Paul W. Kliztke
Sgt. Paul W. Klitzke was born on February 8, 1913, in
Milton Junction, Wisconsin. He was the son of
William H. Klitzke & Adele E. Merrifield-Klitzke
and, with his four sisters, grew up in Richmond
Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin. He was a
student in the Knilans School District and attended
grade school in Richmond Township and high school in
Delavan. In early 1940, he was working as a
farmhand in Walworth County, Wisconsin.
It was while Paul was working for Henry Knox that he enlisted in the 32nd Division Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard in Janesville. Henry was already a member of the tank company.
On November 25, 1940, the tank company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. Several days later, they traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky to join tank companies from Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. During Paul's time at Ft. Knox, he qualified as a tank driver.
Paul took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941. Afterwards, he learned his battalion was being sent overseas. He and the other men were given leaves home to say their goodbyes to family and friends.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join 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 November 5th, 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 as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers. The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write called his tank company together and informed them of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. He then ordered his company to its position around the perimeter of the airfield. Around 12:45 in the afternoon, planes appeared in the sky, when bombs began exploding, Paul and the other men knew the planes were Japanese.
Being that the tankers did not have the right weapons to shoot at planes, there was not much they could do but watch. After the attack, many gave aid to the wounded and dying.
For the next four months, Paul fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, he became a POW when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
Paul took part in the death march from Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan to San Fernando. He rode a train from there to Capas and then walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell. When a new Prisoner of War camp opened at Cabanatuan, Paul remained behind at Camp O'Donnell. It is believed that this meant that he was too ill to be moved.
On Monday, June 1, 1942, Sgt. Paul W. Klitzke died from dysentery at Camp O'Donnell. After the war his remains were returned to United States and were buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in South Minneapolis, Minnesota.