Les Tenney is still haunted by the horrors visited upon him during the War by the Imperial Army of Japan. In April 1942, Staff Sgt. Tenney was among the U.S. forces that surrendered after a 148-day stand on the Philippines’ Bataan peninsula. After arriving at Camp O'Donnell, he escaped into the jungles of the Philippines where he ate “iguanas, monkeys and snakes” but was recaptured days later.
Dr. Les Tenney and his wife of 57 years, Betty, have been blessed with a long, happy marriage, with a son and two stepsons. Dr. Tenney says happily, at 96, “I have lots of problems, but I’m enjoying every day of my life”! He has taught finance and insurance at San Diego State and Arizona State universities. He still addresses classes, clubs and conventions.
During the period between the fall of the Philippines and the end of hostilities there was the Bataan Death March, where thousands of Americans were slaughtered like cattle. He endured the lethal 86-mile march into captivity and survived the Bataan Death March. He overcame vicious odds: Of the 12,000 Americans captured on Bataan, only 1,700 would come home. 
Thousands more who were healthy enough to become slave laborers were forced to travel to Japan on Hell Ships on which the Japanese forbade Red Cross markings to identify them as carrying American POWs. American planes and warships, not knowing that Americans were on board these freighters, bombed and torpedoed them, turning them into sailing coffins, putting thousands of Americans into a watery grave. The only way to survive each day was to have a daily goal, day after day after day. Those who survived this ordeal ended up in Japan, forced to shovel coal in dangerous coalmines, or working untold hours in zinc mines or on loading docks, or forced to manufacture war supplies for the enemy.
Les Tenney witnessed the atomic bomb blast at Nagasaki from the prison camp across the bay from Nagasaki. The war ended for him a day later, but the memory lingers on. He has written an autobiography about some of these experiences, My Hitch in Hell
For 15 years, the Japanese government had rolled out the chrysanthemum red carpet for World War II-era POWs and their families - 1,200 Dutch, Australians, New Zealanders, Scots and British. Initially, Americans were not invited – perhaps because Americans were the only ones to use the atomic bomb on Japan.
Finally, in September 2010, Les Tenney led a group of six survivors back to Japan paid for by the Japanese government – the first American delegation in the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative. They were met with exquisite hospitality.
Russ Hanthorn ended the meeting with an award of the Rotary Fellowship medal to Dr. Les Tenney.
The 8th Annual Veteran’s Day Military Review will be held on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 – 11:00 am to 12:00 PM at the Army & Navy Academy’s Bliss Stadium. The featured speaker will be Dr. Les Tenney.
Here are videos of Dr Tenny's presentation: