|Pfc. Charles Edmond
| Pfc. Charles E. Reed was born on
February 14, 1919, to Charles Reed & Lanta Mae
Cornishville, Kentucky. He had six brothers
and five sisters. The family resided in Manns
Road in Mercer County, Kentucky. He worked on
the family farm. He was married to Pearl Yeast
and was the father of a daughter.
At some point, Charles enlisted into the Kentucky National Guard. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on November 25, 1940, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He trained with his company at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and qualified as a tank driver. He took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941. After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, he and the rest of the battalion learned that their time in the army had been extended from one to five years. They also learned that they were being sent overseas.
On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Charles lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. The tank battalions had been ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. At 12:45 in the afternoon, the airfield was strafed and bombed by the Japanese.
For the next four months
Charles fought to slow the Japanese conquest of
the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, he became
a Prisoner of War. At Mariveles at the
southern tip of Bataan, he began the death
march. He made his way to San Fernando,
where he and the other POWs were packed into small
wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. The
POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died
remained standing until the living left the cars
at Capas. They then walked the last ten
miles to Camp O'Donnell. It was while he was
a POW in the camp that his family received two
letters from him written in February 1942.
Charles arrived at Camp O'Donnell on April 23, 1942. He remained in the camp until May 6th, when he was selected to go out on the Caluaun Detail. He and the other POWs simply called it the bridge building detail. The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The POWs on the detail were separated into two groups. One group built the bridges, while the other group worked at a sawmill cutting lumber for the bridges. It was while on this detail that Charles witnessed the execution of four POWs.
Here is the story in his own words:
"We were taken to to prison camp at Batangas, Philippine Islands; we were divided into groups of ten each and told by the Japanese that if any one man in the group escaped, all the remaining men in the group would be executed. On about 10 June 1942, six men of one of the groups escaped, leaving behind four men.
As soon as the Japanese discovered that six of the prisoners had escaped, they came into the building we were quartered and without saying anything began to tie up the remaining four prisoners of the group. After binding the the four prisoners, they took them out of the building and forced them to sit on their heels, on the ground, in front of in front of the guard house.
While the men were in this position, the Japanese would beat them across the thigh and back with rifles and sticks. They did this in order to tear loose the muscles in the legs of the men. This beating continued for about about six hours or from about 9:00 AM to 3:00 in the afternoon, after which the Japanese guards lined the men up and bound them a rope and led them to a place about two miles from the camp, where they were shot.
All during the time, the Japanese were beating the four American prisoners, I was lying on the floor of where we were quartered, looking out of the window and watching the beatings. I saw the guards lead the men away from the camp and about two months later the Japanese captain took us to the spot where the men had been executed and showed us where they were buried. He told us that he did this to show us what would happen if any of us attempt to escape."
July 15, 1942, the detail ended and Charles was
sent to Cabanatuan. This camp had been
opened to relieve the conditions at Camp
O'Donnell. He remained in the camp until
July 28, 1943, when he was selected for transport
to Japan. From Cabanatuan, he was
taken to Bilibid Prison for processing. It
should be mentioned that in April 1943, his family
received word he was a POW.
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