Part II: Chick Parsons and STIC
Part II: Chick Parsons and STIC
By Peter Parsons
During his stay in STIC, Chick Parsons’ effort to escape the Philippines via diplomatic channels was being opposed by Claude Buss, the man left in charge of handling all American affairs; Buss branded Chick as another opportunistic American who should stay here with everybody else. Sometime later, after Chick had returned to STIC as a now-famous resistance fighter and organizer of guerrillas for General MacArthur, he wrote home a wry mention that when he did leave STIC in early June, 1942, there were several internees who were not so happy with his departure.
Buss, however, was absolutely correct in his assessment of Chick: he was opportunistic, and he did get his whole family out on a Japanese hospital ship (the Ural Maru) to Formosa; then to Shanghai by Japanese bomber; and then to New York after two ocean legs, one on the Conte Verde, the other on the Gripsholm. [Although I was personally sad to leave my Amah, my dachshund, and our four sentries, I had seen Japanese beat and kill people and knew that their presence was not benign.]
Soon thereafter Chick was back in the Philippines on a submarine, the first of many such penetrations. He was working now for MacArthur even though he was a commander in the USN.
Although Chick was often seen in Manila itself, sometimes dressed as a Catholic priest, I doubt that he ever re-entered Santo Tomas again until after its liberation.
He was spotted by an internee, Mary Davies, when she was in a Japanese bus taking her to Philippine General Hospital for medical care not available at STIC. He looked up at her when the bus stopped and said, “Howdie, Mary.”
And Reggie Spear says that he was briefed by Chick on the naval outpost at Mios Woendi, a tiny island in Indonesian waters, prior to his own submarine trip and subsequent visit to STIC. He told me that “Chick had been there and knew the ways in and out of Manila;” but I take that merely to mean that Chick had once been interned at STIC.
Chick’s re-acquaintance with Santo Tomas and his many friends therein occurred shortly after the February 3,1945 liberation of the camp.
Chick, who had no longer any contact with submarines, now had a fleet of four gunboats that were wreaking havoc among the Japanese in the Visayas (Seventh Fleet Task Group 71) and continuing the job of supplying guerrillas and civilians with arms and medicine.
General MacArthur, however, brought Chick up to Manila and put him in charge of bringing food on a daily basis to the internees and other refugees now seeking shelter there. His message of Feb. 7 reads in part:
“…to Commander Parsons. Arrange for movement by air transport such food and other emergency supplies as may be set up by G4, Philippine Section for relief of American civilian internees. Initial shipments 9,000 pounds daily…Plan to air drop 5-6,000 pounds daily at Los Banos as soon as camp there is liberated by our forces.”
On Feb 8, Chick was already landing planes on Espana Avenue in front of STIC. Of course he was now working with his old pal and business partner, Col. Pete Grimm, the new “commandant” at STIC.