Arvidson to be part of WW II PBS documentary

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Arvidson to be part of WW II PBS documentary  World War II veteran Harry Arvidson, former Home Café owner, will be part of nation-wide PBS TV WW II documentary,
   It is also slated to be on the National Geographic TV. The exact dates for viewing are not yet known. You will have to watch our local listings for when it will be shown.
   In January, Spy Pond Productions Co. out of Boston flew Arvidson and two other WW II submarine veterans to Washington D.C., to be interviewed.
   The story revolves around one of the best kept secrets of WW II, a Japanese submarine, the I-400, which was so huge; it had the capability to carry three airplanes in a hanger storage tube which was part of the submarine.
   At the end of the war in August of 1945, Arvidson was part of a select few chosen to be a member of a Prize Crew consisting of about 40 Navy personnel.
   “The first time seeing the submarine, I knew it was much bigger than our subs and I wondered why it had such a big super structure and why the forward deck was so long. After getting on the sub and finding out about the three airplanes, my questions were answered,” he said.
   Arvidson was a crew member of the USS Proteus, a submarine tender, which spotted the I-400 sub 170 miles northeast of Japan, flying the black flag of surrender.
   The I-400 had surrendered to the Prize Crew. They rode aboard the submarine as it made its way into Tokyo Bay following its surrender.
   Arvidson tells the I-O, “As the sub came into the harbor, we were all down inside the sub. We finally came up top side and tied up alongside the Proteus. Our first real view of Japan was Mount Fuji.”
   This massive aircraft-carrying submarine, 396 feet in length, was capable of traveling around the world to deliver its deadly attack bombers against land-based targets.
   Each I-400 carried state-of-the-art bombers in their hanger on the deck of the sub.
   When the sub surfaced, the bombers would be catapulted off for their mission. On their return they would land in the water near the sub and be hoisted back on board with a crane.
   Arvidson was just 17 when he joined the Navy and chose to serve on submarines. “After finishing cooks and bakers school, we were offered different schools we could go to. I thought submarine duty would be interesting and also sub-pay at that time was 50 percent more than regular pay.”
   He and his wife Lola Arvidson moved to Conrad in 1956 from Alexandria, Minn.
   He operated the Home Café until 1983 when he retired to Lincoln where the couple spend their summers. During the winter months they go down to Arizona.
   Today, the Home Café is operated by his son, Scott and his wife Pam.
   The program is slated to be shown on The Secrets of the Dead, on PBS in the fall of 2009.