King H

Cpl. Harry Alfred King 


    Cpl. Harry A. King was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 10, 1921, to Charles R. King & Anna Allison-King.  With his two brothers, he grew up at 507 Quincy Street in Maywood and graduated from Garfield School and Proviso Township High School, as a member of the Class of 1938.  After high school, 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 since the draft act had just been passed.  On November 20, 1940, Harry, along with the other members of his company, was called to federal service when the company was federalized.  The soldiers reported to the armory on November 25th and prepared their equipment for transport.  On November 28th, they marched downn Madison Street to Fifth Avenue and up the street to the Chicago & North Western train station where their tanks were loaded onto a train.  A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion was already on the train they boarded. 
    During his training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was trained as either a motorcycle messenger or in motorcycle reconnaissance.  When HQ Company was created in January 1941, the Harry was assigned to the company. 
It is known that he and other members of HQ Company were sent to Fort Wayne outside Detroit, Michigan in 1941, but the exact reason for the trip is not known.

    In the late summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers in Louisiana, and ran messages from HQ Company to the letter companies.  After the maneuvers ended, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox like they had expected. 

    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 who were married or 29 years old, or older, were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.
    Over different train routed, the battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, on the island, 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.  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, as part of a three ship convoy which arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd.  Since the ships had a two day layover, the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.  On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam. 
During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship, was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.     
   
When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  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.   The ships entered Manila Bay at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, November 20th.  Later that day, they docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those soldiers assigned to trucks drove them to the fort.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents, but the fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He remained with them and made sure they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, this was the date they were suppose to be released from federal service.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to prevent them rusting while at sea.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.

    On Monday, December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half.  At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks.  HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered up to full strength at Clark Field. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    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 engagement that carried messages to the tanks and did reconnaissance, on his motorcycle, to identify Japanese positions.

    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.  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 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  George was now a Prisoner of War.  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.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           

    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit.  As they sat, John and the other Prisoners of War 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 there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in front of the soldiers.  He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  The officer got back in the car and drove off.  As he drove away, the sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
    Later in the day, the POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles.  In the school yard, they found themselves between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide.  Some of the POWs were killed from incoming shells since they had no place to hide.  The American guns did knock out three of the Japanese guns.

 
    The POWs were ordered to move and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march.  During the march they received no water and little food.  At San Fernando, they were put in a bull pen, ordered to sit, and left sitting in the sun.   
    Later, they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station where they were put into a small wooden boxcars known as "Forty and Eights" because they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar so tightly that those men who died could not fall to the floors of the cars.  At Capas, the living disembarked and walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.     

    Harry was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell which was a death trap since there was no medicine to treat the sick.  Disease spread from man to man.  There was also only one water faucet for the entire camp.  The death rate among the POWs reached 55 men a day when the Japanese finally decided to do something about it and open a new camp. 
    When the new POW camp at Cabanatuan opened in May, Harry and the other prisoners who were considered to ill to be moved were left behind.  According to medical records kept at the camp,
Cpl. Harry A. King died on June 2, 1942, of a liver ailment at the age of 21. 
    After the war, his remains were positively identified, Cpl. Harry A. King was buried in Plot L, Row 8, Grave 89 at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.  He was post-humorously awarded the Purple Heart.


 

 


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