|James George Veneris|
|Allegiance|| United States (until 1953)
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||Unknown–1953 (Defected)|
|Literal meaning||Old Ven|
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.
Early life and education
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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.< 1978, talk at the US People's Friendship Association meeting , Hilo, Hawaii-personal communications>
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.
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.
- ２１名美军战俘命运备忘录. Sina.com. Accessed 2010-12-31.
- They Chose China, NFB documentary (2005) on American POW's who chose to stay in China
- Where are they now? New lives, old secrets