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Suffering with a Smile - REVIEWS

KATJANG and I flew together for the first time in the Netherlands in the spring of 1955.

He was my wingman in a flight of F-84 Thunderjets and all I could say about him was that he was a great natural pilot and definitely 'gutsy.'

The last time we flew together was during the Blue Angels show in the fall of 2006 at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He was a formation pilot with the Sky Typers and I rode in his backseat of an SNJ, filming the activities.

Unfortunately, within the year, he crashed and was killed at Oceana NAS, Virginia, flying the same type of aircraft.

It summarized the way he had lived; full speed and with gusto.

His book, Suffering With A Smile, describes how he survived three-and-a-half years of Japanese 'extermination through starvation' in an Indonesian concentration camp during World War Two, full speed and with gusto.

This is an extraordinary novel, full of human and historical events and emotions.

 

Suffering with a Smile - EXCERPT

One of the soldiers then pushed a little Indonesian person toward the officer for interrogation. The man was obviously petrified. It went something like this,

Officer: "Did you steel from the Japanese Imperial Army?"

Local: "No, I didn't."

Officer, pulling out his Samurai sword: "You are lying, right?"

Cringing with fear, he answered: "Yes. Please forgive me, I'll never do it again."

The officer turned to the crowd and said, "Anyone who lies to the Imperial Army, lies to the Emperor and must be punished."

He nodded to the soldier holding the man and called in two more soldiers. One of them produces a long bladed knife, grabbed the local by his head, pulled the tongue out of his mouth and cut most of it off. Squirting blood and making incoherent sounds, the little man stumbled of the center stage. A moan went through the crowd and the Japanese Officer said with a look of satisfaction on his face,

"He will never lie to the Japanese Army again. Let this be a lesson to you."
The injured man was still wailing in the background. He was also, no doubt, spitting a lot of blood, but we couldn't see him any longer. The crowd had swallowed him. (an unfortunate description when one has just lost his tongue.)
The crowd also understood the message. It had all happened too quickly for Hans and me to close our eyes or even walk away. It was actually spellbinding and the show wasn't over.

Hans asked me, "Do you want to stay, Wout? That was terrible."
"Yes!" I answered, eyes peeringhard at the crowd, anticipating the next judgment.
They brought another man to center stage and asked him, "Did you steal?"