McCarter

 

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, and was known as "Pete" to his family and friends.  

    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 A Company, 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 not known.
    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many of the tankers suffered from seasickness.  Once they recovered, they spent their time breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.  The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S. S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.
    During this part of the voyage, on Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents. 
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers.

    During lunch, the "replacements" were ordered to stay with the equipment while the original members of the battalion went to eat.  From the north, a formation of 54 planes approached the airfield.  As they watched the sky, they felt good about the planes in the sky and the protection they were providing them.  It was only when they heard the sound of bombs falling did they realize that the planes were Japanese.
   When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  Since the battalion's bivouac was near the main road between the fort and airfield, the soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks.  Anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night the soldiers had slept their last night in a bed.  For protection, they slept under their tanks or in them.
    After the attack, on December 12th, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau to guard a highway and railroad against sabotage.   From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  The battalion had been ordered north to Lingayen Gulf to relieve the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where, the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th, held the position.  On December 25th, the 192nd held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road.  The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27th and 28th.  From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible.  The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.  That night, on a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
   As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River the night of December 31st and January 1st.  It was that night that the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river.
As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers.  The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks.  To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen.  Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had lost about half their men.
    From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers. January that the food rations were cut in half.  Not long after this, malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever soon    spread among the soldiers.
    The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
    A Company was next sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipinos to be Japanese, and the 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.  The company rejoined the 194th west of Guagua.
    The company, on January 5th, was near the Gumain River attached to the 194th Tank Battalion.  It was evening and they believed they were in a relatively safe place. Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep.  Their sleep was interrupted by the sound of a gun shot.  The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive.  There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke off the attack.  Around this time, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
   A Company was next sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipinos to be Japanese, and the 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.  The company rejoined the 194th west of Guagua.
    On January 5th, while attached to the 194th Tank Battalion, the company withdrew from the line.  Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a tail picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group that the trail did not exit.
   It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near Lubao along a dried up creek bed.  Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep.  Their sleep was interrupted by the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M.  The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them easy targets.  There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke off the attack.  Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
    The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.   
    The next day the tanks received maintenance.  It was the first rest that the two tank battalions had since December 24th.
    On January 24th, the tank battalions were ordered to cover all forces withdrawing to the
Pilar-Bigac Line in the Abucay Area.  This withdrawal was suppose to take place the night of January 24th-25th.  The tank battalions prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. 
   
The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.

    A Company, was sent in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  At Guagua,  A Company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as Japanese and accurately used mortars on them knocking out three tanks.  A Company rejoined the 194th east of Guagua.
    On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War and started the march out of Bataan at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. 
On the march, he stayed with the members of A Company.  For the marchers the worst thing was the heat and lack of water.  Those men who fell out were killed.  Prisoners became so desperate that they often risked their lives to get a drink of water.  The Filipino civilians along the route risked their lives, and often gave their lives, to give the soldiers a drink of water.  The soldiers often drank water in the ditches alongside the road. This water was filled with bacteria.  Often, the bodies soldiers who were killed by the Japanese were floating in the water.  Those who drank this water came down with dysentery.

    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.
    800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6th, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball.  After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M.  There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M.  The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
    From the train station, the men were marched to pier 7 in the Port Area of Manila.  Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier.  The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were housed in a warehouse for two days.  The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted.  They also were allowed to wash.
    Almost 1700 POWs were boarded onto the Tottori Maru on October 7th, but the ship did not sail until 10:00 A.M. the next day and passed Corregidor at noon.  In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship.  That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck.  Each day, the POWs were given bread for meals which most ate in one meal, but the men rationed their water.  The ship was at sea, when torpedoes fired at by an American submarine but the torpedoes missed the ship because of the captain's ability at maneuvering the ship.  Both the Japanese and Americans cheered him.  The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.

    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, where it remained in harbor until October 16th, when it sailed, at 7:30 A.M., but returned to Takao, at 10:30 P.M., because the Japanese believed submarines were in the area.  At this time, the POWs were receiving two bags of hardtack and a meal of rice and soup each day.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M., where it remained anchored until October 27th when it returned to Takao. 

    The ship remained anchor off the islands until October 27th.  During that time two POWs died and their bodies were thrown into the sea.  The ship sailed back to Takao arriving the same day.  The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and sprayed with fire hoses and the holds were sprayed down.   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, as part of a seven ship convoy.   During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  On November 5th, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.   When it arrived at Pusan, a contingent of 1700 POWs disembarked.  The ship sailed again, this time for Moji, Japan.  It arrived there on November 11th.

    The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7th, but the POWs did not disembark until November 8th.  Most of the POWs were disembarked, but 400 remained on the ship since they was going to Japan.  The ship sailed and arrived at Osaka, Japan, on November 11th.    The POWs disembarked and were taken to the train station where they boarded a train at 8:30 P.M.  The trip was enjoyable because the cars were heated and comfortable and the POWs were dropped off in camps along the way.
   
Upon arriving in Japan, Emerson was sent to an unknown camp that was bombed out by American B-29s.  He was transferred to Osaka 5-B at Tsuruga, Honshu, where he 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 and returned to the Philippines for medical treatment. 
    Being in better condition than most liberated POWs, he was on the U.S.S. Hugh Rodman,  the first ship to arrive in the United States with liberated POWs, which arrived at San Francisco on October 3, 1945.  The former POWs were taken to Letterman General Hospital before being sent to other hospitals closer to their homes.

    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 daughter. 

    Emerson returned to Oklahoma where he passed away on August 4, 1964, and was buried at Centrahoma Cemetery in Centrahoma, Oklahoma.


 

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