Pvt. Lester Owen Watson
At this time, very little is
known about Pvt. Lester Owen Watson. What is
known is that he was born on June 26, 1916, to
Harold and Minnie Watson in Missouri. The
family would later live in Jennings, Kansas,
before moving to Illinois. With his brother
and sister, he grew up at 908 West Saint Charles
Road in Maywood, Illinois, and attended Proviso
Township High School. He left school after
two years and worked at a company that
manufactured steel drums. His job was to
spray paint them.
Lester joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd
Battalion Tank Company which was headquartered
in an armory on Madison Street in Maywood.
On November 25, 1940, the company was
federalized and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for
training. During his training there, it is
not known what training he received.
The 192nd was
Hugh L. Scott
for Hawaii as
part of a
For many, it
would be the
last time that
ever see the
2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the
The morning of April
9, 1942, at
fired a armor
engine of the
tank in front
Most of the
which had not
In Japan, he was held as a POW at the Kamioka
POW Camp. The POWs in the camp were
used as miners in a zinc and lead mine. It
was at this camp that he would be liberated in
late 1945. The POWs in the camp did not
officially get liberated until September
6th. He was returned to the Philippines,
by plane, and sailed for home on November 20th.
After Lester was liberated he wrote his first letter home since he had been taken a POW. He was unaware that the letter, addressed to his mother, would not be read by her. His mother had passed away on September 10, 1944.
Lester was discharged on February 26, 1946, and returned home to Maywood. He later moved to Hillside. Lester O. Watson died on January 15, 1993, in Oak Park, Illinois.