Hullihan

Tec 4 William Patrick Hullihan


     T/4 William P. Hullihan was born on April 2, 1916, to John A. Hullihan and Mary A. Gately-Hullihan in Cicero, Illinois, and was one of eight children born to the couple.  He was known as "Bill" to his family and friends.
     Bill was raised at 603 South 8th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois, and attended St. James Catholic School and Proviso Township High School.  He graduated from Proviso Township High School as a member of the Class of 1934.  After high school, he attended the University of Illinois, for one year, before being employed in the family's reclamation business in Cicero.  
    At some point Bill joined Illinois National Guard's 33rd Division Tank Company in Maywood.  The company was federalized in the fall of 1940, and on November 25th, the members reported for duty.  On the 28th , they marched from the armory, in Maywood, to the train station and boarded a train for Fort Knox, Kentucky.  On the train was A Company from Janesville, Wisconsin.

    In the late summer of 1941, Bill took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  HQ Company's job during the maneuvers was to keep the tanks running.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as expected.  It was on a side of a hill that the soldiers learned that they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.   Those men who were married or 29 years old, or older, were allowed to resign from federal service.  The battalion also received replacements, tanks, and half-tracks of the 753rd Tank Battalion which was stationed at Camp Polk.

    The battalion traveled west, over different train routes, by train to San Francisco, California.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
  Other men were simply replaced.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy that arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd.  Since the ships had a two day layover, the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.   
   
When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila. The soldiers remained on board since the ships sailed the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they would soon be at war.   The ships entered Manila Bay on at 8:00 A.M., Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 ,later in the day, and the soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those men assigned to trucks drove to the fort, while the maintenance section of the battalion remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  The fact was that he had only learned of their arrival days earlier.  He made sure that they had everything they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Meals were brought to them by food trucks.  
    At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield.  All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.

    As a member of HQ Company, Bill remained in the battalion's bivouac.  During the attack, he and the other members took cover to protect themselves from bombs and bullets.  After the attack, he saw the damage done to the airfield. 
During the Battle for the Philippines, his parents heard from him in a telegram at Christmas time and in a letter that they received on April 3, 1942.  The letter said he was "doing well" and was dated January 16th.

    It was not too long after this that Lt. Col. Wickord and Capt. Fred Bruni informed the soldiers of Headquarters Company of the surrender.  The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."      
    On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  Donald was now a Prisoner of War.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.    
    As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.  
   Later in the day, the POWs were order to move and taken to a school yard in Mariveles and ordered to sit. 
Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces.  The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around them.  Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit.  When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.      
    It was from this school yard that the POWs began the death march. 
The first five miles of the march was uphill.  They made their way north from Mariveles to San Fernando.  During the march men who had fell were shot and bayoneted where they fell.  They were held in a bull pen until they were ordered to form 100 men detachments and taken to the train station.

    At the train station they were put into a small wooden boxcars known as "Forty and Eights" because they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar so tightly that those men who died could not fall to the floors of the cars.  At Capas, the living disembarked and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
   Camp O'Donnell was a death trap with as many as 50 POWs dying each day.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp which the Japanese guards would turn off whenever they felt like it.  The situation in the camp got so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Bill was considered too ill to be transferred to the camp and remained behind at Camp O'Donnell.

    T/4 William P. Hullihan died of dysentery and malaria on June 25, 1942, at the age of 26 and was buried in Section O, Row 3, Grave 7 in the camp cemetery.  After the war, the family of T/4 William P. Hullihan requested that his remains be returned to Illinois.  He was reburied at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois, on October 19, 1948.  He was posthumously awarded the good conduct medal and the Purple Heart.


 

 

 


Return to B Company

Next