Wendell William “Buddy” Stone was born on December 17, 1920, in Limon, Colorado, to Ernest William and Ruth Anna (Sperry) Stone. He grew up in Goodland, Kansas, before enlisting with the United States Navy on March 11, 1940. When the Japanese Empire attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor a year later, Stone was propelled into the maelstrom of the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Stone’s first experience as a prisoner of war was the infamous Bataan Death March. In the winter and spring of 1942, the combined U.S. and Filipino forces on the island of Luzon held the Japanese Army at bay for three months onthe Bataan Peninsula. Finally, on April 9, 1942, General Edward King Jr. surrendered the peninsula to the Japanese, in hopes of receiving respite for his troops who were suffering from disease and hunger. Little did he know that the Japanese would force his approximately 75,000 men to march some 65 miles from Bataan to San Fernando. Stone and the other prisoners of this march were abused by the Japanese, and many were murdered or otherwise died of starvation or disease:
The exact figures are unknown, but it is believed that thousands of troops died because of the brutality of their captors, who starved and beat the marchers, and bayoneted those too weak to walk. Survivors were taken by rail from San Fernando to prisoner-of-war camps, where thousands more died from disease, mistreatment and starvation.
Stone survived this ordeal, and was shipped to the Fukuoka #1 Prisoner of War Camp on the island of Kyushu to withstand three more years of torment and suffering.
Stone’s three years spent as a prisoner of the Japanese at the Fukuoka #1 “Pine Tree Camp” was fraught with beatings, starvation, and exposure to the elements. Eric Vesey, a British prisoner assigned to the same camp as Stone, provides a grisly recounting of his experience at the Pine Tree Camp. He recounts that the prisoners’ tropical military clothing was never replaced by their Japanese captors, and so many suffered from exposure during the cold winters of Japan. Food consisted of a cup of steamed rice and a half pint of vegetable soup three times daily. The prisoners were subjected to harsh labor, which determined their allotted rations, and frequent beatings:
More from Eric Vesey:
On several occasions… I was beaten about the head and face with the fists by civilian charge hands, but I cannot now recollect the reasons for such beating or the names of the Japanese civilians concerned… Frequently men on working parties stopped working because they were too sick to carry on. By order of the Japanese Commandant all such men were placed on half rations. About January, 1945, I was placed on half rations for failing to carry on with the work and whilst queuing for food at the airfield I joined the men on a full ration scale, but was observed by a Japanese guard. He immediately pulled me out of the queue and beat me about the head and body with his fists and also the butt end of his rifle.
It is certain that Stone’s experience at Fukuoka #1 was similar to what Vesey describes. He was forced to endure this treatment until September 28, 1945, when he was repatriated after the Japanese surrendered to the United States.
Remarkably, Wendell Stone would serve his country for seventeen more years after re-enlisting in the Navy. He married Christa Staack in Kiel, Germany in 1959. He retired from Naval service in 1970, with the Rate of YNC Chief Yeoman. He worked for the Rock Island Arsenal as captain at the base security and as a physical security specialist until 1982.
In retired life he enjoyed playing computer-solitaire, collecting coins and stamps, and walking his dog Chelsea. He passed away peacefully at Genesis Medical Center, East Campus, in Davenport, Iowa on November 15, 2002. He was survived by his wife, Christa, three sons, and his grandsons. He leaves behind a legacy of sacrifice which displays the courage of our armed forces personnel for putting their physical and mental safety on the line to defend our country.
 Eric Vesey, “IN THE MATTER OF WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY JAPANESE NATIONALS AND IN THE ILL-TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR AT KUMAMOTO PRISONER OF WAR CAMP, ISLAND OF KYUSHU, JAPAN.” Prisoner of War Camp #1 Fukuoka, Japan, accessed July 29, 2022.
 “Wendell Wm Stone in the U.S., World War II American and Allied Prisoners of War, 1941-1946,” Ancestry, 2005.