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WWII Hero Celebrated Friday in Menlo Park

Shot down by the Japanese during the war, Hap Halloran was beaten and tortured, displayed to the public in a tiger's cage, and often cried for relief. After the war, he befriended the Japanese airman that shot him down.

Menlo Park resident Raymond "Hap" Halloran, a former World War II prisoner of war who survived months of being subjected to torture and humiliation by members of the Japanese army, has died at 89 years old. 

Halloran became famous for surviving 67 days of imprisonment behind enemy lines after his plane was shot down over Tokyo in 1945. Years later, he gained recognition for publicly forgiving and befriending his former captors. 

The former Air Force bombardier died June 7. A funeral service honoring Halloran will be held Friday at noon at St. Raymond Church in Menlo Park. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors.

As a prisoner, Halloran survived being starved, exposed to harsh climate conditions, caged, beaten, tortured and humiliated. His memoirs state that one of the lowest points of his captivity was when his captors forced him into a cage on the grounds of a zoo to be publicly ridiculed. 

Yet despite the inhumane treatment, years after being freed upon the war's end in August 1945, Halloran was willing to forgive those who punished him. 

His memoirs state that he struggled with post traumatic stress disorder for nearly 40 years, and couldn't move past the horrid events of his past until he decided to visit Japan in 1984. 

Halloran said that exposing himself to Japanese culture helped him understand and reconcile with the pain he was exposed to as a prisoner. 

Daughter Peggy Halloran, of Redwood City, said her father's intrinsic sense of fairness and justice were integral to his ability to eventually forgive his captors. 

She also said her father's trek to Japan, learning the culture, and meeting the people, helped him overcome the trauma of the painful experiences he suffered. 

"I think it helped him heal," said Peggy Halloran. 

"He faced his fears and saw the reality that Japanese people were kind, polite and respectful. It helped heal the image of these people fighting with him, and beating him up," she said. 

Peggy Halloran said her father eventually befriended some of the guards who had held him captive as a prisoner.  

"He realized that war makes demons out of people," said Peggy, of her father. "And he also realized that the Japanese were doing the same thing the Americans were doing, which is what they thought was the right thing, fighting for their country."

After forgiving his captors, Halloran began speaking publicly about his experiences, and the lessons he learned from them. He even spoke in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2002, among a variety of other public appearances. 

His experiences have been detailed in numerous media stories, as well as being featured in a television news show hosted by Dan Rather in 1995 called "Victory in the Pacific." 

Halloran published a book retelling his story in 1998, titled "Hap's War."

Peggy Halloran said she believed her father benefitted from inspiring others through his experiences. 

"Ultimately, I think all the speaking events were good for him," said Peggy Halloran. 

Beyond his time spent as a prisoner, Peggy said she will remember her father as a loving and strong man who enjoyed spending time with his family by playing baseball together, going on fishing trips, or just exploring surrounding areas. 

He also enjoyed traveling, which came as part of his employment with Consolidated Freightways. 

He is survived by his sons Dan, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Tim, of Brentwood, Calif., and daughter Peggy. Their mother Donna died in 1991.

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