Pfc. Edward J. Lenio
Edward J. Lenio was born in 1917 in Edenborn,
Pennsylvania, to Stanley
J. Lenio & Josephine A. Shudy-Lenio.
With his four sisters and brother, he lived at 989
Dana Street Northeast in Warren, Ohio. He
attended Warren G. Harding High School but left
school after his third year and went to work as a
laborer in a steel mill.
Edward was inducted into the Army on March 28, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio, and did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was assigned to Headquarters Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. What his specific job with the battalion was is not known.
The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers. They were kept at Camp Polk after the maneuvers without being given a reason. According to members of the battalion, General George Patton had selected them to go overseas. Men 29years old or older were given the chance to be released from federal service and replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The battalion traveled to San Francisco, Californiavby different train routes. From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island, where they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join 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, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy, which arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam taking a southerly route away from the major shipping lanes. At one point, smoke was seen on the horizon. The heavy cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off to intercept the unknown ship. It turned out the ship was from a neutral country.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables and sailed the next morning for Manila. 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 on Thursday, November 20th and docked later that day. The soldiers disembarked three hours after docking and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. The truck drivers drove their trucks to the base, while the maintenance section remained behind at the dock to unload the battalion's tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. The fact was that he was not informed of their arrival until days before they docked. He made sure that they all received what they needed and that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
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 and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern portion of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern portion. At all times, two members of each tank and half-track remained with their vehicles. Meals were served to the tankers from food trucks.
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All members of the tank companies were sent to the airfield. HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac.
All morning the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled, they were lined up in a straight line, and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.
The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf. Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas. When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they successfully crossed the river.
On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th, when the tanks fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan, and at San Isidro, south of Cabanatuan, on December 28th and 29th. While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, but once again, they were able find a crossing over the river.
Edward took part in the Battle of the Points from January 27, 1942, until February 13, 1942. The Japanese had been landed on two points and been cut off. The tankers were sent in to wipe out these positions. According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, the tanks did a great deal of damage.
At the same time, there was another battle taking place known as the Battle of the Pockets which lasted from January 23rd until February 17, 1942. Japanese troops had been caught off behind the battle line. Tanks from B and C Companies were sent in to wipe out the Japanese in the Big Pocket. According to members of the battalion, two methods were used to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to have three Filipinos sit on the back of the tank with bags of hand grenades. As the tank passed over a Japanese foxhole, each man dropped a hand grenade into the foxhole. The reason this was done was the grenades were from World War I, and one out of three exploded.
The second method was to have the tank park with one track over the foxhole. The tank would spin on one track and grind its way into the ground killing the Japanese in the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of the tanks because of the smell of rotting flesh in the tracks.
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."
The company finally boarded their trucks and drove to outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them and realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them. As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles and were left sitting in the sun for hours without food or water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group of POWs that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march, the POWs received no water and little food. It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it. In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During their time in the bull
pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three
POWs. Two were still alive. When one
of the men attempted to climb out of the grave,
he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.
O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training
base that the Japanese pressed into service as a
Prisoner of War camp. There was only one
working water faucet for the entire camp.
To get a drink, men stood in line for
hours. Many died while waiting for a
drink. The death rate among the POWs was
as high as fifty men a day, so POWs went out on
work details to get out of the camp.