Harold Poole likely received the first Silver Star of World War II. He only wore it once—before a congressional committee investigating Japanese war crimes against the many American Prisoner of War who were conscripted to build Japanese industries during the war. The committee ultimately took the advice of our own State Department and refused to press the suit to compensate those men. The reason? Our peace treaty indemnified the defeated country and their industries from any future claims.
You see, Harold was at the head of the line. Contrary to the Army tradition against volunteering, Harold volunteered to put his handy skills to work in Japanese industries. Good thing for the Japanese. Good thing for Harold. He was happiest when he was busiest. You see, Harold could fix anything, build anything and accomplish any task set before him.
Though he was a POW for three years, he forgave the Japanese before he left the country at the end of the war. He didn’t want what hating and carrying a grudge would do to him. Forgiveness was his nature.
Some have said that Harold’s experiences in the Bataan Death March in 1942 made him who he was. Many who knew Harold well, say what he was “that way” before he was captured and THAT made it possible for him to endure those terrible years.
When he flew home in a fresh new uniform, his mother was first among the many who gathered on the tarmac at the
to welcome him. She never gave up hope her son would live to return to her. A little fence separated the crowd from the plane as it taxied to a stop. That didn’t stop Sister Poole. Harold said he spotted her just as she jumped the fence and ran to fold him into her hungry embrace. Salt Lake City Airport
When his only son was called on an LDS mission to
, Harold was happy to send him. When his time on earth ended in the middle of his 91st year on March 8, 2010, Harold was known within his family and his neighborhood as a loving builder and humble friend. Japan
Consider three of his many contributions to those he loved:
The Unique Lectern for teaching in church that Harold built to fit over the back of the chapel pews. (If you craved good home teaching, you wanted Harold for a home teacher. He was a humble man who loved the Lord and his fellow man—and he showed it in so many ways)
Several Disney style Playhouses for his grandchildren. Each one had it’s own mail box (Harold was a beloved mail man for most of his professional life) His original floats for local parades demonstrated his willingness to serve his family and friends with his tools and his heart.
Humane Squirrel “Beam Up” Box that Harold used to help the little varmits “out of the neighborhood” with the help of a loving exhaust pipe. (Neighbor ladies would call Harold to get the little critters out of their attics. He would come right over. He was always sensitive to his neighbor’s tender feelings and asked their permission to dispatch he helped his trapped and squirming little friends to move on.) He was a self taught taxidermist who filled a knotty pine room in his basement with dozens of well mounted animals and birds.
If this whets your appetite to know more about this quiet, humble, and most remarkable man’s life, Deseret Book’s tribute “Soldier Slave” by Lee Benson is available for several hours of discovery of a truly Christ like soul.
Preparing material for the book, Harold and a few close friends flew to the Phillipines to retrace the steps of the Bataan Death March from Capas to
Corregidor. As they arrived at one little village, Harold told his attorney, Jim Parkinson, “ I remember this place. This is where they gave us the first drink of water we’d had for miles and miles.”
“Then we spotted a McDonalds!” remembered Parkinson. “Harold ordered a hamburger and orange drink. I’ve never seen anyone enjoy an orange drink so much as Harold did that day.”
Harold Poole had no expensive tastes. He carried his riches with him. Instead of millions, he leaves behind dozens of well worn tools and the many original gimmicks, gizmos and original solutions he crafted for his neighbors, his many friends and loving family. Those who knew him will always remember him as a genuine American Hero.