MathenyJ

 

Sgt. Joseph Blum Matheny


    Sgt. Joseph B. Matheny was born in Logan, Ohio, on February 17, 1922.  He was the son of Ervin & Hazel Matheny and grew up at 72 Hill Street in Logan, Ohio, with his two brothers.  He was known as "Joe" to his family and friends.  His family later moved to Zanesville, Ohio, and resided at 2530 Oakwood Avenue.  He graduated from Logan High School in 1940. 
    While living in Zanesville, he enlisted in the U. S. Army in December 1940 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio, He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky and was assigned Headquarters Company, 192nd Tank Battalion when it was created in February, 1941.

    Joseph attend school at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  During this time he rose in rank from private to sergeant.  He took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941.  It was after these maneuvers that he and the rest of the battalion learned the the 192nd was being sent overseas.

    Traveling west by train, Joseph and the rest of the 192nd arrived in San Francisco.  From there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  On the island, they were given physicals and received shots for overseas duty.

   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.

    On December 8, 1941, the battalion heard that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.  At 11:45 in the morning, he lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  For the next four months, he took part in the slowing action to buy time for the United States to rebuild its military forces.

    During the Battle of the Philippines, Joseph was assigned as sergeant to one of the tanks assigned to HQ Company.  With his tank, he was suppose to provide reconnaissance information for the battalion.

    On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  Joe and other members of C Company decided that they were going to try to escape to Corregidor instead of surrendering to the Japanese.  The soldiers, with other members of the 192nd, found a boat and were able to get the engine working.  They made it to Corregidor and were assigned to units on the island.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on the island on May 6th.  The American forces surrendered when it became apparent that they were going to overrun the island.  Joseph remained on the island for two weeks before the Prisoners of War were taken by barge to a pier outside of Manila.  The POWs had to jump into the water and swim to shore.  Once they were on shore, the were used as laborers to repair the damage done to the dock.
    After the work was done, the POWs were ordered to march.  Having heard of the march out of Bataam, many feared they would be killed.  As it turned out, the POWs were allowed to march at their own pace.  They also were marched down Dewey Boulevard in Manila.

    The POWs were taken to Bilibid Prison in Manila.   Joseph and the other POWs were later taken to Cabanatuan.  After arriving in the camp, Joseph was admitted into the camp hospital on Sunday, June 14, 1942 with malaria.  He remained in the hospital until he was released on Saturday, August 8, 1942. According to other records, he was in the hospital again on September 11th, but no date was given for discharge.  Joseph was readmitted to the hospital on Monday, September 28th with a migraine.  He was discharged a second time on Monday, December 7, 1942.
    In October, he was selected to go on a work detail to Lipa Batangas.  The POWs on this detail built runways for a Japanese airfield.  It was while he was a POW on this detail that his parents learned he was a POW on April 17, 1943.  It was later the same year that they received a POW postcard from him in August, 1943.  Three weeks later, they received a second postcard on September 7, 1943.  He remained on this detail for nearly two years until he was taken by ship to Manila. 

    On July 17, 1944, Joseph was put in the hold of the hell ship, Nissyo Maru and taken to Japan.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa on 27 July 1944.  The next day the ship sailed for Japan.  It arrived at Moji, Japan on August 3, 1944.

    Joseph was taken to Fukuoka Camp #7 which was located near Futase, Japan.  The POWs in this camp were used as slave labor in coal mines of the Honko & Shinko Mining Company.  In the mines the POWs worked 11 to 14 hour shifts.  He remained in this camp until August 15, 1945.   On September 21, 1945, Joseph was taken to Dejima Docks in Nagasaki and returned to the Philippines to receive medical treatment.

    Joseph was returned home on the Dutch ship Klipfontain, which sailed from Manila on October 9, 1945.  One of the concerns Joesph and Forest Richeson - also a member of the 192nd and from Barnesville, Ohio - had was that they would be considered cowards.  Both were happy to know they were viewed as heroes.  After arriving in the United States at Seattle, on October 28, 1945, the men were taken to Madigan Medical Center at Ft. Lewis, Washington. 
    Joseph married, Shirlee Lowe, on May 5, 1946, in Zanesville., and became the father of two sons. 
Joseph was discharged on May 20, 1946.  He worked as a radio engineer until he retired in 1985.

    On May 4, 1991, in Memphis, Tennesse, Joseph became the National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.  Joseph B. Matheny passed away on November 17, 1993, in Newark, Ohio, and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Zanesville.


 

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