Based on a true story.
Lew Carson, raised in China as the adopted son of Missionaries, is separated from his wife and kids when Shanghai falls to the Japanese on the eve of WWII. With luck on his side, he makes it to Manila the day before Pearl Harbor is bombed. Now trapped with no way to get home, he gets a job with the US Army on Bataan where he narrowly escapes the infamous Death March on a small fishing boat with a group of war correspondents. They sail by night and hide by day as they navigate the Japanese controlled waters, finally making it to Australia. This epic journey from Nanking to Shanghai, Macau, Manila, Cebu, Brisbane and finally San Francisco is not only a journey around the Pacific rim, but also one man’s journey back to family and faith.
I first heard of this story about my grandfather when I was about 14 years old. My grandmother had an old machete hanging on the wall. I asked what it was and she said “your grandfather used that to cut his way through the jungles of Manila in WWII.” And that’s all I heard of it for years. Not until much later did I learn of a letter he wrote not long after his return detailing his adventures on Manila. With this letter and letters he wrote to my grandmother and letters my grandmother wrote to her mother I pieced together the series of events which have evolved into this script. I felt compelled to write the story because of one of the events which took place. It seemed like an act of God which saved him. I found it very moving and felt this story must be told. The fact that he is my grandfather, just makes it that much more compelling.
On a side note, in my research I came across books and magazine articles from war correspondents who were on the boat with my grandfather. Their stories helped to confirm the facts of the story. They were Charles Van Landingham, Clark Lee and Melville and Annalee Jacoby. The story of the Jacobys is also a moving story which fortunately is in the process of being written by a distant relative of Melville’s.