Pvt. Edward L. DeGroot
was born on January 10, 1919, in Franksville, Wisconsin, to Peter and Mary Barth-DeGroot. He was the
third oldest of the couple's seven children. In 1940, his family was living on County Line Road in
Racine County, and he was working as a clerk in a grocery store when the draft act took affect.
On January 29, 1941, Ed joined the United States Army to fulfill his military
obligation. He enlisted with his brother and three friends, because they wanted to be assigned to
communications and had been promised that they would be allowed to serve together.
Ed and his friends were sent to the recruit center at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
After three days there, he was informed that he had been assigned to
Company A of the 192nd Tank Battalion which was training at Fort Knox,
Kentucky. Ed was sent to Fort Knox without his brother or his three friends; so much for promises made by
Ed and the other new members of the 192nd were not put into their new companies
immediately. Instead, they lived in tents and received their training by sergeants assigned to the
192nd. Ed recalled that
was one of the sergeants assigned this job.
As a member of A Company, Ed was trained as a tank driver and was assigned to the tank
Sgt. Herb Durner
. Other members of the crew were
Cpl. Ken Squire
, who was the radio operator, and
Pvt. Bob Boehm
, the gunner. As Ed looked back on this training, he concluded that it was of some value, but it was
totally inappropriate for combat in the jungle.
A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already
up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly. Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was
followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30. After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50
caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in
At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they
went back to work by attending the various schools. At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00
P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30. The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to
be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.
With the 192nd, Ed went on maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30. At one
point the battalion, which was part of the red army, broke through the blue army's defenses and was on its
way of capturing its headquarters when the maneuvers were canceled. The commanding office of the blue army
was General George S. Patton. It was after the maneuvers the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox.
On the side of a hill
that the members of the 192nd learned they were being sent overseas. Those men 29 years old, or older, were
given the chance to resign from federal service. Many of the remaining men received leaves home to say
The decision 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.
The companies of the battalion traveled by train, over different train routes, to San
Francisco, California, where they were taken by ferry, the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell, on Angel Island, and received inoculations and physicals
from the battalion's medical detachment. Those members of the battalion who were found to have
treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later
date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott
and sailed on Monday, October 27.
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 2 and had a two day layover, so t
he soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, 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
and, another transport, the
S. S. Calvin Coolidge
. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date
Line. On Saturday, November 15, 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 16, 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 20, 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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live
in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed
and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be
released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field
Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned
to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of
the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased
to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they
prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times and
received their meals from food trucks.
Just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 8, 1941, Ed and the other soldiers lived through
the Japanese attack on Clark Field. Since their guns were useless against planes, they could do little
more then watch.
That morning, about 8:30, all the American planes took off and filled the sky. In any
direction the tankers looked, there were planes. At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and were lined
up, in a straight line, outside the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the
airfield from the north, and the tankers believed the planes were American. As they watched, raindrops fell
from the planes. When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The
soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
that could carry the wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the
wounded under the building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
That night, the tankers
slept under their tanks since it was safer then sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had
slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one half years.
The company was sent to the Barrio of Dau, on
December 12, so it could protect a highway and railroad against sabotage. They remained there until
ordered to rejoin the battalion.
In one incident, that took place December 23 and 24,
the company was sent north of the Agno River. While they were north of the river, the main bridge on the
Carmen Road was destroyed. The tank company found itself in danger of being caught behind enemy lines.
This resulted in the company having to make end runs to cross the river on one of the two remaining bridges and
successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province.
From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of
the Agno River. On December 25, 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
were asked to hold the position for six hours; they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line the night of
December 27 and 28. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose
to hold for as long as possible. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29 serving
as a rear guard against the Japanese. It was also on this date that the company lost tank platoon commander, 2nd
Lt. Charles Read on December 30.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30, the company was bivouacked for the night and
posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and
manned the tanks' machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their
bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped
firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks
over the bodies.
At Gumain River, the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1, the tank companies
formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night,
they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts. The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so
they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the Japanese. When the
Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
On January 1, the tanks were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon
Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan. General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force
coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off. General MacArthur's chief of staff gave
conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion. Gen. Wainwright
was not aware these orders had been given.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st
Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted. From January 2
to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive
line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan. The night of January 7, the A Company was
awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek. The engineers were ready to blow
up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait
until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight. He found the company, asleep in their tanks,
because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge. After they had crossed, the bridge was
While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the
battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops. The
morning of January 27, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it. That
morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.
While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese
units causing 50 percent casualties.
On January 28, the tank battalions 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."
