Goodman

 

Sgt. Norman W. Goodman


    Sgt. Norman W. Goodman was born on May 24, 1917.  He was the son of Lionel & Ada Goodman and grew up at 19 North Fifth Avenue in Maywood, Illinois with his sister.  He graduated from Proviso Township High School and went to work as a lathe operator at a ball bearing company.  Norm joined the Illinois National Guard when he was in his twenties and working as a lathe operator.  In the fall of 1940, the tank company was called to Federal service as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.

    Norm trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for almost a year.  What specific training he received is not known, but it is known he was a tank commander.
    In the late summer of 1941, Norman took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King 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 love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    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.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    Norm and the other members of B Company fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  On April 9, 1942, General King surrendered his troops to the Japanese.  One reason for this is that he did not want to see them slaughtered.

    The night before the surrender, Norm was one of the members of the tank crews that decided that they would attempt to escape to Corregidor.  Traveling along the eastern coast of Bataan, the tankers found a cave.  In the cave, was a boat that could not be started.  The tankers managed to get the boat started, and by the point of a gun convinced the captain to take them to Corregidor.

    As they approached the island, they signaled the island with a flashlight.  Finally, they received a response that told them how to get through the mine field.  Once on the island, Norm were assigned to fight with the U. S. Marines.

    On May 6, 1942, Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.  Norm was held on the island for several weeks.  When the Japanese began to evacuated the island, the Prisoners  of War were taken off the coast of Bataan and told to swim to shore.  Once on shore they were used as labor to rebuild a dock.

    When the POWs were done rebuilding the dock, they were ordered to march to Manila.  At first, they thought they too would experience a death march, but to their surprise, they were treated quite well.  They spent several days at Bilibid Prison before being sent to Cabanatuan.

    As a POW at Cabanatuan, Norm learned that he could get extra rations is he hunted snakes.  The Japanese enjoyed cobra meat and allowed the POWs to hunt for cobras.  Those POWs who were lucky enough to capture a snake would receive extra rice.

    When it became apparent to the Japanese that it was just a matter of time before the Americans would be invading the Filipinos, the Japanese began sending POWs to Japan or other occupied countries.

    Norm with the other POWs was put into the holds of the freighter the Nissyo Maru.  They were packed in the hold so tightly that they could not sit down.  Since there was no washroom and it was impossible to move, men went to the washroom where they stood.  The ship sailed from Manila on July 17, 1944.  It arrived in Takao, Formosa, on July 27th.  The next day it sailed for Moji, Japan arriving there on August 3rd.

    Food was sent down to the prisoners once a day on a ropes.  After the food was taken off the ropes, the bodies of the dead were pulled out of the ship's holds on the same rope and then dumped overboard.

    In Japan, Norm was held as a POW at Fukuoka #3.  The POWs in the camp worked in the Yawata Steel Mill on the Island of Kyushu.  Each shift lasted from twelve to fifteen hours.  As the war went on and since Japan was losing the war, food was becoming scarce.  To supplement their diets, the POWs in the camp would hunt rats at night for meat.

    While a prisoner in Japan, Norm was hit over the head with a bamboo clubs by a guard.  After the war, a steel plate was put in his head where the guard had hit him.

    One morning the POWs noticed that the attitude of the guards toward them had changed.  This was the first time that the prisoners suspected that the war may be over.  A day or two later most of the guards disappeared.  Later that day, a B-29 appeared over the camp and dropped leaflets telling them to paint the letters "POW" on the roof of a building. 

    The planes returned and began dropping food and clothes to the POWs.  For the first time in three years the men had more food than they could have imagined.  They ate so much many became ill.  When Norm was liberated, he weighed only 85 pounds.  He had lost 115 pounds as a POW.

    Norm was returned to Manila, where he was fattened up before returning to the United States.  He sailed for home on the Dutch ship, S.S. Klipfontein, arriving at Seattle, Washington, on October 27, 1945.  Once back in the U. S., he was sent to a VA Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.  When he finally returned home to Maywood, he weighed over 200 pounds.  He was discharged, from the Army, on May 17, 1946.

    Norman W. Goodman married and was the father of a daughter and son.  With his wife, Ruth, he lived in Melrose Park, Illinois.  He also became a police officer in River Forest, Illinois, until 1969 when he retired.  He passed away in August 28, 1976. 


 

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