#1-Pilot Tribune 21 Jan 1943|
Learn Dixon is Prisoner
Family’s Anxiety Ends As Word Received Concerning Sgt. Dixon
After 13 months of anxiety and suspense, Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Dixon Sunday received the word they had hoped for – that their son, Staff Sergeant Gifford Dixon, jr., is presumably well in the Philippines. He is reported a prisoner of the Japanese.
Sergeant Dixon was on the islands when the Japanese put them under siege, and for 13 months his parents here had received no word whatsoever regarding his whereabouts or fate. The war department later listed him as “missing in action.”
The army department in Washington sent this message by telegram to the Dixons:
“Your son, Staff Sergeant Gifford L. Dixon, jr., Air Corps, reported a prisoner of war of the Japanese government in the Philippine Islands. Letter follows.”
#2-The date and place of publication in this newspaper article was not recorded. It had a handwritten date of January 21, 1943
Gifford Dixon Jr., Held in Philippines by Japs
Word was received in Blair late Saturday night that Gifford Dixon Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Gifford L. Dixon, is a prisoner of the Japanese on the Philippine Islands near Manila. The information came to the Dixons in the form of a telegram from the United States War Department. It is the first word from him since December 15, 1941.
The telegram, in army style, without flourish or detail, stated very simply that information had been received that Staff Sergeant Gifford Dixon, Jr., was a prisoner of the Japanese government in the Philippine Islands. It concluded by stating that a letter followed. It had not been received up to late last night.
At the time of his last letter to his parents, young Gifford stated that he was in line for advancement and the telegram gave the first inkling of what that advancement might have been. He apparently is now a Staff Sergeant. Shortly after Pearl Harbor they heard from him at Nickols Field, Manila. That point was entirely taken over by the Japs shortly afterwards, however, and not information had ever come from him.
#3-Pilot Tribune 13 Sept 1945
S. Sgt Gifford Dixon jr. Liberated
Prisoner For Nearly Four Years, Blair Man Will Soon Be Home
Nearly four years of anxiety and heartache came to an end for one Blair family this week. For on Monday a War Department telegram notified Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Dixon, sr., that their son, S/Sgt. Gifford L. Dixon, jr., has been liberated from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
Few details were contained in the terse official notification. It was merely stated that Sgt. Dixon is now “under military control” and will be returned to the United States in the near future.
“Upon arrival, he will be given an opportunity to communicate with you”, concluded the telegram. It is these words for which the Dixons have waited since their son disappeared in December 1941.
The 25-year-old army man was stationed at Nichols Field in the Philippines from August, 1939, until December, 1941. No direct word aside from a half-dozen prisoner of war cards, had been received from him since the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor.
It is believed that Sgt. Dixon joined in the gallant but futile defense of Bataan, and he probably was imprisoned during the early months of 1942.
In addition to the prisoner of war cards, which contained little or no information, the Dixons also received a form card which stated that their son received a Red Cross Christmas package sent in 1943.
As for letters or details of any sort, there were none. It is believed that Dixon was a prisoner in the Philippines for a time, but in January of this year he was reported to be in a camp in the Tokyo area.
The Dixons, who never gave up the hope and faith that their son would return, contacted man returning prisoners as the Allied forces began the slow process of liberating the Pacific. Only one of these prisoners, a man whom Dixon’s sister met in Cleveland, had any knowledge of the Blair sergeant. It was said then that Dixon was on Bataan, and that he was well.
Sgt. Dixon, a graduate of Blair High School, enlisted in the army air corps six years ago. He arrived in Manila on August 12th, 1939, and was stationed there continuously until the war began.
#4-Pilot Tribune 20 Sept 1945
“Bill” Billotte Interviews S/Sgt. Dixon After Liberation in Japan
An account from Bill Billotte, World-Herald staff member in Japan on Monday carried more news of S/Sgt. Gifford L. Dixon, jr., whose parents Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Dixon last week received word of his liberation from a prisoner of war camp in Japan. S/Sgt. Dixon, Pfc. Kincaid and Pfc. Donald Spaulding, the latter two of Omaha, were in a group of 450 prisoners Billotte met at a Yokohoma railroad.
