Visitors research, pay respects to Wainwright

A visiting Chinese delegation is researching and paying respects to the general, who was imprisoned in their city during World War II.

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Members of the four man Chinese delegation move in unison to place the wreath at the base of General Wainwright's statue Tuesday morning. May 17, 2011

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James Payne, left, Fort Walla Walla Museum executive director, and Daniel Clark present Wang Enxiang, second from left, and another member of the group from the Chinese city of Liaoyuan with items related to the career of Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright. (May 17, 2011)

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Following in the footsteps of a great man, a four man delegation from China proceeds with an honorary wreath to the base of the General Jonathan M. Wainwrigt statue (legs and feet in foreground) in the middle of the VA Grounds Tuesday morning. Tracing General Wainwright's life was inspired by Wainwright's stint as a POW in their Japanese-occupied Chinese city during WWII after the surrender of the Phillipine Islands in 1941. After the wreath ceremony, Wainwright's Fort Walla Walla birthplace was visited and a final trek to his grave site at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. will finish the journey. The delegation consisted of Yang Jing, Wei Dong, Cheng Yu and Wang Enxiang. May 17, 2011

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The four man delegation from China bow in honor of General Wainwright during a wreath-placing ceremony at the base of the General Jonathan M. Wainwright statue in the middle of the VA Grounds Tuesday morning. May 17, 2011

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With a card in the middle of the wreath signed by members of the Chinese delegation and with the note "To General Wainwright For World Peace", the Tuesday morning tribute rests at the base of the General Wainwright statue following the presentation and a short ceremony. May 17, 2011

WALLA WALLA -- A group of Chine

se citizens from the city where Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright was once held prisoner paid their respects to the now-departed warrior Tuesday.

Led by Yang Jing, a professor at Shenyang University in the city of Liaoyuan, the quartet was on the first stop of a research trip to collect information and artifacts connected with Wainwright's life for a project to preserve the prisoner of war camp the general, a Walla Walla native, was held during World War II.

As part of their visit, Jing and his companions, Wei Dong, Cheng Yu and Wang Enxiang, placed a wreath at the general's statue located in the center of the Veterans Affairs medical center that bears Wainwright's name. The group then visited Fort Walla Walla Museum, where they were presented with artifacts connected with Wainwright's service career.

Jing said the preservation project is intended to create both a memorial to the prisoners held captive as well serve as a center for research and education of the role Manchuria, where Liaoyuan is located, played in World War II.

The allied commander in the Philippines at the outset of the war, Wainwright was forced to surrender when his forces were cut off by the invading Japanese army and navy. As the highest-ranking American prisoner of war, he was moved frequently during his captivity to camps in northern Luzon, Formosa and finally Manchuria until his liberation by the Red Army in August 1945.

The camp in Jilan Province, where Liaoyuan is located, was very important to the Japanese because besides Wainwright it held many other high-ranking British, Dutch and Australian officers, Jing said.

After arriving in Seattle, the group was driven to Walla Walla on Monday and had dinner with local officials. On Tuesday morning, Walla Walla Mayor Barbara Clark and her husband, Dan Clark, accompanied the group on a brief tour of the area before going to the medical center for the wreath-laying.

In her remarks to the group, Clark noted that China and America were brought together as allies "at such a terrible time" and fought side by side. "And here, almost 70 years later, that has brought our two peoples together in Walla Walla and Liaoyuan. Who would have thought of that?"

Following their visit to Fort Walla Walla Museum, the group was treated to lunch and then boarded a flight for the next stage of their journey to Phoenix, where they will meet with several of Wainwright's surviving relatives. They will then fly to Golden, Colo., to meet with the officer who parachuted into the country to deliver news of the Japanese surrender to Wainwright's captors, who had not yet learned of the end of the war.

The final stop in the tour, which is being sponsored by the provincial and national government, will be Washington D.C., where the group will visit Wainwright's grave at Arlington National Cemetery and do further research at the National Archives.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.



The visitors

The group visiting Tuesday were:

Yang Jing, professor at Shenyang University in the city of Liaoyuan.

Wei Dong, chief of the historical relics administration for the city of Liaoyuan.

Cheng Yu, director of the cultural bureau for the city.

Wang Enxiang, director of the publishing department for the municipal Communist Party Committee.

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