Sgt. William Arthur Kindell
Sgt. William A. Kindell was born in Oak Park,
Illinois, on December 20, 1916, to Irwin Lee
Kindell and Cecelia Danz-Kindell. He was the
youngest of three boys and a member of an extended
family that lived in both Maywood and Oak
Park. He also had a half-sister. Bill
grew up at 1235 South 20th Avenue in Maywood and
was a graduate of Proviso Township High
Before enlisting in the Illinois National Guard, Bill worked as a machine operator with Chicago Metal Hose. On September 24, 1940, he joined the Maywood Tank Company. His reasons for doing this were that he could not get a good job, and the draft act requiring males to serve one year in the military had been passed into law. It was Bill's hope to complete his one year of military duty and get on with his life.
On November 25, 1940, Pvt. William A. Kindell and the other members of the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard were called to federal duty as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. At Fort Knox, Kentucky, the members of the company received training in the operation and maintenance of all the equipment used by the company. It was also while on duty there that Bill was assigned to duty in the supply detachment as supply sergeant.
In 1941, after completing training at Ft. Knox,
the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent on maneuvers
to Louisiana. After the maneuvers, instead
of returning to Ft. Knox, they were ordered to
remain at Camp Polk.
As a supply sergeant, Bill was in charge of
mess. Bill watched as the ammunition and
food slowly ran out. Meals for the men in
the field were rice boiled or steamed. At
the time of surrender, there was nothing left to
feed the men. He also had to deal with the
problem of finding the tanks since they were
constantly on the move.
On April 9, 1942, Bill became a Prisoner of War. He took part in the death march and witnessed beatings and killings. As a POW, Bill was first imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell. The conditions in the camp were extremely bad. He felt that they were treated fairly, but the situation was bad because of the lack of medicine and one water faucet. From Camp O'Donnell, Bill was sent out on a work detail to build bridges. This detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.
When this detail ended, Bill was next imprisoned at Cabanatuan #3. He was selected again for a work detail and was sent to Las Pinas. The POWs on the detail built runways at Nichols Field with picks and shovels. He did not remain there long and was sent back to Cabanatuan.
At 2:00 AM in the morning on October 5th, Bill and other POWs were awakened and transported to Pier 7 in Manila. Once there, they were housed in a warehouse on the pier. They remained there for two days. On October 7, 1942, Bill boarded a Tottori Maru.
The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck. This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed. Many POWs died during the trip.
The ship sailed at 10:00 A.M. on October 8th, the Tottori Maru sailed passing Corregidor at noon. The next day it came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine which fired two torpedoes at it. The captain of the ship maneuvered the ship and successfully avoided the torpedoes. The ship also avoided a mine that had been laid by a American submarine.
The Tottori Maru continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa on October 11th. The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing on October 16th at 7:30 A.M. It returned to Takao the same day dropping anchor at 10:30 P.M. It sailed again on October 18th for the Pescadores Islands, arriving the same day. It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao. The next day, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.
The ship sailed again on October 30th to Makou,
Pescadores Islands dropping anchor at 5:00
P.M. On October 31st, the ship sailed as
part of a seven ship convoy for Pusan,
Korea. During this trip, the ship was caught in a typhoon
which took five days to ride out. After
the typhoon, the ships were attacked by an
American submarine which sunk one ship.
The other ships scattered during the attack.
After 31 days on the ship, the Tottori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea, on November 7th. 1300 POW's got off the ship on November 8th and were issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats. They were marched to the train station and took a two day train trip north to Mukden, Manchuria. There, they worked in a sawmill or a manufacturing plant.
From Korea, Bill was sent to Mukden,
Manchuria. The POWs in this camp were used
as slave labor in a machine shop or wood
shop. In Bill's case, he worked in the M.
K. K. Factory. There he worked as a
machine helper for the rest of the war.
The prisoners worked eight hour shifts five days
During his years as a prisoner, Bill at times
suffered from beriberi, jaundice, kidney stones,
pneumonia, which developed into tuberculosis,
diphtheria, tropical ulcers, scurvy, skin
rashes and malnutrition. Medical treatment
consisted of advice since there was little or no
medicine. The lack of medical
supplies at Mukden resulted in the deaths of 204
American POWs by June 6, 1943.
On August 20, 1945, a B-24 flew over the camp, circled and dipped its wrings to the POWs. It was also on this date that six parachutists were dropped into the camp. As it turned out, these men had been sent to negotiate the surrender of the camp.
Later the same day, the POWs at Mukden were
liberated by the Russians and told that they
were free. The Russians had the POWs watch as
they had the Japanese go through an official
surrender ceremony. In the ceremony, the
Japanese guards were paraded past the POWs and
made to lay down their arms. The Japanese
officers were made to lay down their
swords. Bill wrote to his parents about
"Dear Mom & Dad:
time has come that I can write you once
again as a free man and now that I can, I
don't know what to say.
The former prisoners remained in Russian hands for one month until they were released to American relief workers in Darien, China. On September 23, 1945, Bill sailed on the U. S. S. Howze for the United States arriving in San Francisco on October 13, 1945.
From San Francisco, Bill was sent to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was next sent Vaughan VA Hospital outside Chicago, and arrived there on October 21st. He was next sent to Wood Veterans Administration Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for further treatment. The reason he was sent there was that while he was a POW, his parents had moved from Maywood to Summit Lake, Wisconsin, due to his father's health problems.
Bill was almost discharged on several occasions, but because of health issues, he continued to remain in the army. When he was finally discharged, it was with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He also left the hospital minus six ribs and a collapsed lung. Bill found it ironic that his hope of getting his one year of military service over by joining the Illinois National Guard took him over eleven years to complete.
After he was discharged, he studied medical photography and worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Bill married Delores Sanhuber, a Veterans Administration nurse, and became a father of two daughters and a son.
Bill was awarded the Two Oak Leaf Cluster on Distinguished Service Unit Badge, Purple Heart, Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Clasp, World War II Victory Medal, and Philippine Defense Ribbon with Bronze Star.
William A. Kindell passed away on December 26, 1994, in Fresno, California. His remains were cremated and interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.