Howard Garst

Howard V. Garst, a longtime Brookfield resident who watched over Hideki Tojo and Tokyo Rose as a U.S. Army prison guard in post-World War II Japan, died Nov. 15, 2017 at the age of 102.

Mr. Garst grew up on a farm south of Hinsdale and attended Lyons Township High School, graduating in 1934. He married Dorothy “Dot” Jeffrey in 1943, just before he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army at the age of 27.

A radar specialist who served with an anti-aircraft battalion, Mr. Garst left the U.S. for the Pacific Theater in 1945 as the war neared its end. He never saw action, spending time in the Philippines before being assigned to serve as a guard at Sugamo Prison. 

The prison at that time held Japanese accused of war crimes, including Tojo, the former war minister who ordered the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, and Iva Toguri, an American citizen who broadcast propaganda messages for Japan.

In an interview with the Landmark in 2007, Mr. Garst described accompanying Tojo, who had tried but failed to take his own life shortly after Japan’s surrender, to the shower room and standing guard to make sure he didn’t make another suicide attempt.

Mr. Garst, who earned the rank of corporal in the Army, also remembered accompanying Toguri to the dentist at Sugamo Prison, saying he found her “charming.”

“We’d talk about the weather,” he recalled. “We were never allowed to speak about anything regarding her being there.”

After being discharged from the Army in 1946, Mr. Garst went to college and became an accountant, working as treasurer for the AAMED medical supply company for 27 years. Mr. Garst and his wife moved into their home in the Hollywood section of Brookfield in 1950 and raised two daughters. Mrs. Garst died in 1987.

Mr. Garst was the husband of the late Dorothy J. Garst (nee Jeffery); the father of Cynthia Ohlrich and Peggy Sue (Bob) Terhune; the grandfather of Jeremy (Stacy) Graham, Kate (Brian) Maleski, Joshua Graham, Corey (Abby) Terhune, Ian (Joy) Terhune, Larisa Terhune and Daniel Terhune; and the great-grandfather of 11.

A funeral service was held Nov. 18 at St. Michael Lutheran Church in LaGrange Park, followed by interment at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst.

Memorial donations are appreciated to Monarch, 350 Pee Dee Ave., Albemarle, North Carolina, 28801 or Our Children’s Homestead, 387 Shuman Blvd., Suite 170E, Naperville, Illinois, 60563.

Hitzeman Funeral Home, Brookfield, handled arrangements.