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 Absolutly amazing!

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Age : 44
Location : North New Jersey
Registration date : 2011-01-13

PostSubject: Absolutly amazing!   Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:45 pm

This gentleman was my wifes uncle, he unfortionatly passed away a few years after I married my wife and before I could meet him.


The Pipe Carver of Bataan
MSGT John Hando

John Hando was born in Piney Fork, PA, in May 1918. Born too late for WWI,
fate saw to it that he got more than his share of the horrors of war in WWII.
Like a number of likeminded American men he decided to join the National
Guard in early 1941 so he could fulfill his military obligation without waiting
to be drafted. As things worked out his unit was inducted into the U.S. Army
in March, 1941. From there he was off to Ft. Knox for training in the Tank
Corps and then to Ft. Polk to join the 192nd Tank Battalion.

His unit then shipped out in November for
the Philippines. They arrived on
Thanksgiving Day. Their Thanksgiving
meal was the leftovers from another
unit’s meal. Fifteen days later the
Japanese attacked the Philippines. The
American military was totally unprepared
to take on a well equipped, determined, and trained enemy.
On Bataan there were 15,000 or so American soldiers and probably four
times that many Philippines soldiers. On April 9th, 1942, after four months of
fighting the U.S. led forces on Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. Thus
began the Bataan Death March.
From a distance of many decades we can readily see that the horror of the
Death March was the culmination of three factors. First, the Japanese culture
struggles with the entire concept of surrender. At this time in particular it
was something they could not comprehend any fighting force of theirs doing.
Second, they were totally unprepared for the scale of the surrender.
Overnight they became responsible for 80,000 prisoners. Third, these
prisoners were malnourished and diseased. The diseases, pellagra, beriberi,
and scurvy, were caused by the lack of meat and citrus in their diet.
In the first phase of the Death March the
Japanese marched the prisoners roughly
90 miles in a period of 7-10 days. This is
hardly a rigorous activity for reasonably
healthy soldiers. As many as 3,000 men
may have died on this march. The

majority of these simply lay down to die as they were so malnourished they
had lost the will to live. In too many cases the Japanese captors used
bayonets to dispatch soldiers who quit moving.

Finally John Hando and his comrades reached Camp O’Donnell. This
wretched facility was merely a partially built Filipino military base that only
had one water spigot to service the entire facility. John would remain here
for the next 27 months. Like every POW John was confronted with how to
survive until he was rescued when rescue was just a dream. John found his
outlet in making pipes for his fellow prisoners. John had a penknife which he
was very adept at using. Thus, began John Hando’s career as a pipe carver.

Using the wood that he had available he began to fashion pipes for the other
soldiers to use to smoke their tobacco. He also carved some pipes for his
captors in exchange for additional food for him and his comrades. He
continued carving pipes until July of 1944. As Allied forces began closing in
on the Philippines the Japanese in a foolish decision decided to relocate
American POWs to the Japanese mainland. The ships used to transport the
POWs were eventually called the “Hell Ships” for the horrific conditions on
board. These ships even had to run the gauntlet of American submarines
that were basically operating unchallenged in the Pacific. John’s ship
narrowly survived a submarine attack.

John ended up at a slave labor camp at a mine near Fukuoka, Japan.
Fukuoka is about 75 miles north of Nagasaki and 150 miles south of
Hiroshima. John would remain there until he was finally repatriated in
September of 1945. When he was freed he weighed less than 80 pounds. He
would spend the next year in-and-out of military hospitals. He had no idea
how many pipes he carved while in captivity but reckoned it was a
considerable number. Unfortunately, none of these pipes are known to have
survived the war.

Upon his return to the states John was awarded the Bronze Star and the
Prisoner of War medals. These would be decorations he would prize all his
life. He would also receive the Presidential Unit Citation with Two Oak Leaf
Clusters, the Pacific Theater Ribbon with Four Battle Stars, and the
Philippines Defense Ribbon.

Six months after being discharged as a MSGT he would marry Dorothy
Wansack. In one of those odd coincidences of life, Dorothy’s brother, John
Wansack, was also a Death
March survivor and would
become a lifelong friend to
John. Neither man knew each
other until they returned to the
states. Hando was in the Army
on Bataan and Wansack was in
the Army Air Corps stationed
on Corregidor. The photo is of
Hando, his wife Dorothy, her
brother John and his future wife Anne.

Upon returning from the war John returned to the Sharon Steel Company as
a slitter operator in the Cold Roll Department. Despite having a fulltime job
and a family to support John began carving pipes again. Instead of whatever
wood he could find he now carved in briar, meerschaum, wild cherry and
black walnut. His primary tool was still his
penknife, but as he liked to put faces on his pipes
he would use some power tools to assist with
that. You can see in this amazing pipe of the god
of Wine & Revelry, Bacchus, that he was a very
skilled carver.

As he began to work in better woods Hando
began to get some notice. Stories on him
appeared in several now long forgotten
publications including the July 1951 edition of Modern Man.

One of the best showed him sitting on the floor whittling on a pipe with
pictures of several of his most interesting pipes around him. In the picture
below you can see John with one of his most stunning creations. In a pipe
style most of us would call a horn you can see three horses carved on top of
the pipe stem racing toward the bowl and three on the side of the stem
racing away from the bowl.

One of the other pipes in this article was this carving of a lady much as it
would appear on a ship’s bow.

The other pipe of interest in this article was another one with horses on it.
This one features two horses in something of a playful pose.

Over the years John received
numerous requests to carve
pipes. Some of these he was
offered as much as $300. He
even sent pipes to celebrities.
On a lark he carved a pipe
with the likeness of Bob Hope
on it and one with the likeness
of Bing Crosby and then sent
the Hope one to Crosby and
vice versa. There is no record
of Hope replying, but Crosby
did send a nice thank you

In the 1950’s the biggest
daytime TV personality was
Arthur Godfrey. He was so
popular that his show was on
twice a day. Hando sent him a

pipe and Godfrey was gracious enough to reply.

For his young daughter John would occasionally carve an animal or figurine
out of soap. Soap carving is something that John had learned from his father
Ignatius. He loved to help his daughter, Shelley, with her school projects.

She recalls him making a replica of the Mackinac Bridge out of balsa wood.
She would always mention that her dad did more than just carve pipes out
of wood. He actually made quite a bit of the furniture for the family home
working out of the garage or a shop he had in the basement.

Hando took great pride in the service he rendered to the country. He loved
putting on his uniform each year to march in the Memorial Day Parade,
riding in a convertible in his later years. He gave several talks at local
schools about his experiences. He attended numerous Death March survivor

Like so many members of the “Greatest Generation” John is no longer with
us. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 86.

Maybe the next time you get out your favorite pipe to enjoy a bowl of your
best tobacco you might give a silent thanks to John Hando, the Pipe Carver
of Bataan, and all the others who sacrificed so much for us.

I wish I could post the actual artical along with photos, If anybody knows how to do that from PDF let me know please.

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Age : 44
Location : North New Jersey
Registration date : 2011-01-13

PostSubject: Re: Absolutly amazing!   Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:43 pm

Is there some sort of pipe musem or something where his pipes can be displayed? My wifes cousin, Johns daugter has a bunch of his pipes that she would love to see displayed along with other items as well. My wife told me that he carved almost all of the presidents faces on pipes (up to JFK) and even sent JFK the one he carved of him to JFK himself.
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Location : fly over country
Registration date : 2012-10-23

PostSubject: Re: Absolutly amazing!   Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:57 pm

Thanks for the story. My father served in the Pacific (Navy).
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Age : 67
Location : Indiana
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Absolutly amazing!   Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:50 pm

bosun1 wrote:
Thanks for the story. My father served in the Pacific (Navy).

My father-in-law was there too. Also Navy.

Any one who survived those times were very tough people. Mentally, spiritually and physically.
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Age : 38
Location : San Juan Islands, WA
Registration date : 2012-11-20

PostSubject: Re: Absolutly amazing!   Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:53 pm

Thank you for sharing. I love reading these stories. Not only of their tough grit but how their experiences from war influenced how they lived the rest of their lives.
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