| T/5 Harold P.
Keegan was the son of Raymond F. Keegan & Mary
Ellen Conway-Keegan and was born March 22, 1922,
in Hanover, Wisconsin. He was the second of
the couple's three sons and also had a younger
sister. Harold also lived in Plymouth,
Wisconsin, and attended grade school in
Hanover. He graduated from St. Mary's School
in Janesville and later lived at 31 South Main
Street in Janesville. He was a member of the
graduating Class of 1940 from Janesville High
After graduation, he and his siblings were
living with an aunt at 312 East Clark Street in
Janesville. To earn money, he joined the
Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Battalion Tank
Company in Janesville. His reason for
doing this was that he knew that it was only a
matter of time before he was drafted into the
regular army since a draft act had just been
passed. Like many young men of his day, he
wanted to fulfill his military obligation and
get on with his life.
In November of 1940, Harold's tank company was
called to federal service as a Company A, 192nd
Tank Battalion. In January 1941, Harold
was transferred to Headquarters Company as a
maintenance clerk when the company was formed
from members of the letter companies of the
After training at Ft. Knox, Harold went with the
battalion on maneuvers in Louisiana. Upon
completion of the maneuvers, Harold and the rest
of the battalion learned they were not being
released from federal service but being sent
overseas for additional training.
From Camp Polk,
the companies of battalion traveled west
over four different train routes to San
Francisco, California. 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.
Men with minor medical conditions were scheduled
to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. 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.
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,
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.
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, the
tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. King, who
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 live in tents. The fact was he
had not learned of their arrival until days
before they arrived.
The members of the
battalion pitched the tents in an open field
halfway between the Clark Field Administration
Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents
were set up in two rows and five men were
assigned to each tent. There were two
supply tents and meals were provided by food
trucks stationed at the end of the rows of
On December 8, 1941, Harold survived the
Japanese attack on Clark Field. Over the
next four months the only word that his parents
received was a letter dated January 16,
1942. In it he stated that except for one
really heavy air raid things were not that bad.
Japanese were finished, there was not much left
of the airfield. The soldiers watched as
the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the
hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
that could carry the wounded was in use.
When the hospital filled, they watched the
medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms
and legs missing.
That night the members
of the company slept in a dry latrine that was
near their bivouac since it was safer then their
tents. They had no idea that they had
slept their last night on a bed. The next
morning, they saw the bodies of the dead lying
on the ground. Pilots who had night duty
lay dead in their tents.
For the next
four months Harold worked to keep the letter
companies supplied in their fight against the
Japanese. This was often difficult since
the defensive lines were fluid and the tanks
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
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.
When they reached San
Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pen which
had been created by putting barbwire around a
school yard. They were left there for
hours sitting in the sun. At some point,
the Japanese ordered them to form 100 men
detachments. When this was done, they were
marched to the train station.
At San Fernando, the
POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars
known as "Forty or Eights." The cars could hold
forty men of eight horses, but the Japanese
packed 100 men into each car and closed the
doors. Those POWs who died in the cars did
not fall to the floors until the living left the
cars at Capas. From Caps, the POWs
walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army
Training Base. There was only one water
spigot for the entire camp, and as many as 50
POWs died each day. The living worked day
and night to bury the dead. When they
returned to the cemetery in the morning, the
wild dogs had dug up the bodies or they were
sitting up in the graves.
When work details were formed, Harold
volunteered to to go out one. Like many
other prisoners, Harold realized that staying in
the camp could result in his death. While
working on a detail to rebuild runways at Clark
Field, Harold became ill with dysentery and was
returned to Camp O'Donnell. It was there
that Harold died at the age of twenty on Friday,
June 5, 1942, and was buried in the camp
cemetery in Section: M, Row: 5, Grave 2.
family received word of his death in May
1944. It was after the war, from the
surviving members of A Company, that the family
learned that he had died of
dysentery. On August 31, 1946, his
family held a memorial service for him at St.
Mary's Catholic Church in Janesville.
After the war, at the request of his family,
Harold's remains were returned to Janesville,
Wisconsin. He was reburied at Mount Olivet
Catholic Cemetery on February 7, 1949.