My name is Dr. Paul Loong. I am of Chinese ethnicity, and was born in Malaysia (Malaya at the time) in 1923. I served as an RAF mechanic at the outbreak of World War II, then was captured by the Japanese, March 8, 1942. I was a prisoner of war for the next three and a half years.

As a POW, I worked first building a hydroelectric dam at Mitsushima, then in the copper mines at Hitachi. We were treated very badly, with 1 in 5 POWs dying due to abuse, malnutrition and illness.

During that time, I was able to keep a secret diary of my experiences in the camps.

After I was liberated on August 15, 1945, I came to the US. In an effort to become a citizen, I served in the Merchant Marine on oil tankers for several years, then served with the US Army 25th Infantry Division in the Korean War.

I was able to become a permanent resident thanks to help from a Congressman, went to college and medical school, then worked as a rehabilitation specialist for the Veterans Administration.

My daughter Theresa created a documentary about my story, "Every Day Is A Holiday," which has been shown on public television and is viewable online until July 7 here:

I am on Skype with my son Joseph, who is reading your questions and typing my responses.


Articles about my story: NJ Star Ledger

WBUR's Here and Now

Update, July 6: Answering a few more questions. Thanks for submitting. Update, July 5, 7:44pm ET: Okay, I think we're going to finish up for tonight. I'll try to wrap up any additional questions tomorrow. Thanks all for participating, and you have until July 7th to watch the film online at ¬°Vaya con dios!

Update, July 5, 4:41pm ET: We're back, answering your questions.

Update, July 5, 3:45pm ET: Thanks all for your responses and questions. We will be taking a break for dinner until about 4:30pm ET, where will resume responding to your questions. Please feel free to keep submitting.

Comments: 384 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

KiyraMoth113 karma

This is one of the most incredible IAmA's I've seen so far. I have so much respect for you, sir.

Do you still have the diary? Do you have any regrets in life? Do you feel hatred towards the Japanese who mistreated you and your fellow soldiers? Of what are you most proud, in your experiences throughout your life? And just for kicks, what is your favorite food?

DrPaulLoong128 karma

  1. Yes, my daughter has it. You can see it in the film.
  2. That's a difficult one. I don't think I have any; one can't change what happened previously. So no.
  3. Hatred no, I've forgiven them. But the crimes that they committed can never be forgotten. Those soldiers were part of the Japanese military system -- those are the main culprits, the war criminals.
  4. I think the most proud is obtaining United States citizenship, especially after all the difficulty I went through in getting it.
  5. Seafood noodle soup.

[deleted]76 karma


DrPaulLoong163 karma

The only place you'll find no racism is in the next world. Part of it is simply reacting differently to someone of a different race. When I first came here, people would say "Hey, Charlie," on the street. I remember though, when I was in Malaysia, the first time I saw a European child with blue eyes and blond hair, I asked if he was blind.

But, part of the racism I definitely experienced in the US was the quota system that limited Chinese of any nationality to 105 per year to enter the US.

AtomicMacchiato58 karma

What other lies did the Japanese tell you while you were a POW? Did they try to sow discontent amongst the POWs, or was it strictly morale dampening jibes? Did you ever contemplate, or plan, escape, with or without your fellow POWs?

DrPaulLoong95 karma

The biggest propaganda lie was "We are all Asians. We have to co-operate with one another to fight against the Caucasian devil." They also lied to us, and to their own people, telling them they were winning, winning, winning the war, until August 15, 1945.

The prisoners' morale was already at its lowest from the mistreatment -- the Japanese didn't need to sow any more discontent among the POWs.

Regarding escape: Early on in Java, where we were captured, the officers said we had a duty to try to escape. Of the few cases who tried that I knew of, they were unsuccessful. It was practically impossible to escape.

Tron-Gorf8 karma

Did the officers have better living conditions while encouraging others to risk death escaping.

DrPaulLoong20 karma

They lived a little bit better. They had tatami mats, and they didn't have to work.

SCinema156445 karma

Do you resent the Japanese people for doing this to you? To be specific, if you were to hear/ see anything Japanese are you prediposed to feel aversion to it?

