Schultz_J

 

Sgt. James Herman Schultz


 

    Sgt. James H. Schultz was one of the six children of Herman A. Schultz & Norma E. Davis-Schultz.  He was born on February 10, 1923, in Milton Junction, Wisconsin.  He attended grade school there and was a graduate of Milton Union High School.

    On November 29, 1940, James joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in an armory in Janesville.  Four days earlier, the company had been federalized and was preparing for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Since a draft act had just been passed, James may have been attempting to fulfill his military obligation.

    By train the company arrived at Ft. Knox and spent nearly a year in training.  There, James attended radio school and qualified as a radio operator.

    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion, took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, James and the other members of the battalion were kept at the fort.  They had no idea why. On the side of a hill, they were informed they were being sent overseas.

   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 was in bivouac on two sides of a road.  They 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.

   It was February, that James and the other soldiers on Bataan learned their fate.  Six days later he wrote a letter to his family.  In it, he said: 

"I am OK and hope the same for everyone there.  Even though we are in the Bataan jungles we heard the president's speech on February 22.  There isn't much I can say about this whole thing, but we feel as though some day we will be back.  Remember, no news is good news."

    What James did not mention in his letter was the fact that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had stated in his speech that for the war to be won some Americans would be sacrificed.  James and the other soldiers knew the president was speaking of them.

    On March 2nd or 3rd, during "The Battle of the Points."  The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line.  The Japanese were soon cut off.  When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket.

    On April 9, 1942, James became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march and was first held at Camp O'Donnell.  Shortly after arriving in the camp, James went out on a scrap metal detail.  He and the other POWs were returned to Mariveles.  

    Sometime after arriving at Mariveles, it was decided by the Japanese that the group of POWs that James was a member of should be used to rebuild bridges that had been destroyed by the retreating Americans.  James and the other men were taken to Calauan.  After they finished the bridge there, they were sent to Batangas and later Candaleria.  

    This detail was exceptional in the sense that the Japanese commanding officer and his second in command both treated the Americans well.  They made sure that the prisoners were well fed and gave them liberties that were unheard of under the Japanese.  When the detail ended, James was sent to Cabanatuan.

    A month after his capture, James's family received news he was considered Missing in Action.  It would be almost a year before they learned that he was being held as a POW.

    In August, 1942, James's family received the letter he had written on February 28, 1942.  As it turned out, it would be the only letter they received from him.

    On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected James and other POWs for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao.  He and the other POWs were loaded onto the Erie Maru and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28th.  When the camp was closed, one group of POWs remained at Davao at the penal colony and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to Lasang, on November 7th, and spent the next twenty months building runways.  James was part of a work detail of POWs building runways at a Japanese airfield near Lasang, Mindanao.

     At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide.  A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks.  In each barracks, were eighteen bays.  Twelve POWs shared a bay.  216 POWs lived in each barracks.  Four cages were later put in a bay.  Each cage held two POWs. 
    The camp discipline was port and the commanding officer changed frequently.  The junior officers refused to take orders from the senior officers.  Soon, the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted to, to the officers.  The situation improved because the majority of POWs realized that discipline was needed to survive.

    At first, the work details were not guarded.  The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops.  The sick POWs made baskets.  In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied.  Those working the rice fields received the worst treatment.  They were beaten for not meeting quotas, misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, and a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.

    One night the POWs heard the sound of a plane.  From the sound of the engine, they knew it was American.  It was the first American plane they had heard in over two years.  As the plane dove on the airfield, it dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway; the POWs celebrated silently.  On June 6, 1944, some of the POWs were sent to Manila, while the remainder of the men stayed on the island until August 19, 1944.

    Over the next two weeks, the atmosphere at the airfield changed.  The Japanese posted guards  with bayonets on their rifles by the POW barracks as air raids became daily.  The Japanese camouflaged the airfield and hid their planes in revetments.  The POWs heard rumors that the Americans had landed at Palau.

    During this time, the POWs rations were cut to a single cup of rice a day.  The POWs were now so hungry that they raided the Japanese garbage pile for remnants of vegetables.  Many ate the weeds that grew inside the camp until it was bare.

    Air raids soon were nightly events.  Japanese planes flying out of the airfield were loaded with bombs and carried extra gasoline tanks.  Finally, all work on the airfield was stopped.

