Pvt. Sam Fields
    Sam Fields was born in March 1913, in Oklahoma, and was the son of Sallie Mars-Muskrat and step-son of Robert Muskrat.  It is known he had one brother, two step-brothers, and one step-sister.  When he was inducted into the U.S. Army, he was living in Lee's Creek Township, Adair County, Oklahoma, and working as a farmhand.
    Sam did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  After his training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The tank battalion had been sent to the fort but did not take part in the maneuvers that were going on at the time.
    After the maneuvers, volunteers were sought, from the 753rd, to replace National Guardsmen of the 192nd Tank Battalion who had been released from federal service.  The battalion had just received orders to go overseas.  Sam volunteered to join the battalion and was assigned to Headquarters Company.
    Over four different train routes the companies traveled to San Francisco, California.  After arriving, they were taken to a pier and boarded a ferry.  When they got near Alcatraz, a soldier on the boat said to them, "I'd rather be here then going where you all are going."  The soldiers stayed on Angel Island for two days receiving physicals and inoculations.  Men with minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  The ships arrived, in Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers shore leave and allowed to explore the island.  The ships sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the following morning.  
    About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked and rode buses to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.  While the maintenance section of the battalion remained behind to unload the tanks.                     
  
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward King who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until just days before they arrived.  He remained with the battalion until they had their Thanksgiving Dinner.  Afterwards, he went for his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers. 
        
   
    On Monday, December 1st, the battalion was ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.   The 192nd was assigned the southern portion of the airfield while the 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the north half of the airfield.  At all times, two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Food trucks fed the crews.        

    During the early morning of December 8th, just two hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the officers of the 192nd were called to a radio room and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ordered to their companies.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.
  At 12:45, a formation of 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways the tankers knew they were Japanese.  The attack effectively wiped out the Army Air Corps.               
 
    Since HQ Company had no weapons to use against planes, they remained in the battalion's bivouac and took cover during the attack.  After the attack they saw the destruction done by the Japanese.  They also attempted to help the dying and wounded.
    The 192nd remained at Clark Field for two weeks when they were ordered north to Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese were landing troops.  It was there that a platoon of 192nd tanks fought the first tank battle of World War II.
    For the next four months, Sam worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with the supplies needed to fight.  The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni informed his company of the surrender and gave orders that any supplies that could be used by the Japanese should be destroyed.  He also instructed them not to destroy their trucks.  Bruni had somehow come up with enough bread and pineapple juice for the entire company and ate with the men what he called their last supper.             
    On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  Sam was now a Prisoner of War.  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, Japanese soldiers passing them took whatever they wanted from the Americans. 
    After this was done, Sam and his 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, Sam'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 which had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide.  Some POWs were killed from the incoming 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.  They had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march they received no water and little food. Men who could not keep up fell to the ground and were shot or bayoneted.  When they reached San Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pen that was surrounded by a fence.  They she was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas.   It is not known how long they remained there.  The Japanese finally ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men.  Once this was done they were marched to the train station.
    At the train station the POWs were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The boxcars wee known as "forty men or eights," since each car could hold forty men  or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From Capas, they 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.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for days.  Many died while waiting for a drink. Since there was no medicine to treat the sick, the death rate rose among the POWs with as many as fifty five men dying each day. 
 
    Seeing that the conditions in the camp were terrible, the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan in a Filipino Army Base. The healthy POWs, including Sam, were sent to the new camp.

    At some point, Sam became ill with cerebral malaria and was hospitalized in the camp hospital.  What is known for certain is that Pvt. Sam Fields died on Tuesday, July 30,1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp and was buried in the camp cemetery.
 
The final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion recorded that Sam died from dysentery.
    After the war, Sam's remains could not be positively identified and he was buried at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila as an "unknown."  His name was placed on the Tablets of the Missing at the cemetery.



 

 

Return to HQ Company

 

Next