|Pvt. Woodrow Tyndale
Pvt. Woodrow Tyndle Cox was the son of Stephen and
Annie Cox and born on December 25, 1918. He was
one of the couple's four children. Woody, as he
was known to his family, grew up Tishomingo, Oklahoma,
a town of 3,500 people, and attended schools
there. Although he attended high school, he left
during his senior year and worked as a farmer until he
was inducted into the army on March 19, 1941.
It was after the maneuvers that the army recruited members of the 753rd to join the 192nd Tank Battalion which had received orders to go overseas. Woody and the other soldiers replaced National Guardsmen who had been released from federal service due to their age. Being a tank mechanic, Woody was assigned to Headquarters Company's maintenance section.
Woody and his
new battalion were sent by train west to San
Francisco and were taken by ferry to Angel
Island. On the island, the soldiers received
inoculations and physicals. Those men found
with major health issues were replaced. Other
men were held back but scheduled to rejoin the
battalion at a later date.
The morning of April 9, 1942, Woody with his company received word of Bataan's surrendered to the Japanese. He and his company remained in their bivouac for two days before receiving orders to move.
The soldiers found a mule which they slaughtered and cooked for its meat. As they started to eat, a Japanese officer and soldiers showed up and took charge of the area. The Japanese order the Prisoners of War to move, Woody with his company made their way to the road that ran past their bivouac and ordered to kneel along both sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, Japanese soldiers passing them went through the POWs possessions and took what they wanted.
After they had been searched, Woody and his company drove to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. Once there, they were herded onto an airfield and left in the sun. As they sat in the sun, without water, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming in front of them. The POWs realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad, and that they were the intended victims.
Just when it looked like the Japanese were ready to take action, a car pulled up in front of the line and a Japanese officer got out. He spoke to the Japanese sergeant in charge of the detail and then got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese soldiers received orders from the sergeant and lowered their guns.
Not too long after this, Woody and the other POWs were marched to a school yard and ordered to sit once again in the sun without food or water. Behind them on the field, were four Japanese artillery pieces firing at Corregidor. Corregidor was also firing on the Japanese. Shells from the American fortress began landing among the POWs. The prisoners sought shelter, but since there was none some of the POWs were killed. During this incident, the American artillery managed to knock out three of the four Japanese guns.
Once again, the POWs received orders to move. It was upon receiving this order that Woody started what became known as the death march.
For Woody and the other Prisoners of War, the two hardest things about the march were the hunger cramps and the useless killings of men who could not keep up with the column. Those who could no longer walk were left behind. He witnessed many men flattened into the ground by Japanese tanks as they headed south toward Mariveles.
On the march, Woody made his way to San Fernando where they were put in a bull pen. In one corner of the pen was a slit trench that was used as a toilet. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. After sitting in the sun for hours, the Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men. They were marched to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars knwon as "forty and eights." Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall down. They rode the train to Capas where the living climbed out of the cars and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
In the camp, meals for Woody and the other men consisted of two watery cups of rice a day. Death was something that the POWs lived 24 hours a day. The POWs in the camp were dying from sickness, starvation, and the stress of making the march. He estimated that 40 to 50 Americans and 200 to 300 Filipinos were buried each day. The dead were buried 30 per grave. For Woody, burying the dead was one of the worst jobs he had as a POW.
At this time, it is not known if Woody went out on
a work detail. It is known that he was
transferred to Cabanatuan when the new camp
opened. He remained in the camp until he was
selected to be sent to Manchuria in October 1942.
imprisoned first at Hoten Camp and sent to Mukden
Prison Camp on November 11, 1942. With him was
John Rowland of HQ Company. The two men became
lifelong friends. During Woody's time at
Mukden, he also became friends with Clyde Fifer.
One of the
hardest things that the prisoners at the camp had to
deal with was the weather. It was so cold that
the POWs grew beards to protect their faces.
If a prisoner died, he could not be buried until the
ground had thawed in the spring so his body was
placed in a warehouse.
On August 16, 1945, a team from the Office of Strategic Services was dropped by parachute in the vicinity of the camp. Late in the day, they were trucked into the camp and met with the Japanese commander.
On August 17th, the ranking American Officer in the O. S. S. team, General Parker, told the POWs that there was a truce. It was not until August 20th that the prisoners learned that the war was over. This happened when a Russian officer and Russian troops came into the camp and disarmed the Japanese guards. The guards were turned over to the POWs in a very formal ceremony.
At 7:23 p.m., after watching a formal surrender
ceremony, the POWs were declared free men.
Immediately after being liberated, the former POW's
held a party at a brewery. Woody and the other
men remained at Mukden into late September 1945,
when they were sent by train to Darien, China.
Woody was also promoted to Staff Sergeant after
being liberated and returned to the
Philippines. It is not known when he returned
to the United States.
Woody returned home to Tishomingo, married, and became the father of three daughters. He remained in the military and served in Korea. At the start of the Vietnam War, Woody decided that he had seen enough of Asia and retired from the military.
Woodrow T. Cox spent the rest of his life in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He passed away on December 7, 1995, and was buried at Tishomingo City Cemetery, Tishomingo, Oklahoma