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Cpl. Harry Alfred King 


     Cpl. Harry Alfred King was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 10, 1921.  He was the son of Charles R. King & Anna Allison-King.  With his two brothers, he grew up at 507 Quincy Street in Maywood.  He was a graduate of Garfield School and a member of the Proviso Township High School Class of 1938.  He was employed by a stationary company to run errands.

    In September of 1940, Harry enlisted in the Illinois National Guard as a member of the 33rd Tank Company from Maywood, Illinois.  He like many other men wanted to fulfill his military obligation.  On November 20, 1940, Harry, along with the other members of his company, was called to federal service when his company was federalized.  During his training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was trained as either a motorcycle messenger or in motorcycle reconnaissance.  

    During his training at Ft. Knox, it is known that he and other members of HQ Company were sent to Fort Wayne outside Detroit, Michigan.  In the late summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  

    Like the other members of his company, Harry had hoped that his tour of duty would end after the maneuvers in Louisiana, but he soon learned that this was not to be.  President Roosevelt had signed orders that extended their time in federal service.  With this news, the members of the 192nd were given orders sending them overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    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.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
   
At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
  At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.

    The morning of December 8th, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against Japanese paratroopers.  All the soldiers set in their tanks, they watched the skies which were filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went ot lunch.  At 12:45,  the airfield was bombed by Japanese planes.

    This lack of training was glaring during the first engagement against the Japanese.  On December 22, 1941, the American tank crews could be heard on the radio yelling at each other because they could not find the shells for their cannons.  It is during the fight against the Japanese that it is believed Harry worked to carry messages to the tanks and do reconnaissance to identify Japanese positions on his motorcycle.

    The Filipino and American Forces fought gallantly, but due to a lack of food and their poor physical shape they were surrendered to the Japanese.  Harry became a Prisoner of War and took part in the death march.  He marched the entire length from Mariveles to San Fernando.  There he and the other POWs were put into boxcars and sent to Capas.  At Capas the POWs disembarked the cars and they walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    Harry was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell.  When a new POW camp at Cabanatuan opened in May, Harry and the other prisoners who were considered to ill to be moved were left behind.  

    It was at Camp O'Donnell that Cpl. Harry A. King died on June 2, 1942, of a liver ailment at the age of 21.  After his death, Harry was awarded the Purple Heart.  After the war, Cpl. Harry A. King was buried in Plot L, Row 8, Grave 89 at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 


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