|Pvt. Lawrence M.
Pvt. Lawrence M. Sears was born on March 9, 1921, in
Chicago, Illinois. His father died when he was
a child. His two brothers, his mother, Louise,
and Larry live in the family home in Winfield,
Illinois. He was known as "Larry" to his
family and friends. He left high school after
two years and did maintenance work at a private
In 1940, a draft act had been passed by Congress and Larry knew that he would be drafted into the U.S. Army. In early September, the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard was federalized and designated B Company, 192nd Tank Company. According to the newspapers, the company would be released from federal service in the fall of 1941. On September 27, 1941, Larry drove to Maywood, Illinois, and joined the tank company.
On November 25, 1940, the members of the company reported to the armory in Maywood. Two days later, they march down Madison Street to Fifth Avenue and north to the Chicago & North Western Train Station. They traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the members of A Company, 192nd Tank Company.
The members of the battalion attended various schools at Ft. Knox and learned to operate the battalion's equipment. In Larry's case, he qualified as a tank driver. Near the end of the summer of 1941, they were sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where they took part in maneuvers. The maneuvers were suddenly canceled after the Red Army, which they were part of, broken through the Blue Army's lines and on their way to overrun General George Patton's headquarters.
After the maneuvers, the battalion remained behind at the base instead of returning to Ft. Knox. The company members had no idea why they were being held at the fort. On the side of a hill, they were informed they were being sent overseas. Those men 29 years or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The code name for the move was "PLUM." Within hours, most of them had figured out PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.
After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements for the men released from federal service, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks. The battalion traveled over three different railroad routes to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.
On the island, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals. Those who had minor medical issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
It is not
known if Larry
was sent to
the camp when
it was opened,
or if he was
What is known
by the camp
that he was in
on July 16th.
time some POWs
went crazy and
men in an
Many POWs died
One morning the prisoners awoke to discover that the guards had disappeared from the camp. American planes appeared and dropped information about the surrender to the POWs. When the planes reappeared, they dropped food, medicine and instructions about transportation from the camp.
After being liberated, Larry boarded the U.S.
Consolation on or about September 16, 1945,
Wakayama, Japan. Medical records from the
ship show he was malnourished but not ill.
He was returned to the Philippine Islands for
repatriation. There, he and the other former
POW's received medication and shots. When he
was deemed healthy enough, he returned to the