    On that day, the POWs were lined up by fours.  The outside men had rope tied to their wrists to prevent escape.  They were marched shoeless to the Tabunco Pier and arrived at noon.   They were packed into the two holds of the Erie Maru.  400 POWs were in the first hold while the remaining 350 POWs were put in the second hold.  In addition, several tons of Japanese baggage were packed into the hold.  Around six that evening, the ship sailed.

    As the ship made its way north it swayed in the waves.  Many of the prisoners became seasick.  They retched when they tried to throw up since there was no food in their stomachs.   The next day, the POWs heard the sound of a plane.  An American plane flew over the ship.  Moments later bombs exploded near the ship.  The sound of machinegun fire was heard by the POWs.  The Japanese once again tied down the hatch covers cutting off the air.  Over the next three days, there were several more alerts.  Each time the hatch covers were battened down leaving the POWs in darkness.

    On August 24th, the ship arrived in Zamboanga where it waited for ten days until the Shinyo Maru arrived.  The POWs were not allowed out of the holds and the conditions in the ship's holds were terrible.  The holds were hot and steamy and the floors were covered with human waste.  Twice during this time, they were allowed on deck and showered with fire hoses.  In addition, the longer the POWs were in the holds the stench became worse. 

    It should be noted that the United States had intercepted the order from Japanese command sending the Shinyo Maru to Zamboanga.  Someone misinterpreted the order as saying the ship would be transporting "750 military personnel" instead of "750 military prisoners" to Manila.  The U.S.S. Paddle was sent to the area to intercept the ship.  

    On September 4th, the POWs were transferred onto the Shinyo Maru.  250 POWs were put into the ship's smaller hold, while the 500 POWs were its larger hold.   That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking and shaking it.  The POWs prayed for the ship would be hit.

    The ship sailed on September 5th at 2:00 a.m.  Before the ship sailed, the hatch covers were secured so that the POWs could not lift them from below.  The ship headed north in a zigzag pattern in an attempt to avoid submarines.  The POWs were no longer allowed on deck.  Their lips and throats were covered with dust from cement that had previously been hauled by the ship. 

    For the next two days the ship made good time.  It was at this time that the Japanese guards threatened to kill the POWs if the ship came under attack by American submarines.  The ship was now part of a convoy designated as C-076.  Since the POWs had not heard any air raid alerts, they assumed that they were safe.

    At 7:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 1944, the U.S.S Paddle spotted the convoy off the west coast of Mindanao at Sindangan Point.  It fired two torpedoes at the ship.  The first torpedo hit the ship in its main hold.  Moments later, a second torpedo hit the ship.  There was a gapping hole in the ship's side.  Those POWs still alive saw the bodies of the dead floating in the water as the hold filled with water.

    The POWs found that the hatch cover had been blown off the hold by the explosion.  As the water level rose, they were able to climb out.  Seven Japanese officers were on the bridge with rifles.  As the POWs emerged from the hold, they picked them off.  The lucky POWs made it through their fire and dove into the water.

    The POWs in the smaller hold were also wounded from the torpedo hits.  But, the hold remained dry.  Many of these POWs also were able to make it onto the deck and attempted to swim to shore.  As they swam, they were fired upon by the same seven Japanese officers.

    According to the POWs in the water, the Shinyo Maru began to capsize.  There was a tremendous crushing sound and the ship seemed to bend upward in the middle.  It split in two and sunk into the water. 

    Japanese seaplanes  dropped depth charges in an attempt to sink the American submarine.  The good thing about the depth charges was that they kept sharks away from the POWs.  When the Japanese planes spotted the POWs in the water, they strafed them.  They stopped when they realized that there were Japanese in the water too.

    A Japanese tanker that had been hit by torpedoes spilled oil and gasoline into the water.  The ship ran aground.  The Japanese quickly set up machineguns and fired on the POWs.  Boats from the other ships in the convoy attempted to hunt down the POWs swimming in the water.  If they found a man, they shot him.  What saved many lives was that with dusk it became harder for the Japanese to see them.

    The Japanese announced to the Americans that if they surrendered that they would be treated with compassion.  About 30 men gave up after hearing this.  According to one man who escaped after surrendering, the POWs had their hands tied to the ship's rail, and the Japanese shot each POW in the back of the head.  They then pushed the bodies overboard.

    Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs escaped. One man died on shore while the remainder were rescued by Filipino guerillas and returned to U.S. Forces in October 1944.  Sgt. James H. Schultz was not one of these men.

    Sgt. James H. Schultz, along with 667 other POWs, died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru.  He was 23 years old.  Since he was lost at sea, the name of Sgt. James H. Schultz appears on one of the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery in Manila.


 

 

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