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Secret Brigade:

Recently, Mary Previte helped us to remember how we were liberated by a team of seven "angels" composed of 5 Americans, 1 Nisei and a young Chinese who served as an interpreter and who parachute-jumped for the first time on this particular mission.

As already told by many of you, and in spite of the armed guard standing at the entrance of the camp, we forced the gate and rushed into the fields out of the camp in order to cheer and congratulate our rescuers.

Major Staiger was in charge of the team. He had already put his harness and parachute aside and was standing on top of a mound when we first saw him. This mound was a tomb. For centuries, the Chinese used to bury their ancestors in the fields and they built a mound to mark the place of the burial. The highest mound was assigned to the oldest ancestor.

Major Staiger accepted our cheers but very soon, wisely said: "Please gather next to this tomb, all the parachutes with their loads and also, bring here the men who had jumped with their white silk parachutes. About more or less an hour later, everything was ready and we hoisted the seven men on our shoulders as, of course, we wanted to honour them as our heroes. When we approached the walls of the camp, Staiger gave us the order to let them down so that they could encounter the captain of the camp and the guards who were watching us coming.

This was a wise measure , since the guards were all armed and our rescuers did not know at that moment what the Japanese's reaction would be in regard to this particular situation.

As I re-entered the camp on my own I met two friends who were standing alongside the wall ready to defend us in case of a violent Japanese reaction. They were Roy Chu and Wade. Both had an axe in their hands, and they had put their red armbands to be recognised. Only then, did I discover that a group of bachelors in the camp had organized a secret brigade to protect us from the Japanese, in case they would start their plan to exterminate us all.

Fortunately this did not happen. Everything went smoothly when the rescue team met the guards. Both groups received instructions not to fight and we would sleep in peace during the next two months that we had to stay in camp, allowing intelligence officers to screen the past history of every one of us and to finally be able to evacuate my group to Peking by a plane, a C-46, on October 17th, 1945.

Father Hanquet.

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