Pvt. Kenneth W. Engel
    Pvt. Kenneth W. Engle was born in 1915, in New York State, to Clarence Engel & Emma Walthers-Engel and was one of the couple's five sons.  The family resided at 124 Alphonse Street in Rochester, New York.  He graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and worked for the Rochester Transit Corporation.
    On February 13, 1941, Ken was inducted into the U.S. Army in Buffalo, New York, and sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  During his training, he qualified as a tank driver.  Upon completing his training, Ken was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana.

    The 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941 to take part in maneuvers.  During the maneuvers, HQ Company serviced the tanks of the battalion, but it did not actively participate in the maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  On the side of a hill, the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  According to members of the battalion, General George Patton had selected them.  Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service, and replacements, for these men, came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. 
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leaves so that they could say goodbye to family and friends.  They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to San Francisco, California.  From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    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, and the
soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  They sailed the morning of the next day for Manila and 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 Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  The fact was he had received word of their arrival  just days before they arrived.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days, the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to prevent them from rusting during the trip to the Philippines.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers.
    The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field the morning of Monday, December 1st to guard against paratroopers.  At all times, two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  The crews received their meals from food trucks.
   
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, before being ordered to their companies.  HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac and did its job.
 
    All morning long the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.  During the attack the members of the company 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.
    The 192nd remained at Clark field for two weeks before being ordered to Lingayen Gulf were the Japanese were landing troops.  For the next four months, Ken worked to supply the letter companies with the supplies they needed to fight the Japanese.
 
    The evening of April 8th, Capt. Fred Bruni, the commanding officer of HQ Company, informed his men that they were going to be surrendered the next morning.  He told them to destroy anything that could be of military use to the Japanese except their trucks.  Bruni than gathered the company together and held what he called, "their last supper." Somehow Bruni had  found enough bread and pineapple juice to feed them.
    On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese at 7:00 A.M.  The members of the company remained in their bivouac.
 
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 with 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. 
      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, Ken'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, and behind them were four Japanese artillery pieces which were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs, who could do little since they had no place to hide.  One group tried to hide in a small brick building but 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 and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, they 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 of 100 men and took them to the train depot at San Fernando.  There, they were 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 and closed the doors.  The temperature in the cars was unbearable and those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell. 
     Camp 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 literally died for a drink.  Since the POWs had no medicines, the death rate rose to as many as fifty men a dying a day.  The situation got so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan and sent the healthier POWs there.
    A shot time after arriving at Cabanatuam, Ken developed malaria.  How long he was sick is not known.  What is known is that Pvt. Kenneth W. Engel died from malaria on Tuesday, June 16, 1942, at approximately 8:30 in the morning and was buried in the camp cemetery
    After the war, the remains of Pvt. Kenneth W. Engel were buried at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila in Plot D, Row 2, Grave 68.  In addition, the local American Legion post in Rochester, New York was named after Kenneth and two other men, from Rochester, who died during WWII.


 

 

 

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