U.S. Naval Training Station

Sampson N. Y.

7 January 1944

Prisoner Of Japs For Two Years, Recruit Hopes For Pacific Duty


A 17-year-old youngster who arrived in this country from China aboard the exchange ship Gripsholm early last month is now in recruit training with Co. 271 here, after joining the Navy, he said, to get back to the Far East as fast as possible. He figures the Navy will get there as fast as anybody

The youth, Victor M. Haimovitch, Jr., arrived in the United States on 2 December, debarked the day after, and three days later applied to the State Department for permission to enlist in the Navy. Haimovitch, who thereby set some sort of unofficial speed record in projected retribution for this war, has a special reason for wanting to get back to the Orient in a hurry. His mother and father are still held by the Japanese.

A quiet-spoken, unassuming youngster, except when talking of his desire to get into action, Haimovitch was living with his parents near Shanghai when the Japs struck at Pearl Harbor. He said the Japanese permitted their civilian prisoners many liberties for the first two years of the war, but since last February he had been interned in an old, shell-scarred schoolhouse in Chapei, on the outskirts of Shanghai. 

The Japs did nothing to close the vents caused by the shells, he said, and the winter winds would whistle unchecked through the building.

There he was fed a daily diet of rice and fish and lost 15 pounds in the seven months before he boarded ship in the exchange of American and Japanese nationals. On the Teia Maru, Nipponese counterpart of the Gripsholm, he was assigned to sleep with 126 men in a hold about half the size of the dormitories at Sampson, which accommodate 110 men. In good weather, he said, the Americans would sleep on the deck to get out of the stifling heat of the hold.

Haimovitch's choice of the Navy was not wholly objective. His uncle is Commander W. G. Chapple, USN, who has won wide recognition for his exploits as captain of a submarine in Pacific waters. Commander Chapple was a recent visitor to Sampson, where he spoke to men attending the service schools. Haimovitch, however, would prefer service aboard a destroyer and if immediate sea duty isn't to be had he would like to go to signalman's school.

The young bluejacket has spent all but two of his 17 years in the Far East where his father represented International Harvester Co.

Born in Shanghai

Born in Shanghai, Haimovitch was eight years old before he saw America. At ten he returned to the Orient where he has remained with his parents for the last seven years.