Date of Interview
Ray Makepeace was born on 5 March 1915 in Minneapolis, one of four boys. He attended local schools, graduating from De La Salle High School in 1932. After high school Ray did several stints in the Civilian Conservation Corps in northern Minnesota, worked for three years in Duluth, and in 1938 played minor league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals system. He was working locally in Minneapolis when he decided in February 1941 to enlist in the US Army. Within just a few months Ray was shipped to the Philippines and posted to a coastal artillery battalion, but by May he was transferred to the island of Corregidor, in Manila Bay, and attached to the Harbor Defense Command. He was stationed here when the Japanese attacked the Philippines in December 1941. In May 1942 Ray was one of thousands of American service personnel captured on the island. Ray remained a POW of the Japanese for nearly forty months, primarily at two locations: Manila (worked as stevedore in the port area of Manila); and Kameoka, Japan (slave labor in a lead mine). Like other POWs of the Japanese, Ray endured malnutrition, mistreatment, and disease; in his opinion, the work in the lead mine was the hardest and most dangerous. Ray was at Kameoka when the Pacific war ended in August 1945. Following his evacuation in September from the lead mine camp, Ray returned to the United States; he spent time in several medical facilities before being discharged in March 1946. Ray used GI Bill benefits to attend a tech school in Minneapolis and then worked briefly in retail sales, but he spent his career in the insurance field, working for Phoenix Mutual for thirty-one years until his retirement in 1980. Ray was married in 1947 (wife Martha), and helped to raise four children. He was interviewed at his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota, in February 2004.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced without the written permission of Concordia University Library or Thomas Saylor, Department of History, Concordia University, St. Paul.
Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Ray Makepeace" (2004). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 46.