|Pfc. Roy Edward
Pfc. Roy E. Goodpaster was born January 4, 1920, in Burnam, Madison County, Kentucky, to Roy E. Goodpaster & Nora Young-Goodpaster. With his three sisters, he was raised on West Broadway Street in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The family's home was between North College Street and North Chiles Street. He left school after eighth grade. It is known he worked in road construction with the Works Project Administration.
At some point Roy enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard. His tank company met in an office above a store. In September 1940 the tank company was federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion and on November 20, 1940, traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
After nine months of training, the tank battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. It was after the maneuvers that the members of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas. When they received the orders, many had expected to here that their time in the Army was over and that they were being released from federal service. It was also at this time that the battalion received new tanks and half-tracks that replaced their reconnaissance cars.
Traveling over several train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco. It was there that they received physicals and inoculated for overseas duties. Anyone found to have a medical issue was held back and replaced with another man.
for the Philippine Islands, on the U.S.A.T.
Hugh L. Scott, the 192nd stopped at
Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd. The
soldiers were allowed to go ashore to see the
sights. On Tuesday, November 4th, the
ships sailed again for Guam. They
arrived at Guam where bananas, coconuts,
water, and vegetables were loaded onto the
ships. Since the ships sailed the next
day, the soldiers remained on-board.
It was also at this time that D Company was
attached to the 194th Tank Battalion.
This was done since the 194th was short one
company since its B Company had been sent to
Alaska when the rest of the battalion was sent
to the Philippines. Although the
attachment was suppose to be a permanent
transfer, the transfer was never made.
For four months, the tankers fought to slow the advance of the Japanese on the Island of Luzon. The tankers entered the Bataan Peninsula on January 7, 1942, and started the Battle of Bataan. The evening of April 8th, they received the order "crash." This was the order to make their tanks inoperable and to destroy their ammunition and other weapons. After this was done, the tankers made their way to Mariveles. It was from this barrio, at the southern tip of Bataan where they were now Prisoners of War. It was from there that they started what became known as the Bataan Death March.
On the march, Roy made his way north along the east side of Bataan. The first five miles of the march were up hill. Since the POWs had been underfed and sick for months, they were in no condition to make the march. For many, it was a trudge since the were sick. As they made their way north, they passed the bodies of POWs who were killed because they could not go on.
At Mariveles, the POWs were put into a bullpen, which was covered with human waste. At some point, the POWs were moved to the train station at San Fernando and packed into small wooden boxcars that hauled sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into the cars. Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. From there, they walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp. There was one working water spigot for the entire camp. POWs died waiting for a drink at the faucet. As many as 50 POWs died each day. The death rate got so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan to lower the rate.
When the camp opened, Roy went
immediately to the new camp and remained there
until he was selected to go to the Port Area to
unload ships in Manila Harbor. The POWs on
the detail committed small acts of sabotage that
could be seen as accidents.
On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out. The POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection. They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued. The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them. The Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night. At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Roy and the other POWs were awakened.
By 8:00, the POWs were lined up roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called. The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in." The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked. One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
It was at this time that the POWs were allowed to sit down. Many of the POWs slept until 3:45 in the afternoon. They were awakened about 5:00 PM and boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.
Roy was put into the ship's rear hold. 800 POWs were put in the hold. They were then fed fish and barley. The sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around its diameter. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
The ship left Manila on December 14th, at about 3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water. The POWs received their first meal at about 3:30 that afternoon. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water. Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by twenty POWs.
The prisoners had just eaten when they heard the sound of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit that they knew it was no drill. The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions were taking place all around the POWs. Bullets from the planes ricocheted in to the hold causing many casualties. In all, the POWs would have to sweat out five air raids. The one result of the raid was no evening meal.
At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack. It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions. Bombs that exploded near the ship sent turrets of water over it. Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevent most from penetrating the hull. Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
After the first
raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in
the water. The fighters went after the other
ships in the convoy. The moaning and muttering
of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up
all night. That night 25 POWs died in the
hold. POWs were reported as drinking
urine and howling. The ship reached Subic Bay
at 2:30 in the morning. It was a suitable
The POWs would live through three more attacks. During one attack, a bomb came through the side of the ship blowing a large hole in the aft hold and resulted in the death of many POWs. The men noted the attack was heavier then the day before. About a half hour later, the ship's stern started to really burn.
In the hold the POWs crowded together.
Chips of rust fell on them from the
ceiling. After the raid, they took care of
the wounded before the next attack
started. A Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy,
began praying, "Father forgive them.
They know not what they do."
Roy made his way on deck and went over the side and swam to shore near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon. As he swam to shore, which was about 300 to 400 yards away, the Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs to keep them in the water so they would not escape. As they swam to shore, four American planes flew over them at a low altitude. The POWs frantically waved to them hoping to prevent them from strafing. The planes veered off and returned flying lower over the POWs. This time, they dipped their wings to acknowledged they knew they were Americans. Once on shore, the POWs were herded onto tennis courts at the Olongapo Naval Station at Subic Bay. It was noted by the POWs when they reached shore that much of the ship's stern was blown away.
While the POWs were at Olongapo, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. What was learned is that these men were taken to a cemetery and shot. They were buried at a cemetery nearby. The remainder of the POWs remained on the tennis courts for five or six days. During that time, they were given water but not fed.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During their time on the courts, American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of the dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English,"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs.
On December 21st, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids. The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
December 23rd, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM and disembarked. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. From December 25th until the 26th. The POWs were held in a school house. The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The remaining prisoners at San Fernando, La Union, where they boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle. The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they would use ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day and very little water. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru also came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machineguns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship was also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb that hit the ship exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 prisoners. The surviving POWs remained in in the hold for three days with the dead. The stench from the dead filled the air. On January 11th a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold. The dead were unloaded from the ship, and a POW detail of twenty men took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated. These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated. Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold.
On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued lifejackets. The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy.
The ship sailed on January 14, 1945, and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945. During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
After the ship's arrival in Japan, Roy was sent to Fukuoka #4. He was next sent to Moji Hospital were he died on April 8, 1945. His body was cremated in a Buddhist ceremony and his ashes were put in an urn and placed in a large crypt.
When the Yokohama War Cemetery opened after the war, the ashes of the POWs who died at Moji Hospital were placed at the cemetery. This location was selected since the ashes were those of POWs from many countries.