Tec 4 Joseph S. Bandych
| What is known
about T/4 Joseph S. Bandych was born in 1921 to
Bruno & Amelia Bandych. His father was a
coal miner and the family resided at House #177 at
the Glen Robbins Coal Company near Warren,
Ohio. Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army and
was assigned to the 19th Ordnance Battalion at
Fort Knox, Kentucky. A Company of the
battalion was later reorganized as the 17th
1941, the company was ordered to San Francisco,
California, for transport to the Philippine
Islands. Arrving by train at 7:30 A.M. om
September 5th, the company was ferried, on the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island, where they received physicals and
inoculations from the battalion's medical
detachment. The tankers boarded the S.S.
President Calvin Coolidge on September 8th at 3:00
P.M. and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine
Islands. To get the tanks to fit in the
ship's holds, the turrets had serial numbers spray
painted on them and were removed from the
tanks. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on
Saturday, September 13th at 7:00 A.M., and most of
the soldiers were allowed off ship to see the
island but had to be back on board before the ship
sailed at 5:00 P.M.
On April 9, 1942, Joseph 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, the POWs were boarded onto small wooden boxcars that could hold forty men. One hundred men were packed into each car. The dead remained standing until the living left the cars. He then walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
was an unfinished Filipino Army Camp which the
Japanese pressed into service as a POW Camp.
As many as fifty men died each day. There
was only one water faucet for the entire
camp. Fred was sent to Cabanatuan, on June
1. The POWs formed detachments of 100 men
and were marched to Capas, where they were put
into steel boxcars. Each car had two
Japanese guards. During the trip at
Calumpit, the train was switched onto a track that
took it to Cbanatuan. When the POWs left the
cars, they were herded into a schoolyard where
they were fed cooked rice and onions soup.
They were marched to the new camp which was a
former Philippine Army Base and had been the home
of the 91st Philippine Army Division's home.
Joseph was selected to go out on a work detail to Manila. This detail was known as the Bachrach Garage Detail. The POWs repaired trucks and other equipment for the Japanese. He remained on this detail until it was disbanded and the POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison for transport to Japan.
On October 10, 1944, Joseph was boarded
onto the Arisan Maru. On October
11th, the ship set sail but took a southerly
route away from Formosa. The ship anchored
in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained
for ten days. This resulted in the ship
missing an air attack by American planes, but
the ship was attacked by American planes, which
had bombed the airfield on the island, while in
the cove. During this time, one of the
POWs was shot and killed while attempting to
Each day, each POW was given three ounces of
water and two half mess kits of raw rice.
Although the Japanese had removed the lights in
the hold, they had not turned off the power to
the lights. Some of the prisoners were
able to hot-wire the ship's blowers into the
light power lines. This allowed fresh air
into the hold, until the power was disconnected,
two days later, when the Japanese discovered
what had been done.
T/4 Joseph S. Bandych died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru. Posthumously, Joseph was awarded the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Unit Citation with Oak Leaves, the Victory Medal, the Foreign Service and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Ribbons. Since he died at sea, T/4 Joseph S. Bandych's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.