| T/5 Eber L.
Boden was born on December 26, 1917, in Oakwood,
Oklahoma. He was the son of Charles H. and
Marguerite Lamar-Boden. With his six
brothers and one sister, he grew up on the family
farm about four miles from Oakwood. Eber was
known as "Eb" to his family and
friends. He attended Bell School and
Oakwood High School from which he graduated in
was popular in high school and known for his love
of learning. One of the things he really
enjoyed was writing poetry.
On March 24, 1941, Eber was drafted into the
U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He
remained at the army base for one week before he
was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky. At Ft.
Knox, he attended tank mechanics' school.
Upon completion of this training in July 1941,
he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana were he
assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
In September 1941, maneuvers took place in
Louisiana. One of the tank battalions
involved in the maneuvers was the 192nd. This
battalion was made up mainly of National
Guardsmen from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and
Kentucky. It was after the maneuvers that
the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk. It was on
the side of a hill that the members of the
battalion learned that instead of being released
from federal service, that they were being sent
overseas. Any soldier 29 years old or
older or who was married was given the
opportunity to resign from federal
service. After this was done, replacements
for these men were sought among the members of
the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Eber either volunteered or had his name drawn to
join the 192nd and was assigned to D Company's
tank maintenance section. This unit
consisted of nine men or ten men. He and
the rest of his company rode a train west to San
Francisco. They next were ferried to Angel
Island in San Francisco Bay for physicals and
The reason for this move was
because, during the summer, a squadron of
American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf,
in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who
was flying at a lower altitude, noticed
something odd. He took his plane down and
identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw
another in the distance. He came upon more
buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30
miles to the northwest, in the direction of an
Japanese occupied island which was hundred of
miles away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its
flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to
When the planes landed,
it was too late to do anything that day.
The next day, when another squadron was sent to
the area, the buoys had been picked up by a
fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which
was seen making its way to shore.
Since communication between the Air Corps and
Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It
was at that time the decision was made to build
up the American military presence in the
The battalion's new tanks
came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were
loaded onto flat cars, on different
trains. The soldiers also cosmolined
anything that they thought would rust.
Over different train routes, the companies were
sent to San Francisco, California, where they
were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank
M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel
Island. On the island, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment
and men found with minor medical conditions were
held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the
battalion at a later date. Other men were
The 192nd was boarded onto
the U.S.A.T. Gen. 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. They 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, the
transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to
bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11. 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, the tankers were
met by Colonel Edward P. King, who welcomed them
and made sure that they had what they
needed. He also was apologetic that there
were no barracks for the tankers and that they
had to live in tents. The fact was he had
not learned of their arrival until days before
they arrived. He made sure that they had
Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his
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 spent much of their time removing
cosmoline from their weapons. They also
spent a large amount of time loading ammunition
belts. The plan was for them, with the
194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
After arriving in the
Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D
Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had
left for the Philippines minus one
company. B Company of the battalion was
sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of
the battalion, were sent to the
Philippines. The medical clerk for
the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be
handed over to the 194th.
On December 1st, the tank
battalions were ordered to the perimeter of
Clark Field to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company,
was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two
members of each tank and half-track crew
remained with their vehicles at all times and
received their meals from food trucks.
While they were in these positions, Japanese
planes flew reconnaissance missions over the
airfield without being challenged.
The morning of December 8,
1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor, the company was brought up to full
strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.
All morning long, the sky was filled with
American planes. At noon, the planes
landed to be refueled and the pilots went to
lunch. The planes were parked in a
straight line outside the pilots' mess hall.
At 12:45, two formations,
totaling 54 planes, approached the airfield from
the north. When bombs began exploding on
the runways, the tankers knew that planes were
Japanese. Being that their tanks could not
fight planes, they watched as the Japanese
destroyed the Army Air Corps.
When the Japanese were
finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The soldiers watched as the
dead, the dying, and the wounded were hauled to
the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
else, 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.
One of the results of the
attack was that the transfer of D Company, to
the 194th, was never completed. The
company retained its designation of being part
of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and
the Battle of Bataan.
The 194th, with D Company,
was moved, the night of the 12th, to an area
south of San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge
arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December
13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from
Clark Field to do reconnaissance and to guard
beaches. On the 15th, the battalion
received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some
over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine
Scouts. These were used to test the ground
to see if it could support tanks.
