Polk County

Brig Gen. George H. Olmsted




Japs ‘Request’ Medics Cease Chuting to PWs

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 20 (AP) – The Japanese complained by radio to Gen.  Douglas MacArthur today over parachuting of “humanitarian teams,” such as the six-man outfit which found Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, the hero of Corregidor, in Japanese prisoner of war camps in Asia. The broadcast “earnestly requested” MacArthur to “prevent recurrence of such incidents.” The message declared without elaboration that teams which descended on camps in Manchuria, Korea and Hong Kong “had been returned to their base” by the Japanese.

The rescue teams were sent out at risk of instant death to bring food, medical aid and word of approaching rescue to about 20,000 Allied PWs and 15,000 civilian interness, according to an announcement made in Chungking.

Japs Are Told In Advance

The Japanese were told ahead of time by leaflets dropped from planes that parachutist were coming, and for purely humanitarian reasons. The Japanese did not molest them, but no one knew in advance what they might do.

The story of the parachutists was told by Brig. Gen. George Olmstead (sic, should be Olmsted) of Des Moines, Iowa, who planned and directed their activities. Olmstead started organizing teams in mid-July. Each consisted of six volunteers chosen for proficiency in medical work, signals and the Chinese and Japanese languages.

Teams were put down in nine places from Manchuria to Indo-China which were centers of 30-odd war prisoner and civilian internee camps. These places were Mukden, near which Wainwright was found safe; Peiping, Weihsich (Shantung Providence), Korea, Shanghai, Canton-Hong Kong area, Hainan, Formosa and Indo-China.

Each team carried a radio communication set and 500 pounds of medicine and food, such as powdered milk, dehydrated soup and vitamins.

Except for those dropped in Korea and at Mukden, each team included one or more men who, at peril of their lives, had clandestinely kept contact with the various camps.

“One of these men, a typical example, operated secretly near a prisoner of war camp in the Shanghai area up to a year ago,” said the general.

Watched Japanese Moves

They followed every transfer of the camps. They knew when the Japanese moved prisoners of war into areas subject to bombing, and this knowledge, quickly transmitted to Chungking, possibly saved many lives.

The Japanese reaction when the teams dropped in was not one of hostility but of bewilderment, until today’s appeal to Gen. MacArthur, Olmstead said. A team dropped at Keijo, Korea, was told by a Japanese general that he found the situation “very embarrassing.”

“He said he had received no official instructions and wanted the parachutists to go back where they came from,” Olmstead related. “He even offered to provide gasoline if a plane would come and fetch them.”

Source: Stars and Stripes, Tuesday, August 21, 1945, Page 16

March 18, 1901 ~ October 8, 1998

George Hamden Olmsted was born on March 18, 1901 at Des Moines, Iowa. He briefly attended Iowa State University before entering West Point. While at West Point, Olmsted was a featherweight boxing champion and played quarterback on the second-string 1922 football team. He graduated from West Point in 1922 as first captain of the Corps of Cadets.

In 1923, Lt. Olmsted left the Army and entered into the insurance business with his father. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he was recalled to active duty.

During World War II, Olmsted was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal and the Bronze Star, along with medals bestowed upon him by Britain, France and China.  He returned to Iowa and his businesses after the way.

He was recalled back into service during the Korean War. During this time Olmsted was promoted to the rank of Major General and sent to the Pentagon to assume charge of all U. S. military assistance. In 1953, upon his release from active duty, Olmstead resumed his business career in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. Olmstead died at the age of 97 at his home in North Arlington, Virginia on October 8, 1998. He and his second wife, Carol Shearing Olmsted, were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Source: Arlington National Cemetery, George H. Olmsted