Hughes

 

Tec. 5 Kent W. Hughes Jr.


    T/5 Kent W. Hughes Jr. was born in April 18, 1922, to Marie & Kent W. Hughes Sr.  He had two sisters and a brother.  He grew up on RR 1 outside of Janesville, Wisconsin, in Emerald Grove.  His family resided at 603 South Jackson Street in Beloit, Wisconsin.  He was a junior in high school when the 32nd Divisional Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard was activated for one year of federal service on November 25, 1940.  He left high school to go with the company.

    Traveling to Fort Knox, Kentucky, Kent trained with the other members of his company.  The tank  company was now known as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  

   In January 1941, HQ Company was formed by taking men from the four letter companies of the battalion.  The remainder of the soldiers in the company were draftees.  It was at this time that Kent was transferred to the company.  After nearly a year of training, in the late summer of 1941, the battalion went on maneuvers in Louisiana.  At the end of the maneuvers Kent and the rest of the battalion learned that their time in the military had been extended, and that the battalion was being sent overseas.
    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 from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii, on the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott, 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 October 29th 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 live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.

    A little over two weeks later, Kent and the rest of the battalion lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, as the tankers were getting lunch, they watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  As they watched the planes, "raindrops" seem to appear beneath the planes.  When the runways began exploding, they knew the planes were Japanese.  Since the tanks had no weapons to use against planes, there was little the tank crews could do during the attack.

    Kent took part in the delaying action against the Japanese.  Even when it became apparent that no reinforcements were coming, Kent and the other soldiers continued to fight. With this in mind, Kent and George McCarthy volunteered to go into the hills to fight as guerillas.

    While fighting as a guerilla, Kent was sent through Japanese lines to give a report to the American military command.  When he arrived on April 9, 1942, he learned of the surrender.  He was also given orders to surrender.  It was from Mariveles that Kent began what became known as the Bataan Death March.

    After completing the march, Kent was held as a Prisoner of War at Camp O'Donnell.  He was then transferred to Cabanatuan Prison Camp #1 with the other POWs when the camp was opened. After arriving in the camp, Kent was put in the camp's hospital because he had dysentery.

    It was at Cabanatuan that Tec 5 Kent W. Hughes Jr. died on Friday, July 3, 1942, at 1:30 in the morning, from a broken neck.  According to Forrest Knox, Hughes was sick with malaria and out of his mind.  This resulted with him losing his balance, falling, and braking his neck.  T/5 Kent W. Hughes Jr. was 19 years old when he died.  POW records kept at the camp confirm this cause of death.  His parents did not receive word of his death until June 4, 1945.  It should be noted that other records show his cause of death as dysentery.

    With the end of the war, Kent's remains were removed from the cemetery at Cabanatuan.  The army then took his remains to the newly opened Military Cemetery #2 in Manila.  There, an attempt was made to identify the remains of each of the men who had been buried in the original grave at Cabanatuan.  Of the 408 POWs buried in the grave all but eight were identified. 

    Since Kent's remains and those of the other POWs could not be identified or separated, the decision was made to rebury the men in a common grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.  The cemetery was selected so that all the families of each man would have approximately the same distance to travel to to visit the grave.  The reburial was completed on February 17, 1950.

    The remains of Tec 5 Kent W. Hughes Jr. in Section 78, Graves 1004, 1005, and 1006, at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  Among the soldiers that he shares his grave with is Cpl. Raymond J. Graham of D Company and Edward C. Wills of HQ Company.


 

 

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