The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Ethelva Byous


September 17, 2005

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Date of birth: April 30, 1918

Dates of Service: July 1941 to May 1942

Hometown: Fort Klamath, Ore.

Lives in: Clovis

Theater or location of service: Barns General hospital, Vancouver, Wash.

Branch: Army

Rank: 2nd lieutenant

Unit and specialty: General nursing

After discharge: Clovis

In her words: Byous was in nurse’s training before the war started. She was in the dining hall eating when word of the attack on Pearl Harbor broke through on the radio.

Encouraged to join the Red Cross after training, Byous was one of many nurses who signed up to serve the war effort.

“When I was called up, I wanted to go to the Philippines.”

Instead, Byous found herself in Vancouver, Wash., treating the injured brought in from Alaska and stateside locations. A lucky turn of events for her, as she remembers few of the nurses that went to the Philippines survived imprisonment at the hands of the Japanese.

Primarily, the men sent to Barnes were those that required long-term care lasting more than three weeks.

It was while stationed at Barnes hospital that Byous met her future husband, stationed nearby training troops and conducting coastal defense.

Because married nurses were not allowed in the service, Byous had to make a choice.

“When you're in love, is that tough?”

Harrison Deen

Date of birth: March 1, 1924

Dates of service: 1942 to 1946

Hometown: Portales

Lives in: Portales

Theater and location of service: Florida, South Pacific, Philipines-Layte

Branch: Coast Guard

Rank: Seaman 1st class

Unit and specialty: Naval air station, Fort Lauderdale, engineering, auxiliary

After discharge: Portales

In his words: Deen served the majority of the war in Florida with the Coast Guard. After the bombs were dropped in Japan he was called to serve in the South Pacific.

Assigned to a Landing Ship for Tanks (LST), Deen recalls 9,000 Japanese and Chinese POWs being ferried by their convoy.

He said the Japanese prisoners coming from China and being taken to Sabo, Japan, and were in good health and spirits. “What amazed me was they were our enemy but they were just as polite as they could be. They blamed the war on Tojo (Hideki Tojo, prime minister of Japan). They said they were there because they had to be. They acted like they were just as happy as they could be.

“I often thought that there was 1,000 of them and just 110 of us and we only had Colt .45 pistols. If they wanted to overtake the ship they could have.”

The LST convoy also transported approximately 3,000 Chinese prisoners from Japan. They had been captured and taken to Japan to perform forced labor in the Japanese factories. Deen was struck by the difference in the condition of the prisoners — the Chinese being significantly worse from the treatment they had received.

Thankfully, Deen says he was never shot at nor did he ever have to shoot his weapon. His experiences did, he believes, have a strong effect on him “I was very young when I went in at 18; it made me grow up very fast. I didn't know what to expect.” But he learned that they were all, Japanese and Americans alike, tired of fighting and homesick.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:


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