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 a second
lieutenant in the
U. S. Army..
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Marshall 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, where 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, hidden 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, and his tank platoon, 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 and stopped in front of a hut where he was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The Japanese lookout 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 who had been radioed and were waiting.
Kennady held his fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and than joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the barrio 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. This was the first American tank battle victory of World War II.
Gentry and the other tankers withdrew to Calumpit Bridge which they discovered it had been blown up when they reached it. 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 than 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 Porac to
aid the Filipino army which was having trouble with
Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino
lieutenant, the takers learned where the guns were
and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew,
the tankers had knocked out three of the guns.
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, the members of HQ Company were ordered out to the road that ran by their encampment. Once on the road, the POWs were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the passing Japanese soldiers took what they wanted from the Americans. Afterwards, the soldiers boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles at 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. The POWs made
their way north to San Fernando where they were
placed in a bull pen. In one corner was slit
trench that the POWs used as a latrine. The
surface of the trench was alive with
Marshall was held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino training
base that the Japanese put into use as a POW
camp. Conditions in the camp were bad and many
POWs died from disease. There was one water
spigot for the entire camp which meant the POWs
stood in line for hours for a drink. The
Japanese guard would shut off the water whenever
they felt like it. Disease ran wild in the
camp and as many as fifty-five POWs died each
day. To lower the death rate, the Japanese
opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.
In the early December 1944, Marshall was selected to be sent to Japan and sent to Bilibid Prison. 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 roll call was taken. Afterwards, the POWs were allowed to roam the prison until they formed detached and were marched to Pier 7 in Manila. Once there, tthe POWs were told to sit. Many of the men laid down and slept until they were awakened to board the ship. About 5:00 PM, the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru.
The ship left Manila as part of the MATA-37 convoy bound for Takao, Formosa, at 3:30 the morning of December 14th. Later that morning mess was being given to the prisoners when the sound guns being fired was heard. At first the POWs thought the anti-aircraft gun crews were practicing. It was only when they heard the sound of plane engines that they knew it was an air raid. The POWs heard the sound of the planes' engines change as they began their dives toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions began taking place all around the ships.
In the hold the POWs crowded together. Chips
of rust fell on them from the ceiling. Bullets
hit the metal plating on the hull but most did not
penetrate because of the angle they hit the
ship. 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."
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 around midnight. By the next morning, all the Japanese passengers were off the ship.
The morning of December 15th, 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. Seeing the number of men going into
the water, four of the planes came in low over the
POWs. The POWs waved and shouted to the planes
do that they wouldn't straf them. One plane
veered off and flew even lower over the
planes. Again, the POWs waved frantically at
him. The pilot dipped his wings to show he
knew they were Americans. When he rejoined the
other planes and the attack ended and the planes
returned to their ship. Later that day the
planes returned and sunk the ship.
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 Tuesday, September 27, 1949, the remains of 2nd Lt. Marshall H. Kennady Jr. were reburied, in Section 82, Site 1B-1D - with the ashes of the other POWs who had died at Fukuoka #1-D - 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.