2nd Lt. Marshall Howard Kennady Jr.
2nd Lt. Marshall Howard Kennady Jr. was born on February 22, 1919, in Bexar County, Texas, and grew up with his sister and brother in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Marshall H. Kennady Sr. & Helen Lehnen-Kennady. His father was a colonel in the Texas State Guard.
Marshall graduated from
Texas A&M College in 1940 and commissioned into
the U. S. Army
as an officer. It is not known if he
was a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion or assigned
directly to the 192nd Tank Battalion.
Marshall was assigned to the Headquarters Company. He was the tank platoon commander of the three tanks assigned to HQ Company. His tanks were with C Company as the company withdrew to Baluiag. There, the tanks encountered Japanese troops. It was at Baluiag that Lt. William Gentry's platoon of tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.
On December 31, 1941, Gentry sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited. Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Gentry had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. Gentry's tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady held his fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the bario, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
Gentry and the other tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
Gentry spaced his tanks about 100 yards apart. The Japanese crossing the river knew that the Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were in front of them. The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire.
Lighting the rice stacks, the Americans opened up with small fire. They then used their .37 mm guns. The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese soldier.
The tanks were next sent to the barrio of Porack to aid the Filipino army which was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, Gentry learned where the guns were and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tankers had knocked out three of the guns. This was the first American tank battle victory of World War II.
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the Japanese up for a few days.
In addition to serving as a rear guard, the tankers burnt everything that was being left behind. The tankers burnt warehouses, banks and businesses that would help the Japanese.
The evening of April 8, 1942, Marshall and the other members of HQ Company learned of the American surrender from Capt. Fred Bruni. The tankers destroyed their tanks at this time. The next morning when the surrender became official, he and the other members of the company became Prisoners of War.
After remaining in their bivouac for two days, Marshall and the other members of HQ Company, were ordered out to the road that ran by their encampment. The Prisoners of War were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road. As they knelt, the passing Japanese soldiers took what they wanted from the Americans. The men then their way to Mariveles to the southern tip of Bataan.
At Mariveles, the POWs were searched and personal possessions were confiscated by the Japanese. It was also from there that Marshall started what became known as the death march. During the march he received almost no food and little water.
At San Fernando, Marshall and the other POWs were boarded into small wooden boxcars. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into the cars. Men died in the cars from the heat and lack of air. At Capas, the prisoners disembarked; the bodies of the dead fell from the cars as they climbed out. Marshall walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Marshall was held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan. On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected Marshall, and other POWs, for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao. He and the other POWs were loaded onto the Erie Maru and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28th. A smaller group of POWs remained at Davao, at the penal colony, and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to Lasang, on November 7th, and spent the next twenty months building runways and farming. The POW camp was located about 36 miles from Davao City.
At the camp, the POWs were housed in barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide. A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks. In each barracks, were eighteen bays. Twelve POWs shared a bay. 216 POWs lived in each barracks. Four cages were later put in a bay. Each cage held two POWs.
The camp discipline was poor. The American commanding officer changed frequently. The junior officers refused to take orders from the senior officers. Soon, the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted to, to the officers. The situation improved because all majority of POWs realized that discipline was needed to survive.
At first, the work details were not guarded. The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops. The sick POWs made baskets. In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied. Those working the rice fields received the worst treatment. They were beaten for not meeting quotas, misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, and a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.
The Japanese ended the detail at the farm and sent the POWs to Lasang on March 2, 1944. The POWs thought that it would not be as bad as the farm; they were wrong. The barracks of the POWs were only 400 yards from the airfield. The POWs believed this was done so if American planes attacked, they would kill their own countrymen.
The POWs either built runways or were sent to a quarry to mine coral for runways. The POWs dug out the coral, broke it up, and loaded it onto trucks which were driven to the airfield. When the POWs slowed the pace of their work down, the Japanese resorted to torture to get them to work.
One night, the POWs heard the sound of a plane. From the sound of its engine, they knew it was an American plane. This was the first American plane they had seen in over two years. The plane dove on the runway and dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway. The POWs could not openly show their joy, so they cheered silently. Not too long later, on June 6, 1944, Marshall was one of the POWs selected to be sent to Manila. From there, he was taken to Bilibid Prison.
In the fall of 1944, Marshall was selected to be sent to Japan. On December 12, 1944, roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called. At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, Marshall and the other POWs were awakened and marched to Pier 7 in Manila. The POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru.
The ship left Manila as part of the MATA-37 convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish and water. The morning of December 14th, mess was being given to the prisoners when the sound of planes was heard. The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions were taking place all around the POWs.
In the hold the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. A Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
When the attack resumed, the ship bounced in the water from the explosions. The POWs in the holds lived through seventeen attacks from American planes before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. During the night, the medics in the ship's hold were ordered out by a Japanese officer to tend to the Japanese wounded. One of the medics recalled that the dead, dying and wounded were everywhere.
In the ship's holds, the POWs could hear the sound of the Japanese passengers being loaded into lifeboats. By the next morning, all the Japanese passengers were off the ship.
The morning of December 15th, U.S. Navy planes resumed the attack. Again, the attacks came in waves. A guard shouted into the holds that the prisoners were going ashore. The wounded would be the first evacuated. As the POWs were abandoning ship. the planes returned. The pilots of the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners. It was not until the pilots saw the POWs climbing out of the ship's holds that they realized it was a prison ship and stopped the attack.
The POWs swam to shore. As they swam, the Japanese fired on them with machineguns. Once on shore, the POWs were herded onto tennis courts at a country club. There, they spent several days until they were taken to San Fernando, Pampanga on December 20, 1944. They were housed in a jail until they were sent by train to San Fernando, La Union.
Next, Marshall was boarded onto the Enoura Maru. On January 9, 1945, this ship also came under attack, by five American fighters, while it sat in Takao Harbor, Formosa. The ship was not marked with "red crosses" to indicate it was carrying POWs. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machineguns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship. Three bombs from the planes hit the ship killing 285 POWs. The ship was sunk while docked at Takao.
The surviving POWs remained in in the hold for three days with the dead. The stench from the dead filled the air. On January 11th a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold. The dead were unloaded from the ship, and a POW detail of twenty men took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated. These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated. Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold. The Japanese organized a detail and had the survivors bury the remaining dead in a grave on a beach.
On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued lifejackets. The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy. The ship sailed on January 14, 1945, and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945. During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
Marshall was held as a POW at Fukuoka #1-D where he died on Monday, February 19, 1945, of dysentery and malnutrition. After his death, his remains were cremated and placed into an urn with those of 98 other POWs who died in the camp.
After the war, on September 27, 1949, the remains of 2nd Lt. Marshall H. Kennady Jr. were reburied in Section 82, Site 1B-1D, in a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. He shares his grave with Capt. Donald Hanes of HQ Company, 2nd Lt. Everett Preston of D Company, and 2nd Lt Harry Black of B Company.
The photo below is of part of the headstone on the grave.