KillingerP

Pfc. Philip Edward Killinger


    Pfc. Philip E. Killinger was born on February 3, 1915, in Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio, to Elmer & Catherine Killinger.  With his sister, he grew up at 197 Rock Street in Pomroy.   He graduated from high school and worked as a mechanic's helper at a garage. 
    On February 7, 1941, Philip was inducted into the Army at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio, and was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he attended tracked vehicle maintenance school.  During this time, he was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, as a tank mechanic. 
   
The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain to remain at the base instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  It was on the side of a hill that the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  According to members of the battalion, General George Patton had selected them.  Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service, and replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leaves home so they could say goodbye to their family and friends.  They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to San Francisco, California.  From there, they were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii, as part of a three ship convoy.  The ships arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd and t
he soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  According to members of the battalion, it was during this part of the voyage that smoke was seen on the horizon.  The escort cruiser, revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off to intercept the ship.  It turned out the ship was from a neutral country.  When the ships arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, they took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing the next day for Manila.  At one point at night, they sailed passed an island in complete blackout.  Many of the soldiers felt that this was a sign that they were being put in harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that day.  The soldiers remained on ship for three hours before they disembarked and  were taken by buses to Ft. Stotsenburg.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind to unload, the battalions, trucks, half-tracks, and tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.        
   
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on Monday, December 1st, to guard against paratroopers.  Two members of each tank and half-track crews remained with their vehicles at all times.  The morning of December 8th, the battalion's officers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ordered to their units.  Howard was assigned to one of the half-tracks of HQ Company, used for reconnaissance, which meant he was at the perimeter of the airfield.  Howard can be seen in a half-track photo, that often appears in books on the Battle of Bataan.
   
The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they successfully crossed the river.

   
On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road.  The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th, when the tanks fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan, and at San Isidro, south of Cabanatuan, on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, but once again, they were able find a crossing over the river.       
    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 9th, Philip became a Prisoner of War but his company remained in their bivouac.  The first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment on April 9th, and 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.

    The company next boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  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 them.

    As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car and stopped in front of the Japanese soldiers.  He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail before getting back in the car and driving off.  The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.

    Later in the day, Philip's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles.  The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours without being or being given water.  Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered.  Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs, who could do little since they had no place to hide.  Some of the POWs were killed by incoming American shells.  One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when the building took a direct hit.  The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.

    The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march, the POWs received no water and little food.  It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando.  Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it.  In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs.  The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots.  The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down. 

    During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs.  Two were still alive.  When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.

    The POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.  After this was done, they were marched to the train station at San Fernando, The POWs were put into a small wooden boxcars and taken to Capas.  The cars could each hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From there, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for days.  Many died while waiting for a drink.  The POWs went out on work details to get out of the camp.
    The dead, at Camp O'Donnell, were taken to the camp cemetery and buried in shallow graves.  The reason for this was that the water table was high and the POWs could not dig deep graves.  Once a body was put in the ground, it was held down with a pole until it was covered by earth.  The next day, the POWs, on the detail, found wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in the graves.
    The rate of death among the POWs was so high that the Japanese knew they had to do something to lower it, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  The Japanese sent the healthier POWs to the camp.  After arriving at the camp, Philip came down with diphtheria and was admitted to the camp hospital on Wednesday, July 1, 1942, and was assigned to Barracks 0.1 in the hospital area of the camp.
    According to the journal on the 192nd Tank Battalion kept by Lt. Jacques Merrifield, Philip died from dysentery and malaria, but the medical records show that he died from diphtheria and heart disease.  What is known for sure, is that Pfc. Philip Killinger died on Thursday, August 6, 1942, at approximately 4:00 in the morning and was buried in the camp cemetery.
    After the war, the remains of Pfc. Philip E. Killinger were reburied, at his family's request, at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila in Plot D, Row 4, Grave 7.


 

 


 

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