Brazzel

Pfc. Rufus Brazzel


Born: January 1916 - Kaufmann County, Texas

Parents: Edmond D. Brazzel & Maude F. Lewis-Brazzel

Siblings: 1 sister, 4 brothers

Hometown: Otter Creek, Oklahoma

Education: completed grade school

Enlisted:

    - U.S. Army

         - 25 September 1940 - Ft. Still, Oklahoma

Unit:

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion 

        - A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion

        - company deactivated and activated as 17th Ordnance Company

Training:

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
Note: On August 15, 1941, orders were issued to the company, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  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, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

Overseas Duty:
    - Arrived: Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - given physicals and inoculations
        - men with medical conditions replaced
    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and reattached
              turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

            - serviced tanks of 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

            - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan

                - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor

                    - American artillery returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars

                - dead fell out of cars as living climbed out
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
            - 1 June 1942 - Japanese began transfer of POWs to new camp

            - 4 June 1942 - transfer completed
    - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
        - Barracks:
            - each barracks held 50 men
                - often held between 60 and 120 men
                - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                    - diseases spread easily
                - no showers
        - Morning Roll Call:
            - stood at attention
                - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
            - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
              their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs lined up
        - Meals:
            - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
            - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
                - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
                - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
                - fenced off from other wards
                    - Japanese guards would not go near it
                    - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                    - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                    - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
                - admitted to camp hospital
                - assigned to Barracks 1

Died:

    - Monday - 15 June 1942 - malaria
        - other records show dysentery as the cause of death

        - approximate time of death - 1:00 PM

Buried:

    - Cabanatuan Cemetery

        - after the war his remains could not be positively identified

        - buried at the new American cemetery as an "Unknown" 

Memorial:

     - Tablets of the Missing - American Military Cemetery - Manila, Philippine Islands


 

 




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