All had lost more than 30 pounds during the hardest periods of their imprisonment. Pvt. Kincaid dropped from 145 to 98 pounds; Pvt. Spaulding from 155 to 123 pounds and Sgt. Dixon from 139 to 98 pounds. They had gained back some of their weight under treatment during their last two weeks.
The boys wore patched clothing and carried their belongings in improvised cloth bundles and knapsacks. They were thin but looked lean and had and did not have the apathetic appearance of many of the prisoners he had seen. They stared hard at Jap civilians and soldiers but did not say anything about them.
“I can’t believe it – I can’t believe it!” they kept saying over and over. “State-side girls and American uniforms. Even this morning we couldn’t believe it would happen.”
The three had been together since captured. When they reached Ashio, their last camp, Private Kincaid was sent to Camp 9D and Spaulding and Sergeant Dixon were sent to Camp 9B. All had been prisoners three years and three months.
Private Spaulding and Sergeant Dixon had been working in a steel mill at Ashio but had been permitted to stop work on August 15, as had other prisoners of war.
“Our shortest shift was eight hours and we are kept going constantly at a dog trot,” Sergeant Dixon said. “We had a schedule to keep up and no excuses were accepted. We fed plates to heavy rollers so they could be thinned out. It was regarded as the toughest job in the plant.”
“We had a boss that I’d like to take a punch at before we leave Japan.” Private Spaulding chimed in. “His house was bombed out twice. We always knew when something had gone wrong because then we got a beating before we went to work. This guy would come down to the steel mill with his face almost white with anger. He would hit us with his fist of the tongs. The tongs were iron and about three feet long.
“It was tough taking those beatings but we always had that swell feeling that we were getting it because the Americans had dished it out to the Japs the night before,” he recalled.
“We had no rest periods at night – we went eight hours without a breather,” Sergeant Dixon added. “It was keep up or take a bad beating so we tried our best to keep up.”
“An officer came to us where we were sitting on a bale of straw on the Yokohama dock and said the boys would have to go inside the warehouse for their processing.
“The three Nebraskans got their small packages of equipment and we shook hands and made a date to meet in Omaha someday. Their eyes still were shining at the thought of their freedom and ovation they had been given as they rode through the once proud streets of this Japanese city. The had walked these streets before under Jap guard, with heavy hearts and hunger as companions,” the article stated.
They had fought the Jap in battle until they had nothing left but their bare fists and then they took everything he could dish out in prison camps. They took it for more than three years and then walked out with their heads high and a wisecrack on their lips.
Let us never forget the Kincaids, Spauldings and Dixons – the Valley forge men of our time.
#5-News Article by Kristi Bender, Tribune Staff, but no date
Man was held prisoner by Japanese
While on a date with her husband-to-be, Doris Dixon-Anthony had no idea the man sitting next to her could relate to the movie in a personal way.
The movie was “Three Came Home.” Based on a book by Agnus Newton Keith, it starred Claudette Colbert and chronicled the imprisonment of British and Americans taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese in Borneo. Most of these prisoners were women.
The gentleman who sat beside Anthony didn’t react to the film in any unusual way, but he understood the life of a POW too well. Dixon had lived 3 ½ years as a prisoner of war in the Philippines during World War II.
Anthony learned about her beau’s past imprisonment when she told a mutual friend about the movie they had seen.
Staff Sgt. Gifford L. Dixon was captured on Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942. He was sent to the Philippines in 1939 at age 19. He didn’t see the United States again until after his release on Sept. 4, 1945.
“I tried to ask him about it, but he didn’t talk about it much,” Anthony said. “They were told not to talk about it.”
But while he was held captive, the only correspondence Dixon was allowed were postcards to his family. He was limited to space and his writings were censored. In one letter he had written “Harlow is gone.” Anthony said Dixon’s hope was to notify his family in Blair that another Blair native had died. Dixon hoped the guards would think he was writing that Harlow Brewer had been transferred to another camp, but instead black marker covered the message.
