|Pvt. Leonard Marvin Adams
Pvt. Leonard M. Adams was born on August 7, 1919, in
Montague County, Texas, to Daniel W. Adams &
Rosa Adams. With his three sisters and five
brothers, he grew up in Texas and Anadarko,
Oklahoma, and attended Fairview School in Anadarko,
but left school after finishing the seventh
grade. During the 1930s, his family was living
outside Fort Cobb, in Caddo County, Oklahoma, where
they were renting a farm, where Leonard and his
brother were working for their father.
The address he listed on his military records was:
Route 3, Box 229, Port Cobb, Oklahoma.
On March 20, 1941, in Oklahoma City, Leonard was inducted into the U.S. Army. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he did his basic training. What particular training he received is not known at this time. But, it believe he was assigned to a tank.
After basic training, Leonard was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been sent to the base from Ft. Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers that were taking place.
When the maneuvers ended, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, and the men had no idea why they were being kept there. What they were told, on the side of a hill, was that they were being sent overseas. It was at this time that members of the battalion, 29 years old or older, were allowed to resign from federal service. Leonard either volunteered, or had his name drawn, and was assigned to the 192nd to replace a Guardsman who was released from federal service.
The battalion traveled west by train, over different train routes, to San Francisco, California. Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell, by the U.S.A.T. Frank M. Coxe, on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Fort McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment. Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S.S. Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
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.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. Two members of each tank crew had to remain with the tank at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of C Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. His tankers returned to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. The positions they took had been selected weeks prior to the attack. At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off to protect the airfield from attack. The sky was filled with American planes until 11:30 A.M. when the planes landed so the pilots could have lunch. Their planes were lined up in a straight line by their mess.
About 12:45 in the afternoon, as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. The tankers had enough time to count 54 planes and saw what was described as "silver" raindrops falling from the planes. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese. The attack lasted approximately forty minutes.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed. They lived through two more attacks on December 10th and 13th.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before Companies B & C were ordered to on December 22nd to Damartis. When they arrived at Gerona, the tanks were to be refilled, but it was discovered there was only enough for one platoon of tanks. It was decided that a platoon of B Company tanks would be fueled and sent north to Damartis.
Another problem the tanks had was each officer in the area believed he had the right to order the tanks to support his unit. This situation was resolved when tank command made it clear that the tanks would only take orders from it. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form new defensive lines as the troops withdrew toward Bataan.
At the camp, the POWs were housed in barracks that were about 148 feet long and about 16 feet wide. A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks. In each barracks, were eighteen bays. Twelve POWs shared a bay. 216 POWs lived in each barracks. Four cages were later put in a bay. Each cage held two POWs.
The camp discipline was poor. The
American commanding officer changed
frequently. The junior officers refused to
take orders from the senior officers. Soon,
the enlisted men spoke anyway they wanted to, to
the officers. The situation improved because
all majority of POWs realized that discipline was
needed to survive.