Allison

Pfc. Elkoney Albert Allison


     Pfc. Elkoney A. Allison was the son of Thomas D. Allison & Etta C. Warren-Allison.  He was born on November 25, 1916, in Baxter, Tennessee.  He had three sisters, three brothers, and a half brother, and grew up in Putman County, Tennessee.  He left high school after his third year. 

    As a young man, Elkoney joined the Tennessee National Guard and was assigned to a cavalry unit and was a member of Company I, 109th Cavalry.  In early 1941, Elkoney was already in the U. S. Army.  He did his basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion at Ft. Benning, Georgia. 

    The battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where maneuvers were taking place.  The 753rd did not take part in the maneuvers.  At Camp Polk, Elkoney volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion and became a member of the B Company.  At the time, the battalion was preparing for duty in the Philippine Islands and was looking for soldiers to fill vacancies created when National Guardsmen, 29 years and older, were released from federal service.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
   
At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
   At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.

    At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elkoney lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  That morning, they had been awakened to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  He and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, they thought the planes were American.  They then saw what looked like rain drops falling from the planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  He would spend the next four months fighting the Japanese.

    On April 9, 1942, Elkoeny became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando.  At San Fernando, he and the other POWs boarded small wooden boxcars that could hold eight horses or forty men.  One hundred men were packed into each car.  Those who died remained standing.  When the living left the cars at Capas, the dead fell to the ground.

    While a POW, Elkoney was held at Camp O'Donnell.  This camp was a death trap with as many as fifty-five POWs dying each day.To get out of the camp, Elkoney went out on a work detail to rebuild bridges that had been destroyed by the Americans as they retreated into the Bataan Peninsula.  The detail was under the command of Col Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.  The first bridge the POWs rebuilt was at Calauan. 
     Elkoney was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
    
The next bridge the other POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria.  Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  Wickord picked the twelve sickest looking POWs to attend the meal.
 
   After nine months, the bridge building detail ended, Elkoney was sent to "Camp One" at Cabanatuan.  At Camp One, the prisoners ate rice and lived in crude huts.  If a prisoner was late or missed a detail, that POW was made to kneel on a ladder with a pole placed behind the knees to cut circulation.  The prisoner stayed like this until he fell over.  

      On Sunday, May 23, 1943, Elkoney was admitted to the camp hospital.    Pfc. Elkoney A. Allison died on Monday, June 21, 1943, from beriberi at Cabanatuan POW Camp #1.  The approximate time of death was 1:15 P.M.  At the request of his family, he was buried at the new American cemetery at Manila.  He rests in Plot N, Row 12, Grave 56, at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


 

 

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