Dixon did share with Anthony information about a time when he was paralyzed from hunger. Dixon weight 139 pounds when captured. Due to lack of nourishment, his weight dropped to 85 pounds.
“The prisoners had received a Red Cross package and fellow prisoners shared with him and that pulled him out of it,” Anthony said.
Anthony remembers asking how her husband knew the war was over and he could come home.
“They got up that particular morning and the guards were gone, so he knew something had happened,” Anthony said. “They just walked away and American soldiers found them.”
Dixon received a letter himself from George C. Kennedy, a general in the United States Army on Oct. 7, 1945, thanking and congratulating him for his service to his country.
“I want to congratulate you on the way you have upheld the dignity and prestige of our country under the most trying conditions and to join General Arnold in welcoming you back.”
Dixon adjusted to life and was married to Anthony for 15 ½ years. The couple had six children together.
“He always had a good attitude,” Anthony said. “H just went on. He made the most of life after he got home.”
Dixon was picking up Christmas gifts for his family on Dec. 18, 1964, when he was killed in a car accident on his way home to Blair. His youngest child was only a few months old.
The only records of Dixon’s capture that Anthony has are postcards sent to his family.
#6-Pilot Tribune 31 Dec 1964
Gifford Dixon, Jr. Dies In Car Accident
Funeral Service Tuesday
Returning Home With Christmas Gifts For His Children
Gifford Dixon, Jr. 44 years of age, Omaha, former Blairite, died of injuries received in a one-car accident Friday evening.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. at the Blair Episcopal Church, Father Schattuck officiating, with interment in Blair Cemetery.
Mr. Dixon had driven to Blair Friday after work to obtain some Christmas gifts, including three bicycles for his children, which he had purchased at Rounds Super Service. He visited his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gifford Dixon, Sr., called on friends and departed for home shortly after 10 p.m.
The accident occurred on Hiway 73 at the railroad intersection where the highway curves, north of Nashville. His car went off the road on the east side of the highway. Mr. Dixon was thrown from the vehicle and pinned under the car.
Call Rescue Squad
It was reported that a car following the Dixon vehicle and one from the opposite direction, reached the scene seconds after the accident. The occupants immediately tipped the car upright and sent a call for the Blair Rescue Squad.
Mr. Dixon was pronounced dead upon arrival at Memorial Community Hospital.
It was reported that apparently the car was traveling at a moderate speed at the time of the accident as the vehicle was not badly damaged.
It was the fourth highway fatality reported in Washington County during 1964.
Mr. Dixon is survived by his wife, Doris; children, Tracy, Daniel, Robert, Tyler, Matthew and Beth: his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gifford Dixon, Sr.,; sisters, Mrs. Jacqueline Schettler of Blair and Mrs. Diane Cedarleaf of Minnesota; brothers, Michael of Michigan and Burke of Illinois.
Born In 1920
He was born Feb. 16,1920 in Blair and is a graduate OF Blair High School. Shortly after graduation he entered the Army. He was captured at Corregidor and survived the Bataan death march and was in Japanese prison camps for 44 months. Upon returned to Blair he received a special welcome.
He was Past Commander of the Blair American Legion Post, served as Veterans Welfare Officer for Washington County for several years and was active in civic organizations in Blair.
He was in the insurance and real estate business in Blair prior to selling his interests and moving to Omaha. The Dixons had recently moved into their new home at 2508 County Side Avenue. He was employed as an aviation underwriter for the Westminster Insurance Managers.
Pallbearers will be Warren Pounds, Jim Gutschow, Fritz Wolff, John Andreasen, Jess Wright and Bob Lambourn.
Campbell Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
Note: He is buried in Blair Cemetery, Blk 115 Lot 36 Gr 8. Find a Grave # 53134046.
~~~ Obituary courtesy of the Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings on file in the Blair Public Library at Blair, Nebraska.~~~