Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)

James Veneris

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Nickname(s)  Lao Wen
Died  2004, China
Name  James Veneris
Rank  Private

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Allegiance  United States (until 1953)  China (Defector;1953-2004)
Years of service  Unknown–1953 (Defected)
Battles/wars  World War II Pacific War Korean War
Education  Renmin University of China
Battles and wars  World War II, Pacific War, Korean War

Service/branch  United States Army

James George Veneris (1922 – 2004), was an American soldier during the Korean War, who was captured by the Chinese and one of 21 US soldiers at the end of the war who decided they would rather stay in China than return to the US.

Contents

Early life and education

James Veneris grew up in Detroit. He dropped out of high school and for the most part was involved in petty crime to survive. He was given the option of joining the Army or going to jail. He elected to enter the armed forces in hopes of getting education and learning a trade.

Career

Veneris had served in the South Pacific during World War II, and said he re-enlisted because he couldn't find anything else to do and hoped Army life would provide security.

Defection

All POWs at the end of military action in Korea were given the option of returning to their home countries or to remain with the Chinese. Jim elected to stay in China since his days in the prison camp he was treated well and learned Chinese. He was promised employment and education if he remained in China so he decided to remain. (Personal Communication, 1978)

Life in China

He and fellow former POW Howard Gayle Adams stayed in Jinan through the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution sheltered by their factory co-workers and an announcement by Premier Zhou Enlai calling them "international freedom fighters". In 1963, he was allowed to study at the People's University of China. After graduation, he returned to the same factory. His first Chinese wife died from lung disease after ten years of marriage. In 1967, he married a Chinese divorcee. In 1977, he became an English professor at Shandong University. Veneris returned to the United States twice, first in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial and again some time in the late 1990s. He has a daughter and a son who were raised in China and later moved to the US in the 1990s. He was one of the subjects of the 2005 documentary They Chose China which was directed by Shui-Bo Wang and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Personal life

After he chose to live in China, the Army gave Veneris a dishonorable discharge and refused to provide back pay for his time in prison camp. The Chinese gave him a stipend and moved him to Shandong province, where he was given a job in a state-run pulp factory in Jinan that turned discarded cloth shoes into toilet paper for export to Hong Kong. He adopted the Chinese name Lao Wen (老温). Veneris had a daughter and a son who were raised in China and moved to the US in the 1990s.

Death

Veneris died in China in 2004 and was buried in Shandong.

References

James Veneris Wikipedia


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