A Tribute to the Swedish American Line
The White Viking Fleet - 100 Year Anniversary 2015
19 Years on the Internet

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Max Hill

Author of "Exchange Ship"

These memories of Max Hill have been contributed
by his niece, Edie Pickens of Las Vegas, NV.


Max Hill

Max returned to the US via the Gripsholm in 1942, after being held captive in Japan for 18 months. Soon after his coming home, he joined the army. I am not sure which theatre he fought in for the remainder of the war.

When Max returned to the US he was assigned with the AP as a War Correspondent for the US out of Tokyo for approximately two years. He broadcasted the news from Tokyo every Sunday evening over the radio. I remember the whole family gathering around the radio to listen to his words every Sunday evening. It was as solemn an experience as going to church -- only it was my uncle speaking all the way from Tokyo to all of the US.

Upon coming home to the states, Max returned to New York and the Associated Press (AP).  I don't think he was with the AP too many more years -- at least not in New York.  He led what was in those days a fairly typical newspaperman's life -- drinking was a big part of his daily routine. An unhappy marriage and his experiences as a prisoner in Japan may have contributed to his problems with alcohol. Max joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 2 years before his death. He remained alcohol free for that time, and until his death. To me, the important thing about his addiction to alcohol is that he sought help, and contoured it!

After a few years in New York and his divorce, my uncle moved to Indiana. I don't think he saw it as a permanent place to live at the time. I believe he was there for at least a few months, staying with relatives on my grandfather's side of the family, when he died at the age of 46 years old on October 17, 1949.  He suffered from various illnesses--some I am sure related to his time as a prisoner. A family funeral was held, he was buried in the family plot in Denver CO.  

Max never referred to his experiences as a Prisoner of the Japanese to my knowledge. In fact, I didn't even know he had been a prisoner until I finally read his book a couple of years ago. We are an educated family so I really can't explain why there was not more openness then existed at the time. 

I know that Max always thought a great deal of Japan and the Japanese people before and after the war. His daughter, June, later she changed her name to Serena, also enjoyed the Japanese culture. She eventually became a practicing Buddhist. Serena died at 56 years old, in 1986 from Lung Cancer in Los Angeles, CA. She has a marker at our family plot in Denver. 

My favorite memory of my uncle occurred one summer, maybe it was the summer before he died, he came to visit us in Denver. My Grandfather Roscoe and my uncle loved baseball. So one night the three of us went to see the Denver Bears Play. That night was very specially to me, because I had always looked up to my Uncle Max, and, for the first time, I had been included as a young girl of 9 years old with him on an evening out with my grandfather. Really a special memory of him!

I found great pleasure in getting to know my uncle better through the book that he wrote about being a captive. I could admire the man even more for his courage, understanding and fortitude as a prisoner and returning to the US on the Gripsholm. What a wonderful man he was, and what a wonderful legacy of bravery and compassion he left behind in writing his book, Exchange Ship.

To learn more about my critique of his book Exchange Ship, go to Amazon.com , and read my comments. I think mine is the only remark re his book on the site.

Edie Pickens


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