DrPaulLoong167 karma

No. For example, I own Japanese cars, radios, TVs, etc. The Japanese people are the same as people all around the world. What made them monsters were the militarists, who should shoulder the blame of the Japanese Army during WWII.

edisekeed44 karma

What kept you going (mentally) at the POW camp? Was there off time at the POW camps? Can you explain a typical day at the camp?

DrPaulLoong84 karma

What kept us going was the will to live and the belief in the eventual Allied victory. Also, as a group, we did everything together -- we worked together, slept together, suffered together, got beaten up together.

We were given rest periods and occasional rest days, maybe once every ten days. We didn't really keep track of days.

Typical day: First thing, tenko, reveille. No one had watches (they were all stolen by the Japanese). Bangbangbang, doubletime to roll call. If you were late, you were beaten up. Faulty count, beaten up. A hurried breakfast of a mixture of very little rice, barley and other coarse grains. (Not nice white rice like in a Chinese restaurant.)

After breakfast, line up for job assignments, then march to work. At the Mitsushima hydroelectric project, that might be loading sand onto trucks or breaking rocks. At Hitachi, it was going deep down into the mines to mine copper.

Anytime you saw a guard, you would have to jump to attention and salute or else get beaten up.

For lunch, at the sound of a bell, there would be a meal at the prison shack, same as breakfast, with some hot tea. That's also when they would do any blasting at Hitachi, during lunch.

We would work until the civilians quit. Maybe 5 or 6 oclock. We would assemble and march back to camp, get an evening meal, another roll call, set up a fire watch (the Japanese were very fearful of fire) and sleep. Very little variation from the routine, day-in and day-out

lightsinmyhead29 karma

set up a fire watch (the Japanese were very fearful of fire)

I'm guessing this is because of their buildings being made out of wood back then, and many being built wall-to-wall or really dense, making it really dangerous if a fire broke out in a house?

How did you know they were fearful, was it something that was commonly known or did you learn about it there from the japanese?


DrPaulLoong38 karma

That's correct. We learned it from the Japanese, seeing their attitudes and concerns about fire.

thedaawg41 karma

Were you liberated by American soldiers? And if so, did that have any influence on your want to serve later on in the Army during Korea? Thank you for your service, and what a amazing story. Thank you

DrPaulLoong84 karma

To tell you the truth, we were not liberated by anyone, unlike some of the European camps. When the war ended, the Japanese received orders from MacArthur to liberate all prisoners as of August 15th, our last working day. So we just marched out with our flags flying, with protection from the Japanese, to the railroad station at Hitachi. Some of them may have been our guards, I'm not sure. The trains then took us to Yokohama.

My first year at Mitushima, I worked with a group of American POWs who were captured in the Philippines. They used to tell us glorious accounts of things American. That sparked my interest about America, to see things for myself. (Most of the things they told me were true.)

At both camps, there were Americans, British, Dutch, Canadians and Australians. (I, myself, was listed as a British-protected person.)

[deleted]40 karma

What kind of things did the American POW's tell you? And which ones came true?

DrPaulLoong103 karma

That you didn't have to be a rich man to own a car. (In Malaysia, you did -- in the US, it's a necessity.) That if you were willing to work, that there were jobs available. That they enjoyed freedom and liberty.

mumra2k20 karma

Hi, Im British. Is it right for me to assume that upon liberation, if you attempted to gain British citizenship you'd have faced less racial/law-based-obstacles?

Furthermore, did British citizenship even cross your mind? If so, what made the urge to migrate to America so strong?

I'd also like to thank your family and yourself for creating such an informative and inspiring documentary and making it available to all audiences.

DrPaulLoong50 karma

At the time, I never considered emigrating to Great Britain; I didn't have any desire, so I didn't know that much about the process. And as I said before, my work with the American POWs at Mitsushima is what made me want to visit the US, and after visiting, I decided I wanted to stay.

Radevel40 karma

What is something you would like people to have learned from your life experiences?

DrPaulLoong170 karma

If you want to enter the US, enter this great country in a legal manner. Also, work hard and honestly, lead a good life, don't try to screw your neighbor, and God will reward you.

The most important thing is to lead a good life. And stay on the straight and narrow path.

[deleted]38 karma

You said you became a citizen with the help of a congressman- is there a back story to this? It doesn't seem like a congressman would normally be involved in getting someone citizenship and I'm really interested to hear about it.

