Today: Memorial service for Hap Halloran, World War II vet and POW


Click on pictures to enlarge.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

A memorial service will be held today (June 17) for Menlo Park resident Raymond "Hap" Halloran, the World War II veteran and prisoner of war who died June 7 at 89. The service is set for noon at St. Raymond Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park.

During World War II, Mr. Halloran found himself on the giving and the receiving ends in the air war over Japan — first as a B-29 bombardier and then, after his plane was shot down over Tokyo, as a prisoner of war. The prison camps were unmarked and thus occasional targets of apparently ferocious friendly fire, including the March 1945 fire bombing of the city.

Mr. Halloran experienced parachuting from his doomed airplane; humiliation as a POW when put on display in a zoo; solitary confinement; a successful business career; decades of nightmares as he tried to escape wartime memories; and, finally, relief afte reconciling with former enemies, according to an autobiographical account.

When invited, Mr. Halloran would talk about his experiences. He spoke in Japan at museums, temples and in Peace Parks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "They also were seeking closure," he wrote of his audiences, some of whom reciprocated by visiting him in the United States.

While visiting Japan, he met the fighter pilot who shot him down, and a "good guard" from his time as a prisoner of war, according to his account.

Mr. Halloran is survived by his sons Dan of Barcelona and Tim of Brentwood; and by his daughter Peggy of Redwood City, relatives said.

A cold dark cage

Raymond Halloran grew up in Cincinnati, the second of five boys. He volunteered for the Army Air Force following the December 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor.

After training, he joined an 11-man crew that flew a new B-29 bomber from the Midwest to Honolulu and then to an airfield in the Northern Marianas Islands, from which were launched bombing raids on the Japanese mainland.

On his crew's fourth mission, a Japanese fighter plane critically damaged two of his B-29's four engines such that it left the formation. The crew bailed out at 27,000 feet at an ambient temperature of 58 below zero, he said in his account. Five men survived, he said.

After 24,000 feet of free fall, he deployed his chute and a Japanese fighter pilot flew by and saluted him, he wrote. "A rarity," Mr. Halloran noted.

The graciousness did not last. On the ground, a crowd of civilians set upon him and administered "severe beatings," he wrote. He was nearly dead by the time Japanese soldiers came upon him and took him off to solitary confinement for 67 days in a "cold dark cage." He received no medical treatment and was forbidden to talk except when interrogated, he wrote. He was out of solitary by the time the Allied forces fire-bombed Tokyo. "The heat, smoke and firestorm were absolutely terrifying," he wrote. Some prisoners burned to death in their cells, Mr. Halloran's son Dan said in an interview. The guards wouldn't let them out, he added.

After the fire bombing, soldiers took him to the Ueno Zoo, Mr. Halloran wrote, where they displayed him in a cage as "the hated B-29 prisoner," naked, unwashed and covered with sores from insect bites. "Conditions were extreme," he wrote. "I cried (a form of relief) and prayed constantly."

B-29 crews were new to bombing from the jet stream, Mr. Halloran told his son Dan, and were being blown off course and missing their military targets. The citizens hated them, Dan said, because "they saw them as individuals killing citizens."

His father also signed a paper purportedly nullifying his Geneva Convention rights, Dan said. "They felt they could do anything they wanted to him."

With peace came liberation to a hospital ship, then back home and months in a government hospital. He returned to civilian life and a career, but with changes, including nightmares for 39 years, he wrote.

"Very disruptive to my family life," he wrote. "In the early years after the return from POW days I absolutely tried to wipe out all those bad memories of my time in Japan. I failed."

"Dad never talked about it," his son Dan said. "We knew something was wrong. He was having nightmares and screaming and once tried to climb out a window," he said.

Relief, for a time

Relief began with reconciliation. Mr. Halloran flew to Japan in 1984 to "view people and places as they are presently," he wrote. "Positive results slowly became evident in my outlook, feelings and judgments. Understanding and reconciliation became a reality."

Alzheimer's disease proved his undoing, however. Mr. Halloran's mental strength had kept his wartime memories at bay, but they came roaring back. He entered psychotherapy with his son.

"(The memories) started to kind of take over when he was losing control of his mind," Dan said. "He thought that he was in prison camp again. It really didn't help at all."

"They're doing a lot with post-traumatic stress treatment now," Dan Halloran added. "The families really learn how to support these guys."

"It was very painful for World War II veterans when they didn't have any psychiatric help after the war," Dan said. "Basically these guys were on their own once they were physically able to get out in the world again."

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Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm

It's always so easy to start a war, but even after it ends, it doesn't.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thank you to our "greatest generation." We are losing them at an alarming rate. To be expected given their age, but we can never thank them enough for our freedom.

Like this comment
Posted by Greta
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2011 at 7:02 am

Hap had my deepest respect, as an employer and friend.

Like this comment
Posted by Suzette
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

Ray was a man with a good heart, may he rest in peace.

