Steen

 

Tec 5 Arnold M. Steen
    T/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. and the family lived at 103 North Washington Street in Janesville, Wisconsin.  He 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 Colonel 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, 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.

    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  At all times, two tank crew members remained with their tanks.
    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.
    American planes took off at 8:30 A.M. and patrolled the sky looking for Japanes planes.  At noon, the planes landed and were parked, in a straight line, outside the pilots mess hall.
    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, while Arnold was serving lunch to the tank crews from a food truck, Japanese planes appeared over the field.  Being a cook, Arnold could do little more than take cover and watch as the Japanese destroyed the American Army Air Corps.

    After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position. 
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  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.

   
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions 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.
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines 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 had left 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. 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.

    For the next four months, Arnold and the other cooks for the battalion did their best to feed the soldiers.  This became more difficult as the food supply dwindled.  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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