DrPaulLoong94 karma

After I was discharged from the Army in 1953, I was held for deportation by the INS, because I was technically an illegal alien, without a green card, and had to put up a $500 bond. Fortunately, I had money from my Army pay.

I went to the immigration dept. of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, and the gentleman gave me the advice: Go, in person, to Washington DC, and ask a Congressman for help to introduce a private bill on my behalf, which I did.

From New York, I took the train down to DC and went to Capitol Hill. To make a long story short, Congressman James Auchincloss from NJ agreed to help me. He was the third congressman's office I'd approached, and his wife said she'd ask her husband for me, and he agreed.

The private bill he introduced was finally passed in 1955 (after dying in the previous Congress). HR 880 gave me permanent residency, and the following year, I applied for citizenship, under the law that said those who served in the armed forces for a period of time (I forget how long) with an honorable discharge were eligible for citizenship.

And made sure I got my $500 bond back.

(Additional from Joe Loong -- you can see documents related to HR880 from the National Archives that I posted to Flickr: HR880 Documents )

WalleB34 karma

Did you ever feel dejected during your time at the camp, or were you always sure you were going to get out? Also, (sorry if unoriginal question) how did it feel getting released?

DrPaulLoong69 karma

We were always down in the dumps -- it's a natural thing, to be demoralized as a POW, not getting enough to eat, work, work, work, constant harassment, cold in winter, full of fleas in the summer.

After June 6, 1944, when we learned from a discarded Japanese newspaper that was smuggled into camp, that the Allied invasion in Normandy was successful. The Japanese papers were usually pretty honest about the war in Europe, so we knew their days were numbered and that boosted morale a lot.

I predicted that the war in Europe would end within a year, and that I would be a free man before my 22nd birthday. And it came true.

Getting released, I was in seventh heaven. No more harassment, no more tenko (roll call), no more calisthenics, no doubletime, no beatings. Like I said in the movie, every day as a free man would be a holiday.

bamp30 karma

How old were you when you first attended college and later entered medical school? How much did medical school cost while you attended? Did you pursue a specialty in medicine? Are you still practicing?


DrPaulLoong67 karma

I attended Manhattan College in 1954, when I was 31. Entered medical school at the University of Bologna in 1961 when I was 38 (graduated in 1968). As to the cost of medical school, I do remember I paid back every cent I borrowed. I interned at Mary Immaculate in Queens, did my residency at Albert Einstein in the Bronx, then worked at the East Orange Veterans Medical Center specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) until I retired in 1995.

If you're thinking about a career in medicine, I wish you good luck.

asianfuntime24 karma

Are there any Japanese soldiers you knew in a POW camp that was friendly and communicated with you frequently?

DrPaulLoong59 karma

There was one guard who'd lost his arm during the war in China, who treated the prisoners decently, who we never saw beat anyone. He was the only one.

We couldn't talk with the guards, it was impossible.


Truly an amazing documentary. i'm just sitting here smiling knowing that there are people on this planet like you. Did your sense of humor help out at all in those horrific days in the camp? i found myself on the verge of grown man tears during the documentary then laughing. may may: "Is there a seat?" you: "What are you talking about may may?!?? Talk sense will you?" hahaha, you're the best Dr. Loong

DrPaulLoong35 karma

Thanks you. Regarding sense of humor, sometimes you'd feel like laughing and feel like crying.

KimJongFat17 karma

I am very interested in Human Rights activism and Korean relations. During the Korean war, what was the most eye opening thing you saw in regards to North Korea. What do you think the chance of a peaceful reunification is?

DrPaulLoong47 karma

I had very little dealings with the North Koreans. Most of the enemy in front of us were Chinese communists, and I was south of the 38th parallel my entire time in Korea.

During WWII, I worked with Korean forced civilian laborers in the camps. That was a very sad experience. As a POW, I accepted my situation, but these innocent civilians were forced to work for the Japanese war machine, and also treated very badly.

As to reunification, hopefully Korea will be one country again, under a democratic government.

mintysticks15 karma

You're amazing and just super cool!

  • How did you learn to be so forgiving? (Or how were you able to forgive the Japanese for what they did, and still be an amazing person as opposed to a bitter and resentful one?)