Like this comment
Posted by Jan Bartow Bernhagen
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

I have sweet memories of my Uncle Ray. He would play with my brother & myself when he and my Aunt Donna would visit Oregon, IL. He would take us to the park to see the statue of Chief Blackhawk. I remember visiting them in Indiana; he took me to a toy store & told me to get whatever I wanted! I Mom made us return it for something smaller! He was the perfect host when we visited his family in Portland, Oregon. Other than letters over the past 10-15 years, the last time I really got to talk with him was at my Grama's ( he thought she was a "true lady") funeral. Up until the past year or so, Uncle Ray called my Mom, his sister-in-law, a few times a year to chat! I really came to understand him more as his life became known through the telling of his experiences in World War 2. Uncle, Irish, one of my heroes. I believe he will rest in peace with his Lord.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim McKenzie
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:57 am

I was lucky enough to work with Mr Hap Halloran. I made the mistake of introducing him by incorrectly stating his position in the company (Consolidated Freightways) - for which I was rebuked. But I learned much from this great man. I especially learned a lot about personal "fear" which Ray knew a lot about. I also made the best sales call of my life with him in Anaheim CA. I'll never forget Ray and I'm glad I told him that before he passed. A great veteran, US Soldier, and great leader has departed and the world is beter off because of him and I am better off for knowing him.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill McDonald
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Ray was a man that expected you to be at your best in your job as a representative of Consolidated Freightways. He was a great sales
motivator who was always at his best in front of our customers. I learned alot from Ray and consider it an honor to have had him as a friend. He was a brave and honorable man.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve Redmond
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2011 at 6:35 am

I was fortunate enough to office next to Ray at the Consolidated Freightways headquarters in Menlo Park for a couple years in the late 90's. "Hap" was a great mentor in both business and life to many employees and friends, a true American hero who will be studied by many young people in years to come through his website and autobiography. It was an honor to experience time with such an honest and genuine person. May he rest in peace and continue to lead us in difficult times.

Like this comment
Posted by George Yarusavage
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

I knew Hap for about 30 years, as a customer but more importantly as a friend. He was always helpful, generous, and a good friend. I often felt sorry for the CF guys from who he always expected 150+% effort for complete customer satisfaction, but as a customer I appreciated what he and his guys accomplished for us. The customer was Number One, and he made sure his team knew that.

Ray, a POW in Japan for the last 8 months of World War Two, also helped many veterans (and their families) heal from their own POW experiences. Few, if any, were as harrowing and as close-to-death as his. But he showed many the way out of their nightmares, a way to put the past behind, when he reconciled with the demons of his own past visiting the prison site and meeting with a former prison guard who helped him survive - they remained friends until parted by death. During Gulf War One Ray was on TV sharing his experiences, helping folks here at home understand, in one vivid example, what one particular captured (and obviously beaten and under duress) pilot was going through in Iraq as he "apologized" on camera for bombing "the peaceful people of Iraq".

If you haven't already, you should read his book, "Hap's War", and make sure your kids and their kids read it as well. Hap always said he wasn't a hero, that the real heroes never got to come home. But read this and you'll know why he will always be one of my heroes.

Ray Halloran was one of a kind, and we who knew him are lucky to have shared a few moments on this earth with him.

Like this comment
Posted by Marcy Magatelli
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I, too, was fortunate to meet and know Mr. Halloran (who insisted I call him 'Hap').It was my great honor to frame some of his incredible photos, from WWII. Like many 'Baby Boomers' I knew little of the human cost of war, until Vietnam, and only of the boys my age. Hap brought WWII into prospective, for me, and I will be forever grateful. His bravery continued, throughout his life, in my opinion, as he endured those nightmares, but continued to move forward with a full life, and even took the necessary steps of returning to the place he was tortured; writing about his experiences and sharing his life, after the war, with other vets, to encourage them. A Hero, to the end. R.I.P., Hap

Like this comment
Posted by 10er
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

You will be greatly missed! I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet such a dear man!

Like this comment
Posted by bill schwartz
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm

too many to focus on one: hap had made sales calls all week with me in Portland, OR. On the way to the airport to get him back to Menlo, he asked if we could visit the cemetery where he wanted to pay respects to one of the airmen killed in his B-29 over Tokyo. The weather that day was over 100 degrees...when we found the grave site, I left Hap alone and walked 100 yards away......when I turned back to look at him, he was on his hands and knees, pulling weeds and cleaning up around the grave, tears rolling from his eyes.....all the while in his dark suit.....
as Mils Davis said in his famous "Sketches of Spain" record,
Hap was "the arrow that pierces the heart of the song"

Like this comment
Posted by Ed Lieberman
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2015 at 9:31 am

I met Hap in 2005 at he Saipan Liberation Day Fiesta on SaipanNMI. I soon discovered what a warm and caring individual he was. He gave me a copy of " Hap's War, and I reciprocated by painting a picture of his B 29 on a T shirt. Hap became a member of our family, and we stayed in touch by email after he returned to California. I was always amazed by his generosity and the great spirit of forgiveness that he displayed and shared with those around him. He was a remarkable human being!

Like this comment
Posted by Ron Calub
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Having retired from the same company as Hap (Consolidated Freightways) but never got to meet him! I spent my career with the company at the Tampa ,Florida location. As a WW II history buff, I knew all about what Hap and Greg (pappy) Boyington endured while prisioners of war in Japan. As a Marine during the Vietnam war, I'm just deeply touched at the courage Hap showed during those months as a POW and the troubling times that followed him home! Where do we find such Americans as these?

Rest in Peace Sir

Ron Calub Florida

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