Shea

Pfc. Bernard Kuenzie Shea


    Pfc. Bernard Kuenzie Shea Jr. was born in 1920 to Bernard K. Shea & Alice Kuenzie-Shea.  His family lived and worked on the family farm outside of Beloit, Wisconsin. 
    According to other members of A Company, Bernard joined the National Guard at his mother's urging.  He did so months before the company from Janesville was called up as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
    Bernard worked hard to be a good soldier and had a difficult time mastering skills he needed in a tank company.  He drilled by himself to learn drills the other members of the company mastered easily.  The one thing that he was proud of was that he could send money home to his family.
    Bernard later was given the position as orderly for Capt. Walter Write.  He held this position throughout the remainder of training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was the opinion of the other members of the company that Bernard should have been released from federal service after the maneuvers because of his learning disability.
    Bernard and the 192nd left the United States from Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  He arrived at Manila two weeks before the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field. 
    During the battle against the Japanese, Bernard continued in his role as Capt. Write's orderly.  It is not known what duties he performed after Capt. Write's death.
    When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, Bernard became a Prisoner Of War.  He took part in the death march, but during the march he was given the job of driving a truck by the Japanese.
     Bernard arrived at Camp O'Donnell weeks after the rest of his company.  It was during this time that the Japanese determined that Bernard was not a threat to them.  The Japanese had Bernard do work for them that an orderly would do.  It was while performing this work that he was given an order to bury another American.  The only problem was that the man was still alive.  After being threatened with death, Bernard buried that man.
     Bernard could never forgive himself for burying the man while he was alive.  In spite of the efforts of other members of A Company to get him to eat, Bernard refused to eat.  It was during that time he developed dysentery.
    When Cabanatuan opened, Bernard was considered too ill to be moved.  He was reported to have died from dysentery on Wednesday, May 20, 1942, at Camp O'Donnell, Philippine Islands. He was buried in Section G, Row 8, Grave 4, in the camp cemetery.
    According to Owen Sandmire of his company, Shea was put in a grave while he was still alive.  He attempted to crawl from the grave but was hit across his head with a wooden board by a Japanese guard.  He attempted several more times to crawl from the grave and was repeatedly hit in the head until he died.
    After the war, Bernard Shea was reburied at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila.  The photo below is of the grave of Pfc. Bernard K. Shea
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