About Peter Wales Hansen
On March 21, 1945, Peter W. Hansen, an American, died in a city on the island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan, a city called Fukuoka. He died amongst a grove of pine trees alongside a river at a prisoner of war camp known as Fukuoka Camp No. 1.
The official cause of his death was recorded as "acute enteritis," though the real cause was all too familiar with his fellow POWs -- being forced to do calisthenics while extremely weak and sick, and being denied the medicines to treat his illness.
Hansen was captured on Wake Island where he was working for the Morrison-Knudsen Company building an airfield. He was a civilian, which makes his death even more senseless, for he never was directly in battle against the Japanese. He was just a worker on a Pacific island and taken captive only weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
For three and a half years Hansen suffered at the hands of his captors. He was involved in construction projects for the Japanese: for the war effort, against his will, and against the Geneva Convention. His body, gradually weakened through beatings, forced exercise, bitter cold, poor diet and debilitating disease, could no longer take it, and he succumbed, like many others before him, and many others after him.
He never got to see his dear wife again, nor were his three children ever to see their beloved father again. His body was cremated in a small town just next to the airfield, now Fukuoka International Airport, which he helped build. His ashes are interred at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, Section 82, Grave 1B-1D.