Sgt. Joseph Henry O'Connell
| Sgt. Joseph H.
O'Connell was son of William & Margaret
O'Connell and born on May 15, 1924, in
Indiana. He grew up on Rural Route #2 in
Harmony Township, Rock County, Wisconsin, with his
three brothers. While in high school,
Joseph joined the Wisconsin National Guard.
He was only sixteen years old when his tank
company was called to federal duty as A Company,
192nd Tank Battalion in November of 1940.
This resulted him leaving high school to fulfill
his military obligation.
Joseph trained for almost a year at Fort Knox, Kentucky. While he was there, he received his high school diploma in 1941. In February, 1941, Joseph was assigned to Headquarters Company was formed from the four letter companies of the 192nd. He was a clerk for the company and later a commander of a half-track crew.
In the late summer of 1941, Joseph took part in
the Louisiana maneuvers. After these
maneuvers, the other members of the battalion
learned that their one year of military service
had been extended from one to six years.
They were also informed that they had been
selected for overseas duty by General George S.
Patton. Joseph received a leave home to
say goodbye to his family and friends.
When the planes appeared over the airfield and
the bombs began hitting the ground, Joseph
ordered his half-track to move about a mile from
the runway. It was from that position that
his crew began shooting at the planes. It
was at this time that he was given command of a
there was not
much left of
watched as the
were hauled to
on bomb racks,
Many of these
men had their
arms and legs
On another occasion, he was at the battalion's headquarters. The tanks were in contact with HQ by radio, and as he listened, he heard the conversation between the tanks as they fought a running battle with the Japanese. While they were fighting the Japanese, the tankers were attempting to find a place where they could cross the Agoo River.
In a third incident, Joseph's half-track was sent to San Jose in the Nueva Ecija Province, as they drove they passed a truck loaded with ammunition stuck in a ditch. They stopped to help the driver. Not too long after they got there, the Japanese began firing on them with mortars. The shelling got so bad that the Americans abandoned their attempt to save the truck and ammunition.
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt.
his men the
news of the
surrender. While informing the members
of the company
waved his arm
tanks and told
the men that
they would no
he spoke, his
He turned away
from the men
for a moment,
and when he
turned back he
He next told
should do to
that they all
He told the
that could be
used by the
The only thing
they were told
not to destroy
The men waited
juice for what
he called, "Their last supper."
Joseph went to Japan on the Clyde Maru which sailed on July 23, 1943, but instead of heading to Formosa, it sailed to Santa Cruz, Zambales, where it loaded manganese ore. It sailed again, three days later, on July 26th, arriving at Takao, Formosa, on July 28th.
On August 5th, the
sailed again and arrived at Moji, Japan, on
August 7th. The next day the POWs
disembarked the ship and were taken to a train
station. After a two day train trip,
Joseph reached the Fukuoka
#17. The POWs in the camp
worked in an condemned coal mine. This
camp was also considered the worse of the
Japanese POW camps because the strong POWs
preyed on the weaker POWs. Although the
date is unknown, Joseph was transferred to