Pfc. William Anthony Hauser
| Pfc. William A. Hauser was
born on December 3, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, to
Frank J. Hauser & Carrie Martern-Hauser.
He was the youngest of the couple's five
children. With his two sisters and two
brothers, he was raised at 30 South Thurlow Street
in Hinsdale, Illinois, and attended Hinsdale High
School. He worked at International
Harvester, as a mechanic, in the manufacturing of
Bill joined the Illinois National Guard in September of 1940, and was called up to active duty on November 25, 1940. At Fort Knox, Bill trained with the other members of B Company until he was transferred into the newly formed Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion in January 1941. During his time at the fort, he trained as a motorcycle messenger.
In the Summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent on maneuvers in Louisiana. Bill believed that these maneuvers helped to prepare the battalion for the Philippines because the soldiers learned to get on the road and move out within the time limit given to them.
Bill and the other members of the battalion were
given furloughs home. They returned to
Camp Polk and prepared for duty overseas.
This meant that they were given M-3 tanks to
replace their M-2 tanks and half tracks to
replace their reconnaissance cars.
When the 192nd Tank Battalion arrived in the Philippines, Bill and the other members of the battalion lived in tents located between Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field. During the next two weeks, Bill and the other men assigned to reconnaissance cleaned their guns, loaded ammunition belts, and made reconnaissance runs up to North Luzon. In Bill's opinion, the greatest problem facing the soldiers assigned to the half-tracks was that they did not receive enough training to drive the vehicles. This would later lead to a great number of them being lost in combat.
On December 8, 1941, Bill and the other members of Headquarters Company had just finished eating and returned to loading their machine gun belts with ammunition. The soldiers were well aware of the attack on Pearl Harbor and took note of the planes that had appeared above them. Bill's commanding officer gave the signal that the planes were Japanese, and his platoon was on the go within seconds. They had gone about one quarter of a mile when the first bomb exploded. Bill's platoon proceeded to an assigned position ringing Clark Field to stop a possible Japanese paratrooper drop. The tankers would remain at these positions for several days.
After three days of guarding the airfield, Bill's half-track was ordered to "high ground" located north of the Ban Ban River. This was done so that these soldiers could provide an early warning to the American troops of attacking Japanese planes. Performing this duty, of reconnoitering the enemy, resulted in Bill's half-track being reassigned almost daily to the different tank platoons of the 192nd.
As a reconnaissance half-track driver with Headquarters Company, Bill's duty called for him to scout Japanese positions. This duty brought him and his crew under enemy strafing and bombing. It was on such duty that Bill's half-track came into contact with the Japanese for the first time on Christmas Day, 1941.
While assigned to duty with Lt. William Gentry's C Company platoon, Bill's half-track came under Japanese fire while attempting to find a possible river ford. His crew was ordered to retire and tanks were sent in to meet the enemy. The tanks had gone less than a mile when they ran into a Japanese ambush. Bill recalled that his half-track was fired upon by Japanese mortars. Later in another battle, Bill watched as seven or eight Japanese tanks were destroyed in a tank battle just east of Cabanatuan.
Despite suffering from dysentery and fever, he continued to fight until Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. One morning, after post-guard duty, Bill and the other soldiers returned to their base and learned of the surrender. Not too long afterwards, his platoon was strafed by low flying Japanese planes.
Leaving their camp, Bill and the other members of the reconnaissance platoon walked until they met trucks from A Company. They would stay in A Company's area until they drove the trucks to Mariveles. It was there that they were stripped of everything they had.
As a Prisoner of War, Bill started the "Death March" on April 10, 1942, and was subjected to enemy brutality and inhumane treatment. On the march, Bill was threatened and hit, but he never came close to being bayoneted or shot. At one point, he also helped Robert Parr who was having difficulty keeping up with his group.
Bill saw the dead bodies of hundreds of POWs lying along the road. He also witnessed 30 soldiers executed by the Japanese. Bill recalled that the lack of food and water were two of worse things that the POWs who were still alive dealt with. What little water the POWs received often had animal feces floating in it. He recalled that at one point he and the other POWs were were held in an open field and left to bake in the sun.
