Swartz

 

Pvt. Michael Swartz
    Pvt. Michael Swartz was born in 1915 and was one of the six sons of Ignatius & Ursula Swartz.  He was one of the couple's six sons.  He lived at 115 North 24th Avenue in Melrose Park, Illinois, and attended high school for one year.  At some point, he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard and was called to federal service on November 25, 1941.
    At Fort Knox, Kentucky, his tank company was renamed B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  For nearly a year he trained at Ft. Knox before being sent to Louisiana in the late summer of 1941. 

    In the late summer of 1941, Michael took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    For the next four months, Michael's battalion fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands.  On April 9, 1942, Michael became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando.  There, he and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that could hold forty men or eight horses.  100 men were put into each car.  Those who died remained standing until the living exited the cars at Capas.  From Capas, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.  There was only one water fountain for 12,000 POWs.  Since there was very little medicine, many POWs became ill and died.
    On Friday, May 1, 1942, Pvt. Michael Swartz died of dysentery at Camp O'Donnell POW Camp, Philippine Islands.  He was buried in the camp cemetery.  After the war, his remains were buried in Plot L, Row 15, Grave 14, at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.

 

 



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