Pvt. Carl E. Garr
Pvt. Carl E. Garr was the
son of Alfred & Lena Garr on February 13,
1917, in Kiowa, Oklahoma, but he was raised in the
town of Mayhill, in Pittsburg County,
Oklahoma. It is known he had one brother and
one sister. He joined the army in 1940 and
took basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
He was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was
assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Although the 753rd was present at Camp Polk,
they did not take part in the Louisiana
maneuvers of 1941. After the maneuvers, he
volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion
which was preparing for duty in the Philippine
Islands. The battalion was in need of
soldiers to replace those National Guardsmen
released from Federal service because they were
too old to go overseas. He was assigned to
B Company as a tank driver.
On December 8, 1941, Carl's company was ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard it against Japanese paratroopers. That morning they had been informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He and the other tankers watched the attack on Clark Field since most of their weapons were useless against airplanes. They fought the best they could with weapons that were not designed to fight aircraft.
During the Battle of Bataan, Carl was took part in the Battle of the Pockets. During this battle, the tanks were used to wipeout pockets of Japanese Marines who had been landed behind the main defensive lines on Bataan. He was a member of Sgt. Zenon Bardowski's tank crew with Pvt. Herb Kirchhoff, Pvt. Lester Tenenberg, and Pvt. Carl D. Garr.
During this battle, Carl's tank came to the aid of the tank crew of Lt. Ed Winger. The crew of the tank shouted at his tank crew, over the radio, they needed his tank crew's help. Lt. Winger's tank had knocked out a number of Japanese positions. As Lt. Winger's tank approached another Japanese position, it was fired upon by Japanese flamethrowers. The crew was blinded and their tank ended up wedged between two trees. The tank was abandoned by it's crew.
Carl pulled his tank behind the trapped tank. Sgt. Bardowski dismounted the tank and dragged the towing cables from the bow of his tank to the rear of Lt. Winger's tank. The Japanese managed to shoot the cable away from the hook, so Bardowski had to run around to the rear of his tank and set the cable again to make the rescue.
Carl's tank crews efforts saved Lt. Winger's crew. In the process of rescuing the tank crew, Carl's tank had destroyed a .57 mm Japanese gun and a Japanese flamethrower.
Later, Carl's company was assigned to the east coast of Bataan to prevent the Japanese from landing troops. At night, they fought firefights with Japanese landing barges attempting to land troops behind the main defensive line on Bataan. The Japanese never landed one soldier on the beach.
One morning, Walter Cigoi, lost his temper after being woke up by the "Photo Joe." He took a "pot shot" at the Japanese reconnaissance plane that was trying to locate them under the jungle canopy. This resulted in thre tankers being killed when their tanks were bombed by Japanese dive bombers.
When the news that Bataan was being surrendered to the Japanese reached Carl's platoon of tanks, they decided to escape to Corregidor. After being told the tanks could not be taken to the island, his platoon abandoned them. When the final Japanese attack on Corregidor was made, one of the first tanks landed was Carl's own tank since they had not disabled it.
On May 7, 1942, Corregidor was surrendered to the Japanese. The Prisoners of War were taken about a mile from shore and made to swim ashore. Once on land they were told they would have to march to Cabanatuan. Knowing about the death march, the men feared they would receive the same treatment. Although they marched, they were never mistreated.
What is known is that Carl was held at Cabanatuan as a POW. He is also listed as having been sent to Palawan Island on a work detail. He remained on the detail until September 14, 1944, when he was returned to Manila and sent to Bilibid Prison. Carl remained in the Philippine Islands until he was selected for transport to Japan. He was boarded onto the Hokusen Maru and was sent to Formosa. On the island, he was held at Heito Camp.
Carl was in a group of 110 Americans to arrive at the camp, from Luzon, on November 9, 1944. Upon arrival, the POWs were made to stand in line. The camp commander, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki, went down the line and searched the POWs and their belongings. The next day, the POWs met and noted that Tamaki had taken all the medicine and first aid equipment from them.
After five days in the camp, the POWs were put to work in teams of five men. Each team of POWs was expected to load three boxcars a day with ten tons of ballast each. To do this they were issued "punkis" which were baskets to carry the ballast in to the boxcars. The reason they doing this is that the Japanese wanted to turn the field into rice patties. POWs who were to weak to do this work were made to work on the camp farm.
If the Japanese determined a POW was not working as hard as he should be, they punished the man. At the end of a work day as the POWs returned to the camp, three of four guards dragged the man to a water trough and threw him into it. The guards held the POW underwater. Since the other POWs had report to their barracks, none of them ever witnessed the entire event. But they knew, from talking to the those who were punished, that when the Japanese were done using the trough, the POW was marched into the guard house.
From their barracks, the POWs could hear screams. They learned that once a POW was inside the guardhouse he was beaten by Lt. Tamaki. Tamaki hit the man on his back, on his shoulders, and on his legs with a bamboo cane. After two or three days, the POW was released from the guardhouse. The POWs who were punished like this showed the other prisoners the welts on their backs and legs from the beatings.
In late January 1945, many of the POWs were sent to Keelung for transport to Japan. It is believed that it was at this time the Carl was sent to Taihoku #6. He would be moved again and sent to Shirakawa. It was at this camp that Carl is reported to have died of dysentery and malaria.
1st Lt. Jacques Merrifield's final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion states that Pvt. Carl E. Garr died on Friday, July 13, 1945. According to the National Archives POW punch cards, the last information on Pvt. Carl E. Garr was received on August 12, 1945.
While Carl was a POW, his parents moved to Bell Gardens, California. After the war, they requested that his remains be returned to the United States. His remains were returned home in December 1948. He was buried at Park Lawn Cemetery in Plot F, Lot 21, Grave 2, in Bell Gardens, California. His grave is next to his parents' grave.