Jennings_H

 

2nd Lt. Harvey Aaron Jennings


    2nd Lt. Harvey A. Jennings was born on June 1, 1913, to Sanford E. Jennings & Carrie Belle Wordell-Jennings.  With his brother, he grew up at 175 Jefferson Pike in Union, Ohio.  It is known he attended college for two years.  In 1940, he was living at 1356 Summit Street in Columbus, Ohio, with his parents, and working as a general contractor.

    Harvey was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus in 1941.  He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and did his basic training.  He was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, after completing his training.  During his time with the company, he rose in rank from private to sergeant.

    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana where it took part in maneuvers.  It was after the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.  The move was known as “PLUM.”  Within hours, many of the members of the battalion had figured out they were going to the Philippine Islands.

    Before traveling west by train, the battalion was issued M3 tanks.  To get enough tanks for the battalion, the Army took them from other tank companies.  It was also at this time, that many of the members of the battalion were given leaves home to say their goodbyes.

    Arriving in San Francisco, the battalion was ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippines.  Anyone who did not pass the physical, remained behind.  Once “healthy” they were scheduled to rejoin the battalion later.

    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for the Philippines.  After five days at sea, the ship, which was a part of a three ship convoy, arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd.  The ships sailed, after two days, for Guam on Tuesday, November 4th.  Arriving in Guam, the ship took on water, vegetables, bananas, and coconuts.  The soldiers remained on ship during the loading.  The ships sailed again and arrived in the Philippines on Thursday, November 20th which was Thanksgiving Day.

    After arriving in the Philippines, the tankers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  When they arrived at the fort, Gen. Edward King greeted them and made sure they had what they needed.  He also made sure that they had Thanksgiving dinner before he had his dinner.

    On December 8, 1941, at 7:00 in the morning, the officers of the battalion heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  A few days earlier, Major Ted Wickord had the tanks of the battalion put in position at the southern end of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  The tankers were ordered to their tanks and remained at them all morning.

    All morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and their pilots went to lunch.  The members of the tank crews each sent one member to get their lunches.  At 12:45, while the tank crews were eating, they watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.   When bombs began exploding, they knew the planes were Japanese.  Since the tanks had orders not to fire on the planes and not equipped to fight planes, the crews just watched as the attack took place.  After the attack, the tank crews saw the damage done to the airfield.

    The 192nd remained at Clark Field until December 14th. They then moved to a dry stream bed.  The battalion was ordered north on December 21st to oppose Japanese landings at Lingayen Gulf. 

    Sometime in February 1942, Harvey resigned, as an enlisted man, and reenlisted as a second lieutenant.  He was also transferred from C Company to B Company.  With B Company, he was made the commanding officer of the 2nd Tank Platoon.

    On April 9, 1942, Harvey became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  The tankers circle their tanks, opened up the gasoline cocks in the tanks, and threw hand grenades into each turret.  They then waited for the Japanese.

    When the Japanese made contact, the tankers were made to move to Mariveles.  It was from this barrio at the southern tip of Bataan that Harvey started the death march.  The soldiers who were already weak from undernourishment and suffering from disease, had to walk to San Fernando.  At one point the soldiers had to run past guns firing on Corregidor which had not surrendered. 

    At San Fernando the POWs were put in a bull pen.  In one corner, there was a pit for the POWs to use to relieve themselves.  The top of the pit was covered in maggots.   From the pen, the POWs were marched to the train station.  Once there, they were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.   The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.

    From Capas, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O’Donnell.  The POW camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink.  As many as fifty POWs died each day in the camp.  The burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead.  The situation was so bad that the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.

    Harvey, being a healthier POW, was sent to Cabanatuan.  It is not known if he went out on any work details.  What is known is while he was a POW in the camp he came down with beriberi and edema.  According to records kept by the medical staff, he was admitted into the camp hospital on Saturday, October 10, 1942.  Harvey died on July 1, 1943 at 5:15 P.M. from beriberi and edema.  Albert Allen, a member of C Company, stated that Harvey died because he gave up.  He was buried in the camp cemetery in Plot 2, Row 22, Grave 2725.      

    After the war, Harvey’s remains were exhumed and positively identified.  His parents requested that his remains be returned home.  He was buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, in March 1949.


 

 

 

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