Date of birth: July 21, 1916
Dates of service: 1941 to 1946
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Branch: Army National Guard
Unit and specialty: 200th Coastal artillery
In his words: One of 20 men manning coastal artillery guns, Fails was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese. He served 3 1/2 years in Japanese prison camps.
Working in a coal mine in three shifts along with 2,500 other prisoners, Fails existed on sparse meals of rice and soup.
“We were hungry all the time. They lost a lot of us. Somehow I kept my health but I didn’t have anything to keep my health with.”
Fails weighed 70 pounds when he was rescued.
“I gained 100 pounds in a month,” he said.
“I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe but I’ve seen them. They starved one guy to death for 30 days.”
Arriving at the bus stop in Clovis, Fails couldn’t wait any longer to get home so he hitchhiked to Portales.
“I went and met my mother, she couldn’t hardly believe it.
She didn’t even know I was alive until I walked in the door.”