MarcheseN

 

Pvt. Nick J. Marchese


    At this time, what is known about Pvt. Nick J. Marchese is that he was born on September 15, 1917, in Chicago.  He was the son of Anthony & Palonine Marchese.  With his two brothers, he grew up at 2829 West Congress Street in Chicago.  He worked as a soda fountain clerk at a restaurant.

    Nick joined the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, on April 1, 1941, when Headquarters Company was formed.  In the late summer of 1941, he took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after the maneuvers at Camp Polk that the battalion was informed that they were being sent overseas.
    
   The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day.  
    About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He remained with the battalion until they had settled in and had their Thanksgiving Dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
      

    The morning of December 8, 1941, Nick heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Around noon, he lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. 

    For the next for months, Nick with the other members of HQ Company worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with gas and ammunition.  

    The morning of April 9, 1942, Nick and the other members of HQ Company learned of the surrender from Capt. Fred Bruni.  It was on that day that Nick and the other members of the company became Prisoners of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.

    The members of HQ Company remained in the area until they received orders to move two days later.  One morning, the POWs were ordered to line up along the road near their camp.  They did this and placed their possessions on the road in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers passing them took what they wanted from the Americans.

    Nick and the other members of the company rode trucks to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  Just outside the barrio, the Prisoners of War were held at Mariveles Airfield.  While there, the Japanese noticed that their guards were forming a line in front of them.  Each of the Japanese had a gun.

    The POWs realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad, and that they were the intended victims.  Just when it looked like the Japanese were ready to take action, a car pulled up in front of the line and a Japanese officer got out.  He spoke to the Japanese sergeant and then got back in the car and drove off.  The Japanese soldiers lowered their guns.   

   Nick and the other POWs were marched to a school yard and ordered to sit in the sun without food or water.  Behind them on the field, were four Japanese artillery pieces firing at Corrigedor.  Corrigedor was also firing on the Japanese.  Shells from the American fortress began landing among the POWs killing them.  Nick and the other prisoners could do little to protect themselves.  Three of the four Japanese guns were knocked out by the American artillery.

    It was from there that he with his company started what became known as the death march.  On the march, Nick went days without food and received little water.  He slowly made his way to San Fernando.  There he and the other POWs slept in a pen on concrete slabs covered in human waste.

    The next day, he boarded a boxcar and rode to Capas.  There the POWs got out of the cars and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.  The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put in use as a POW camp.   There was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  The death rate among the POWs skyrocketed, so a new camp was opened at Cabanatuan. 
    Being considered a healthy POW, Nick was sent to the camp.  After entering the camp, Nick was put into the camp hospital and assigned to Barracks 6.  The exact date he was admitted was not indicated on the medical records from the camp.  It does indicate he was admitted suffering dysentery and with gangrenous leg.

    It was at Cabanatuan that Pvt. Nick J. Marchese died of dysentery on Wednesday, July 1, 1942.  He was listed as dying at approximately 10:00 in the morning.  After the war, the remains of Pvt. Nick J. Marchese were reburied at the the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.


 

 

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