Biography of Sofia Adamson

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Civilian, War Department, Fort Santiago, Phillipines

     In October, 1941, in Manila, I was asked by Major Pappy Archer and Major Thomas Trapnell (now Lt. General Trapnell, at 100 yrs., living in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia) to leave my profession as Dean of the College of Education at Adamson University (an institution co-founded by and named for my husband, George Athos Adamson) and as a patriotic duty to gathering war clouds, take the civil service examination for the position of civilian clerk at Headquarters Philippine Department, Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila in the Department of the United States Army. Their request was that, as an American woman, I would relieve a G.I. from a typewriter so that he could learn to use a rifle! I did, and I was attached to General George Grunert's Adjutant General, Colonel Halstead.

      My job was to type General Grunert's orders to all of his command, prepare the stencil for the old-fashioned mimeograph machine, and finish each order with "By Order of General Grunert, Commanding Officer USAFFE (United States Armed Forces Far East). In a few days after I was hired, General Douglas MacArthur assumed General Grunert's command, and I was typing "By Order of General Douglas MacArthur, etc."

     My stories of World War II in the Philippines have been told in my autobiography: " Gods, Angels, Pearls and Roses" which describe the Japanese occupation of Manila for three years, a city which sustained 100,000 civilian casualties. Authorities claim that it was the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw. My book tells a lot more about an American woman, me, who was in the city of Manila for the three years of the Japanese occupation, saw all of the bombing of ships in the Bay, Japanese and American, from fifth floor apartment windows; many stories of life in that beleaguered city as the cruelties of the Japanese occupation became ever stronger.  My Purple Heart has just been given to me after 53 years as I was a civilian employee of the War Department at Fort Santiago, Headquarters Philippine Department and was injured on two successive days, February 14 and 15 by 105 mm. howitzers fired by "friendly forces" during the Battle for the Liberation of Manila were from "friendly fire" by General MacArthur's forces in that 12 day nightmare which produced 100,000 civilian and military casualties. It is all in my book, a history of the three year Japanese occupation of the Philippines. I am one of very few women to receive a Purple Heart.

       Today is my 82nd birthday - August 24, 1998, and my Purple Heart for my injuries has been my greatest gift! I have lived a long and exciting life with a husband, George, now at 90, and we have been married 59 years.

     My book is available at Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, California and at the Bookstore of the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena. It is available in two editions: Harback, $14.95 and Paperback, $9.95.

----- Sofia Adamson




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James F. Justin, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Justin Museum of Military History

James F. Justin Museum

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