Pfc. Arthur Glen Mahone
Pfc. Arthur G. Mahone was born in April 8, 1907, in Arkansas to Eugene G. Mahone and Dolly Mae Peeples-Mahone. He had two sisters and two brothers. He grew up in Tennessee, Arkansas, and later lived at 527 South Sixteenth Street in Macon, Texas. He was known as "Glen" to his family. Arthur married and was a widower living in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, with his parents and daughter, when he was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1941, in Oklahoma City.
Arthur did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. With the battalion, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, for four additional months of training.
In the late summer of 1941, maneuvers took place in Louisiana. The 753rd did not take part in the maneuvers. The 192nd Tank Battalion did take part in the maneuvers and learned after the maneuvers that it was being sent overseas. Since the battalion was made up mostly of National Guardsmen, the men 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men were sought from the 753rd.
volunteered to join the 192nd and was assigned
to Headquarters Company. One of his first
duties was, with other members of the company,
to make sure that the battalion's tanks, trucks
and jeeps were loaded onto flatcars.
All morning, American planes were flying overhead to guard the airfield from attack. B-17's were loaded with bombs and prepared for an attack of Formosa. At 12:30 in the afternoon, the fighters landed and the plane crews went to lunch.
At 12:45, Arthur and the other tankers noticed planes approaching the airfield from the north. At first the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when they saw the bombs dropping to earth and the explosions did the soldiers know the planes were Japanese. Since they were not equipped to fight planes, HQ Company could do little more than watch.
For the next four months, Arthur worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with the supplies needed to fight. The morning of April 9, 1942, Capt. Bruni informed his company of the surrendered and gave orders that any supplies that could be used by the Japanese should be destroyed. It was on this date that Arthur became a Prisoner of War.
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. A Japanese officer ordered Joseph and the rest of his company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road. They were told to put 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.
Arthur's company boarded their trucks and drove to 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. They soon 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, Arthur's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. These two islands had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs. The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed from incoming American shells. One group 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. Joseph and the other men 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, he was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car. From Capas, Arthur walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp. It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day. There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp. To get a drink, men stood in line for days. Many died while waiting for a drink.
Seeing that the conditions in the camp were terrible, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan. Arthur and the other healthy POWs were sent to the camp while those too ill to be moved remained at Camp O'Donnell. He was assigned to Barracks 7, Group 2 at the camp. It is not known if he went out on any work details.
On October 10th, Arthur, with other prisoners, was marched to the Port Area of Manila. They were scheduled to board the Hokusen Maru, but since another POW group had not completely arrived they were boarded onto the Arisan Maru in their place. All 1803 POWs were packed into the ship's number two hold which was large enough for 400 men. The ship sailed and headed south toward Palawan Island. In a cove off the island, the ship hid from American planes. Within the first 48 hours, five POWs had died.
Along the walls of the hold were wooden bunks. If a man lay down in one, there wasn't enough space for him to sit up. Eight buckets served as the POWs toilets. Those who could not reach them simply went on themselves. The hold was so hot that the POWs began to develop heat blisters. Some of the POWs were able to wire the hold's ventilators into its lighting system. The Japanese had removed the lights, but they had failed to shut off the power. For two days, the POWs had fresh air until the Japanese discovered what they had done and turned off the power.
During its time in the cove, the ship was attacked by American planes. Acknowledging that the situation in the hold was extremely bad, the Japanese opened the first hold and moved 800 POWs to it. This hold was partially filled with coal.
On October 20th, the ship returned to Manila to join a twelve ship convoy. On October 21, 1944, the Arisan Maru sailed for Takao, Formosa. On Tuesday, October 24th, around 5:00 pm, the ship was in the Bashi Channel in the South China Sea, off the coast of China. twenty POWs were on deck preparing dinner. The Japanese on deck ran toward the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo pass in front of the ship. Moments later the Japanese ran to the stern of the ship as another torpedo missed the ship.
The ship shook and came to a dead stop in the water. It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships. The Japanese guards fired on the POWs on deck to get them back into the ship's holds. After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders into the holds and put the hatch covers on but did not tie them down. A short time later, the Japanese abandoned ship.
Since the hatch covers had not been tied down, some of the POWs made their way back on deck. These men reattached and dropped the rope ladders to the men in the holds. For the next several hours, the ship remained afloat. At some point, the ship split in two. The POWs who could not swim stuffed themselves with food from the ship's kitchen. Others attempted to find anything that would float. Some POWs swam to other Japanese ships, but they were pushed away with poles or hit with clubs as they attempted to board the ships.
Five of the POWs found an abandoned lifeboat that had no oars. Since the sea was rough, they could not maneuver it to rescue other men. According to these men, the Arisan Maru sank sometime after dark. They heard men crying for help, but as the night went on the cries became fewer until there was silence. Of the 1803 men who boarded the Arisan Maru, only nine survived the sinking. Eight of these men survived the war.
Pfc. Arthur G. Mahone was not one of them. Since he was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
A memorial headstone was also placed, by his family, at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Chickasha, Oklahoma. In error, it shows that he died on the Oryoku Maru which was sunk in December 1944.