S/Sgt. Walter John Mahr
S/Sgt. Walter J. Mahr was born in Oak Park,
Illinois, on March 5, 1922. He was the son
of Conrad Mahr & Anna Miller-Mahr. With
his two brothers and two sisters, he lived at 408
South 13th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois. He
attended St. Paul Lutheran Grade School in Melrose
Park and Proviso Township High School in
Maywood. He was a member of the graduating
Class of 1940.
Walter enlisted in the Illinois National Guard while he was still in high school. He did this because the National Guard unit in Maywood was a tank company and he loved to tinker with machinery to see how it worked. The tank outfit seemed perfect for him.
In November 1940, when the 33rd Tank Company from Maywood was called into federal duty, Walter went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for training. His unit was now known as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.
In June, 1941, when Corporal George Smith was relieved of his duties in ordnance, Walter was promoted to corporal and took over his duties. Smith wanted to be a member of a tank crew.
In late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. While taking part in these maneuvers, the members did not know that they had already been selected for duty in the Philippine Islands.
In October, 1941, the 192nd left Camp Polk
Louisiana with new tanks from the 753rd Tank
Battalion. Men 29 years old or older were
released from federal service. Many of
their replacements came from the 753rd.
A little over two weeks after arriving in the Philippines, Walter would find himself under Japanese attack just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Walter and his crew were involved in tank action against the Japanese. Walter was the member of the tank crew of Sgt. Raymond P. Mason and Pvt. Quincey Humphries, and Pvt. LD Marrs.
Walter's tank was advancing on Japanese positions outside of Tarlec and was a good distance in front of its support troops. Because of this situation, the Japanese were able to disable the tank by knocking off one of its treads and cutting it off from the support troops. Walter, Sgt. Mason. Pvt. Marrs, and Pvt. Humphries were ordered out of the tank by the Japanese. When they left the tank, they were told to run.
As they ran, the Japanese fired at them with machine guns. Sgt. Mason was killed instantly, but Walter, Humphries, and Marrs managed to make it to a sugarcane field and hid. It was in this field that Walter was found, with wounds on his legs, the next day. Humphries and Marrs were not seen again and believed to have been captured by the Japanese. Walter was taken to a field hospital for medical treatment.
When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese,
Walter became a Prisoner of War. He took
part in the death march and spent time at Camp
O'Donnell. The camp was an unfinished
Filipino Army Base that the Japanese put in to
use as a POW camp. There was only one
water spigot for the entire camp. The
death rate among the POWs skyrocketed.
After the war, S/Sgt. Walter J. Mahr was
reburied in Plot L, Row 11, Grave 138, at the
American Military Cemetery outside of
Manila. It should be noted that his cross
inaccurately shows him as a member of the 194th
Tank Battalion. This is most likely the
result of him being identified as a member of
the battalion while he was hospitalized at