  • How did you learn so many languages? (Chinese, Malaya, Italian, and English?) I noticed that the diary was written in English, so it seems like that was something you picked up before immigrating to the U.S. (I grew up knowing a Malaysian woman and she wasn't able to speak English fluently even though Malaya was a British colony)

  • I understand you were reluctant to speak about your time during WWII with your family, but did you tell your wife at any point? Or was your daughter the first person you opened up to?

  • What is one piece of advice that you'd like to give everyone?

  • Did you see your family after you were released? (Your siblings, parents, uncle, cousins?)

Thank you for doing this AMA!

DrPaulLoong41 karma

  • On forgiving: It's easy, I'm a practicing Catholic. Also, as I said before, I blame the evil, diabolical Japanese militarists, not the Japanese people.

  • Languages: My primary and secondary education was in English. At home, we spoke Cantonese, and the lingua franca of Malaya was the Malay language. Italian, I learned from living there in Italy and studying medicine, and taking evening Italian classes for foreign medical students.

  • I opened up to my daughter Theresa when I knew she was serious about making the documentary. My wife knew I was in prison camps, but didn't know the details.

  • One piece of advice: Live in hope and trust in the good lord. (¬°Vaya con dios!)

  • After we left the camp, we were flown out from Japan to Okinawa, then flown to Clark Field in the Philippines. After staying at the at the 5th Replacement Depot, south of Manila for about 5 weeks, we took a ship to Singapore, stayed in Singapore for a while, and then went home to Malaysia.

I saw my family on November 5, 1945, finally getting home from the war. I had been gone since Christmas, 1941.

Mackinstyle14 karma

Maybe a weird question but do you remember anything that made you smile or laugh when in the camp? Or was there absolutely zero opportunity to feel and experience anything good?

DrPaulLoong55 karma

When someone would let out a loud fart, the rest of the barracks would yell, "Hey, you lucky guy!" A loud, dry fart meant you didn't have diarrhea, which most of us had all the time.

OninWar_14 karma

How do you feel about the atomic bombings? Also, what was post war America like? I know this is vague, but what was the general "atmosphere" like?

DrPaulLoong30 karma

I believe the atomic bombings saved millions of lives on both sides. My question to others is, what do you think would have happened if we didn't drop the atomic bombs?

Not sure how to answer your second question.

Decker10812 karma

I saw a British documentary of WW2 (World at War, from the 1970's) in which Japanese veterans spoke of being fed propaganda from the government saying they weren't invading their neighbors but saving all of Asia from western colonialism. Did you encounter Japanese soldiers who believed in this, that they were fighting to save Asia?

DrPaulLoong23 karma

I mentioned earlier that this was the biggest propaganda lie the Japanese told. I remember one time at Mitsushima, a Japanese colonel visiting the camps said this to another Asian POW, who reminded him of what the Japanese army was doing in China. According to him, that ended the conversation.

fuckwinterdreams11 karma

What did you see or endure in the POW camps? The Japanese army seems notorious for being savage to the conquered.

DrPaulLoong30 karma

What the Japanese did to the POWs is a well-known fact, and a lot of it is well-documented, including some of my stories in the film. Some of the guards, just for the fun of it, would beat you up, for no apparent reason. Beatings were frequent, they would even beat up our officers.

As a POW, they considered you the lowest of the low. They thought they would be the masters of the Orient, without having to answer to anyone. They thought they were going to win the war.

They would steal our Red Cross parcels, steal from prisoners who were dying from malnutrition.

maskednil10 karma

Hello, I'm a Malaysian here. My question is did you kill anyone and if you did what is your outlook on life having done that? Has it adversely affected your motivations and actions? And if you didn't kill what atrocities of war did you see that has stuck with you until now? How did you cope immediately in the post-war? Thank you.

DrPaulLoong38 karma

It's difficult for me to estimate. In Korea, I was a tank gunner, and shooting at targets in the distance. During the war, it was a fight against international communism (which was also going on in Malaysia), not against a particular face.

I'm glad to have played my small part in the war against the evils of communism.

opat10 karma

Have you ever read 'Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption' by Laura Hillenbrand regarding POW Louis Zamperini? If so, what aspects of your experience were similar or different than his? How did you feel while reading the book?

If not, did you contract any diseases while imprisoned? What was your mental and physical state immediately following your release? What kind of things did you do to pass the time or to keep your thoughts away from what was really happening?

