Thurman

 

Capt. Russell C. Thorman


    At this time, very little is known about Capt. Russell C. Thorman.  What is known is that he was born on October 21, 1903, and that he was the son of William Thorman & Minnie Drafahl-Thorman.  On October 5, 1918, his father died.  With his mother and four brothers, he lived at 465 South Fremont Street in Janesville, Wisconsin, and worked in a lumber yard.  In 1932, he joined the Wisconsin National Guard.

    When the 32nd Division Tank Company was federalized in the fall of 1940, Thorman traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky for one year of training.  In January 1941, he was transferred to B Company and later Headquarters Company when it was formed.  He was the battalion's Staff Officer for Personnel or S-1.  He would later be the battalion's adjutant.

    After taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana, Thorman and the other members of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  Being over 29 years of age, he was given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  He chose to remain with the 192nd.  He traveled by train to San Francisco and sailed from Angel Island to the Philippine Islands.

    Thorman lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field and spent four months working to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.  On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner Of War.  He took part in what became known as the death march.  Thorman did the march with Dale Lawton and Carl Nickols.  For the POWs the heat, the lack of food, and the lack of water made the situation worse.  During five days on the march, all the three soldiers had to eat was one ball of rice.

    At San Fernando, Thorman and the others were crammed into boxcars.  The cars were small but somehow 100 men were forced into each one.  At Capas, the POWs got out of the cars.  The bodies of the dead fell out of the cars and onto the ground as the living got exited the cars.  Thorman and the other men walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    It is not known if Capt. Thorman left Camp O'Donnell on a work detail.  What is known is that he was next held at Cabanatuan.  He remained in this camp until 1944.

    Capt. Russell Thorman was also held at Bilibid Prison in late 1944.  He was then taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Oryoku Maru.  The ship sailed for Formosa when it was attacked by American fighters.

    The Oryoku Maru was hit repeatedly in Subac Bay.  It was not until the fighter pilots saw the POWs climbing out of the holds of the ship that they stopped the attack.  Thorman and the other POWs swam to shore.  As they did, the Japanese fired at them with machineguns. 

    The prisoners were collected on a tennis court and remained there for several days.  They later rode a train to San Fernando La Union of the Lingayen Gulf.  There, they boarded a second ship the Enoura Maru.  The ship reached Formosa safely on January 1, 1945.  The ship sat in the harbor for days without the POWs being allowed out of the holds.  

    On January 6th, the forward hold of the ship was emptied of its coal and a large number of POWs were moved into it.  Russell was one of the POWs sent to the hold.  On January 9th, American planes attacked the ship.  One bomb made a direct hit on the hold, and a large portion of the ship's deck caved in from the explosion.  Russell was wounded from the explosion.  

    It was during this attack that another bomb exploded in the hold of the ship resulting in the deaths of many POWs.  Capt. Russell C. Thorman was one of them.  According to U. S. Army records, Capt. Russell C. Thorman was reported to have died from his wounds on the Enoura Maru on January 9, 1945.  

    It is believed Capt. Russell Thorman's remains were buried in a mass grave on Formosa. This would mean he is buried at the American Military Cemetery at Manila in unknown grave.   Since he was considered Missing in Action, his name appears on  The Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.


 

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