At San Fernando, Bill and the other men boarded wooden box cars used to haul sugarcane. They were packed into the cars so tightly that they could hardly breath. Disembarking at Capas, them men walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Bill was first imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell arriving on April 19th. He recalled that the lack of food, water and medicine for the sick were the things that made Camp O'Donnell a death camp. Bill knew that he had to get out of the camp, so he volunteered to go out on a work detail on May 12th. Bill was sent to San Fernando, on a work detail, to retrieve destroyed American equipment as scrap metal for the Japanese.
After the scrap metal detail ended on September 20th, Bill was imprisoned at Cabanatuan. There he spent three months digging graves in the morning and then burying the dead in the afternoon. On November 9th, Bill was sent to the Port Area of Manila working as a stevedore loading and unloading ships. It was on this detail that the prisoners would steal as much food and other items as they could to survive.
One day while working, Bill's fingers on one hand were crushed when a 55 gallon drum was dropped on his hand. The Japanese insisted that the POWs wear gloves on their hands. In Bill's words taking the glove off his hand was worse than the drum falling on it. The Japanese doctor who treated Bill, removed part of the on the ring finger resulting in the finger being the same length as his little finger.
The POWs also became very good at sabotaging Japanese munitions. They had lookouts who would warn them if the Japanese were coming. The Americans in the ship's holds would open a box of hand grenades; open the grenade up; dump the gunpowder down the ship's bilge; and reassemble the grenades. If they had been caught, they would have been executed.
Bill remained on this detail until February 1, 1944. On that day, Bill was sent to Bilibid Prison. He remained at Bilibid until April 15th when he was returned to Cabanatuan. His time in the camp was short. He was returned to Bilibid on June 29th in preparation of being sent to Japan.
On July 14th the POWs were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru for transport to Japan. The ship sailed three days later. After a stop at Takao, Formosa, the ship sailed for Moji and arrived in Japan on August 3rd. During the trip, Bill and the other men were crammed into the holds of the ship.
Upon arriving in Japan, Bill was then sent to Omine Machi, and worked as a slave laborer in a coal mine. In Bill's opinion, the POWs were worked as they were slowly being starved to death. Bill believed that had the atomic bomb not been dropped, the prisoners would have been killed by the Japanese or would not have been able to survive another winter. When news of the surrendered reached the POWs, they remained in Omine Machi for a month living off supplies being dropped by the B-29's.
Bill was officially liberated in September 15,
1945. He and the other POWs were taken to
Wakayama. Japan, and boarded onto the U.S.S.
Consolation. Records from the ship show
that Bill was in good health but was
On September 28th, Bill arrived in Manila to be fattened up by the army. He remained at Manila until October 9th when he sailed for home. His ship arrived in San Francisco on October 9th. It was almost four years to the day that Bill had sailed for the Philippines. Bill was sent to the Veterans Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois. He remained at the hospital for several months and was discharged on April 2, 1946.
After he was released from the hospital, Bill returned to Hinsdale. When he returned home, his father met him at the train station in Hinsdale. There, his father informed Bill that his mother had died while he was a POW. According to his dad, she had died from the stress caused by her worrying about Bill. His father explained to Bill that they did not know if he was alive or dead and that on several occasions, the government approached them offering them his GI insurance check. His dad said they had refused the money because they believed Bill was coming home. Bill told his dad that had he learned that his mother had died, he would have died in the camps because he would have lost hope.
Bill married Catherine Walsh, who was the girl next door. Together they raised three children. William A. Hauser passed away on March 31, 1983, and was buried at Clarendon Hills Cemetery in Darin, Illinois.
Honors given to Pfc. William A. Hauser include
the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Prisoner
of War Medal, the American Defense Service
Ribbon, the Philippine Defense Medal, Philippine
Liberation Medal and the Philippine Victory