The tank battalions were sent
to the area around the Lingayen Gulf. The
company was near a mountain, so many of the
tankers climber to the top. On the
mountain, they found troops, ammunition, guns
but were just sitting there watching the
Japanese ships in the gulf. They had
received orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down the
mountain and waited. They received orders
to drop back from the mountain and let the
Japanese occupy it. They watched as the
Japanese brought their equipment to the top of
the mountain. The Americans finally
received orders to launch a counterattack which
On December 22, the companies
were operating north of the Agno River and after
the main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25,
made an end tun to get south of the river and
not be trapped by the Japanese. The tanks
held the south bank of the river from west of
Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with
the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to
Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers
spent in the night in a coconut grove. As
it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942,
both day and night, all the tanks did was cover
retreats of different infantry units. The
tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and
The tanks formed a new
defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo
Tomas- San Jose line on December 26. When
they dropped back from the line, all the
platoons withdrew, except one which provided
cover, as the other platoons from the
area. One tank went across the line
receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's
platoon lost a tank. It was at this time
that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks,
except one, because the bridge they were suppose
to cross had been destroyed. The company
commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring
himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the
Japanese repaired them and used them on
Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that
had not abandoned, found a place to ford the
river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo
Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San
Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and
29. On January 1, conflicting orders were
received by the defenders who were attempting to
stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.
Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces
to withdraw toward Bataan. General
Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they
came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there
was confusion among the Filipinos and American
forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga
River. Due to the efforts of the Self
Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and
a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2
to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San
Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces
At 2:30 A.M., the night of
January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus
in force and using smoke as cover. This
attack was an attempt to destroy the tank
battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the
tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd
holding its position so that the 194th Tank
Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the
bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over
the bridge. The 192nd was the last
American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
It was at this time that the tank companies were
reduced to three tanks each. This was done
to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews
still without tanks were used as replacements,
At Gumain River, on January
5, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given
the job to hold the south riverbank so that the
other units could withdraw. The tank
companies formed a defensive line along the bank
of the river. When the Japanese attacked
the position at night, they were easy to see
since they were wearing white t-shirts.
The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the
194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge
over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.
This was the beginning of the Battle of
Bataan. At this time, the food rations
were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued
the following orders to the tank battalions
around this time.
"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying
in position and firing at visible enemy
until further delay will jeopardize
withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized,
it will be fought until the close approach
of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew
previously taking positions outside and
continuing to fight with the salvaged and
personal weapons. Considerations of personal
safety and expediency will not interfere
with accomplishing the greatest possible
A composite tank
company was created on January 8 under the
command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company,
192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road
north of Hermosa. Its job was to keep the
north road open and prevent the Japanese from
driving down the road before a new battle line
had been formed. The Japanese never
lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to
be formed. The tanks withdrew after they
began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks
were ordered to bivouac south of the
Aubucay-Hacienda Road. While there, the
tank crews had their first break from action in
nearly a month. The tanks, which were long
overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th
Ordnance. It was also at this time that
tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with
three tanks in each platoon. This was done
so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen
the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces,
which were trapped behind enemy lines, could
withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks
were knocked out by landmines planted by
ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese
anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission
was abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's
forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw
was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve
the 31st Infantry's command post. On the
24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda
Road to support infantry, but again could not
accomplish their mission because of landmines
planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a
position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac
Road on January 26 with four self-propelled
mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down
the road and warned the battalion that a large
Japanese force was coming down the road.
When they appeared the tanks opened up on them.
At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500
of 1200 men. This action prevented the new
line of defense from being breached.
On January 28, the tank
battalions were given the job of guarding the
beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land
troops. The 194th guarded the coastline
from Limay to Cabcaban. During the day,
the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At
bight they were pulled out onto the
beaches. The battalion's half-tracks had
the job of patrolling the roads. At all times,
the tanks were in contact with on-shore and
For most of March, the
situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the
Japanese had been fought to a standstill.
Eber being one of ten men assigned to tank
maintenance used this time to work on the
tanks. On one occasion, two tanks had
gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were
working to free them. While they were
doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the
area. Lt. Colonel Ernest Miller ordered
his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank
range. He also ran from tank to tank
directing the crew's fire. The Japanese
were wiped out. On March 21, the last
major battle was fought by the tanks.
Having brought in combat
harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese
lunched a major offensive on April 4th.
