Steen

 

Tec 5 Arnold M. Steen
    Tec 5 Arnold M. Steen was born in Wisconsin on October 18, 1918.  He was the son of Hans A. Steen and Amelia R. Hill-Steen.  He had three sisters and one brother.  His family lived at 103 North Washington Street in Janesville, Wisconsin, and worked as a truck driver for a wholesale company. 
    On November 25, 1940, his National Guard tank company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  During his training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Arnold attended cook's school and was assigned to A Company as its second cook.
    Arnold took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941.  It was after these maneuvers, on the side of a hill, that he learned that his battalion was being sent overseas.  He would marry before going overseas and his wife, Mary, resided at 103 North Washington Street in Janesville.
    Arnold did not receive leave home to say his goodbyes to family and friends.  He and the other members of the battalion were held at Camp Polk.  They learned that they had been selected, by General George Patton, for overseas duty.  He and the other members of the battalion rode trains to San Francisco.  They were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay to receive physicals and shots. Those who had treatable medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion in the Philippines. 

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott 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 Tuesday, November 4th, 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, this was the date 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.
  Since their barracks were unfinished, Arnold and the other soldiers once again, found themselves living in tents  The tents were along the main road between Ft. Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, Arnold and the other soldiers were called together by Capt. Walter Write the company commander.  He informed his men of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ten hours earlier.  He then ordered his tank crews to secure part of the perimeter of the airfield.
    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, while Arnold was serving lunch to the tank crews, Japanese planes appeared over the field.  Being a cook, Arnold could do little more than watch as the Japanese destroyed the American Army Air Corps.
    For the next four months, Arnold and the other cooks for the battalion did their best to feed the soldiers.  As the Americans and Filipinos fell back toward Bataan, food became scarce and rations were cut to one third of what a soldier needed to fight.  In an attempt to give his company adequate food, Arnold served horse meat, snake and monkey to the men.
    On one occasion, Arnold and the other cooks got their hands on beans.  They sent out a radio message to the tanks that they had food for them.  The problem was that message was heard by anyone in the area.  By the time the tankers arrived, the officers who had heard the message had eaten most of the food.
    The morning of April 9, 1942, Arnold and the other men learned of the surrender of Bataan to the Japanese from Capt. Fred Bruni.  Arnold with most the other members of A Company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  It was from there that he began what became known as the death march.
    As a Prisoner of War, Arnold was held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan.  It is not known if he went out on  work details to escape the conditions in the camps.  What is known is that Tec 5 Arnold M. Steen died of malaria, at 2:00 A.M. on Sunday, June 21, 1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp, Philippine Islands.  Official word of his death was not received by his parents until November 3, 1945.  In the letter it said:

    "I am writing you relative to my previous letter in which you were regrettably informed that a finding death was made in the case of your son .  Technician Fifth Grade Arnold M. Steen, 20645277, Infantry, and that the presumptive date of death had been established at 1 July 1944.
    An official report has now been received that he died in the Philippine Islands on 21 June 1942, while a prisoner of war of the Japanese government at Cabanatuan Prison Camp, as a result of malaria.
    My continued sympathy is with you in the great loss you have sustained.

                                                                                                         General Edward F. Witsell
                                                                                               Acting Adjutant General of the Army"

    After the war, the remains of T/5 Arnold M. Steen could not he positively identified, so he was buried at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila as an unknown.  Since his final resting place is unknown, Tec 5 Arnold M. Steen's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.  His family also had a memorial dedicated to him at Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville.   

 

 

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