TOKYO (AP) -- An American held by Japan as a prisoner of war during World War II and forced to work in a copper mine has been invited to accompany President Barack Obama on his historic visit to Hiroshima this week, a U.S. veterans group said.
Jan Thompson, the head of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, said Sunday by email that the group has chosen 94-year-old Daniel Crowley of Simsbury, Connecticut, and submitted his name to the White House.
Obama, who is in Vietnam, is coming to Japan later in the week for the annual Group of Seven summit, after which he will visit Hiroshima on Friday. He will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city hit by the first of two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan near the end of World War II.
Crowley was in the U.S. Army Air Corps when his unit surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in 1942. He was shipped to Japan in March 1944 on what the veterans call a "hell ship," and put to work as a slave laborer at a copper mine operated by Furukawa Co. in Hitachi, northeast of Tokyo, until the end of the war.
Crowley visited Japan in October 2014 as part of the friendship program sponsored by the Japanese government with several other members of the veterans' group. He has said that he never forgets the years stolen from him by the Japanese.
"It's a living thing with me," he was quoted as saying in a biography provided by the group. "It's not ancient history at all."