Joseph Gates Nason was born in Westborough, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U. S. Navy (USN) and became a SBD Dauntless dive bomber pilot. Assigned to squadron VC-38.
On October 23, 1943 took off from Munda Airfield piloting SBD-3 Dauntless 03359 on a dive bombing mission against Keita on Bougainville. This was his first combat mission. Wile dive bombing an anti-aircraft position near Keita Airfield, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and caught fire. Nason managed to bail out, but his gunner was not seen to escape.
Prisoner of War
Nason landed unhurt and evaded capture for a week. Captured by the Japanese he became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was first interned at Keita then transported in a Daihatsu landing barge over several days northward to Buka then aboard a destroyer to Rabaul where he was detained by the Japanese Army Kempei-Tai (Military Police) at Rabaul Prisoner Compound (Rabaul POW Prison). Nason was subjected to harsh treatment and neglect. In early March 1944 transported to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp. Later, a Japanese doctor conducted malaria medical experiments on the prisoners.
Although sick, suffering from malnutrition and beri-beri, Nason survived until the surrender of Japan. In early September 1945 he was one of only seven Allied prisoners liberated when the first Australian ship arrived at Rabaul.
Nason attended law school and worked as a corporate lawyer at State Mutual Life Assurance Co from 1950-1982 until he retired and also served as a board member of Westborough Savings Bank. In 1977, he and his wife worked for the Peace Corps on Saipan. In 1987, he wrote and published Horio You Next Die! that details his wartime memoirs and experiences. Nason lived in retirement in Westborough, Massachusetts.
On October 12, 2012 he passed away at UMass Memorial Healthcare University Hospital, Worcester, MA. On October 16, 2012 he was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Westborough, MA.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File Nason, Joseph G.
Horio You Next Die! (1987) by Joseph Nason details his wartime experiences and experiences as a POW
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida page 95 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Nason)
Worcester Telegram & Gazette "Joseph Nason" October 13, 2012
Worcester Telegram & Gazette "Obituary Joseph Nason" October 12-14, 2012
FindAGrave - Joseph Gates Nason
Thanks to Joseph Nason for additional information