Chio_W

 

Cpl. Wade W. Chio


    Cpl. Wade W. Chio was the son of Joseph Chio & Goldie Bodi-Chio.  He was born on May 30, 1919, on the Howard Farms in Ohio.  He was one of the couple's eight children.  His father was a farmer and brought all his children up farming.  The family resided on Route 1, County Line Road in Jerusalem Township, Lucas County, Ohio, and later Bono, Ohio.

    It is not known when, but Wade joined the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton, Ohio.  On November 25, 1940, Wade with his tank company was called to federal service when his company was federalized.  Upon arrival at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the company was designated C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.

    Wade with the rest of the company, trained for almost a year.  From September 1 through 30, 1941, the 192nd took part in the maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  It was on the side of a hill at Camp Polk, that he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were not being released from federal service.  Instead, the battalion was being sent overseas.
    The reason for this move -  which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  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 Clark Field.
    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.
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment. Those with minor health issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Som men were simply released and replaced.
    The 192nd 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.   The ship 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, another transport, the S.S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  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 Gen. 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 love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    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.
    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers.  Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times.  The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  In Wade's case, he was cleaning is mess kit at a water spigot when the planes appeared and bombs began exploding.  He recalled, "About that time, there was this awful noise.  It sounded like a freight train, but it had a swish to it.  Then the whole field went - airplanes, bodies and pieces of bodies- went sky high. I'll never forget that day as long as I live." 
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.     
    At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.  The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.           
    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       
    After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.

    On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed. 

    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.  

    Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town.  One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.   Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.  

    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.

    When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.

    Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks. 

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions, on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings. 
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver, "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 delay."

    C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead. 
The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.   
    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.

    On April 8, 1942, Wade was wounded by shrapnel.  It was the evening that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
    Tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished."    
    The next day, April 9, 1942, Wade and his company received the word of the surrender, and he became a Prisoner of War.  It was from Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan that Wade began what became known as the death march.  The first five days were the worse days of the march.  His hunger pains were extremely bad.  After the fifth day, he got use to the hunger.  It was not until the twelfth day of the march that he received  his first food.

    It took Wade sixteen days to complete the march.  While he marched, he witnessed Japanese brutality.  He was POWs bayoneted because they had attempted to get water from artesian wells.  Those who fell to the road were shot.  He was beaten twice for not moving fast enough and bayoneted once in the shoulder.  In his opinion, the lucky men were the ones who died on the march.

    At San Fernando, Wade and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars used for hauling sugarcane.  The POWs were packed in so tightly that the dead remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From there, the men walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military camp.  The camp had only one water faucet for the entire camp.  As many as eighty men of day died.  The food in the camp consisted of a type of cucumber and rice. Only after receiving red cross packages did the death rate decrease dramatically.  Wade made his package last two weeks.

    While in Camp O'Donnell, Wade was selected to work the burial detail.  He recalled that the high water table made this a difficult job.  One day after it had rained, Wade and the other men on the detail came to the cemetery to bury the dead.  When they arrived, they discovered that the rain had raised the water table.  He recalled seeing arms and legs of the dead who had been buried the day before sticking out of the ground.

    To get out of Camp O'Donnell, Wade went out on a work detail to Caluan.  This detail lasted three months with the POWs rebuilding the bridges that had been destroyed during the withdrawal into Bataan.  At this barrio, Wade and the other men built a bridge to replace the one that the retreating American forces had destroyed weeks before.  Wade and the other men were housed in a school.  There they slept on the floor.

    When this detail ended, Wade was sent to Cabanatuan.  This camp was opened, at the site of the former Camp Pengatian which had been a Filipino Army base,  to relieve the conditions that existed in Camp O'Donnell.  In this camp, Wade worked at the camp farm.

    On December 12, 1942, when a work detail to Las Pinas was organized, Wade was selected for it.  There, the POWs built runways for an airfield.  It was also on this detail that Wade came down with malaria.  At one point, he was so sick that he almost died.  Because he couldn't work, the Japanese decided to punish him.  He said, "They hung me up with Chinese finger traps.  I stayed up there for hours, out in front of a Japanese guard house.  The next day, I was so weak I couldn't walk, so they hung me up again."

    Wade was still on this detail on September 21, 1944, when American planes appeared in the sky.  The planes bombed the runways airfield and sunk ships in Manila Bay.  It was after this attack, that the Japanese made the decision to send the prisoners to other parts of the Japanese Empire.  The next day, the POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison.

