Jordan

Sgt. Lawrence John Jordan


     Sgt. Lawrence J. Jordan was born in Montana on August 10, 1919, the second of three children born to Anthony & Agnes Jordan.  His family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he lived at 2038 West Cullom Avenue.  He graduated from Lake View High School and worked as a silver smith at a wholesale silver company.

     He joined the Illinois National Guard as a member of the 33rd Tank Battalion in Maywood, Illinois.  On November 25, 1940, Larry was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, with his company.  At Fort Knox, Larry was  taught to operate all the equipment used by the company.  During this time Larry became a tank commander.

    At Ft. Knox, Larry participated in boxing.  He fought fellow B Company member, John Cahill, for the Kentuckiana Welter-weight Title.  Larry had been a Catholic Youth Organization Inter-City Boxing Champion in Chicago.
    In the late summer of 1941, Larry took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    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, 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.
    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.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed. 
    On December 21, 1941, Larry's tank platoon was given orders to engage the Japanese who were landing troops at Lingayen Gulf.  Larry was the tank commander of the third tank in the column.  The next day, the platoon's tanks came into contact with the Japanese.  Because the road was surrounded by rice paddies, the tanks were restricted to the road.

    The tanks came under heavy enemy fire.  During the attack the tank of Larry's commanding officer, 2nd Lt. Ben Morin, was knocked out.  The remaining tanks attempted to come to his aid but withdrew because of the heavy fire.  Larry was wounded at this time.

    With the other members of Company B, Larry fought the Japanese on Bataan for four months buying  time for the Allies and preventing the Japanese invasion of Australia.  Two days before Filipino-American Forces on Bataan surrendered, Larry received a telegram from his family.  It would turn out to be the only news he would receive from home for the next three and a half years as a Prisoner of War. 

    When Bataan was surrendered on April 9, 1942, at the age of 21, Larry became a Prisoner of War with most of the other members of his company.  He took part in the death march limping the entire length due to shrapnel wounds in one leg.  He was interred at Camp O'Donnell and then selected to rebuild bridges on a work detail under Lt. Col. Theodore Wickord's command. 

    On this detail, Larry and the other POWs heard that ten POWs on another detail at a nearby sawmill had been executed because one man had escaped.  The POWs were forced to dig their own graves and then machine gunned as they stood in the graves. 

    One day, Larry and Jim Bashleben were on a break when a guard known as "Nikki" to the POWs began to ask them questions about their homes.  Nikki looked at Larry and Bashleben and told each man that after the war was over, he was going to visit each man at his home.  Under his breath, Larry said to Bashleben that if Nikki showed up at his front door, a bullet would be waiting for him. 

    After the detail was completed, Larry was sent to Cabanatuan.  On December 12, 1942, Larry was selected to go out on a work detail to Nichols Field to build runways.  The POWs on the detail were housed at the Pasay School in eighteen rooms.  Thirty POWs were assigned to a room.  The POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy.   The plans for this expansion came from the American Army which had drawn them up before the war.  The Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going through hills and a swamp.
    Unlike the Americans, the Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment. Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows.  The first POWs arrived at Pasay in August 1942.  The work was easy until the extension reached the hills.  When the extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand.  The Japanese replaced the wheel barrows with mining cars that two POWs pushed to the swamp and dumped as land-fill.  As the work became harder and the POWs weaker, less work got done.
    At six in the morning, the POWs had reveille and "bongo," or count, at 6:15 in detachments of 100 men.  After this came breakfast which was a fish soup with rice.  After breakfast, there was a second count of all POWs, which included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and half to the airfield.
    After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again.  They went to a tool shed and received their tools; once again they were counted.  At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted again.  When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again.  Then, they would rush to the showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs.  They were fed dinner, another meal of fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.
 

    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.   As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other Americans what had happened.  The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him, the guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.
    The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
   
       
    It is known that Larry, Sgt. Albert Edwards, and Pvt. Steve Gados were beaten while on the detail.  Edwards and Gados were both members of B Company.  The exact reason for the beating is not known.    

    In the fall of 1943, Larry was sent to Japan on the Canadian Inventor on July 4, 1944.  The ship sailed but returned to Manila because of boiler problems  After repairs had been made, on July 16th, the ship sailed again.

    During the trip to Formosa, the Canadian Inventor again experienced boiler problems.  The other ships in the convoy left it behind to make the trip alone.  It arrived at Takao, Formosa on July 23rd.  It remained there for ten days.  While in port, salt was loaded onto the ship. 

    On August 4th, the Canadian Inventor left Takao and made its way along the west coast of Formosa to Keelung Harbor.  Arriving there on August 5th, it remained in port for twelve days while additional repairs to its boiler were made to its boiler.

    It sailed again on August 17th, and had more boiler problems, north of Formosa, near the Ryuku Islands.  This time it made its way to Naha, Okinawa.  After repairs again were made, it sailed for Moji, Japan.  The trip ended on September 4, 1944 after 62 days when it finally arrived at Moji.

    In Japan he was held as a prisoner at the Nagoya #3-B until the end of the war.  He was 25 years old when he was liberated.  The POWs in the camp were used as labor in the mining and refining of lead and zinc.

    One of the more interesting side stories of World War II involved Larry.  In 1941, Larry was out with a friend, Herbert Hans Haupt.  The two men had attended Lakeview High School in Chicago together.  Haupt suggested that they visit a German Bund club he belonged to.  When they entered the club, Larry knew that being there was a mistake.  From the ceilings of the club hung Nazi flags.  Larry got into an argument with Haupt about Hitler and the Nazis.  One reason for the argument was that Haupt had begun to preach Nazi propaganda to Larry.  Things were said and Larry punched Haupt in the nose.  This was the last time that Larry saw Haupt. 

     Harold Hans Haupt would later return to Germany and trained as a spy.  During the war, he was landed by submarine on the coast of Florida.  He traveled to Chicago since his family was there.  Haupt's job was to commit acts of sabotage to cripple the American war effort.  To allow Haupt to perform these acts of sabotage, he took Larry Jordan's name off a list of American soldiers being held as POWs by the Japanese.  The Nazis then created false identity papers for Haupt.  Haupt selected the name because he had been friends with Larry in high school.

     It was at this time that Haupt had a Social Security Card issued with Larry's name on it.  Haupt was unaware that his espionage team had already been betrayed by one if its members.  After Haupt was captured, Larry's mother had to travel to Washington D.C., to testify that Herbert Hans Haupt was not her son.  Haupt was later executed for espionage.  All this took place while Larry was suffering in Japanese POW Camps.

    After Larry was liberated he was told that he was being flown to Hawaii.  After a short stay, he and other soldiers boarded C-54s  and landed at Hamilton Airfield in California.  Before leaving the Philippines, Larry teased the other surviving members of B Company that the important people were being flown home while the less important people were being sent home on troop ships.

    On the flight home, the plane Larry flew over Chicago.  He began to protest that this was where he was suppose to get off.  Instead, Larry was flown directly to Washington D.C. to give testimony about the Herbert Hans Haupt affair.

     Going on with his life, Larry married and worked as a sales representative in Chicago and Maryland.  He was the father of one child.  Larry and his wife divorced, and he returned to Chicago where he died on March 27, 1974.  He was buried at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.


 


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