Pvt. Laddio Jake Gallia
    Pvt. Laddio J. Gallia was born in 1916 in Lavaca County, Texas, to Jacob Gallia & Annie Zbranek-Gallia.  His parents were Bohemian immigrants.  He had one brother, three half-sisters, and two half-brothers.  His family resided in Justice Township, Nueces County, Texas. He worked as a farm hand.
    On March 17, 1941, Laddio was inducted into the U.S. Army and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  It is not known what duties he performed.  After he had completed his training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to join the 753rd Tank Battalion which had been deployed there from Ft. Benning, Georgia.
    While Laddio was at Camp Polk, the 192nd Tank Battalion had been ordered overseas.  The battalion was made up mostly of National Guardsmen, so the Army allowed those 29 years old or older to resign from federal service.  Laddio volunteered to join the battalion as a replacement.  He was assigned to Headquarters Company.
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leave 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.
    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.  The maintenance section of HQ Company remained behind to unload the tanks.
    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.
   
The 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.  John, 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 Laddio worked to supply the letter companies with the supplies they needed to fight the Japanese.
  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.  John 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. 

      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, Laddio'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.  Laddio, 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.  Laddio 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, Laddio 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 died while waiting for a drink.  The death rate among the POWs was as high as fifty men a day.  The situation got so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.  The healthier POWs were sent to the new camp.
    Laddio was considered too ill to be moved to the new camp, so he remained behind at Camp O'Donnell.  According to records kept by the medical staff at Camp O'Donnell, Pvt. Laddio J. Gallia died on Wednesday, May 13, 1942, of dysentery.  He was buried in the camp cemetery in Section F, Row 1, Grave 7.
    After the war, the remains of Pvt. Laddio J. Gallia were reburied at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila.  He was buried in Plot A, Row 1, Grave 211.




 

 

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