| "Tribute To True
May they rest
To The Reverend Father
Roman Catholic ~
Captain, U.S. Army
Captain, U.S. Army
Prisoner Of War
World War II
The Reverend Father
Thomas J. Scecina
Born: September 16,
Died: October 24, 1944....................
|Captain, U.S. Army
Vicksburg, in Greene
In sinking of Arisan
BIOGRAPHY OF FATHER THOMAS
Thomas J. Scecina was born in Vicksburg
County, Indiana on September 16, 1910. He
a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
on June 11, 1935,
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
Parish in Indianapolis, where he remained until
On October 5, 1939 Fr.
enlisted in the Chaplains' Reserve Corps.
Eventually he was assigned to the 57th Infantry Division at Fort
Luzon in the Philippine Islands. He
in the infamous Bataan "Death
the Americans had been captured by the Japanese in April, 1942.
two years of imprisonment he freely elected to accompany the men
when they were transported
Japanese from Manila to Formosa on October
1944. Father Tom was in the first convoy which was mistakenly torpedoed
a U.S. Navy submarine on
24, 1944. While the ship, Arisan Maru sank
beneath the water, Fr. Tom gave general absolution to all the men, then
confessions over a three-hour period until the ship was completely
At the age of 34, Fr. Thomas Scecina went to his death with his
men that day.
Thomas Scecina posthumously received
Star with one Oak-Leaf-Cluster, the
Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Memorial High School proudly bears the
this Indiana priest who
THAT LITTLE EXTRA."
gave his life in
of his God and his country. In honoring his memory,
the purpose of a
Catholic school is aptly
The school is dedicated to
the very ideals to which
Scecina gave full measure of devotion, that the
love of God and love of
its students' goals in life. In the measure that it succeeds,
the school will produce good men and women - good American
the school motto: "FOR GOD AND COUNTRY." Inspired by Father
example, Scecina students are encouraged to
Statement of Father John
Wilson taken from
AND WORST OF TIMES"
THE UNITED STATES ARMY
John Anthony Wilson, a
from Celina, Ohio told of being put on a Japanese coal freighter
with a Protestant chaplain Leslie Zimmerman and 1,200 American
POWs. They sailed from Manila Bay to Maji, Japan, via Hong Kong,
were taken off the ship in Formosa where they spent two and
months. This 600 mile trip
40 days. Finally they took another ship for 21
arriving in Japan. "It is hard to
human beings being treated
so heartlessly by other
We were all more dead than alive upon
arriving in Japan.
Wilson also told of
ship with 1.800 Americans and two Catholic
chaplains that left
after 10 days at sea, it was torpedoed by an American submarine.
It stayed aloft about three hours. Approximately half of the American
jumped overboard expecting to be picked up by Japanese destroyers. The
took all the life-boats and life preservers, "... our boys had
few." The Japanese picked
own survivors and left the Americans to
their fate. Among the men
with the ship were the two priests, Thomas J. Scecina
of Indianapolis and James W. O'Brien of San Francisco.
These two chaplains took
one fore and one aft, and heard confessions
of all the
Catholic men who came, then they
as best they could to the
rest on board,
and doing what they could to prepare the men for death
inevitable. The ship broke up in about 3 hours and sank with all hands
including the two priests. As far as I know only about 12 men escaped
of the 1,800. Some made it back to the US via China and Russia, they
up by a passing Japanese ship (not of the convey) and placed aboard the
I was on. I got the tragic details from two of these American POWs.
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is maintained by Paul D.
Last updated 22 March