Ruth Adkins Edwards real-life Rosie the Riveter, Married Jim Bataan Death March survivor, Spent eight months in Greenbrier Hospital, She taught high school and college, Took Japanese exchange student into their home


From the Greensboro News Record April 1, 2018.

““I worked in the machine shop as an expediter at the Naval Ordnance Plant in South Charleston,” she says. “Among other weapons, we made huge 20-foot gun steel barrels for battleships. My job was to check with each machine operator to make sure they had tools and supplies needed for that shift and pass that information on to management.”

In reflection, she wishes she had a Fitbit in those days. “I would have had no problem getting over 10,000 steps on every shift!”

By war’s end, Ruth was among 6 million card-carrying Rosie the Riveters. She shared her Rosie story in an interview with Ann Curry on “The Today Show” in March 2012. Her story was also shared in a public television documentary.

Adkins had a serious boyfriend all through her days at Hamlin High School, “James (Jim) Edwards was a couple grades ahead of me — my mother did not like it, but allowed it,” she recalls.

Jim joined the Army Air Forces in April 1941 and was stationed at an Army air base in the Philippines by November.

His timing couldn’t have been worse — Japanese forces invaded the Philippines the day after Pearl Harbor. All aircraft at Jim’s air base were damaged or destroyed — he was reassigned to the infantry as a machine gunner.

Allied forces resisted gallantly, Gen. Douglas MacArthur made his famous departure from Corregidor on March 11, 1942, and Jim fought on until captured on May 6.

After surviving the Bataan Death March, Jim was held in several POW camps on Luzon before being moved by Japanese “Hell-ship” to a POW camp/copper mine in Japan, 90 miles north of Tokyo. His weight eventually dropped to 76 pounds and he was near death on numerous occasions.

He came home from the war on Oct. 13, 1945, and the two eloped on Oct. 16, Ruth says.

After 42 months as a prisoner of war, Jim faced long months of recovery.

“He spent eight months in the hospital for American POWs at The Greenbrier,””

“She taught business education on high school, junior college, technical college and college levels. She served as state supervisor of business education for the West Virginia Department of Education.

“A career highlight for me was teaching several four-month sessions of West Virginia State Troopers,” she says. “They always jumped up when I entered the room. I never knew exactly what to do or say!”

This is by no means the complete story of Ruth and Jim Edwards. Despite the inhumane treatment he received at the hands of the Japanese during World War II, the Edwards family took a Japanese exchange student into their home.”

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