The tanks were sent to various sectors in an
attempt to stop the advance. On the 6th,
four tanks were sent to support the 45th
Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank
was knocked out from anti-tank fire at the
junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other
tanks withdrew. On April 8, the 194th was
fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
It was at this time that Gen.
King knowing that the situation was hopeless
sent officers to negotiate the surrender of
Bataan. The tanks were instructed that
they would hear the order "bash"
on their radios, or that it would be given to
When the order was given, the
tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor
piercing shell into the engine of the tank in
front of their tank, and opened up the gasoline
cocks in the crew compartments. They
dropped hand grenades into each crew compartment
setting the tanks on fire. Later in the
war, the Japanese dragged the tanks out of the
jungle to send to Japan as scrap metal.
On April 9, 1942, when Bataan was surrendered to
the Japanese. Sgt. Morgan French called
the soldiers together and asked them what they
wanted to do. Most of the men chose to try
to reach Corregidor. According to Sgt.
French, Eber said that he had gone as far as he
was going to go. Sgt. French and the
remaining men made it to Corregidor.
Eber made his way to
Mariveles where he started the death
march. He took part in the death march and
made his way to San Fernando. There, he
and the other POWs were packed into wooden boxcars
that could hold eight horses or forty men.
Each car held 100 POWs. Those who died
during the trip remained standing until the
living climbed out of the cars at Capas.
The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to
Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino
Army Training Base that the Japanese pressed
into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.
When the POWs arrived at the camp, the Japanese
confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had
and refused to return it to them. They
searched the POWs and if a man was found to have
Japanese money on them, they were taken to the
guardhouse. Over the next several days,
gunshots were heard to the southeast of the
camp. These POWs had been executed for
There was only one water
faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in
line from two to eight hours waiting for a
drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet
would turn it off for no reason and the next man
in line would stand as long as four hours
waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was
There was no water for
washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out
their clothing when it had been soiled. In
addition, water for cooking had to be carried
three miles from a river to the camp and mess
kits could not be washed. The slit
trenches in the camp were inadequate and were
soon overflowing since most of the POWs had
dysentery. The result was that flies were
everywhere in the camp including the POW
kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no
soap, water, or disinfectant. When the
ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a
letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio
Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was
told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent
a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck
into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross
sent medical supplies the camp the Japanese took
95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital
lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of
the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs
was healthy enough to care for them. When
a representative of the Philippine Red Cross
stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for
the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of
the dead were found all over the camp and were
carried to the hospital and placed underneath
it. The bodies lay there for two or three
days before they were buried in the camp
cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from
dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the
ground under the hospital, the ground was
scraped and lime was spread over it. The
bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and
the area they had been laying was scrapped and
lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on
a daily basis. Each day, the American
doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of
the POWs who were healthier enough to
work. If the quota of POWs needed to work
could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs
who were sick, but could walk, to work.
The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men
dying a day. The Japanese finally
acknowledge that they had to do something, so
the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs
formed detachments of 100 men each and were
marched to Capas. Eber was not sent to the
new camp but remained behind at Camp O'Donnell
because he was "too ill" to be sent to
According to Ople Jaggers, who was a POW with
Eber, at about 9:00 pm, Eber woke up with a
fever and asked him for some water. Since
Jaggers had to walk about half a mile to get the
water, by the time he got back with the water,
Eber was pretty sick. Jaggers gave Eber a
drink and then tore his own shirt into strips to
use as towels that toweled Eber's head
with. About 1:00 in the morning, seeing
that Eber's condition was not getting any
better, Jaggers woke up a doctor.
The doctor seeing that Eber
was in bad shape moved him to the
hospital. Jaggers stayed with Eber until
the doctor told him to get some sleep. At
9:00 the next morning, the doctor woke Jaggers
and told him that Eber had died. Eber
Boden died on Sunday, November 22, 1942, of
pneumonia. He was 24 years old.
T/5 Eber L. Boden was buried in the camp
cemetery in Section P, Row 8, Grave
3. He was the last POW reported to die at
Camp O'Donnell. After the war, Eber's
parents requested that his remains be returned
to the United States. On October 17, 1948,
Eber was reburied at Oakwood Memorial Cemetery
in Oakwood, Oklahoma.
The photo below is of T/5 Eber L. Boden's grave
in Oakwood Memorial Cemetery.