Pvt. J. M. Lillard
| Pvt. J. M. Lillard was born on July 21, 1914, in Leonard, Texas, to William B. Lillard & Margie E. Higgins-Lillard. The initials "J. M."were his first name. With his four brothers and six sisters, he grew up in Caddo, Oklahoma, and later resided in Aubrey, Texas. |
J. M. was inducted into the U. S. Army on March 18, 1941, in Dallas, Texas. It is known that he completed his basic training at Fort Knox, and attended tank mechanics school and qualified as a tank mechanic. After basic training, in the late summer of 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, where he became a member of A Company, 753rd Tank Battalion, which had been sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana from Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Traveling west by train over different train routes, the 192nd arrived in San Francisco, California, and was ferried to Angel Island for physicals and inoculations. Those men determined to have medical conditions were either replaced or held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment, and a Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. J. M. was now a Prisoner of War. 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. The POWs were left kneeling along the sides of the road for hours.
J. M. and his company finally boarded the trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit and wait. Without knowing it, they were being given what became known as the sun treatment. The Japanese made no effort to give the POWs food or water.
Later in the day, J. M.'s group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. Again they were left sitting in the sun for hours, and the Japanese again did not feed them or give them 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. They had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march he received no water and little food. At San Fernando, the POWs were put into a bull pen - which was covered by human waste - and ordered to sit. The POWs could sit but not lie down. They remained in the bull pen most of the day until the Japanese ordered them to form 100 men detachments.
Camp 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, and many died while waiting for a drink. Since
the doctors had no medicine, the death rate among the POWs rose to as high as 50 men dying each day. The Japanese realized they had to do something to lower the death rate.
J. M. remained in at Camp O'Donnell until he was sent to the new camp that was opened at Cabanatuan to lower the death rate among the POWs. During his time in the camp, he was assigned to Barracks 5, Group 2. His POW number was 8142. Medical records kept at the camp indicate that Lillard was admitted to Hospital Building #3, from Group 2, Building 5 on July 5, 1944. No reason was given to why he was admitted to the hospital.
After the war, J.M. married Florence Krueger on February 7, 1947 and became the father of a son. He remained in the military and served in the Korean War and was also stationed in Germany with the Second Armored Division. He retired, after seventeen years of service on November 26, 1956, as a Sergeant First Class and a tank commander. After retiring, he moved to Midland, Texas. His wife, Florence, passed away in 1969, and he married Carrie Dell Bowman-Stricklin on July 9, 1970.
He later moved to Pilot Point, Texas, and spent the rest of his life there. J. M. Lillard died on September 2, 2003, and was buried at Pilot Point Community Cemetery in Pilot Point, Texas.
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