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 1935.
He was popular in high school and known for his love of learning. One of the things he really enjoyed was
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
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
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 inoculations.
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 Philippines.
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
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 simply replaced.
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 2 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 15, 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 16, 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 own dinner.
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 1, 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 failed.
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 could escape.
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
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.
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 delay."
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
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 off-shore patrols.
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
Having brought in combat harden troops from
Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major
offensive on April 4. 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
on their radios, or that it would be given to them verbally.
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
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 looting.
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 added.
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
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 Cabanatuan.
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
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