Sgt. Judson David Simpson
| Sgt. Judson D.
Simpson was born in March 7, 1921, in Washington
County, Kentucky. He was one of the six
children of George & Catherine Simpson and
worked on his family's farm. Judson joined
the Kentucky National Guard and was called to
federal duty when his tank company was federalized
on November 25, 1940. His company was
renamed D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
After training at Fort Knox and taking part in
maneuvers in Louisiana, Judson and other members
of his company learned that they were being sent
Those men 29 years
old or older were
given the chance to
resign from federal
service. They were
replaced by men from the
were also given leaves
home to say goodbye to
their families and
On December 19, 1941, Judson wrote a letter home to his parents.
" Dearest Mother and all;
I am getting along just fine. I hope you received my telegram. Don't worry about me because I will make out all right. How is everything around home and how are the children getting along? This will be the first Christmas that I have been missed at home since I can remember.
Love to all,
Your son, Judson"
What is known about his time fighting the Japanese is that during the withdrawal into Bataan Judson's tank crew, with the crews of seventeen other tanks, found themselves on the wrong side of the Agnoo River. They had been ordered there by General Wainwright. The only problem was that the only way in was the only way out. They soon found themselves surrounded by the Japanese.
All the bridges had been blown so he had his tank driver, Roy Goodpaster, attempt to find a crossing. While attempting to find the crossing, Goodpaster determined that he could not find a suitable place to cross. He began to climb out of the tank when Judson asked him what he was doing. Roy stated that he attended to destroy the tank after abandoning it.
Judson pulled out his service revolver and put it to Goodpaster's head. He told Goodpaster to get the tank across the river. Goodpaster found a crossing and saved the tank. For his actions, Judson received the Silver Star.
What else is known about Judson is that on January 26, 1942, he was wounded in action. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
In February 1942, he wrote a second short letter to his family. In it he said:
"I do not know when you will get this. You all know the conditions. So the mail will get a little later. I guess dad is getting ready raise another crop. Sure would like to be there to help him. There is a lot I could write about, but you know how it is. I hope to see you soon. Be sure to answer.
Love to all,
Your son, Judson"
Judson escaped to Corregidor when Bataan was
surrendered to the Japanese. He arrived on
the island and volunteered to go to Ft.
Drum. He remained there until Corregidor
was surrendered and returned to
Corregidor. From there, he was sent to
At 2:00 AM in the morning on October 5th, Judson and other POWs were awakened and marched to Pier 7 in Manila. Once there, they were housed in a warehouse on the pier. They remained there for two days. On October 7, 1942, Judson boarded a Tottori Maru.
The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck. This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed. Many POWs died during the trip.
On October 8th, the ship sailed at 7:30 A.M. and passed Corregidor at noon. The next day the Tottori Maru came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine. The captain of the ship maneuvered it and avoided the torpedoes. The ship also avoided a mine that had been laid by a American submarine.
The ship continued its voyage arriving at Takao,
Formosa, on October 11th. The ship
remained at Takao for four days before sailing
on October 16th at 7:20 A.M. It returned
to Takao the same day at 10:30 at night.
The ship sailed again on October 18th and
reached the Pescadores Islands, the same day
where it dropped anchor. It remained off
the islands until October 27th when it returned
to Takao. During this stay, the POWs were
disembarked and washed down with fire
hoses. At the same time the ship was
cleaned and food stuffs were later loaded.
The ship sailed again on October 30th and
arrived at Makou, Pesacadores Islands, the same
day. On October 31st, the ship sailed
again as part of a seven ship convoy. For
five days, the ships sailed through a
typhoon. After the storm, the ships were
attacked by an American submarine. One
ship was sunk and the others scattered.
After 31 days on the ship, the Tottori Maru
docked at Pusan, Korea, on November 7th.
1300 POW's got off the ship and were issued new
clothes and fur-lined overcoats. The POWs
were taken to a train station and sent on a two
day train trip north to Mukden,
Manchria. There, they worked in a
sawmill or a machine shop.
Meals for the POWs was a soup made from soy
beans. The POWs supplemented their
meals by learning to make snares to capture the
wild dogs that roamed into the camp. They
did this until a dog was seen eating the dead
body of a Chinese civilian.
Judson remained in the army and served in Korea. He was married and the father of one son. He was discharged on August 8, 1957, as a Master Sergeant. Judson D. Simpson passed away on November 19, 1980, from a heart attack, at his residence, in Jasper, Alabama. He was buried at Pisgah Baptist Church & Cemetery, Sipsey, Alabama.