"Tribute To True Heroes"


Requiescat in pace!

May they rest in peace!

To The Reverend Father Thomas J. Scecina
Roman Catholic ~ Chaplains Corps
Captain, U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Father Thomas J. Scecina
Roman Catholic Chaplains Corps
Captain, U.S. Army

Silver Star

Bronze Star

Purple Heart

Prisoner Of  War

Combat Action

American Defense

American Campaign

Campaign Medal

World War II
Victory Medal

Philippine Presidential
UnitCitation Ribbon

Defense Medal

Independence Medal


The Reverend Father
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

Father Thomas 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 transported by 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 on October 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 of labor 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


Statement of Father John Anthony Wilson taken from
John Anthony Wilson, a Catholic priest 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,
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 and
is maintained by Paul D. Henriott
Last updated 22 March 2006