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Carroll Calkins Grinnell, Sr., American Hero PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 14:16

Carroll Calkins Grinnell was the son of Stowell and Ellen (Calkins) Grinnell, born the 13 June 1898 in Troy, Pennsylvania. He married on the 9th of October 1920, Ruth Hutchings Belding, daughter of Sherman and Frances Belding. Carroll attended Union College, graduating as an Electrical Engineer in 1919. He then joined the International General Electric Co. and in 1922 was assigned to Yokohama, Japan and later Tokyo. In January 1933 only 13 1/2 years out of college, he was made Vice President and General Manager of the General Electric Company of the Philippines. In July 1940 was named Far Eastern Commercial Manager of the International General Electric Company with headquarters in Tokyo. The previous month he had moved up to be President of the General Electric Company of the Philippines and he held both positions. In late 1940, as war became imminent, he returned from a vacation to the United States without his family.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941, Carroll was in Manila on a tour for his company. He was captured along with 4000 other Americans and allied civilians. His internment camp was in buildings of the Santo Tomas University near Manila. After six months of internment in a general election by the internees, Carroll was elected as one of seven to an Executive Committee and was appointed by the Japanese Commandant as chairman.

Quoting from a book by A.V.H. Hartendorp, The Santo Tomas Story, "Carroll Calkins Grinnell, 44, had been General Manager of the Far East of the General Electric Co. and had spent over 20 years in Japan, China and the Philippines. He understood a little Japanese and was well known to the Commandant." This internment committee continued until Feb. 1944 when the Japanese Military replaced it with another committee and Carroll was appointed chairman of this committee. The time served in the two committees covered 30 months.

Another author, Fredrick H. Stevens in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, speaks of "...the thankless job, of the multudinous affairs” and “How uncommonly well did this quiet man serve the camp! ...Mr. Grinnell deserved more cooperation than he received. He was always trying to improve the living conditions of the internees.

"In the afternoon...of December 23, 1944...Four of the leading men in the camp were arrested: C. C. Grinnell ...On January 5, 1945 the four internees were taken out of the camp by the military police...After the occupation of Manila (by American forces) on February 3, a field...the decapitated body of Carroll C. Grinnell was found on February 20..."

Carroll’s heroism and sacrifice have been recognized by our government in granting him posthumously the highest civilian honor, The Metal of Freedom; the National Red Cross also granted an award. His college class of 1919 gave a class scholarship in his name in 1949 and in 1969 honored his memory with a bronze plaque which reads:


BS in E. E. 1919
Civilian War Prisoner in Santo Tomas
Internment Camp, Manila, P. I. in World War II
Sacrificed His Life Serving His Fellow Internees
Erected June 1970 By The Class of 1919, which in 1949
Established The Carroll Grinnell Memorial Scholarship
To Honor the Heroism of The Classmate


Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:10