Crago

 

Pfc. John Albert Crago


Born: 3 April 1921 - Huntington County, Indiana

Parents: Charles O. Crago & Mabel V. Sharp-Crago

Hometown: Huntington, Indiana

Siblings: 4 sisters, 1 brother

Education: Lancaster High School - Lancaster, Indiana - 1940

Enlisted:

    - 9 January 1941

        - U. S. Army - Fort Benjamin Harrison
            - inducted with James Flaitz and Regis Theriac

Training: 

    Fort Knox, Kentucky

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
        - learned to repair the 57 different vehicles used by the Army
        - August 1941 - maneuvers in Arkansas
            - A Company ordered to Ft. Knox
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - 17 August 1941  A Company designated 17th Ordnance Company
             - received overseas orders the same day
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:
    - 1 September 1941 - traveled by train to California
        - while on train informed they were being sent to the Philippines
    - Arrived: 5 September 1941 - 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
    - U.S.S. Calvin Coolidge
        - Boarded: San Francisco, California - Monday - 8 September 1941
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: same day

            - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships

        - Tuesday - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date changed to - Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembark
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached turrets to tanks
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
    
 
       

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced the tanks of the Provisional Tank Group
            - headquartered in a abandoned ordnance depot building

Prisoner of War: 

    9 April 1942

        Death March

            - POWs started march at Mariveles at southern tip of Bataan

            - ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor

            - Corregidor artillery returned fire 

        - Capas

            - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane

            - each car could hold eight horses or forty men

            - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar

            - POWs who died remained standing

         - San Fernando

             - POWs leave boxcars; the dead fall to the floor

             - walk the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell 

POW Camps: 

    - 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
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs
            -POWs volunteered to go out on work details to get out of camp
        - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
            - camp had been opened to lower death rate among POWs
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - Japanese put base into use as POW camp
            - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens
                - many were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
        - 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
            - hospitalized - 9 June 1942 - tested for tuberculosis - test negative
                - discharged - no date given
Work Details:
        - Lipa Batangas

            - detail left Cabanatuan - January 1943
                - POWs built revetments and runways at Lipa Airfield
                - also worked on a farm
        - Bilibid Prison
            - 27 January 1943
                - Admitted: 27 January 1943 - hospital ward

                    - respiratory infection
                - Discharged:  not known

Hell Ship:
    - Canadian Inventor

         - Sailed: Manila - 4 July 1944

             - ship returned to Manila because of boiler problems - 5 July 1944

             - remained in port for eleven days for repairs

        - Sailed: Manila - 16 July 1944 

            - ship experienced more boiler problems

            - convoy left Canadian Inventor behind

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 July 1944

            - remained in port while salt was loaded onto ship

        - Sailed: Takao - 4 August 1944

            - ship made way along west coast of Formosa to Keelung

        - Arrived: Keelung Harbor - 5 August 1944

            - stayed in harbor for twelve days

            - additional boiler repairs 

        - Sailed: Keelung Harbor - 17 August 1944

            - as Canadian Inventor approached Ryuku Islands, north of Formosa. it had

              more boiler problems

        - Arrived: Naha, Okinawa - unknown

            - boiler repairs were made

        - Sailed: Naha - Unknown

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 1 September 1944

POW Camp:

    - Japan:

        - Omine Machi

            - Work: coal mining

Liberated:

    - 15 September 1945
Evacuated:
    - 16 September 1945
        - Wakayama, Japan
            - POWs boarded the U.S.S. Consolation
                - records show John was malnourished
    - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands
            - 28 September 1945

Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Transport:
    - S.S. Klipfonstein - Dutch ship
        - Sailed: Manila - 9 October 1945
        - Arrived: Seattle, Washington - 28 October 1945
            - taken to Madigan General Hospital - Ft. Lewis, Washington

Discharged:  21 December 1945

Enlisted: National Guard - discharged 1952

Married: Florence Walters - 19 April 1947

    - father of four daughters

Occupation: production manager

National Commander: American Defenders Bataan and Corregidor - 1983 - 1984 

Died:

    - 12 July 2005 - Warren, Indiana

Buried:

    - Gardens of Memory - Huntington, Indiana 


 

Next



Return to 17th Ordnance