Ed believed that fighting the Japanese was made difficult because, in Ed's opinion,
the equipment they had received was outdated, and they had received the wrong type of ammunition to be used in
the turret cannon. In his opinion, another problem was that the tanks had only received a limited number
of armor piercing shells to use against enemy tanks. Recalling this, he said
, "It was really a delaying action. They (Japanese) didn't re
alize we had as little as we did."
Ed was involved in numerous engagements as Company A was assigned the duty of protecting
the west coast of Bataan from Japanese invasion. It was during this duty, that Company A would engage the
enemy, who had landed troops behind the Filipino and American lines, in what was to become known as the
Battle of the Pockets which lasted from . The Japanese lunched an offensive that was initially
successful but stopped and pushed back to the original defensive line. Two pockets of Japanese soldiers
were cut off and trapped behind the line.
While supporting the infantry, Company A & B were sent to wipe-out these troops which had
been cutoff from the main Japanese force. Ed believed that the tanks were ineffective because of the
terrain and jungle.
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
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 tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of
gasoline, against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the
vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the
Japanese before they got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers
did not like to do this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the
tank, its rivets would pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this
battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Doing this job was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was
being held in reserve. A tank would enter the pocket to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank
did not enter the pocket until the tank, that had been relieved, exited the pocket.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to eat.
The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began to eat
horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were cut in
half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on them.
The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had been
hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
On March 2 or 3, during the Battle of the Points. The tanks had been sent in to wipe
out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line. The Japanese were
soon cut off. When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place
creating another pocket.
Both of the pockets were wiped out.
The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking
out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way. Many had
listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines, he said
"There are times when men must die."
The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an attack supported by artillery and aircraft. A large force of
Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano. This attack wiped
out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.
It was at this time 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
During the morning of April 9, 1942, Ed and the other men of Company A learned of the
surrender at their bivouac area. Ed was distressed by the news of the surrender because he believed that
he and his fellow soldiers were capable of defeating the enemy. He also came through the fighting without
being wounded. Of this he said
, "I guess that's what you call the fortunes of war. S
me guys were killed the first day, and some went through without a scratch."
The next morning, A Company started what has become known as the death march at Mariveles
at the southern tip of Bataan. Ed would do the march with his friends
Sgt. Owen Sandmire
Sgt. Harvey Riedemann
. The march would be Ed's first experience of man's inhumanity to man.
It was on the march that Ed developed the philosophy that he believed kept him
alive. Ed never allowed himself to placed in a situation where he would be vulnerable. During the
march he marched in the middle of the formation. In his own words
, "You had to watch out for each other
, otherwise the Japanese cleanup squadrons would get you."
Although he saw bodies of dead men and heard the sound of guns, he never witnessed anyone being
shot or bayoneted by the Japanese. He said of the march
They didn't run you, but you kept going. If you fell behind, the guards bayoneted you."
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that
the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese
confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs
and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next
several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two
to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and
the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing
when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the
camp and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon
overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp
including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies,
he was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were
placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave
a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs
needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The
death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.
There he was assigned to the burial detail. This was not an enviable job since hundreds of POWs
were dying each day. While working this detail, Ed recalled burying Larry Grim and Wesley Fancher of A
Company. One of his happiest days, at the camp, was when he was taken off of this detail.
Ed was next sent to Cabanatuan when it was opened to lower the death rate among the
POWs. At the camp, we was assigned to Barracks 2, Group 2. In the barracks with him were
of the 192nd. While a prisoner there, he worked in the camp farm and sent out on a work detail to build
runways. Of his treatment, he said
, "The Japanese would beat us up at the drop of a hat. Thev'd slap us or cuff us with the
butt of a gun. They were brutal and inhumane in the way they beat people up."
Ed also believed that he survived because of his attitude, he stated
, "After I became incarcerated, things were so bad that I had to put all thoughts of home out of
my mind. Otherwise, it would drive you crazy, wishing you could be there. And when I got out, I put all
thoughts of what I'd seen and experienced behind me. I was able to black it all out."
Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was
formerly known at Camp Panagaian. To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence
of the camp. The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before
being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped
from the camp. The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a
daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.
The POWs were forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. Most of
the food they grew went to the Japanese not them. Other POWs worked in rice paddies.
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120
men. The POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. The result was
many became ill. To prevent escapes, the POW were put into "blood brother" groups. If one
POW escaped the other POWs in his group would be executed. He said
, "No one tried to escape after
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it
wasn't uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently
kicked them in their shins with his hobnailed boots. after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed
to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the
mud and stepped on by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food,
and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
The camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was
known as "Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were
counted. The name soon meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward
had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two
foot wide by six foot long area to lie in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms
had holes cut in them so the sick could relieve themselves without having to leave the tier.
