|Pvt. Robert Vaughn Parr
| Pvt. Robert V. Parr was born in Fort
Dodge, Iowa, on December 9, 1918, to Roy &
Martha Parr. He and two sisters and brother
grew up on the north side of Chicago at 3705 North
Magnolia Avenue. He graduated from LaSalle
Grade School in 1932 and attended Lane Technical
High School for two years. After leaving high
school he worked as a radio repairman.
In 1941, Robert was drafted into the army. He took his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was then assigned to B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. This was done because the army needed to replace the original National Guardsmen who had been transferred from the company to Headquarters Company when it was created. At this time, the army was still trying to fill vacancies in in the company with "draftees" from the home state of the company.
Robert recalled that there were only three tanks
for training. This meant that the members of
the company were given KP or guard duty
frequently. Due to the limited number of
training tanks, when the soldiers did train in the
tanks, they would almost always train with
different members of the company. He also
attended school and qualified as a radioman.
For the next four months, Robert and the other tankers fought to stop the Japanese in the Philippines. This in Robert's opinion was an impossible task since they had no navy or air force and were low on rations. In addition, what supplies they did have were leftover from World War I. Despite of this, what kept the Americans going was the belief that help was on the way. Robert recalled that he and the other soldiers heard that a convoy was on its way with troops and ammunition. Three days later, he and the other soldiers were told that the convoy diverted to Australia because it could not get through the Japanese blockade of the Philippines. It was then that Robert knew the defenders on Bataan were doomed.
When the surrender came, Robert like the other soldiers of his company destroyed whatever they believed that the Japanese could use against Corregidor. He then march to Mariveles on the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula and started the march from there. Robert remembered the march as an event were everything was bad. There was no food or water, and the prisoners had the hot Filipino sun beating down on them.
Suffering from a stomach wound, Bob was having a difficult time keeping up with the other members of B Company. He began talking about "dropping out." The other members of the company kept telling him that if he did he would be killed. To prevent this from happening, Sgt. Nick Fryziuk carried Bob "piggyback" style for most of the last thirty-five miles of the march.
As a Prisoner of War, Robert was first held at
Camp O'Donnell. The camp was a death trap
with as many as 55 men dying a day. There
was only one water faucet for the entire
camp. Men literally died for a drink.
The burial detail worked day and night to bury the
point, Robert was sent out on the Las Pinas
Detail. He appears to have been a
replacement for a POW who had died or been
sent to Bilibid Prison as ill. The POWs
on the detail were housed at the Pasay School
in eighteen rooms. Thirty POWs were
assigned to a room. The POWs were used
to extend and widen runways for the Japanese
Navy. The plans for this expansion came
from the American Army which had drawn them up
before the war. The Japanese wanted a
runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going
through hills and a swamp.
shown to the
the camp, a Lt. Moto,
was called the
the camp for
One day a POW
Moto was told
about the man
and came out
him to get
made to carry
the man back
to the Pasay
Next he was sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila where he was given a rudimentary physical . From there, he was boarded onto a "Hell Ship" for Japan.
The ship that Robert was put on for the trip to Japan was Canadian Inventor. The ship sailed from Manila on July 4, 1944, but returned to Manila. It sailed a second time on July 16th. During the voyage, the Canadian Inventor stopped at Takao and Keelung, Formosa. It then sailed for Naha, Okinawa before finally arriving at Moji, Japan on September 1, 1944. When the ship finally arrived in Japan, the trip had taken 62 days.
In Japan, Robert worked in a coal mine at Fukuoka Camp #17. He recalled that the prisoners in the camp did not always know how the war was going, but there were times that they heard some news. The prisoners knew the war was over the day they were told that they did not have to go to work. Later, they officially were told of the surrender.
Robert was liberated from Fukuoka #17 and returned to the Philippines. After gaining weight, he was sent home to Chicago in November of 1945. On May 29, 1946, Robert was discharged from the army. He married and raised a family.
After he retired, Robert and his wife moved to Florida. Robert V. Parr passed away on October 7, 2006, in Sarasota, Florida. He was buried, next to his wife, at Palms Memorial Park in Sarasota, Florida.