|Tec 4 Frank Lester
Tec 4 Frank Beaver was born on October 31, 1918,
in Piqua, Ohio. He was the son of Frank C. Beaver & Stella M.
Clingon-Beaver. It is known he had three
sisters and four brothers. He grew up on a
farm near Washington, Ohio. He attended
Houston High School and graduated valedictorian of
his high school class. After high school who
worked for the Lear Company manufacturing radios.
Frank was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 1, 1941, and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. He was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion. Upon completion of his basic training, he was assigned to Headquarters Company. He was assigned to one of the three tanks of HQ Company as a radio operator.
In the August, 1941, Frank went home for on a shot furlough. When he returned to Ft. Knox, the tank battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. Being assigned to headquarters meant that Frank worked behind the scenes and did not really participate in the maneuvers members of the battalion, the decision to send the 192nd overseas was made by General George Patton. Many of the members of the battalion went home on leave to say their goodbyes.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes. Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They ships sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam. When they arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Sotsenburg north of Manila.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King. King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. Headquarters Company remained in the battalion's bivouac.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese. After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for several days. It was during this time that his parents received a telegram from him stating that he was okay. It was also at this time that the battalion was sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
For the next four months Frank worked to keep the tanks of his battalion running. It is not known what is exact job was. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese at 7:00 A.M. The members of the company remained in their bivouac. Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Frank was now a Prisoner of War.
The company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Frank's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. These two islands had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs. The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese. Frank and the other men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march, he received no water and little food. It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it. In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs. Two were still alive. When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.
At San Fernando, Frank was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car. From Capas, Frank walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training
base that the Japanese pressed into service as a
Prisoner of War camp. It turned out to be
a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying
each day. There was only one working water
faucet for the entire camp. To get a
drink, men stood in line for days. Many
died while waiting for a drink. The death
rate among the POWs was as high as fifty men a
day. Many POWs went out on work details to
get out of the camp.
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