Cook_R

 



Pvt. Robert Stellers Cook
Born: 23 October 1910 - Arkansas
Mother: Robert L. Cook & Mable Lipsey-Cook
Siblings: 1 sister, 2 brothers
Home: 629 East Block Street - El Dorado, Arkansas
    - grew up in Magnolia, Arkansas

Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army - 13 August 1941

Unit:

    - B Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion 

        - A Company reorganized as: 17th Ordnance Company

        - Robert reassigned to 17th Ordnance 

Training:

    - Ft. Knox, Kentucky
Note: On August 15, 1941, 17th Ordnance received orders 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, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed that evening, 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:
    - 4 September  1941 -
        - battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 7:30 A.M. - 5 September 1941
        - 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: U.S.S. President 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
            - sailed south away from main shipping lanes
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria and unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
                - ships from friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
        - returned to Manila to help 17th Ordnance with unloading of tanks
Stationed:

    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands

Engagements:

    - Battle of the Philippines

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942 

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942 

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

         - Mariveles - POWs started march at southern tip of Bataan

          - POWs ran past Japanese artillery that was firing at Corregidor

               - American artillery returned fire 

               - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul

                 sugarcane

               - each boxcar could hold hold eight horses or 40 men

               - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car

               - POWs that died remained standing

           - Capas - POWs left boxcars - dead fell to floors of boxcars

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell

            - unfinished Filipino training base

            - Japanese put base into use as a POW camp

            - one water spigot for the entire camp

            - As many as 50 POWs died each day

            - Japanese opened new camp at Cabanatuan in an attempt to lower

              death rate 

        - Cabanatuan
            - family learned he was a POW - 26 June 1943

Hell Ship:
    - Clyde Maru
        - Sailed: 23 July1943 - Manila, Philippine Islands
        - Arrived: Santa Cruz, Zambales Province, Philippine Islands - same day
            - loaded magnesium ore
        - Sailed: 26 July 1943
            - 100 POWs allowed on deck at a time - 6:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 28 July 1943
        - Sailed: 5 August 1943
            - part of a nine ship convoy
        - Arrived: 7 August 1943 - Moji, Japan
            -POWs lined up on deck
            - disembarked and marched to train station
Train:
        - Depart: 9:00 A.M. - depart on two day trip to camp
        - Arrived: 10 August 1943 - Omuta Camp, Kyushu, Japan
            - disembark and march eighteen miles to camp
POW Camp:
    - Japan
        -
Fukuoka #3
Note: The POWs worked at the Yawata Steel Mills doing manual labor.  The work was to shovel iron ore and rebuild the ovens.  The POWs were sent into the ovens to clean out the debris.  Since the ovens were hot, because the Japanese would not let them cool off, the POWs worked faster on this detail.  Many of the products from the mill helped the Japanese war effort.  If an air raid took place while the POWs were at the mill, they were put into railway cars and the train was pulled into a tunnel.  Those POWs further from the tunnel took cover in two air raid shelters.
    Although medical supplies for the POWs were sent to the camp by the Red Cross the Japanese commandant would not give the American medical staff the medicine that was in the packages.  Any surgery in the camp had to be performed with crude medical tools even though the Red Cross had sent the proper surgical tools.  To meet quotas for workers, the sick POWs were required to work even if it meant they could possibly die from doing it.
    Three days a month, the POWs were allowed to exchange their worn out clothing for new clothing, but a Japanese guard beat POWs attempting to exchange their clothing.  The POWs went without clothing to avoid the beatings which resulted in men developing pneumonia and dying.
    The POWs were beaten daily with fists and sticks for violating camp rules, and the guards often required them to stand at attention, in the cold, while standing water.  During the winter, they often had water thrown on them.  There were two brigs in the camp which had as many as 20 POWs in them at a time. 
Liberated:
    - 13 September 1945
Promoted: Corporal
Died:
    - 20 July 1967 - Arkansas
Buried:
    - Old Parkers Chapel Cemetery - Parkers, Arkansas







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