Sgt. Nicholas Ford Fryziuk
Sgt Nicholas Ford
Fryziuk was the son of Polish immigrants. He
was born on July 25, 1919, to Mike Fryzuik and
Maria Surchina-Fryziuk. With his brother,
Nick was raised in Argo and Summit, Illinois, and
attended Argo High School. After high
school, he worked maintenance at Argo Corn
Sometime in 1940, Nick joined the Illinois National Guard's Maywood Tank Company with his best friend, Frank Jendrysik. The reason he enlisted is that the draft act had just been passed, and he wanted to complete his military obligation before he was drafted.
November, 1940, the Maywood Tank Company was
called into federal service. At Fort Knox,
Kentucky, the company, was designated Company B,
192nd Tank Battalion. Nick trained at Ft. Knox, and
since Nick always loved to work on cars he
became a tank mechanic. He would later be
the company's maintenance sergeant.
of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to
the perimeter of Clark Airfield, As they sat
in their tanks and half-tracks, they watched as
American planes filled the sky. At noon, the
planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
Nick's job was to keep the equipment of the 192nd Tank Battalion running. In one incident, Nick saved the lives of a tank crew by working on their tank as the Japanese were advancing on their position. He got the tank running minutes before the Japanese overran their position. Throughout the Battle of Bataan, Nick continued to work and fight even though he had shrapnel wounds around his eyes and on his legs.
When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, Nick became a Prisoner of War and took part in the death march. On the march, ninety percent of POWs in his group died due to a lack of food, water and rest.
The members of B Company were together on the march which led to Nick saving the life of Pvt. Robert Parr. Parr had been wounded in the stomach before the surrender and was having a hard time keeping up with the rest of the company. He kept telling Nick, and the other men, that he was going to drop out. Nick told Parr that if he did, he would be killed. ``You had to keep going, because if you stopped you were a dead man," he said. ``As we marched along, we'd see guys splattered all over the road. You couldn't begin to count the atrocities.'' The last thirty-five miles of the march, Nick carried Parr "piggyback" style to keep him from dropping out.
Nick was first held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell until he was sent back to Bataan to work. He then was imprisoned at Cabanatuan and Camp McKinley near Manila. While at Camp McKinley, he was assigned the duty of driving a truck. Nick was next sent to the Manila Port Area to work as a stevedore loading and unloading ships. The POWs on this detail were known as "The 400 Thieves" because of the things they stole from the Japanese. Nick recalled that no matter where he was held, the POWs at the camps ate snake, lizard, monkey, mule and raw fish to survive.
On July 14,
1944, at Las Pinas, Nick was boarded onto the
Japanese steam ship the Nissyo Maru.
Three days later on the 17th, the ship sailed
for Japan. The ship arrived at Takao,
Formosa, on July 27th. The next day, the
ship sailed for Moji, Japan. On August
3rd, the ship arrived in Moji. From there,
Nick was sent to Oeyama to work in the nickel
mines at Osaka
Camp #3-B. The mines were located
nearly six miles from the camp. In
addition, the POWs did manual labor at the Hachidate Branch Nickel Refinery.
1945, the POWs
were also used
as laborers on
the Miyazu docks.
While working at the mines, Nick witnessed the atomic bomb explode over Nagasaki. He remained a POW until he was liberated by American Occupational Forces on September 9, 1945. Before they were liberated, the former POWs made flags from parachutes representing the nationalities who had been held in the camp.
Nick returned to Illinois and was discharged, from the army, on May 4, 1946. He married, Cecilia, and raised a family. Nick had met Cecilia through his friend Frank Jendrysik. She had been Frank's fiancÚ. The couple would have two children a son and daughter. His son would die at the age of five. Nick never passed up an opportunity to talk to students about his experiences as a POW.
Nick Fryziuk passed away on April 1, 1993, from leukemia. His family believes that his leukemia was a result of his witnessing the atomic bomb's explosion. He was buried at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Justice, Illinois.