Boardman

Pvt. Emery B. Boardman


     Pvt. Emery B. Boardman was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1919 to Charles W. Boardman & Edna Leeman-Boardman.  With his two brothers, he was raised at 731 Highland in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and attended Glenbard High School.  Before the war, he worked in his father's reality and insurance business.

    Like many young men, Emery knew that the recently passed draft act would most likely result in his serving in the army. To fulfill his military obligation, Emery joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Maywood, Illinois, in August 1940.  In November of 1940, the company was federalized and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to train.  It was there, that the tank company became Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.  

    In January, 1941, Emery was transferred to the Headquarters Company when the company was formed with members from the four letter companies and made the company clerk.  His specific duties with the company are not known.

    In the later summer of 1941, he continued his training during the Louisiana maneuvers.  After the maneuvers the 192nd was ordered to  Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, as they had expected to do. At the fort, on the side of a hill, the members of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  So much for one year of military service.  It is not known if he returned home on leave or if he remained at the base while the battalion readied its equipment for transport.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and were taken by the ferry, the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. 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.  Other men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27, as part of a three ship convoy that arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2.  Since the ships had a two day layover, the soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Wednesday, November 5, the ships sailed for Guam
but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.   
    Arriving at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water before sailing for Manila. 
At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they would soon be at war.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the next day for Manila and entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20.  They docked at Pier 7 later in the day, and at 3:00 P.M. the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those assigned to trucks drove their trucks to the base, while the maintenance section of the battalion remained behind to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field, but the fact was that he had not learned of their arrival until just days before their ship docked.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
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 as they prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.

    On Monday, December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Meals were brought to them by food trucks.   As they sat in their tanks, Japanese planes flew reconnaissance missions over the airfield unchallenged.
    At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield.  All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tankers could do little more than watch since their weapons, except for the tanks' machine guns, were useless against planes.  After the attack, the tankers saw the damage done to the airfield.  They remained at the airfield for a week before being sent north.
    The  battalion was sent to Lingayen Gulf,, on December 21, were their job was to hold a position until the Filipino and American forces had established another defensive line.  They would then disengage and fall back.

    The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."   
    On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  Donald was now a Prisoner of War.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           

    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit.  As they sat, the POWs 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 prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
  
   Later in the day, the POWs were order to move and taken to a school yard in Mariveles and ordered to sit. 
Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces.  The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  When the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around them.  Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit.  When the barrage ended, three if the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.      
    It was from this school yard that the POWs began the death march. 
The first five miles of the march was uphill.  They made their way north from Mariveles to San Fernando.  During the march men who had fell were shot and bayoneted where they fell. 

    When the march started, Emery was already suffering from dysentery and was very weak.  Pvt. William Hauser, and another GI, helped Emery by carrying him between them.

    The second night of the march the POWs were held by a stream from which they were able to get water.  The men began to share stories of where they wanted to be instead of where they were at at that moment.  Emery began telling the other men that he would like to be at a restaurant in his hometown of Glen Ellyn.  He described what he would be eating if he were there.  

    As he spoke, another POW not to far from him heard Emery.  When Emery named the restaurant the other man looked to see who was speaking,  It turned out that this second GI was Harold Baker who had grown up with Emery in Glen Ellyn.  The two friends talked about the good old days and the meals they ate at the restaurant.

    The next day during the march the POWs heard a rumor that men who were too ill to march would be taken by truck to the next bullpen.  Suffering from dysentery, Emery left his company and attempted to make this arrangement. 

    As it turned out, the rumor of sick prisoners receiving rides on trucks turned out to be untrue.  Emery continued to march, but outside of San Fernando,  he had an attack of dysentery and went to the side of the road to relieve himself.  A guard seeing this approached Emery and raised his gun to hit him with the butt.  Emery raised his arms to his face to soften the blow.  Seeing this as an act of defiance, the guard bayoneted Emery in the stomach.   When Emery did not die after being bayoneted the first time, the guard bayoneted him a second time.  This time the guard left the bayonet in Emery until he slumped over onto it.  Knowing Emery was dead,  the guard pulled the bayonet out of him.  The Japanese allowed the other members of the battalion to bury him alongside the road.

    On April 18, 1942, at the age of 23, Pvt. Emery B. Boardman died near the town of Balanga.  After the war, his remains were recovered and his body now lies in Plot F, Row 15, Grave  62, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.   


 

 


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