Lorenz

 


Pvt. Raymond A. Lorenz


    Pvt. Raymond A. Lorenz was born on February 25, 1919, in Okeene, Oklahoma, to Manuel & Amelia Lorenz.  It is known that he had three sisters and two brothers.  The family resided in Deep Creek, Major County, Oklahoma.  He left school after eighth grade and worked as a truck driver for the state highway department and was living in Isabella, Oklahoma, in 1941.
    Raymond was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 24, 1941, at Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  After completing basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he became a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion. 
   The 192nd Tank Battakion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers.  After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  According to members of the battalion, General George Patton told them the news.  Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  Raymond was one of these volunteers.  He was assigned to B Company.
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leave so that they could say goodbye to family and friends.  They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to San Francisco, California.  From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island 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.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  They sailed the same day for Manila.  The ships 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.
    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.
 
   At six in the morning, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to move their platoons to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  The 192nd had been assigned to the southern portion of the airfield.
    The tankers watched that morning as the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as 54 planes approached the airfield.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
    After the attack the tankers saw the carnage done by the attack.  The Japanese had effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps.  The tankers would spend the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
    Raymond 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.  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.
    After the withdraw into Bataan, B Company was guarding a beach along the east coast of the peninsula.  It was one of the few places where the Japanese could land troops. 
One night, they were

   

involved in a firefight with Japanese landing barges. When morning came, not one Japanese soldier had been landed on the beach.

     On April 8, 1941, the tankers received the order "crash."  They circled their tanks and each crew fired a metal piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it.  They opened the gasoline valves and dropped grenades into the tanks.  After this was done they waited for the Japanese to make contact with them.  When they did the Americans were now Prisoners of War.  The Japanese ordered them to make their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
    After arriving at Mariveles, the POWs were searched by the Japanese.  They started the march out of Mariveles and made their way north up the east coast of Bataan.  On the march, they received little food and no water.  POWs who ran to the artesian wells were often shot by the guards.  When they reached San Fernando, the POWs were herded into a bull pen.  There, they were held until the Japanese formed columns and took marched them to the train station.
    At the station, the POWs were packed into small wooden
boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as "forty or eights," because they could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  From there, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
     Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men stood in line for hours to get a drink.  The situation in the camp was so bad that the death rate among the POWs rose to as many as fifty to fifty-five deaths a day.   Even the Japanese realized that something had to be done, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.
    It is not known if Raymond was sent immediately to Cabanatuan or if he went to the camp after being on a work detail.  It is known that Raymond was housed in Barracks 6, Group II.  According to medical records kept by the hospital staff in the camp, Ray was admitted suffering from conjunctivitis and malnutrition on Wednesday, October 28, 1942.  He was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday November 17, 1942.  It appears that he was still in the camp in July 1944, when a list of POWs being sent to Japan was posted.  His name was on the list.
  
  On July 15th, trucks arrived at the camp and the POWs were boarded.  The POWs arrived at Bilibid seven hours later.  Their dinner was rotten sweet potatoes.  Since it was night, they had to eat in the dark.  They remained at Bilibid until July 17th at 8:00 A.M. and walked to Pier 7.  They were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  The Japanese attempted to put the entire POW detachment in the forward hold but failed, so 600 of the POWs were put into the read hold.
    The ship was moved and remained outside the breakwater, at Manila, from July 18th until July 23rd while the Japanese attempted to form a convoy.  The POWs were fed rice and vegetables.  They also received two canteen cups of water. 
    The ship sailed on July 23rd at 8:00 A.M. to Corregidor and dropped anchor off the island at 2:00 P.M.  It remained off the island overnight and sailed at 8:00 A.M. the next day.  The ship sailed north by northeast.  On July 26th at 3:00 in the morning, there was a large  fire off the ship.  It turned out that the one of the ships, the Otari Yama Maru had been hit by a torpedo from the U.S.S. Flasher which was a part of a three submarine wolf pack.  On July 28th, the ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, and docked at 9:00 A.M.   The ship sailed at 7:00 P.M. and continued its northward trip all day and night of July 29th.  On July 30th, the ship ran into a storm.  The storm finally passed by August 2nd.  The POWs were issued clothing on August 3rd and arrived at Moji on August 4th at midnight. 
    At 8:00 in the morning, the POWs disembarked the ship. They were taken to a theater and were held in it all day.  The POWs were divided into different groups and sent to different camps.  The POW detachment Raymond was in was taken to the train station.  The train left at 9:00 P.M. and arrived at the camp at 2:00 A.M., they were unloaded and walked the three miles to the camp. 

    Raymond was assigned to Fukuoka Camp #23The camp consisted of a mess hall, a hospital, six unheated barracks located on top of a hill with a ten foot high wooden fence around it. In the barracks, the POWs slept in 15 X 15 foot bays.  Six POWs shared a bay.  At 6:00 A.M., 6:00 P.M., and 9:00 P.M., the Japanese took row call.  For the first two weeks in the camp, the POWs learned the Japanese words for mining equipment. 

    The POWs received their jobs from the camp commandant who spoke adequate English.  The POWs were divided into two groups of miners.  The "A" group mined during the day, while the "B" group mined at night.  Every ten days the groups would swap shifts.  When the POWs arrived at the mine, they were turned over to civilian supervisors.   The POWs quickly learned the more they did the more these supervisors wanted from them.  After awhile, the supervisor and POWs came to a reasonable agreement on how many cars they would load each day.  The one good thing about working in the mine in the winter was the temperature was about 70 degrees.  Earl recalled that working in the mine was scary because conditions in the mine.  The mines the POWs worked were often mines that Japanese engineers had determined to be unsafe for Japanese miners.

    During his time in the camp, the worst atrocity Raymond witnessed was an American who was shot to death by a firing squad.  This was done because the soldier had stolen a piece of bread.

    During 1945, things got worse for the POWs, so they knew the Japanese were losing the war.  At 5:00 P.M. on August 15th they learned the war was over.  The POWs did not believe it.  The next day the camp commandant, at 9:00 A.M., informed the POWs that the war was over.  He also told them that they had to stay in the camp.  On August 24th, the Japanese gave the POWs paint and canvas and told them to paint "POW." on the canvas and put it on the barracks roofs.
   On August 28th, B-29s appeared over the camp. Two of the planes circled and dropped fifty gallon drums to  the POWs.  For the first time, the POWs knew they were now in charge.  Most of the guards quickly disappeared.  On September 15th, Americans arrived in the camp.  The POWs were taken by truck to the train station.  They road the train to Nagasaki.  Once there, they were given physicals, deloused, and the seriously ill were boarded onto a hospital ship.  The rest were taken by the U.S.S. Marathon to Okinawa.  They were then flow back to the Philippines.
    Raymond was held in the Philippines until he was considered healthy enough to go home.  He was promoted to Staff Sergeant.  After returning home he reenlisted on February 24, 1946, and remained in the Army a total of ten years.  He transferred to the U.S. Air Force and served another eleven years until retiring on April 30, 1961, as a technical sergeant.
   Raymond also married and was the father of three daughters and and three sons.  The family resided in Kelseyville, California.  Raymond A. Lorenz passed away on September 8, 1990, in Vacaville, California.


 

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