Pvt. Obie Cloyce Richardson
| Pvt. Obie C.
Richardson was born on December 28, 1915, in Quitman,
Texas, to James H. Richardson & Elma May
Johnston-Richardson. With his four sisters and
four brothers, he grew up in Wood County, Texas.
He was called "Cloyce" by his family and
friends. He left high school after his third
year and moved to Houston. While living in
Houston, he worked in a drugstore as a clerk.
Cloyce was drafted and inducted into the Army on March 20, 1941, in Houston, Texas. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and became a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion. The 753rd had been transferred to the base in the late summer of 1941.
While the 753rd was at Camp Polk, maneuvers were taking place, but the battalion did not take part in them. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to remain at the base. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas. They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Replacements for men who had been released from federal service came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. One of those replacements was Cloyce.
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.S Calvin Coolidge and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island. On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam. At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables. The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th. They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King. The general 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. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
The 192nd remained at Clark field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easily seen since they were wearing white t-shirts. It was there that the tankers found that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked. Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes. The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
On another occasion the company were in bivouac on two sides of a road. The posted sentries and most of the tankers attempted to get some sleep. The sentries heard noise down the road and woke the company. Every man grabbed a weapon. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. The tankers opened fire with everything they had. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
The night of April 8, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets. The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they became Prisoners of War.
The members of A Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. It was from this barrio that the tankers started what they simply called "the march."
The POWs made their way north from Mariveles. The first five miles of the march were uphill. At one point, the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor. They received little water and little food. When they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen. In one corner of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench was alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is not known.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form ranks. They were marched to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors. They walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base. There was one water faucet for the entire camp. Men literally died for a drink. The death rate in the camp began to rise until as many as 55 men dying each day. The burial detail worked non-stop to bury the dead. Often, when they returned the next morning, the wild dogs had dug up the bodies or the bodies were sitting up in their graves.
To lower the death rate among the POWs, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan. According to camp hospital records, Cloyce was in the camp's hospital on September 15, 1942. No illness is indicated and no release date was indicted. Cloyce was in the camp when he was selected to go out on work detail to Lipa, Batangas. The POWs on the detail built an runways with picks and shovels.
The next camp Cloyce a POW in was Bilibid Prison. It is not known if he was sent there because he was ill or because the detail had ended. At Cloyce, he was selected for transport to Japan. The POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded on the Hokusen Maru on September 21, 1944. The ship sailed on October 3rd as part of a convoy. The convoy was attacked by an American wolf pack resulting in the sinking of three ships. One torpedo hit the Hokusen Maru but failed to explode. The POWs heard the torpedo run along the haul of the ship. The ship arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th. The POWs were held in the ship's holds for ten days while the ship was in port. On October 13th, the port was attacked by American fighter bombers. The ship sailed again on October 21st and arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 24th. The POWs remained in the ship's holds until November 8th, when they were disembarked.
Once on land, the POWs were taken to a school which the Japanese designated as Toroku Camp. Many of the POWs were in such poor condition that the Japanese did not require them to perform hard work. They did gardening and other chores. A few of the POWs worked at a sugarcane mill.
In January the POWs were boarded onto the Melborune Maru. The ship sailed from Takao, Formosa, on January 14, 1945. The ship arrived at Moji, Japan, on January 23, 1945. The POWs were disembarked and formed into POW detachments. Cloyce's detachment was taken by train to Kobe House. In the camp, the POWs were used as stevedores on the Kobe docks. Cloyce remained in the camp until the end of the war.
Cloyce was liberated in September 1945 and returned to the Philippines. He was promoted to corporal and discharged from the Army on May 26, 1946. He married and became the father of three children. Cloyce went back to work and became the manager of a pharmacy. He spent the rest of his life in Houston, Texas.
Obie C. Richardson passed away on May 16, 2006. He was buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston, Texas.