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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.