Keegan

 

Tec 5. Harold Philip Keegan


    T/5 Harold P. Keegan was the son of Raymond F. Keegan & Mary Ellen Conway-Keegan.  He was born March 22, 1922, in Hanover, Wisconsin, and was the second of the couple's three sons.  He 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 live at 31 South Main Street in Janesville.  He was a member of the graduating Class of 1940 from Janesville High School. 

    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 is that he knew that it was only a matter of time before he was drafted into the regular army.  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 it was formed from members of the letter companies of the 192nd. 

    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 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 from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii, on the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott, 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 October 29th 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 live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.

    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.  On April 9, 1942, after four months of constant bombing and strafing, Harold and the other defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese . 

    Harold with his battalion started the Death March at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  He made his way north to San Fernando.  There, the POWs were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 men into each car.  Those POWs who died remained standing until the living left the boxcars at Capas.  They then 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.  As many as 50 POWs died each day.  The living worked day and night to bury the dead.

    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.  He 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.
     Harold Keegan's 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.


 

 

 

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