Friday, March 8, 2013

John J. Wilpers Jr.

From the Washington Post

By Emily Langer

Published: March 5
John J. Wilpers Jr., a key member of the Army intelligence unit that arrested and thwarted the suicide of Hideki Tojo, the Japanese prime minister later executed for his war crimes during World War II, died Feb. 28 at a senior living home in Silver Spring. He was 93.
He had complications from dementia, said his son Michael W. Wilpers.

(Office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen/Via AP) - John J. Wilpers Jr., left, with his son John J Wilpers III and daughter Helen Wilpers Read, who are holding a photograph of their father standing over the wounded World War II Japanese leader Hideki Tojo that appeared in publications worldwide.
Mr. Wilpers rarely spoke about the dramatic events of September 1945, in the days after the Japanese surrender, when he helped carry out Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s order to locate and take into custody the vanquished prime minister.

Mr. Wilpers’s actions first came to broad public awareness in 2010, when he received the Bronze Star Medal for his role in the arrest. His commanding officer recommended the decoration in 1947, but the paperwork apparently disappeared and remained lost until Mr. Wilpers made an inquiry nearly six decades later.

He made the query because he “felt the gray hand of old age sneaking up” on him, he told The Washington Post after receiving the medal, and not because he wished to glorify his actions or the realities of war.

“All of this was very sad,” he said. “I didn’t want to do anything to describe it as wonderful. What happened happened. Like any war, it should be regretted.”

At the time of the Japanese surrender, Mr. Wilpers was a 26-year-old lieutenant serving with an intelligence unit in Tokyo. Tojo had directed his country’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and ranked high on the list of Japanese leaders wanted on war crimes charges.
Aware of this, Tojo had gone into seclusion and, as Mr. Wilpers would soon discover, he was preparing to commit a sort of ritual suicide.

Mr. Wilpers credited U.S. journalists with helping to locate Tojo at his home in suburban Tokyo. When he and his unit converged on the property, an interpreter informed Tojo that MacArthur’s representatives had come to call on him. Tojo poked his head out the window before retreating back inside.

Mr. Wilpers heard a gunshot.
He forced his way into the building and “kicked his big GI shoes” through a second door, according to an account in Yank magazine. He found Tojo “slumped in a chair with a smoking pistol grasped in his hand and blood gushing from a wound in the left side of his chest.”

“I was trying to keep one eye on him and one on the pistol,” Mr. Wilpers told the Associated Press years later.

Mr. Wilpers had a simple order: to find Tojo and bring him back alive. According to the 1947 account by his commanding officer, Mr. Wilpers found a Japanese physician to administer emergency aid. The doctor initially resisted but complied after Mr. Wilpers confronted him with a revolver.

Tojo was eventually removed to a military hospital and, in 1948, tried and executed as a war criminal.

Through Mr. Wilpers’s “initiative, ingenuity and courage,” reads his Bronze Star Medal citation, “the United States Army captured and detained Hideki Tojo.”

Mr. Wilpers stopped Tojo from “taking his own life,” the citation continues, “thereby assuring that he would live and stand trial for his ignominious war crimes.”

John Joseph Wilpers Jr. was born Nov. 11, 1919, in Albany, N.Y. His father worked in a speakeasy and a pool hall and, among other professions, was a bookie.

The younger Mr. Wilpers graduated from the University of Toronto in 1942 and then joined the Army Air Forces. He later shifted to the intelligence unit and, after the war, joined the new CIA. He spent his career at the spy agency, with assignments including the supervision of a staff that profiled Soviet and Chinese scientists. He retired from the CIA in 1975 and from the Army Reserve in 1979 as a colonel.

His wife of 57 years, Marian Meyer Wilpers, died in 2006. Survivors include five children, John J. Wilpers III of Marshfield, Mass., Mary Amory of Camden, Maine, Teresa K. Wilpers of Baltimore, Michael W. Wilpers of Takoma Park and Helen Wilpers Read of Seattle; and seven grandchildren.
Mr. Wilpers was reported to be the last surviving member of the unit that arrested Tojo. Until the end of his life, he expressed modesty about his role in history.

