Pvt. Albert J. Christ was born on February14, 1917,
in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Edward E. Christ &
Elizabeth Tierney-Christ. With his three
sisters and three brothers, he grew up at 4427
Maplecroft Avenue in Parma, Ohio. He graduated
high school and went to work in an aluminum
Albert was inducted into the U.S. Army
on March 28, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio, and sent to
Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. At
Ft. Knox, he attended radio operators school and
qualified as a tank crew radioman. During his
time at Ft. Knox, he became good friends with Peter
Pirnat. Both were from Ohio.
After completing basic training, Albert
was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and joined the
753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been
sent to Camp Polk from Ft. Benning, Georgia.
When it arrived, maneuvers were taking place, but
the battalion did not take part in them. After
the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion
learned that they were being deployed. Men who
were 29 years old were given the chance to resign
from military service. Albert was assigned to
The 192nd was sent to San
Francisco, California, over four different train
routes. Once there, they were ferried to Ft.
McDowell on Angel Island. While at the fort,
they were given physicals and inoculated for
tropical diseases. Those men who had physical
ailments were held back and told they would rejoin
the battalion at a later date. They never did.
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.
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.
morning of December 8th, the officers of the
192nd were called to an office and informed
of the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor. The letter companies were
ordered to the south end of Clark Airfield
to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. HQ Company remained
behind in their bivouac.
All morning the sky was
filled with American planes. At noon,
the planes landed and the pilots went to
lunch. At 12:45 in the afternoon,
Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field
destroying the American Army Air
Corps. Albert, and the other members
of HQ, took cover since they had no weapons
to use against the planes. After the
attack, they witnessed the devastation
caused by the bombing and strafing.
For the next four months
Albert worked to keep the
tanks running and supplied. 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.
Albert was now a Prisoner of War.
On April 11th,
the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's
encampment. A Japanese officer ordered the
company, with their possessions, out onto the road
that ran in front of their encampment. Once on
the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along
the sides of the road. They were told to put
their possessions in front of them. As they
knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them,
went through their possessions and took whatever
they wanted from the Americans.
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
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, Albert'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. Albert,
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.
How long the POWs remained
in the bull pen is not known. The Japanese
ordered the POWs to form columns and took them to
the train depot at San Fernando. James 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, Albert 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 spigot 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.
To get out of the camp because it
was a death trap, Albert was one of 300 POWs who
went out on the Tayabas Road Detail which left Camp
O'Donnell on May 21, 1942. He may have been
better off staying at Camp O'Donnell. The POWs
made a three day trek to Tabayas Province.
They soon found that the Japanese wanted them to
build a road with picks and shovels. Their meals
were cooked in a rusty wheel barrow, and they slept
on the rocks of the river bank where they were
The Japanese divided the POWs
into teams. The teams raced each other and
were rewarded with food, water, and breaks for the
amount of work they did. Teams that performed
poorly were made to work harder which resulted in
them becoming weaker and weaker, since they went
without rest and the food they needed. Being
in an weakened conditioned, the POWs came down with
malaria and dysentery. Many died from
dysentery. Replacements for men who could no
longer work came from men who had surrendered on
While on the detail, it was
reported by other POWs that Albert stole water from
the Japanese on eight different occasions. Had
he been caught, he would have been executed.
They described him as being extremely brave.
Many of the original POWs became
ill and were sent to Bilibid Prison on June 14th,
June 29th, and July 14th. The doctors at the prison
referred to these POWs as "the walking dead."
Albert developed cerebral malaria, but he was also
weak from exhaustion and starvation. He was
sent to Bilibid Prison on June 29th. According
to the records kept by the doctors at Bilibid, Pvt.
Albert Christ died from cerebral malaria,
starvation, and exhaustion, at Bilibid Prison on
July 12, 1942. He was buried in the Bilibid
After the war, Albert's remains were recovered from
Bilibid Prison. At his family's request, he
was reburied at Arlington National Cemetery on July
13, 1949, in Section 34. Site 221.
There is one more story involving Albert that should
be told. During his time as a POW, Albert had
a watch with his name and his mother's name on
it. After the war, a former POW who was
nicknamed "Happy" returned the watch, with the help
Pirnat, to Albert's
mother. It turned out that "Happy" had stolen
the watch from the Japanese on eight different
What is known about "Happy" was
that he was a member of B Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion, and of Polish descent. It is
believed that "Happy" was Mike
Wepsic who always seemed to have a smile on