DrPaulLoong20 karma

I know of Louis Zamperini; he was very ill-treated and singled out by a Japanese guard, but I haven't read the book. So he was probably worse off than I was.

Diseases: Diarrhea and dysentery on the ship to Japan. I thought I was going to die, but some powdered charcoal, the only medicine I got, helped. (As an aside, I was sick with dysentery and topside when the ship got hit with by a dud torpedo launched from an American submarine.)

There were many burials at sea that I saw for the people who died on the ship.

As to the rest, I was lucky. I didn't contract beri-beri because I traded with the Korean laborers for rice polishings.

When I was released, I was around 105 pounds, down from my normal weight of 130. We were all walking skeletons, especially the bigger Westerners, since we all got the same amount of food.

When we weren't working, we would read whatever old books that were floating around that we could get our hands on. There wasn't much other conversation or socializing -- we were all too tired from work and lack of food. We were like a bunch of zombies.

We never had any religious services, in either of the two camps.

AtomicMacchiato8 karma

There are no plans to have a tickertape parade to mark the end of the war in Iraq. It seems to me, as a younger man who wasn't alive for the Korean War, that the public perception of war has changed so dramatically since then. Now it's just another news story, and not even covered as much as some game shows and celebrity gossip.

How does it seem to you? Do you feel the nature of war itself has changed? Or the reporting of it? Both?

DrPaulLoong25 karma

Probably due to the nature of the all-volunteer military. If there was military conscription, we would probably hear more about it.

MrAquarius8 karma

What is your fondest memory while being in the army? How was Korea different from your experiences in WWII? What is the most shocking thing you found when just arriving in the U.S.?

Thank you for your service! I have great respect for you!

DrPaulLoong11 karma

My fondest Army memory was the military training, in general and especially the use of firearms. When I was in the Royal Air Force, since we were ground mechanics, we didn't have much actual military training.

In WWII, it was very different; we were on the losing side, being bombed frequently by the Japanese Air Force. And going from Singapore to Java, we were under threat from bombings and submarines. During Korea, we didn't have those problems. And of course, I was a POW during WWII.

The most exciting thing was seeing the lights on the Oakland Bay Bridge, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the early morning hours, and seeing the lights of Alcatraz.

QuieroHabanero7 karma

What kept you going during the hardest parts of your life?

DrPaulLoong12 karma

The belief that better days are coming.

ElectricZ7 karma

Thanks for your service, and sorry you had to endure so much. And, if it's not too late, welcome aboard and I'm glad you made it! :)

There is a segment of our population in our country who are anti-immigration. Have you ever run into such people, and were you able to share your story? What was their reaction?

Do you ever get frustrated with people who were born here and take it for granted?

DrPaulLoong26 karma

I believe in immigration, and also that people who want to immigrate to the US should do so legally, according to the law.

With regard to people taking citizenship for granted, people have no control over where they were born.

mynameiswut6 karma

I wish more of the world would know about the actions of the Japanese militarists during WWII. Most everyone in the US knows about the Nazis and the Holocaust - but mention the Rape of Nanjing and not many people know what you're talking about.

This is more of a psychological question, but do you ever think about what in the world happened to these Japanese militarists? In their minds? How they were able to be brainwashed so easily by the Japanese leaders and how they were able to throw away their compassion and empathy towards other people. I've read some horrible, horrible atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers. At first reading these atrocities just made me incredibly morose and angry. But in the end just made me feel so hollow. Were these militants average human beings turned crazy? Or were they crazy to begin with?

In any case - even if you don't end up talking about these questions, just wanted to say thank you for your service and for fighting. You, and your comrades, are the heroes of our generation. Thank you.

DrPaulLoong12 karma

First of all, they thought they were superior people. That's the unfortunate part. They thought their emperor was of divine origin. They forgot that much of their culture, the characters from the Japanese language, was derived from China.

As I answered elsewhere, they also thought they would win the war and wouldn't have to answer to anyone.

prophettoloss5 karma

Do you remember your feelings leading up to being captured? Were you captured as a part of a group or individually? How long before you were captured did you realize things were not going well? Did you have any idea how poorly you would be treated in captivity?

DrPaulLoong14 karma

I was stationed at Seletar Airfield in Singapore, and we evacuated to Java in February 1945.