He told the Associated Press in 2010, “I just happened to be the one who busted open the door.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Update for Audrey McClure

Audrey M. McClure, beloved wife of 66 years to James H. McClure, Northbrook, IL, with whom she parented five children, 14 grandchildren and one great-grand child, passed away Sunday, March 25, 2007, of a sudden illness. She passed away peacefully in the arms of her husband, James, and family in Naples, FL. A lifelong Chicagoan, she suddenly became ill and passed away in Naples amidst the sunshine and the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico that she loved so much. She and her husband were on their yearly vacation from her full-time job which she held until her death. Audrey McClure was Vice President of Sales for Mission Hills Real Estate at Mission Hills Country Club Village, Northbrook, IL, a division of the Corley Companies, a real estate development firm. Mrs. McClure was an amazing 86 years old. Audrey McClure was born Audrey M. Corley to parents, Thomas F. Corley Sr. and Marie, nee Travelina, Corley on Nov. 23, 1920. Audrey Corley made headlines as a teenager at Chicago's Senn High School by winning the National Baton Twirling Championship and later recruited by Evanston's Northwestern University to be their University's Big 10 Football Team Drum Majorette. She was offered a Full Athletic Scholarship. Already the National Baton Twirling Champion, she played that role for Northwestern's Wildcats Marching Band for five years, even though the education hungry Audrey had to turn down the Full Ride Scholarship Northwestern offered her to help her parents and family financially. However, she led the team onto the field for every game and at Northwestern's Marching Band shows at halftime for five straight seasons. During those years she became a featured commercial model in Chicago, as well as nationally. She worked for the Model Bureau of Chicago, where she earned accolades as the national spokesperson model for many companies. Audrey became the coveted Camay Soap Bride model showcased in Life Magazine and many others, in addition to other coveted advertising spots throughout the United States. She was also in show business and performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. She also performed with famous Jimmy Dorsey Big Band as well as with the beloved comedian and entertainer, Jack Benny and Rosemary Clooney and Helen O'Connel on many shows and telecasts. Audrey McClure was offered movie contracts following her becoming a runner up in the Miss Chicago Contest. She was offered two movie contracts from two major Hollywood movie studios, by Universal Pictures and Paramount Studios. However she turned them down to marry the love of her life, handsome James H. McClure, an honors graduate from Washington & Lee University and fellow Chicagoan. Uncle Sam wanted him for World War II, so Audrey quit her modeling career and devoted herself to James as a housewife and becoming a mother. While overseas, protecting our country, James entered a photograph of his beautiful wife in the GI Magazine YANK where she won the contest for "The Prettiest Sweetheart Left Behind". Of all the soldiers serving in the South Pacific in World War II, Audrey McClure was chosen "the Prettiest Sweetheart Left Behind" and immediately became a WWII "PinUp Girl" for countless GI's fighting in the war. Ironically, being busy fighting the war, James first found out about the news when he saw another GI with her picture and learned she had won. Back on the homefront his beautiful wife was giving birth to their first son, Michael. But her favorite and full time role for the next 25 years was as an excellent stay at home mother filling her home with love, laughter, educational advantages and a family tradition of joy, compassion, love and kindness to others. She was a big believer in the arts and encouraged her children to appreciate and excel with any talents they had. Mrs. McClure was President of National Council of Catholic Women. She later became the President of the Regional Archdiocese of the National Council of Catholic Women. Audrey was also a devoted member of the Third Order of St. Francis. When her children were grown she began selling real estate at Mission Hills and became one of the most successful real estate brokers on Chicago's North Shore. She was responsible for over $400,000,000 in sales during her long real estate career through 2007. She was Vice President of Sales for Mission Hills Real Estate, Mission Hills County Club Village, Crystal Tree County Club Development and the Monaco Beach Club in Naples, FL. She was a model of excellence for all her children. She believed in hard work and taught her children there is always a way to achieve your dreams; to never take no for an answer; give it everything you've got and everything else will take care of itself! Audrey McClure will be greatly missed by her family and everyone else that had the pleasure of knowing her. Her unselfish caring and love of others, especially her wonderful laugh and great sense of humor will never be forgotten. She will always live on within her husband, children and grandchildren.