Pvt. Albert Keith Walker
| Pvt. Albert K.
Walker was born in Joseph, Oregon, on September
18, 1919, to Jesse D. Walker & Ruby Hazel
Millhollen-Walker. He was the third of four
sons born to the couple and was known as "Keith"
to his family. With his three brothers, he
grew up at 1309 East Third Street in Enterprise,
Oregon. As a child, he attended Enterprise
Grade School and graduated from Enterprise High
School in 1937. After high school, he became
the manager of a J.C. Penney Store in Enterprise,
On March 19, 1941, he was inducted into the U.
S. Army. Keith was sent to Fort Lewis,
Washington, where he did his basic
training. During this time, he trained as
a radio operator. To do this, he was sent
to Ft. Knox, Kentucky to attend radio operators
Traveling west by train, the 192nd arrived in
San Francisco, California. There, they
were ferried to
Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the
island, the soldiers were given physicals and
inoculated against tropical diseases. Men
with minor medical issues were held back and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later
date. Other men were simply replaced.
at Guam, they
ship since the
day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night.
did so in
This for many
soldiers was a
sign that they
Manila Bay, at
8:00 A.M. on
at 8:00 A.M.,
and docked at
Pier 7 later
3:00 P.M., the
and were taken
by bus to Ft.
drove them to
fort north of
section of the
HQ Company finally boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit. As they sat, Keith and the other Prisoners of War noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers. The officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off, and the Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Keith's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. In the school yard, they found themselves sitting in a field between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum. Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide. Some of the POWs were killed from incoming American shells. The American guns did succeed at knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march he received no water and little food. To keep water in his mouth, Keith employed a trick that he had learned as a boy scout. He placed a pebble in his mouth which caused him to produce saliva which kept his mouth wet. This helped him not to think about how thirsty he was.
Before the company drove to Mariveles, Keith
filled one of his socks with raw rice. He
ate this uncooked rice on the march.
Although it helped keep his hunger under
control, chewing the raw rice wore away the
crowns of his teeth.
At the train station, he was put into a wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. According to Keith, "The boxcars were so crowded, you couldn't sit down and we had a long way to go." At Capas, the POWs climbed out of the boxcars and]walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was a death trap with as many as
fifty POWs dying each day. There was only
one working water faucet for the entire
camp. To get a drink, men stood in line
for days. Keith recalled, "Conditions there were
terrible. There was no place there to
sleep or get undercover from the rain or the
get out of the camp, Keith volunteered to go out
on a work detail to Tarlec Provence which left
the camp in early June 1942. About 100
POWs went to the Barrio of Carangian, Talec
Provence. The detail job was to rebuild a
bridge that had been destroyed by a massive
flood on the Tarlec River.
25, 1943, his wife heard a Japanese announcer
read a message from him. The message
said, "In good
health and receiving treatment.
Having medical attention. Living in good
climate in beautiful place. The
Japanese authorities are considerate of
our care and welfare. Am eagerly awaiting
the time that we can be together
again. Let the folks know and tell
them to write and send latest
pictures." It should be mentioned
that the authenticity of everything said
in POW broadcasts was questioned by U.S.
Government. His wife would hear a
second radio broadcast from him on May 27,
During Keith's time in the camp, the air raids
became more frequent. On May 22nd, 250
American B-29's dropped incendiary bombs on
Kawasaki. The bombs landed on all sides of
the camp, but not one bomb landed within the
camp, even though the air raid lasted for four
hours. Keith later said that the POWs
welcomed the bombers. On June 30, 1945,
Tokyo 23-D was closed and the POWs were sent to
Keith remained in Kawasaki 1-B until the end of the war. On September 4th, he wrote a letter to his wife and stated he was getting ready to board a plane for Okinawa. He did say in the letter that he was too excited to write much. He was returned to the Philippines before returning to San Francisco on the U.S.S. Hugh Rodman on October 3, 1945. From there, he was sent to a Veterans Administration Hospital in Spokane, Washington, and later transferred to another hospital in Tacoma, Washington, suffering from beriberi and dysentery.
Keith was discharged from the army on June 1,
1946, and went to Eastern Oregon State College
on the GI Bill. He received an associates
degree in accounting. He worked several
accounting jobs in La Grande, Oregon, before
taking a job with the Standard Insurance
Company. He remained in this job until he
retired. Jean and Keith became the parents
of two children.
Albert Keith Walker passed away on August 23, 1999.