Jaeger

 

Pvt. Marvin W. Jaeger


    Pvt. Marvin W. Jaeger was the son of Frank W. Jaeger & Rose Brandt-Jaeger.  He was born in June 1, 1918, and lived at 701 Stark Street in Wausau, Wisconsin.  With his sister and brother, he attended Wausau schools.  He was a 1936 graduate of Wausau High School.  After high school he worked in the stockroom at the Marathon Electric Motors.

    In April, 1941, was drafted into the U.S. Army and was inducted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  From Milwaukee, Marvin was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was assigned to the medical attachment of the 192nd Tank Battalion.  He was then trained as a medic.  One of the first men he met was Ardel Schei, who he became best friends with.

    After training at Ft. Knox, Marvin went with the battalion on maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the members of the battalion were informed that they were being sent overseas.  Each man received a furlough home to take care of any unfinished business.
    The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, and the next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - was making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    The company traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and was taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the ferry the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated for overseas duty.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date, while other men were simply replaced.

    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.   The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S.S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
   At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they had what they needed and 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.

    On December 8, 1941, Marvin lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  The tank companies had been ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against paratroopers.  Most were getting lunch when the Japanese attacked.  As a medic, he cared for the wounded and dying during and after the attack.  

    During the Battle of the Philippines, Marvin treated the members of the 192nd who were wounded during engagements with the Japanese.  In addition, he treated the men of the other units that worked with the Provisional Tank Group.

    On April 9, 1942, Marvin became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino and American armies were surrendered to the Japanese.  He took part in the Death March.  The things that stood out about the march was the lack of food and water, the tremendous exhaustion he felt, and the brutality of the Japanese.  

    As a medic, Marvin attempted to help the sick and weak as they struggled.  But the attitude of the Japanese guards made this extremely difficult.  He watched as those who fell out were shot or bayoneted.  In his opinion, many who fell out mentally found it too hard to go on.

    At San Fernando, Marvin and the other POWs were loaded into box cars.  The prisoners had to sit down while the Japanese continued to force men into the car.  The trip in the car took a day.  When the prisoners left the cars, they marched the last four miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    As a medic, Marvin attempted to give first aid to those men who were sick or dying.  In particular, he worked with those men suffering from malaria.  This job was impossible because the doctors and medics had no medicine to treat the sick.  Sixty men died a day because of the lack of medicines to treat them.   Another reason life in Camp O'Donnell was so bad was that there was only one water faucet for the entire camp.  A prisoner had to stand in line until they got water.  If they didn't, they went without water.

    On June 1, 1941, Marvin left Camp O'Donnell for Cabanatuan.   There he once again treated the sick and dying.  Again, the lack of medicine, the poor quality of food, and the sanitary conditions made life hell.  Marvin recalled that he did not take a bath until he left Cabanatuan in November 11, 1944.  

    The cruelty of  Japanese guards added to the suffering the prisoners.  Guards would brake the arms and legs of the POWs to show they were superior to the prisoners.  The smallest guards would make the biggest Americans bend over and then hit them in the face. 

    While Marvin was a prisoner he received two Red Cross packages.  The packages were looted by the Japanese.  The Japanese also would keep the POWs' mail in a building for months.  The mail was also censored by the Japanese.  When it was passed out, it was passed out in a piece meal method.
    Medical records from Cabanatuan show that Marvin was hospitalized at the camp on July 5, 1944.  They also show that he was transferred from Hospital Building #19 to Building #1. No reason the hospitalization is given.

    From Cabanatuan, Marvin was sent to Ft. McKinley.  He was held there for fifty days.  From there, he was sent to Bilibid Prison which was about nine miles from Manila.  He remained a POW at Bilibid until he was liberated by the 37th U.S. Infantry on February 2, 1945.  He and the other liberated POWs were assigned to the 12th Replacement Battalion.

    Marvin returned to the United States on the S.S. Monterey and arrived in San Francisco on March 16, 1945.  He was treated at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco and then Gardner General Hospital in Chicago.  When he returned to Wausau, he married Marion Scheel on May 6, 1945.  Marion had written a letter to Marvin everyday while he was a Prisoner of War.  Marvin was discharged, from the army, on August 10, 1945. 

    One of the lasting effects of his time as a POW was that Marvin would not go out to eat.  He also went years without a telephone or a television.  The reason was that he didn't like noise.

    Marv and Ardel Schei remained friends for the rest of their lives.  Marvin W. Jaeger passed away on February 11, 2003, in Wausau, Wisconsin.  He was buried at Restlawn Memorial Park in Wausau.


 

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