FORT WORTH, Texas — Not only did Fiske Hanley turn 100 Tuesday, the World War II veteran from Texas also had a day named in his honor by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
"I turn 100 today. I'm wondering why," Hanley told WFAA. "The good Lord saved me over and over and over."
Hanley survived nearly six months in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and wrote to tell about it, publishing "Accused American War Criminal" in 1997.
Born in Brownwood Texas, on Jan. 14, 1920, -Hanley graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1943. Enlisting in the Army Air Corps, Hanley began flying B-29 missions in 1944, but was shot down while flying his seventh mission over Japan in March 1945, WFAA reported.
Hanley was taken to the Omori Headquarters Camp for prisoners in Tokyo and was accused of being a war criminal by the Japanese.
'I'm wondering, 'What do I do?' so I talked to the man upstairs," Hanley told WFAA. "He pulled me through."
By the time Hanley was liberated Aug. 29, 1945, many of his fellow inmates had not survived.
"Out of 2,000, only 60 came home," Hanley told WFAA. "The rest died from their wounds, beaten to death, bled to death. My wounds were poison."
According to his book, Hanley was liberated by a Navy-Marine task force led by Cmdr. Harold E. Stassen, a future governor of Minnesota and a Republican presidential candidate in 1948.
Hanley wrote down his experiences from his imprisonment and eventually published his book, which was reprinted in 2018. He said the book was good therapy to forget the horrors of war.
"After about six weeks, I'm through with this. Stress is gone. Boom. Buried it," Hanley told WFAA.
After the war, Hanley remained in the Air Force Reserve and worked for 43 years as an aeronautical career with Convair/General Dynamics. He was instrumental in helping to build the Saturn V rocket, according to his author biography.
"I'm proud of what I did after the war," Hanley told WFAA.
Hanley believes he was a survivor who got lucky.
"I'm amazed that what I did in the war got me so much attention because the good Lord saved me 14 times when the Japanese were gonna get rid of me," Hanley told KTVT.