We were together (with the RAF 153th maintenance unit) in Java on a troop train, looking forward to going to the seaport of Tjilatjap (now Cilacap) to get on a transport to be evacuated to Australia, so we knew things weren't going well for the Allies.

At the railroad station Tasik Malaja, we were notified of the Allied surrender to the Japanese.

At the time, we didn't have any idea how badly we'd be treated by the Japanese.

As it turns out, though, we were lucky not to have made it to the seaport, since most of the ships that departed from there were sunk, with great loss of life.

MakeshiftMan924 karma

Have you been back to South East Asia since WWII? Specifically Singapore in recent years. I read in one of your answers that you served in Seletar Airbase in Singapore. That's about a 5 minute drive away from my house! (I am Singaporean) Also, it's good to know that you helped defend my country when the Japanese invaded. Thank you for that, mad respect.

DrPaulLoong6 karma

Yes, I've visited Singapore several times, when I go back to Malaysia. There have been tremendous changes, for the better.

PedoBoss4 karma

did any of your friends die in the POW camps? thank you.

DrPaulLoong13 karma

Yes. People from my unit died, as did 1 of every 5 POWs. Sometimes I wonder how people really survived those miserable conditions.

ginakia3 karma

Have you been back to any of the places since coming to US? Have you been back to the POW camps? If you did, what was your experience/feeling going back? If not, do you plan to? Did you manage to meet any other POW who were in those camps?

Have you been back to Malaysia? How has Kuala Lumpur changed for you? Is your family still in KL?

DrPaulLoong14 karma

I visited Japan with my family in 1997. Parts of this are shown in the movie. We visited both Mitsushima and Hitachi. It brought back terrible feelings and tears to my eyes thinking of those sad times, and to think of man's inhumanity to man. The Japanese didn't lift the littlest finger to save those who died. We couldn't even get a single aspirin.

I have admiration in the tremendous progress of how the Japanese rebuilt their war-damaged society.

I've been back to Malaysia several times. I still have family in Kuala Lumpur, and KL has changed tremendously.

mumra2k3 karma

What would your opinion be if either your son or daughter wished to marry or even date outside of their race? ie. to an, Indian, Hispanic, or African-American person.

To what extent do you believe your wife would share your views/stance?

DrPaulLoong11 karma

Nothing. People are human beings. My wife feels the same way.

SarahHeartzUnicorns3 karma

What, would you say, is the most amazing, unbelievable thing you've experienced? (Positive things, I mean.)

DrPaulLoong13 karma

The unconditional surrender of the Japanese. I never thought it would happen.

LessLikeYou3 karma

I am kind of curious what kind of doctor you became. I am guessing medical so:

Did helping people with their health help to heal wounds left by the time the camp and those inflicted by war?

DrPaulLoong12 karma

As I mentioned, I am a medical doctor who specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation. I worked at the Veterans Administration, helping veterans, mainly from WWII.

This was one way for me of helping pay back their efforts.

toribird3 karma

How did you handle the transition to "normal life" after your release? Are you aware of or in contact with any other survivors from your POW camp? And, if you don't mind, can you please describe how you were captured?

Thank you so much for doing this AMA - it's one of the most interesting I've seen.

DrPaulLoong12 karma

"Normal life" came back gradually as part of the activities of daily living.

I kept in touch with many POW survivors from the camps. There were Americans, British, Malaysians, a Canadian, an Australian; we would occasionally correspond with cards or letters. However, many have passed away over the years.

I wrote earlier about how I and my unit were captured in Java.

call_me_young_buck3 karma

How does it feel to know that you simultaneously have bigger brains and bigger balls than most people to have walked this earth?

DrPaulLoong12 karma

That, I don't know about both things. Maybe I have more common sense than a lot of people.

rcglinsk3 karma

Not exactly on topic, but could you describe what it was like to watch the march of technology from your youth through the iphone?

DrPaulLoong9 karma

Tremendous improvement.

davidathiesmftw233 karma

If you could change one thing in your life what would you change?

DrPaulLoong8 karma

I really cannot think of anything.

mumra2k2 karma

How did you come to meet your wife?

DrPaulLoong9 karma

We were introduced through mutual friends. I always say, it's a good thing Japan lost the war, otherwise I would be working for my wife. [Note from Joe Loong: My mother grew up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. That's one of my dad's jokes, which she hates.]

squeezerman2 karma

Hello, Sir!