He believed what saved his life and the lives of other men was the occasional Red Cross
package the POWs received.
"If it wasn't for the food and vitamins, I don't think we could have survived. Getting
ose packages gave us the will to live."
As the war continued and it became apparent to the Japanese the the Americans would soon be
invading the Philippine Islands, Ed was sent to Manila for shipment to Japan in what would become known as a Hell
Ship. The ship that Ed and the other Americans were boarded on was the
Canadian Inventor II
. The ship sailed on July 4, 1944 but returned to Manila with boiler problems. While repairs were
made, the POWs were held in its holds for eleven days.
On the ship was Ed's friend from A Company, Sgt. Owen Sandmire. Somehow, Sandy
and Ed got made cooks. They were responsible for the prisoners' evening meal which meant that they
were allowed out of the hold to prepare the evening meal. Ed believed that being allowed out of the hold
helped him survive the trip to Japan.
On July 16, the
sailed a second time. While at sea, it once again experienced boiler problems and could not keep up with
the other ships in the convoy. Because of this, the
was left on its own to make port and arrived at Takao, Formosa, on July 23rd.
For the next twelve days the ship remained in port. During this time salt was loaded
onto the ship. When the
sailed on August 4, it made its way along the west coast of Formosa to Keelung Harbor. It arrived there
on August 5th and remained in port for twelve days as more repairs were made to its boiler.
On August 17 the ship sailed for Japan, but because of more boiler problems, it stopped at
Naha, Okinawa. After six days, the
sailed for Moji, Japan, and finally arrived there on September 1.
The POWs nicknamed the ship the "
Mita Mita Maru
in Japanese means "to wait" and that is what the POWs did in the hold of the ship. In the end,
Ed spent sixty days in the hold of the tramp steamer as it made its long, slow journey to Japan.
As a prisoner in Japan, Ed was sent to
Camp. There, he spent the rest of the war working in a coal mine that had been condemned as unsafe
before the war. As a slave laborer, Ed operated a air hammer in the mine. He said of his time there
, "I operated an air hammer in a litt
coal mine on the island of Honshu."
It was common
for the POWs to be beaten if the Japanese believed that they were not working hard
The camp guards stole items from Red Cross packages and withheld the packages from July
1, 1944, to September 2, 1945. The Japanese intentionally opened packages and mixed up contents so that
the ranking Allied officer would not know how much should be in each package. They also took much of the
food in the packages. When they were given to the POWs they were often contained less than what had been
sent and since they received so little of the food, it had no nutritional value. In addition, when Red
Cross packages arrived, they were withheld from POWs from three to seven months after arriving.
According to Ed, one morning the prisoners awoke to discover that the guards had
disappeared from the camp.
"One day - it must have been the
middle of August - the day shift was to have been awakened. We discovered the guards had just taken
off." American planes appeared and dropped information about the surrender to the
POWs. When the planes reappeared, on August 16, they dropped food, medicine. From the parachutes,
the POWs made an American flag and flew it over the camp.
After being liberated, Ed boarded the
, on or about September 16, 1945, suffering from beriberi. The ship took the POWs to Okinawa and they
were returned by planes to the Philippines where they received medication and shots. When he was deemed
healthy enough to return home, Ed boarded the the ship,
for the United States. Ed saw the United States for the first time in four years on October 27, 1945,
which was exactly four years, to the day, since he had left from San Francisco for the Philippine Islands in
Ed was promoted to Staff Sergeant and sent to Schick General Hospital in Clinton, Iowa, for additional medical
treatment. He was discharged on July 17, 1946.
Ed returned to Racine and married, Evelyn Kothe on July 1, 1948. Together they would be the parents of
four daughters and two sons. Ed worked in a department store a few years before he went to work as an
insurance agent in Racine. He worked in insurance until he retired. His time in the camp left him
with hearing loss. The other effect was on how he slept
"I sleep very poorly. But I consider myself very fortunate
After he retired, Ed had the opportunity to return to the Philippines as part of a tour of
former POWs. Ed really thought about going back, but in the end, he decided not to go. Of this, he
, "I'm not quite sure why. I think it was because I wanted to
know what it would be like to be in the same area as a free man."
The picture at the bottom of the page was taken of Ed while he was a POW in Japan at
Omine Machi. Edward L. DeGroot passed away on December 15, 2004, at his home in Racine, Wisconsin, and
was buried at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin.