguri convicted for treason in the United States as being the infamous "Tokyo Rose."  The Corregidor connection is a Corregidor POW named Sgt John David Provoo who worked with her during the war and was also convicted of treason (reversed on appeal).  There is a possible connection Sgt. Provoo,  an "outed" homosexual who prior to the war studied in Japan and spoke the language,  and the story concerning  the 1942 surrender describing "a kimono wearing American" speaking Japanese who voluntarily served as an interpreter on the island.   

Sgt.  Provoo admitted working for the Japanese on Corregidor. 

So, if there is any truth in "a kimono wearing American" on Corregidor, Sgt Provoo may well be that individual.

In 1953, a jury found Sgt. Proovo guilty of four acts of treason, one of which involved supplying the enemy with information directly leading to the execution of an American officer.   A Japanese firing squad executed Capt. Burton C. "Stretch" Thomson after Provoo told them the captain was "uncooperative" and anti-Japanese.

The convictions were overturned on legal technicalities - "The sole purpose and effect (of the part of the cross examination dealing with Provoo's homosexuality)  was to humiliate and degrade the defendant and increase the probability that he would be convicted, not for the crime charged, but for his general unsavory character. Permitting it was error. The error was plainly prejudicial."  A trial in 1953 concerning wartime treason was also held to be against the constitutional right of a speedy trial.

Provoo, was also known as Nichijo Shaka, a name which concealed his unsavory past.  After his release from custody, he lived in Japan where he studied Nichiren Buddhism.  He resettled in Hawaii around 1966, "to fill a need for Buddhist teachers competent in English."

Provoo was clearly one of the proverbial nine guilty men which the law sets free so that it can exalt itself as protector against false conviction of the innocent tenth.  Unfortunately, no law nor decency ever protected Capt. Burton Thomson.


Source Material: Extract:

America's Secret Army: The Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence Corps

Ian Sayer AND Douglas Botting

Provoo had never been accepted into CIC because his background investigation revealed that he was a suspected homosexual and Japanese sympathizer who had spent several years in Japan learning the Japanese language and studying to be a Buddhist monk. Immediately after the surrender of Corregidor, Provoo began acting as an interpreter for the Japanese occupiers. He went with Japanese troops to the hospital wing of Malinta Tunnel and relayed their orders that all sick and wounded Americans should be moved out at once so that Japanese wounded could be hospitalized there. When he heard this order Captain Thompson of the Medical Service Corps told Provoo: `Tell them to go to hell, the men are too sick to be moved.' When Provoo interpreted this response to the enemy, they immediately dragged Thompson out of the tunnel and executed him on the spot.

This same John David Provoo now brought a squad of Japanese soldiers down to the prisoner enclosure and pointed out Rubard and several other headquarters staff members. Three grueling, intensive days of ceaseless interrogation then befell the helpless Rubard as his captors demanded information on codes, Filipino agents and much else besides. At each interrogation the Japanese became increasingly angry and abusive. But they were not very skilled in the art of interrogation and were further hampered by their very limited knowledge of English. By the third day of questioning Rubard's interrogators were slapping him about and swinging their swords to demonstrate how they would behead him if he did not co-operate. But he was able to maintain a consistent story throughout his interrogation. He claimed that his only duty had been to keep the G-2 situation map up to date, that codes were kept by the Signal Crops (which was true), and that Filipino agents had been handled by two G-2 officers who had been evacuated to Australia by submarine shortly before the fall of the island. At the end of the third day Rubard was returned to the prisoner compound with his head still intact. The next day he joined the main body of American prisoners leaving Corregidor for a prison camp in Central Luzon. He was never interrogated again. (After his liberation, Rubard learned that Provoo had worked for Japanese propaganda radio in Tokyo during the war. He was never charged as a traitor, however, and his trial in a U.S. court on charges of complicity in the murder of Captain Thompson was dismissed on the grounds that he had been denied a right to a fair and speedy trial. So Provoo went unpunished for his actions against his fellow countrymen, though some years later he was reportedly imprisoned for different criminal offenses.)

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