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pilot   prisoner   soldier   spy.

"Your Grandfather's story is truly one of an American hero-risking everything for his fellow brothers in battle. I think it's a wonderful gift to future generations to ensure the legacy of your grandfather lives on and receives a permanent place in history."   ~ Sen. John McCain

SUMMARY: COL Arthur Lee Shreve, Jr. (1897-1969) was a career Army officer dedicated to the service of the United States and his fellow brothers in battle. He rose through the ranks as a 'mustang' to become a remarkable leader, unbelievable survivor, and humanitarian commander whose focus was always

"a rising tide lifts all ships" in his quest to inspire and save lives.  


As a POW, and on American Command, Arthur bucks regs and his story becomes one of raw guts and American ingenuity.... now the ‘unkillable mustang’ on a mission to save thousands and

get justice for American GIs.

He plays a dangerous game of 'cat n' mouse' with the Japanese, leverages a Secret Intel Op to engage the Filipino Resistance who help him smuggle in his bank checkbook from Howard Co., Maryland and then proceeds to cash checks in the Underground to buy food for his men...for four years. 

In the end, only 350 men of the original 12,000 American POWs

captured on April 9, 1942 survived. 

Arthur was one of them. 


His service:

~ 2nd LT/ Ferry Pilot/ France: WWI - 1917-1918  

~ 1st LT to LT COL / Coastal & Advanced Artillery - The Interwar Years

~ COL /Chief of Artillery/ 2nd Corps/ S. Luzon Force, Philippines: WWII - 1941-1942

~COL & POW/American Command/Camp Exec., Cabanatuan, Philippines: WWII - 1942-1945

~ COL/ Executive: MD Military Dist./ Senior Advisor - Reserves/National Guard - 1946-1950 

~ Witness: Secret diaries (submittable evidence), International War Crimes Trials - 1948

~ COL/ Chief of the 2nd Army/ MD Mil. Dist., Ft. Meade, Maryland: Korean War - 1950-1953

Promoted to BRIG GEN/Panama--declined/Retired US Army - 1953

~ Dep. Director: Maryland Civil Defense Agency - 1953

~ Manager: Maryland Operational Survival Project - Cold War, until 1959

~ Director: Maryland Civil Defense Agency - 1959-1961

Colonel's Way review.jpg

For the full story of Arthur's ordeal as a POW in the Philippines, and a first-hand account of the Fall of Bataan recorded in his four diaries, please go here to purchase The Colonel’s Way; The Secret Diaries of a POW, which has been transcribed from his original journals buried in Cabanatuan. The foreword is by war historian Alfred Cornebise and the pretext, biographies of the main officers, strategic context, epilogue, appendix, photos and more have been added by the author, Heather P. Shreve, granddaughter.

The Remarkable Maryland Officer Who Served in Four Wars

* Part I: High School Drop-out to ‘Mustang'

I remember him well…

I would sit on his knee at age four and five and play this game he called ‘blackbirds on a fence’―little pieces of black electrical tape stuck to his fingers were the ‘birds.’ One by one, they would fly away. I fell for it, and for him―a guy who made you feel like the only person on the planet. He had a gift. That was my last memory of my grandfather…and I so wish he had lived past 1969. I didn’t know then the extraordinary life the Colonel had lived…


Born in 1897 on Lanvale Street in Baltimore City, Arthur was the oldest boy of four children. He lived an ordinary life and was enrolled at Polytechnic High School. Then, in January 1914, his father suddenly dies of acute pneumonia…and with him goes  the family income. Arthur drops out of school (16) to find work. He finds employment as a surveyor at the Roland Park Co. Later that year, as a clerk for the Fidelity and Deposit Co. owned by former Governor Warfield and future relative. While there, he buys life insurance.


When the United States is pulled into war in April 1917, Arthur quits his job and enlists in the Maryland National Guard, Battery A /110th F.A. After training at Camp McClellan, Alabama he transfers to the Signal Corps/Aviation Section so he can fly. He receives an aviation degree from the University of Illinois and trains at Kelly Field, TX, Camp Dick, and Machine Gun School at Wilbur Wright Field. Assigned the 3rd Aerodrome Center in Issoudun, France, he arrives September 1918 and receives another 70 hours of training as a pursuit pilot.


Next, he is sent to Romorantin where DH4 DeHavillands are being assembled around the clock. Ferry pilots are needed so, with no parachute and no promises, Arthur flies canvas and balsa wings to the Western Front for the remainder of the war at a time when the average life of a pilot was 50 hours.


Unscathed, Arthur returns to Baltimore in February 1919 and goes to work for the Whiting Turner Construction Co. leading a survey team. But something calls him back…much to the chagrin of G.W.C. Whiting who deplores his choice to reenlist in a letter dated July,1920 saying Arthur “…is so good with large numbers of men.”  


Arthur trains at Camp Funston, Kansas before his first assignment in 1921: Hawaiian Division under the command of GEN C. Summerall. At Schofield Barracks, he is promoted to 1st Lieutenant and learns several important things: coastal artillery, Japanese culture and war tactics, food safety and how to feed 10,000 men (Cook and Bakers School), riding and polo. In 1922, GEN J. Kuhn, hero of the Muesse-Argon Offensive (C.O./21st Brigade, C.O./Schofield) asks Arthur to be his A.D.C., which he humbly accepts.


Before Arthur leaves Oahu, he meets my future grandmother, Julia P. McCoy and then follows Kuhn to the west coast where he claims his front row seat to the Golden Age of the US Army and American history…


In 1924 he sees the World Flyers take off from Vancouver Barracks to circumnavigate the globe, and their return. That summer, he billets men for the first Civilian Military Training Camp in Del Monte, California. He’s there in 1925 when Vancouver Barracks turns 100, and in 1926, at the largest military wedding Dayton Ohio has ever seen―his own! He's at Fort Sill for the Crash, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression. He escorts 44 horses to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles―the first equestrian team awarded gold, composed of all US Army officers. In 1933, he’s billeting officer for one of the first Civilian Conservation Corps at Fort Knox. In 1935, he is the first C.O. of the 68th F. A./Battery A at Fort Knox―home of the first mechanized artillery.


In 1938, he and Julia settle on a farm with their two boys in Howard County,  Maryland and call it “Our Decision.” He is transferred to Fort DuPont, DE as Quartermaster. By now, Arthur has graduated almost every school the Army offers, from Command and General Staff School to Advanced Horsemanship.  In 1940, Major Shreve is thrown a first-class 20-year party at Ft. Leavenworth by GEN W. Ritchie (Airforce), liaison officer between GEN G. Marshall (Chief of Staff) and GEN D. MacArthur in the war to come.


Major L. G. Shreve, Arthur’s younger brother, has married Barbara Harris (granddaughter/ GOV Warfield) and works alongside him as Public Relations Officer at Fort DuPont. Collectively, they hold their breath as war looms…So far, he has no use for life insurance. 

*The Full 4500 Word Article was published in the 2024 Winter/Spring Maryland VA Newsletter.

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