    Wade was sent to the Port Area of Manila and inspected.  He and 1100 other men were selected to be sent to Japan on the Hokusen Maru.  His detachment of POWs was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, but since Hokusen Maru was ready to sail and another detachment of POWs had not completely arrived, the Japanese boarded Wade's group of POWs on the ship on October 1st.

    The ship moved and dropped anchor at the harbor's breakwater.  It remained there for three days.  On the ship, Wade was reunited with Harold Beggs and Virgil Janes of C Company.  The ship was a cattle boat were the POWs were crammed into a 30 foot by 40 foot hold.  To make things worse, the Japanese covered the hatch with boards and fastened them down with chains preventing light and air from getting into the hold.  Wade said, "There were a thousand of us in a hold, 40-by-40.  There wasn't room to lie down or stand up.  You had to sit, and you defalcated and urinated right where you sat.  Finally, the towards the end of the trip, the Japanese decided to fill our canteens with salt water.  Some of the guys drank it and it killed them."

    The POWs were fed only once a day.  The food was dropped down into the hold with a rope.  Wade recalled that water was given out even more infrequently.  Since he was near a wall, Wade did not get much food.

    Wade became ill and appeared to be dead.  He was hauled out of the hold by rope and taken to the side of the ship.  To make sure that he was dead, a Japanese soldier threw water on him before he was thrown overboard.  When he moved, the Japanese took him back to the hold and threw him into it.  Harold Beggs would help Wade regain some of his strength by giving his position in the hold to him.
    As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4th and stopped at Cabcaban.  The next day, it was at San Fernando La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts. The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6th, two of the ships were sunk.

    The ships were informed, on October 9th, that American carriers were seen near Formosa and sailed for Hong Kong when it was informed American planes were in the area.  During this part of the trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships.  The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th.  While it was in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th.  On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24th.

    On November 8th, the POWs disembarked the ship and were sent to various camps on Formosa depending on their physical condition.  In Wade's case, he was sent to Inrin Temporary Camp which was opened for the POWs.  The POWs did light work and gardened.  The healthier POWs worked at a sugar mill.  Wade and the other POWs spent two months on Formosa before being boarded onto the Melbourne Maru on January 14, 1945, at Takao.  The voyage from Formosa to Moji, Japan lasted until January 23rd.

    Wade's weight was now down to 87 pounds.  He and the other men were taken to Northern Japan to Ashio Camp, which was located on the side of a mountain.  Living conditions in the camp were atrocious.  The camp had a limited amount of water because the water line to the camp was broken. This meant they could not wash after working and for cooking.  The POW kitchen was 40 feet from the latrines resulting in flies being everywhere in the kitchen.  The Japanese also did not supply lids for the cooking utensils.  The Japanese guard in charge of the POW mess stole food for himself that was meant for them.  POWs reported he was seen carrying sacks of rice and sugar, assigned to them, from the camp.
    In the camp, the POWs slept in barracks that were inadequately heated and during the cold nights the POWs had only thin blankets to cover themselves with.  The Red Cross blankets that were sent to the camp, for the POWs, were issued to the guards.
    The Japanese appropriated the Red Cross packages for themselves and stored them in a warehouse inside the camp.  Besides the blankets, they also took chocolate, canned meats, fruit, and milk, and clothing meant for the POWs.  Since a certain number of POWs had to report for work each day, the Japanese medic in charge of the sick bay, sent men to work who were too sick to do heavy work.  The Japanese also withheld medicine and medical supplies sent for POW use and used it for themselves.
    The POWs worked in the Ashio Copper mine which had been closed but reopened because of the war.  Safety regulations in the mine was almost none existent and POWs were frequently injured.
     It is known that Wade was sent to Sendai #7 on May 14. The POWs in the camp worked in a copper mine owned by the Kajima Corporation.  In the camp the POWs worked in a copper mine.  The POWs in the camp were denied adequate food, clothing and medical treatment.  After his arrival in the camp, he and the other men took part in the Japanese punishment of having the prisoners stand at attention for long hours, without food or water, because a camp rule had been broken.  This continue until July when it stopped.  Wade remained in the camp until he was liberated on September 11, 1945.

    Wade returned home and was sent to Fletcher Veterans Administration Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio, and was discharged on April 26, 1946.  He married Marian Jeremy and became the father of four sons.  To support his family, he worked as a sheet metal worker and for General Motors Hydromatic.  During the remainder of his life, Wade suffered from post traumatic stress which resulted in him being in and out of the hospital,  

    Wade W. Chio passed away on November 14, 1998, in Toledo, Ohio.  He was buried at Oak Wood Cemetery in Curtice, Ohio.


 

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