Tec 5 Eber L. Boden

    T/5 Eber L. Boden was born on December 26, 1917, in Oakwood, Oklahoma.  He was the son of Charles H. and Marguerite Lamar-Boden.  With his six brothers and one sister, he grew up on the family farm about four miles from Oakwood.  Eber was known as "Eb" to his family and friends.   He attended Bell School and Oakwood High School from which he graduated in 1935.  He was popular in high school and known for his love of learning.  One of the things he really enjoyed was writing poetry.

    On March 24, 1941, Eber was drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He remained at the army base for one week before he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  At Ft. Knox, he attended tank mechanics' school.  Upon completion of this training in July 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana were he assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.

    In September 1941, maneuvers took place in Louisiana.  One of the tank battalions involved in the maneuvers was the 192nd. This battalion was made up mainly of National Guardsmen from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.  It was after the maneuvers that the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk.  It was on the side of a hill that the members of the battalion learned that instead of being released from federal service, that they were being sent overseas.  Any soldier 29 years old or older or who was married was given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  After this was done, replacements for these men were sought among the members of the 753rd Tank Battalion.

    Eber volunteered to join the 192nd and was assigned to D Company's tank maintenance section.  This unit consisted of nine men or ten men.  He and the rest of his company rode a train west to San Francisco.  They next were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay for physicals and inoculations.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S H. 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. 
    When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  They sailed the same day for Manila.  The ships 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.
    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 the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  Just ten hours earlier, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  All morning the tankers had watched as American planes filled the sky.  At 12:30 in the afternoon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.

    Around 12:45, the tankers were eating lunch when they saw a formation of planes approaching the airfield from the north.  Many of the tankers commented how beautiful the planes looked.  It was only when they heard the sound of the bombs whining, as they fell from the planes, that they knew the planes were Japanese.

    Eber and the other men could do little more than seek cover, during the raid, since their weapons were not designed to fight planes.  After the attack, they were amazed at the damage that the bombing had done.  Most of the American planes which had filled the sky just hours before had been destroyed.

    For the next four months, Eber worked to keep the tanks running to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  It was during this time that D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion but remained under the command of the 192nd.  It is known that D Company was sent to an area south of Manila on December 12th.  For the next few weeks, they dropped back toward the Bataan Peninsula.
    On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches.  They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
Christmas Day, the tankers spent in a coconut grove.  As it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to eat.  From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units.  The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and strafed.
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company and C Company of the 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.       

    The tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields.  They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers.  They would continue this duty until April 7th.  On April 8th, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat.  The lines had broken.  They fought there until receiving the news of the surrender. 

    On April 9, 1942, when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  Sgt . Morgan French called the soldiers together and asked them what they wanted to do.  Most of the men chose to try to reach Corregidor.  According to Sgt. French, Eber said that he had gone as far as he was going to go. Sgt. French and the remaining men made it to Corregidor.
    Eber made his way to Mariveles where he started the death march.  He took part in the death march and made his way to San Fernando.  There, he and the other POWs were packed into wooden boxcars that could hold eight horses or forty men.  Each car held 100 POWs.  Those who died during the trip remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From Capas, he walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military base.  There was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs.  Men literally died for a drink.  The conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty POWs died each day.  The Japanese, realizing that if they didn't do something that disease would kill most of the POWs, opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.

    Eber was not sent to the new camp at Cabanatuan.  He remained behind at Camp O'Donnell because he was "too ill" to be sent to Cabanatuan.

   According to Ople Jaggers, who was a POW with Eber, at about 9:00 pm, Eber woke up with a fever and asked him for some water.  Since Jaggers had to walk about half a mile to get the water, by the time he got back with the water, Eber was pretty sick.  Jaggers gave Eber a drink and then tore his own shirt into strips to use as towels that toweled Eber's head with.  About 1:00 in the morning, seeing that Eber's condition was not getting any better, Jaggers woke up a doctor.  The doctor seeing that Eber was in bad shape moved him to the hospital.  Jaggers stayed with Eber until the doctor told him to get some sleep.  At 9:00 the next morning, the doctor woke Jaggers and told him that Eber had died.  Eber Boden died on Sunday, November 22, 1942, of pneumonia.  He was 24 years old.

    T/5 Eber L. Boden was buried in the camp cemetery in  Section P, Row 8, Grave 3.  He was the last POW reported to die at Camp O'Donnell.  After the war, Eber's parents requested that his remains be returned to the United States.  On October 17, 1948, Eber was reburied at Oakwood Memorial Cemetery in Oakwood, Oklahoma.

    The photo below is of T/5 Eber L. Boden's grave in Oakwood Memorial Cemetery.



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