Rusch

 

Pvt. Henry Andrew Rusch


    Pvt. Henry A. Rusch was the son of Frederick Rusch & Anna Koenig-Rusch.  He was born in June 10, 1922.  With his two sisters and two brothers, he grew up in Maywood and attended local schools.  He was a member of the Proviso Township High School Class of 1940 but left school before graduating.  He was known as "Henry" or "Hank" to his family and friends.  When he was called for federal service, he was working with the Civilian Conservation Corps.

    Harry was one of the original Illinois National Guard members who was called to federal service on November 25, 1940.  At Fort Knox, Kentucky, he trained to be a member of a tank crew.      
    In the late summer of 1941, Henry took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
  

    Harry spent the next four months fighting the Japanese.  In action at Demotis, on December 22, 1941, Harry was reported missing in action.  He was later reported as being okay.  

    After four months of fighting, on April 9, 1942, he and the other tankers heard the order "crash".  This was the order to destroy their tanks and surrender to the Japanese.  At this time, it is not known if Harry surrendered or escaped to the Island of Corregidor.

    What is known is that he was held as a Prisoner of War at Cabanatuan.  Medical records kept at Bilibid Prison show that he arrived at Bilibid Prison, from Cabanatuan, on October 10th and was admitted to Ward 8 suffering from cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, on his right foot.  
     On October 19th, Harry was discharged from the hospital but remained at Bilibid.  He and other POWs were sent to the Port Area of Manila and on the November 7th boarded onto the Nagato Maru for shipment to Japan.   The ship sailed for the Pescadores Islands and arrived at Takao, Formosa, on November 11th.  On November 17th, the ship sailed for the Pescadores Islands and arrived at the islands the next day.   The Nagato Maru sailed on November 18th, for Kelung Island, arriving the same date.  After a two day stay, the ship sailed for Moji, Japan, arriving on November 24th.

    In Japan, Harry was sent to Tanagawa.  The camp there would later be known as Osaka Section Camp #4-B.  The POWs arrived at night and were housed in five flimsy barracks that were unheated.  In the camp they were used to construct a dry dock for Japanese submarines.  To do this, the POWs tore down the side of a mountain.

    On April 13, 1945, Harry and 105 other POWs were transferred to Omi POW Camp.  There, he labored in a quarry and cement factory.  He also may have cleaned furnaces by cleaning out carbon from them.

    Harry was liberated in September 1945.  On September 9th, he and the other POWs were sent to Yokohama by train.  From there, they were returned to the Philippines to be fattened up before being sent back to the United States.  In early September, he wired his mother that he was being flown home.  He was flown to Hickam Field in Hawaii, and then to Hamilton Field north of San Francisco.

    Harry returned home to Maywood after the war.  According to his family, he was just a happy go lucky person who loved life.  On December 19, 1958, he married Mayme Ledford.  The couple was extremely happy. 

    Harry supported his wife and himself by working as a cab driver.  On October 3, 1962, after working all day, he sat down in a chair, at the cab station, and slumped over.  He had died of a heart attack.  Henry Rusch was buried at Glen Oak Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. 

   It should be mentioned that while Henry was a POW, his sister married, David Deckert, the brother of Henry Deckert of B Company.



 

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