Kwiatkowski



Tec 4 Joseph Stanley Kwiatkowski
    T/4 Joseph S. Kwiatkowski  was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 28, 1918.  He was the son of Bruno and Mary Kwiatkowski.  He was one of the couple's five children and known as "Joey" to his three sisters and brother.  When he was little, his family moved to Pennsylvania where his father worked as a coal miner.  The family moved again to Illinois when his uncle convinced Joe's father to take a job with the Chicago & North Western Railroad in the railroad's Proviso Yards.
 
    Joseph grew up in both Maywood and at 122 North Twenty-third Street in Melrose Park, Illinois.  Although he started high school at Proviso Township High School, he attended high school for about a month when he left school to go to work.  One reason for this was that his father had been injured at the railroad yard and could no longer work.  During this time, Joe worked as a caddy at a golf course.
     On September 24, 1940, Joseph joined the Illinois National Guard's tank company in Maywood.  He did this because the company was going to be federalized.  He also knew that since a draft act had been passed that it was just a matter of time until he would be drafted.
    In November of 1940, Joseph's tank company was called to federal service when the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard was federalized.  The company spent several days in their armory before leaving Maywood for Fort Knox, Kentucky.
    Joseph trained with his tank company at Ft. Knox, Kentucky for nearly a year.  It was at this time that he attended cook's school and became a cook for B Company.  While training, he became best friends with Henry Deckert, who was also being trained as a cook and was also from Maywood.  At this time, he also met Catherine Lloyd from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  He called her "Katie".
    In the late summer of 1941, Joseph took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  His job was to make sure the tankers were fed.  It was after the maneuvers that the members of the 192nd were informed they were going to remain behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox.   None of the men had any idea why this was being done.  It was on the side of a hill that they learned they were being sent overseas as part of  Operation PLUM.  Joseph received leave, returned to Kentucky, and married Katie.
    Joseph returned to Camp Polk and with his company traveled to San Francisco by train.  After arriving there, he and his company were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and shots.  Joseph sailed for the Philippine Islands with stops in Hawaii and Guam before arriving in Manila.
   
The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King 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 love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  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.
    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 to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    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.
    After arriving  in the Philippine Islands, Joseph and his battalion, were housed in tents along the main road between Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield.  This was because their barracks were still under construction.
     The morning of December 8th, Joseph lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  Since he was a cook, all he could do was watch the attack.  For the next four months he worked to feed the tankers who were fighting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
    During the Battle of Bataan, it was Joseph's job to feed the members of B Company as best as he could.  As the battle continued the amount of food given Joseph to feed each man got smaller,  Joe's sense of  humor made the situation easier for the men to handle.  When he came to feed the tankers, he would announce,
"Come and get it! Horse burgers, courtesy of the 26th U. S. Cavalry!"
    The night of April 8, 1942, the night before Bataan officially surrendered to the Japanese, Joseph was among B Company members who escaped to Corregidor.  Joe and the other members of the 192nd made their way along the east coast of Bataan.  They found a cave with a boat in it.  At the point of a gun, they convinced the boat's owner to take them to Corregidor.
    As the boat approached the island, the soldiers signaled the island that they were Americans with a flashlight.  After several attempts, their signal was acknowledged and they were signaled how to get through the mine field.
    On Corregidor, Joe was given new clothes and fed.  He also was assigned to fight with one of the U. S. Marine units.  He remained on the island until Corregidor surrendered after the Japanese invaded the island on May 6th.
    Joseph and the other Americans remained on the island for an additional two weeks.  They were finally taken by barge to an area off the coast of Bataan.  They were about a mile off shore, when they were ordered to jump into the water and swim to shore.  Once on shore, they were used as labor to rebuild a pier.
    After the pier was rebuilt, the POWs formed ranks and ordered to march to Manila.  The reason the POWs were ordered to march through Manila was so that the Japanese could show the Filipinos their superiority.  Having heard about what had happened to the Filipinos and Americans on Bataan, the new POWs feared for the their lives.   To their surprise, they were treated quite well by the Japanese.
    During Joseph's time as a POW, he was held at Cabanatuan.  At some point, Joe was sent to Nichols Airfield to to build runways and revetments.  MOst likely as a replacement for another POW who had died or been sent to Bilibid.  The POWs on the detail did this with picks and shovels.   About 400 yards from where they started, the POWs were expected to remove several hills by hand.  To do this, two men teams pushed mining cars filled with dirt to a swamp and dumped the dirt to create landfill.  
    The POWs were not housed at the airfield, but housed at the Pasay School about a mile from the airfield.  The interior of the school was divided into eighteen rooms.  30 POWs slept on the floor of each of these rooms.  The food fed to the POWs were the discarded pieces of fish that the Japanese enlisted men would not eat.
    Each morning the POWs were woke up assembled and made to do morning calisthenics.  This included the men too sick to work.  The POWs received breakfast, assembled, and marched to the airfield which was about a mile away.  By this point, most of the men did not have shoes, and much of their clothing were now rags.  The Filipino civilians seeing the condition of the prisoners
verbally showed their sympathy toward the POWs which angered the Japanese guards.

    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.   As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other Americans what had happened.  The White Angel to them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him, the guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.

    The welfare of the POWs was of no concern to the Japanese.  They only concern they had was getting the runway built.  If the number of POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury.  Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work.

    In particular, "the Wolf" was was hardest to convince that a man was sick.  If a man's arm or leg was bandaged, he would kick the man's leg, in the spot it was bandaged, and see how the man reacted.  If the man showed a great deal of pain, he was not required to work.  In one case, a man whose broken wrist was in a splint, was twisted by the Wolf while the man trembled in pain.   
    The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
                 

   
Medical records kept at the U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at Bilibid Prison show that Joe was admitted on July 14, 1944, suffering from beriberi and a general swelling of the skin which was the result of having malaria.  According to the records, he came from the Las Pinas Detail.  The record also shows that in August 1944, Joe came down with malaria again.  He remained at Bilibid until November 15, 1944, when he, and many of the POWs, were sent to Sakura POW Camp #24
at Ft. McKinley.  He was returned to Bilibid on January 5, 1945, still suffering from the illnesses.  In addition, he had developed a severe cough.
    What is known is that  Tec 4 Joseph S. Kwiatkowski developed dysentery on January 13th and died at Bilibid Prison on Sunday, January 14, 1945.  He was buried in Bilibid Hospital Plot.  According to Joseph's sister, Helen, his family did not receive word of his death until June 1945.  Capt. John K. Wallace, who had treated him, reported Joe died from malnutrition, dysentery, and beriberi.
    After the war, a friend of the family was stationed in the Philippines and went to the office which held the records of Americans who had died as POWs.  He asked if he could see Joseph's record.  The officer in the office said that the friend couldn't, but that he was going to take a break and that no one else would be in the office.  The friend looked at the record and said that it stated that Joseph died from dysentery and beriberi. 
    In addition, an autopsy was done on Joseph's body at the hospital.  In the autopsy, done by Capt. Theodore Winship of the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, he wrote that Joseph died from bacillary dysentery, malnutrition, beriberi, and that he had suffered from chronic congestion of the lungs, liver, and kidneys.  This information conflicts with 1st Lt. Jacques Merrifield report on the 192nd which states that Joseph's died from tuberculosis.
    After the war, Joseph's remains were reburied in Plot D. Row 10, Grave 243, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
    It should be mentioned that Joseph's wife, Katie, never remarried.





 

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