Trip to Japan, roots in Stafford / JI Letter

December 10, 2014

I had the honor of traveling to Japan in October as a guest of the Japanese government through a program called the Japanese/POW Friendship Program.

The Japanese government has brought back seven ex-POWs each year for the past five years to apologize for the atrocities committed against us. It was a wonderful experience and we were treated with great respect.

While I did serve my country during World War II and spent 3½ years as a prisoner of war I did not have a birth certificate because I was born at home. Growing up in Oklahoma in the 1920s and ’30s my parents worked wherever they could find work so we moved frequently, thus there were really no school records, because I would go to school then move on to the next school. If not for the help of state Sen. Tony Guglielmo and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney I would not have been able to participate. When I needed to get my passport and did not have the necessary paperwork I called Guglielmo. He contacted Courtney, and his office worked diligently to get me my passport. Thank you, Senator Guglielmo and Congressman Courtney. When I returned home I was surprised by a party at Basil’s Restaurant. I did not have roots growing up, but I certainly feel my roots are in Stafford Springs. Thank you to Alex Koulisis for giving me a wonderful memory at Basil’s, and thank you George and Freda Koulisis. Thanks to Cheryl, Hope, and Roger for your hard work, Sissy for the wonderful cake, and Fred Bird for taking pictures. And thank you to the town of Stafford for becoming my family.

– Darrell Stark – Stafford