Squyres1

Pvt. Earl Monroe Squyres


     What little is known about Pvt. Earl M. Squyres is that he was born in Woodworth, Louisiana, on January 1, 1922.  He was the son of Carlos T. Squyres & Maude Squyres.  Sometime during the 1920s, his parents divorced.   He and his sister first lived with his father in Alexandria, Louisiana, but in 1940, he and his sister were living with their mother and step-father at 1805 Park Avenue in Shreveport. 
    Earl attended Byrd High School, in Shreveport, for one year before he went to work at a telegraph office as a messenger.  On September 17, 1940, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and trained at Fort Benning, Georgia.  After basic training, he was assigned to 753rd Tank Battalion.  

   
    The 753rd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  It was while the unit was there, that Earl volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion.  He was assigned to B Company as a replacement for a National Guardsman who was released from military service because he was deemed to be "too old" for duty overseas.

    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. 
    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.  For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States.  The battalion 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.  
Ironically, it was the day the National Guard members of the battalion had originally been scheduled to be released from federal service.
    Seventeen days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the members of 192nd arrived in Manila.  The battalion was deployed Fort Stotsenburg. 
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they 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.  They spent the next seven days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in.
    On December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  At all times, two crew members remained with each tank.  The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  Early that morning, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had reached the Philippines.  The tankers were ordered to return to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  As they sat on their tanks, they watched American planes fill the sky.  At noon, every plane landed, and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall.  The pilots went to lunch.
    The tankers were eating lunch when they saw 54 planes approaching the airfield from the north.  As they watched the planes, they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Most of the tankers could do nothing but watch since their weapons were not meant to fight planes. 

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
     
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  
    
B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
   
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.    
 
    When the Filipino-American forces in the Philippine Islands were surrendered, Earl became a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942.  He took part in the Bataan Death March starting at Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  The POWs went days without food or water.  At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  Each car could hold eight horses or forty men.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.  He then walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  This camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Base which was pressed into service by the Japanese as a POW Camp.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men stood in line for hours just to get a drink.  The lack of medicine meant that disease ran wild among the POWs with as many as 55 men dying each day.

     Conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty men a day died from disease.  In addition, there was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  The Japanese, recognizing how bad the situation was, opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Earl may have been sent to the camp when it opened or went there when a work detail came to an end. 

    What is known is that Pvt. Earl M. Squyres was reported by the camp's medical staff to have been admitted to the camp's hospital on Tuesday, August 11, 1942, suffering from dysentery.  He was assigned to Barracks 8.  According to other records. Pvt. Earl M. Squyres died at Cabanatuan POW Camp on Monday, August 17, 1942, of dysentery.  His approximated time of death was 9:15 in the morning.

    After the war, the graves at Cabanatuan were exhumed.  Those POWs whose remains could not be positively identified were reburied as "unknowns" at the new American military cemetery.  It is very likely that Earl M. Squyres was reburied at the cemetery as an "Unknown."


 

 


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