#VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Leland Chandler

Army Veteran Leland Chandler is today’s Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Leland Chandler, who served during World War II and was captured as a prisoner of war in Japan.

Leland Chandler enlisted in the Army in 1941 at just 18 years old, leaving home in central Illinois to serve on Corregidor Island in the Philippines with the 60th Coast Artillery.

Chandler was born in January 1923 and grew up in the small farming town of Table Grove, Illinois. Joining the military, he felt, promised new opportunities. He was sworn-in in Chicago and was sent to San Francisco the same day before immediately deploying to the Philippines. He was assigned to a unit and received basic training in-country.

While stationed on Corregidor Island, Chandler served as a crewman on an anti-aircraft gun. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, his division frequently faced combat and bombings from Japanese aircraft until May 6, 1942, when they were outnumbered and forced to surrender. At 19, Chandler became a prisoner of war and was taken to Japan to work in a steel mill camp.

During the three and a half years he and 400 other American prisoners were held captive, Chandler worked every day for 12 hours to earn small rations of rice to eat. Prisoners faced constant risk of punishment if they made mistakes in their work or were caught speaking English instead of Japanese. When one accident broke Chandler’s wrist, the other prisoners took on his workload for a month as he healed.

As increasing rates of prisoners died, Chandler began to lose hope that he would survive. He said in a 2023 interview that the only thing giving him hope was a small voice he heard one night, in the barracks of the factory where the POWs slept, telling him “You will get out of this prison camp. You will get through.”

When the war ended in 1945, Chandler was liberated from the prison camp and he returned home to his wife, Ruth. Together, they had five children and dozens of grandchildren. After honorable discharge from the Army, Chandler worked as a firefighter in central Illinois. Looking back on his life, he said that he has forgiven those who had captured him and placed him in that prison camp. Now, he is grateful for the life he has lived.

For his service, Chandler received a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. He lives with his wife in Galesburg, Illinois, and recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to [email protected] with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.

Writer: Sarah McDonald

Editors: Cate Manning, Ashley Shaut

Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley

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