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.

    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 battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii 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 Tuesday, November 4th, 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, while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the battalion's tanks.
    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 love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  The battalion spent the next seventeen days getting ready for maneuvers.

    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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