"Tribute To True Heroes"

rosedew Requiescat in pac! rosedew May they rest in peace!

To The Reverend Father
Thomas J. Scecina
Roman Catholic Chaplains Corps

Father Thomas J. Scecina
Roman Catholic Chaplains Corps
born 1910 dead 1944

Silver Star

Bronze Star

Purple Heart

Prisoner Of
War Medal

Combat Action

Defense Medal

Campaign Medal

Asisatic Pacifi

World War
II Victory

Presidential Unit
Citation Ribbon




Thomas J. Scecina, Roman Catholic, Born: September 16, 1910, Died: October 24,1944, Captain, U.S. Army, Vicksburg, in Greene County, Indiana, In sinking of Arisan Maru


FatherThomas J. Scecina was born in Vicksburg, in Greene County, Indiana on September 16, 1910. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 11, 1935, in the Abbey Church of St. Meinrad. After receiving his Baccalaureate in Canon Law from Catholic University in 1937, he was assigned as an associate pastor to St. John's Parish in Indianapolis, where he remained until his military duty.

On October 5,1939 Fr. Thomas Scecina enlisted in the Chaplains' Reserve Corps. Eventually he was assigned to the 57th Infantry Division at Fort McKinley on Luzon in the Philippine Islands. He participated in the infamous Bataan "Death March" after the Americans had been captured by the Japanese in April, 1942. Following two years of imprisonment he freely elected to accompany the men when they were transportedby the Japanese from Manila to Formosa on October 1, 1944. Father Tom was in the first convoy which was mistakenly torpedoed by a U.S. Navy submarine onOctober 24, 1944. While the ship, Arisan Maru sank slowly beneath the water, Fr. Tom gave general absolution to all the men, then heard confessions over a three-hour period until the ship was completely submerged. At the age of  34, Fr. Thomas Scecina went to his death with his men that day.

Father Thomas Scecina posthumously received the Silver Star with one Oak-Leaf-Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.

Scecina Memorial High School proudly bears the name of this Indiana priest who gave his life in the service of his God and his country. In honoring his memory, the purpose of a Catholic school is aptly symbolized. The school is dedicated to the very ideals to which Father Scecina gave full measure of devotion, that the love of God and love oflabor be its students' goals in life. In the measure that it succeeds, the school will produce good men and women - good American citizens. Hence, the school motto: "FOR GOD AND COUNTRY." Inspired by Father Tom's example, Scecina students are encouraged to "GIVE THAT LITTLE EXTRA."

Statement of Father John Anthony Wilson taken from


John Anthony Wilson, a Catholic priest from Celina, Ohio told of being put on aJapanese coal freighter with a Protestant chaplain Leslie Zimmerman and 1,200 American POWs. They sailed from Manila Bay to Maji, Japan, via Hong Kong, and were taken off the ship in Formosa where they spent two and one-half months. This 600 mile trip took 40 days. Finally they took another ship for 21 days before arriving in Japan. "It is hard to conceive human beings being treated so heartlessly by other human beings... We were all more dead than alive upon arriving in Japan.

Wilson also told of another, larger ship with 1.800 Americans and two Catholic chaplains that left Manila after 10 days at sea, it was torpedoed by an American submarine.It stayed aloft about three hours. Approximately half of the American POWs jumped overboard expecting to be picked up by Japanese destroyers. The Japanese took all the life-boats and life preservers, "... our boys had precious few. The Japanese picked up their own survivors and left the Americans to their fate. Among the men sticking with the ship were the two priests, Thomas J. Scecina of Indianapolis and James W. O'Brien of San Francisco.

These two chaplains took up places, one fore and one aft, and heard confessions of all the Catholic men who came, then they ministered as best they could to the rest on board, praying and doing what they could to prepare the men for death which was inevitable. The ship broke up in about 3 hours and sank with all hands lost, including the two priests. As far as I know only about 12 men escaped death out of the 1,800. Some made it back to the US via China and Russia, they were picked up by a passing Japanese ship (not of the convey) and placed aboard the ship I was on. I got the tragic details from two of these American POWs.

This Web Page was created by
Paul D. Henriott
Wewbpage reworked 26 September 2012