Pvt. Laddio Jake Gallia
    Pvt. Laddio J. Gallia was born in 1916 in Lavaca County, Texas, to Jacob Gallia & Annie Zbranek-Gallia, who were Bohemian immigrants.  It is known he had one brother, three half-sisters, and two half-brothers.  His family resided in Justice Township, Nueces County, Texas, where 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 training he received and 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  joined the battalion as a replacement and was assigned to Headquarters Company.
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leaves home so that they could say goodbye to their families 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. 
The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  It was during this part of the trip that smoke from an unknown ship was seen of the horizon.  The heavy cruiser which was escorting the two transports, took off after the ship.  Battalion members stated that the cruiser's engines revved up and its bow came out of the water.  It turned out that the ship was from a neutral country. 
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing the next day for Manila.  It was at this time that the ships sailed passed islands at night in complete blackout.  Many felt this was the first sign that they being put in harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7 at Manila.  Many of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg, while others drove their trucks to the fort.  The maintenance section of HQ Company remained behind  at the pier to unload the battalion's tanks.
    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 Field.  He remained with them and 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 and prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
    The two tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field the morning of Monday, December 1st.  The 194th was assigned to protect the northern portion of the airfield, and the 192nd was assigned the southern portion of the airfield.  At all times, two crew members remained with their tanks or half-tracks.
  The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  All members of the letter companies were sent to the airfield.
    All morning long, on December 8th, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled, lined up in a straight line, and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying most of the American Army Air Corps.  HQ Company was in the battalion's bivouac when the attack took place and 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 battalion remained at the airfield and lived through several more attacks until December 21st when it was ordered to Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese were landing troops.  For the next four months Laddio worked to supply the letter companies with the supplies they needed to fight the Japanese.
 
    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt Fred Bruni, the commanding officer of HQ Company, called his company together and told them that they would surrender at 7:00 A.M., April 9th.  He instructed the company to destroy everything that the Japanese could use in their war effort, except the company's trucks.  He somehow came up with enough bread and pineapple juice for the company, and they had what Bruni called, "Their last supper."
   After the surrender, the members of the company remained in their bivouac
until April 11th, when the first Japanese soldiers appeared at their encampment.  A Japanese officer ordered the company members, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their bivouac.  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. 
    After this, the company boarded their trucks and drove to just outside of 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 and got out.  He spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  After he 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 and 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 of POWs 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, they 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, but they remained their most of the day.  When the Japanese ordered the POWs move, they ordered them to form 100 men detachments and were marched to the train depot at San Fernando.  The POWs were put into small wooden boxcars and taken to Capas.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, but 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.  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 situation got so bad that the Japanese opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan and the healthier POWs were sent there.
    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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