I would really like to ask, what your religious views are and whether they helped you going on in desperate situations. Additionally, have your religious views changed over the time?

Also, Thank You for a great AmA!

DrPaulLoong6 karma

As I said, I'm a devout, practicing Roman Catholic. The story of how I became Catholic is in the documentary. My faith in the Almighty definitely helped strengthen me in the camps.

Railgunner692 karma

How do you think your life would be different had you not been a POW? Would every day still be a vacation?

DrPaulLoong7 karma

I don't know. Maybe I would be strumming a ukelele on some Pacific island somewhere.

Viend2 karma

As someone who grew up in Malaya as a British colony, how did you feel about the British government and the people back then? How has it changed since then?

As a man of Indonesian descent, I know most people in Indonesia hated the Dutch colonists, but from what I know the British empire treated its subjects differently.

DrPaulLoong3 karma

I think they were fair. There was law and order. They were colonizers, they took, but they gave something back.

Also, the former British colonies like Malaysia, India and Pakistan still use English, which I think says something.


What is your view on war now? What do you think about the current war on terror?

DrPaulLoong6 karma

War will never go away. There will be troubles until the end of the war.

The current war on terror will last a long time, until all the big shots are dead.

non-discernable2 karma

i know this question may be difficult, if not unanswerable, and i mean no disrespect to you for asking i am only curious. But what, if any, kinds of torture were dealt in POW camps?

DrPaulLoong9 karma

I mostly addressed this above -- beatings and harassment and malnutrition. One time, there was a group punishment where we were thrown into a jail-like structure. But mostly the beatings.

Ome991 karma

Dr. Paul, I am currently studying medicine (I am doing an undergraduate 6 year masters degree course in Europe), I know this sounds silly to the hardships you experienced and the obstacles you overcame, but the course of learning medicine has put a mental strain on me greater than I ever experienced, even to the point were my fears & anxiety of failing started effecting my health. Yet I'm to stubborn to give it up, now I'm the kind of person who enjoys practice far more than reading, but I accept that you have to continue reading in this career path as medicine is the fastest advancing field. Can you tell me if things in this career path will become smoother with time, as in does it become easier, does one become accustomed to it and finally enjoy it?

DrPaulLoong4 karma

I think it should be smoother as time goes on. They make it difficult in the beginning, and every beginning is difficult. Remember, no matter what it is, "Primum non nocere." First, do no harm.

Big_Li1 karma

If you had the opportunity to kill Japanese soldiers (by finding a gun or something) with no retribution to your comrades but an execution for you, would you have done it? I mean I know that's a rough question but after reading about some of your accounts I'd be pretty enraged over things and do everything I could to stop those bastards.

DrPaulLoong2 karma

No, I don't think so.

apul_madeekaud1 karma

What are your thoughts of the United States' use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

DrPaulLoong4 karma

I answered this question already. I believe it saved millions of lives on both sides.

lawdog221 karma

Someone recently made a very derisive comment about your choice to fight in Korea. I said something derisive back, although I am certain you don't need me to get your back. But I am curious, what made you decide to fight again after such an experience in WWII? No one would have blamed you had you said "I've had enough of this" and declined to fight.

DrPaulLoong4 karma

As I mentioned in the film, the main goal was to get American citizenship. It was incredibly difficult to get in as a Chinese, especially against the annual quota of 105 Chinese worldwide.

drewsy8881 karma

Have you seen the movie To End All Wars? If so is this movie similar to your experiences in the POW camp? Thank you for sharing your experiences.

DrPaulLoong8 karma

I have not seen the movie. However, I have two friends who were Allied survivors of the Siam-Burma Railroad. One is buried in Arlington National Cemetery; the other is a Chinese-American (the only Chinese-American Japanese POW in WWII) who lives in California, Eddie Fung.

[deleted]1 karma

Did you have troubles during your service in Korea due to your ancestry? Did you get any special roles in your unit due to your ancestry? (Intelligence perhaps?)

DrPaulLoong3 karma

No, I didn't face any troubles in the Army. We were too damn busy worrying about the enemy in front to worry about hazing our own troops in the rear echelon.

In Korea, I was a tank crewman: First, assistant driver (BOG, bow gunner); then driver; then loader; then gunner; and one day as a tank commander.