Pvt. Emerson Maytubby McCarter
Pvt. Emerson M. McCarter was a Native American and a member of the Chicashaw Tribe. He was born on June 19, 1918, in Jefferson Township, Coal County, Oklahoma, to Andrew L. McCarter & Matilda Maytubby-McCarter. He was the youngest of the couple's nine sons and six daughters. He grew up in Jefferson Township, Oklahoma.
During the 1930s, his father died and Emerson went to work as a laborer for the Public Works Project. It is known that he was married Junia Faye Hampton in 1940. His wife was a member of Choctaw Tribe.
Emerson was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, on February 15, 1941. After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been sent there but did not take part in the maneuvers that were being held at that time.
At Camp Polk,
Emerson became a replacement and assigned to A
Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He replaced a
National Guardsman who had been released from
federal service. It is believed he was a
member of a tank crew, but his specific duties are
through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield on
December 8, 1941. For the next four months,
Emerson fought to slow the Japanese conquest of
the Philippine Islands. On April 9, 1942, he
became a Prisoner of War.
At San Fernando, the POWs boarded a train and were crammed into boxcars. With the Filipino sun beating down on the roofs of the boxcars, the journey by train was unbearable. The prisoners were packed in so tightly that when a man died, he could not fall down. There were no provisions for water or toilets, so the floors of the boxcars became a sea of diarrhea, vomit and urine. The prisoners disembarked from the train at Capas and marched the final few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Emerson was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell. This was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp. There was only one water faucet in the entire camp. Due to the lack of medicine disease ran wild among the POWs. Large numbers of men began to die. The Japanese finally acknowledge that something had to be done, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan sent the healthier POWs there.
It is not
known if Emerson was sent to the camp when it
opened or if he went there after returning from a
work detail. According to records kept by
the medical staff at the camp, Emerson was
admitted to the camp's hospital on Sunday, August
2, 1942, suffering from cerebral malaria.
The records also indicate that he was released
from the hospital on Thursday, September 10th.
The ship sailed for Japan on October 8th. During the trip, the ship stopped at Takao, Formosa and Pusan, Korea before sailing to Japan. On the ship, he was reunited with Leo Dorsey of HQ Company who had originally been a member of A Company. On November 11th, the ship docked at Moji, and the POWs were disembarked.
On October 9th, the ships in the convoy were attacked by an American submarine. Two torpedoes were fired at the ship but missed. The ship also passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine. This resulted in the convoy being held up for two days in the South China Sea. During this time, the prisoners were locked in the holds of the ship.
The Tottori Maru arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 12th. It remained in harbor until October 16th, when it sailed but returned to Takao. It sailed again, on October 18th, for the Pescadores Islands just off Formosa. It arrived at the islands on the same day and dropped anchor.
The ship remained anchor off the islands until October 27th. During that time two POWs died. On the 27th, the ship sailed back to Takao arriving the same day. The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and sprayed with fire hoses. Afterwards, they boarded the ship and were put back into the holds.
The ship sailed again on October 28th for Makou, Pescadores Islands. It arrived there the same day. It remained in the harbor until October 31st when it sailed for Pusan, Korea. When it arrived there, a contingent of POWs disembarked. The ship sailed again, this time for Moji, Japan. It arrived there on November 11th.
Upon arriving in Japan, Emerson was sent to an unknown camp that was bombed out by American B-29s. Emerson was transferred to Osaka 5-B at Tsuruga, Honshu. At this camp, Emerson and Leo Dorsey, who had also been a member of A Company, became bunk mates. This meant that they watched out for each other's possessions while the other man worked.
The POWs in the camp worked as stevedores loading and unloading food from ships arriving from Manchuria and Korea. While unloading food from the ships, the prisoners stole food for themselves to supplement their meager rations. An average meal for the POWs was soybean and rice. While working, the POWs carried 100 pound burlap sacks of soybeans. To get extra food, the POWs would tear holes into the bags and drop beans into their pockets. The pockets had holes to allow the beans to fall down their legs and settle in pouches around their ankles. This prevented the Japanese from finding them when they searched them when they returned to camp. If they were caught, they were severely beaten by the Japanese.
When the Japanese attempted to get the prisoners to unload munitions from ships, Emerson and the other prisoners went on strike. Even though they were beaten, the prisoners would not unload the war materials from the ships. The Japanese finally gave in and took the Americans off the detail.
Emerson and the other POWs were also used to build dry docks for the Japanese Navy. The prisoners slowed down work by refusing to load more than four cars of dirt a day. Even though they were beaten, the Japanese were never able to get them to load more than four cars.
Showing how little respect the Japanese had for the POWs, as part of their diets, the Japanese served the prisoners barley or burnt wheat in place of rice to the prisoners. The wheat had been in a warehouse fire and determined to be too badly burnt to be given to the Japanese civilians, but it was considered good enough for the prisoners.
As time went on, Emerson became a witness to the bombing of Tsuruga by American planes. The first air raid Emerson lived through took place in December of 1944. During that month there were twenty air raids. In January 1945, there were even more air raids causing greater destruction.
In August 1945, Emerson and the other prisoners noticed a change in the attitudes of the guards. Soon American bombers appeared and dropped food to the prisoners. Not too long later, he and the other men learned that the war was over. On September 10, 1945, Emerson was officially liberated.
Emerson and Leo Dorsey would remain friends the rest of their lives. Emerson transferred into the U. S. Army Air Corps on February 15, 1946, and remained in the U. S. Air Force when it was created. He fought in the Korean War and rose in rank to Master Sergeant. He returned to Junia, and they became the parents of two sons and a daugther.
Emerson returned to Oklahoma where he passed away on August 4, 1964. He was buried at Centrahoma Cemetery in Centrahoma, Oklahoma.