Pvt. Albert Cuchessi Jr.
Born: 14 November 1917 - Newark, New Jersey
Parents: Albert Cuchessi Sr. & Nora Cuchessi
Siblings: 2 sisters, 2 brothers
Hometown: Newark, New Jersey
Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 14 February 1941 - Newark, New Jersey
Trained:
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
            - September 1941 - company received orders for overseas duty
Note:  The decision for this move -  which had been made on August 15, 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.
Overseas Duty
    - company traveled by train to 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
            - sailed south away from main shipping lanes
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an 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
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
       - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
    - Battle of Bataan
       - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
          - headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot warehouse
          - serviced tanks of 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
        - 8 April 1942
            - 10:30 P.M. - Gen. King announced that further resistance would result in the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded troops and 40,000
              civilians
            - less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
            - he estimated they could hold out one more day
            - sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
            - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up
Prisoner of War
    - 9 April 1942
        - Death March
            - POWs started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of
              Bataan
            - ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American artillery returned fire
            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars

                - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camps:
    - Philippines:
        - Camp O'Donnell
            - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp - 1 April 1942
                - 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
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup           
        - 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
                            - POWs later moved to Camp 1
            - Camp 1:
                - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                    - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                - 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
            - Work Details:
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp's fence
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
                - the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
        - 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
            - suffered from beriberi, tuberculosis, and influenza
            - two front teeth knocked out by a Japanese guard with rifle butt
Hell Ship:
        - Tottori Maru
            - Boarded: 1961 POWs put on ship     
                - 7 October 1942
                    - 500 in front hold
                    - 1461 in rear hold
            - Sailed: Manila - 8 October 1942 - 10:00 A.M.
                - 9 October 1942 - two torpedoes fired at ship by an American submarine
                    - ship passed ine laid by submarine
            - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 11 October 1942
            - Sailed: 16 October 1942 - 7:30 A.M.
                - returned to Takao because of submarines - 10:30 P.M.
            - Sailed: 18 October 1942
            - Arrived: Pescadores Islands - same day
                - remained anchored for several days
                - two POWs died
            - Sailed: 27 October 1942
            - Arrived Takao - same day
                - 28 October 1942 - POWs taken ashore and bathed with fire hose
                - ship was also cleaned
                - food stuffs loaded into one hold
            - Sailed: 30 October 1942
            - Arrived: Makou, Pescadores Islands - same day
                - dropped anchor 5:00 P.M.
            - Sailed: 31 October 1942
                - sailed as part of a seven ship convoy
                - ships sailed through typhoon for five days
                - 5 November 1942 - one ship sunk by submarine
                    - other ships scattered
            - Arrived: Fusan, Korea - 9 November 1942
            - Disembarked:
                - POWs issued new clothes and fur-lined over-coats
                - boarded train for two day trip north
                - sick left behind at Fusan
                - those who recover sent to Mukden at later date
                - dead cremated and white boxes with remains sent to Mukden
            - Arrived: Mukden, Manchuria - 11 November 1942

    - Mukden, Manchuria
        - Shenyang Camp
            - POW Number:  167
        - lived in dugouts until they were moved into two story barracks
        - each enlisted man received two thin blankets to cover himself with
        - Meals the same everyday
            - Breakfast - cornmeal mush and a bun
            - Lunch - maze and soy beans
            - Dinner - soy beans and a bun
            - trapped wild dogs to supplement meals
                - this ended when they saw a dog eating a dead Chinese
        - POWs worked in factory or at lumber mill
            - walked 3 miles to factories
            - 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M.
                - committed acts of sabotage to prevent anything useful from being made
                - Japanese blamed the Chinese workers because they believed the Americans were too stupid
                  to commit the sabotage
            - When Japanese searched for contraband in barracks, the POWs had to stand in the cold and snow
                - Japanese made them strip
                - stood there until all 700 POWs had been searched
            - Food rations were cut in half if the Japanese believed one POW was not working hard enough
            - on one occasion, the POWs were ordered to remove their shoes
                - A Japanese lieutenant, Murado, beat each man with that man's shoes
Work:
    - POWs worked in machine shop or saw mill
Liberated:
    - Russian Army
        - 20 August 1945
    - evacuated by train to Darien, China

    - returned to the Philippine, Islands
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Transport:
    - U.S.S. Hugh Rodman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 3 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital
Discharged:
    - 9 September 1946 - Ft. Dix, New Jersey
        - one millionth man discharged
        - was selected because of his military record

Reenlisted: 6 November 1946
Occupation: assembler - American Can Company
Died:
    - 21 June 1996 - Cedar Grove, New Jersey
Buried:
    - Gate of Heaven Cemetery - East Hanover, New Jersey

 

 

 

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