George Andrew Falk papers: 1938-2012 (bulk 1941-1945)
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Biography

George Andrew Falk (1919-1982) was born and raised in Milan, Michigan. He graduated from Milan High School in 1938 and worked at a local manufacturing company before receiving his draft notice in January 1941. Falk enlisted in the United States Army in March 1941 and was assigned to the 131st Field Artillery unit. He was stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Bliss, Texas and Hawaii before being deployed overseas following Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war with Japan.

Falk's unit was sent to Java to provide reinforcement for allied troops during the Japanese invasion of Indonesia. After the fall of the island, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese alongside a number of other U.S., British, Australian, and Dutch troops. Conditions in the Prisoner of War (POW) camps were extremely poor and Falk suffered from malnutrition, malaria, and beriberi which affected his health for the rest of his life. Falk and a number of other prisoners were transported to Burma to provide slave labor on the Burma Railroad connecting Burma and Thailand, which also known as the Death Railway. An estimated 16,000 Allied prisoners died while working on the railroad. Falk had contact with the Dutch doctor Henri Hekking, a fellow POW who became famous for improvising lifesaving medical care to prisoners working on the railroad.

Falk's family was unaware of his location or status until he was officially declared missing in action by the U.S. Military many months after he was captured. In time, Falk was permitted to send home Japanese propaganda postcards which altered his family he was still alive but did not reveal the deplorable conditions in the camps. Falk was released when the Nike prison camp in Thailand was liberated in 1945 and spent time recovering at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington D.C.

Falk was reunited with his family in Michigan later that year. He married Doris Barnes in 1949 and had two daughters. While Falk was reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences, he maintained connections with other survivors of the POW camps and was a member of the Lost Battalion Association, an organization dedicated to Americans who had been in Japanese POW camps. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 63.