T/5 Alton M. Dodway was the son of William Dodway & Josephine Wright-Dodway. He
was born in 1919 and raised at 314 Harrison Street in Port Clinton, Ohio. He had one brother, one sister,
two stepsisters, and three stepbrothers.
Alton joined the Ohio National Guard's tank company which was headquartered in Port
Clinton. The company was being federalized and they needed as many recruits as possible to fill out their
For almost a year, Alton trained at Fort Knox. A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with
reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was
from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various
schools within the company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading,
care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was
from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on
January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day
and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at
5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in
until 10:00 when Taps was played.
From September 1 through 30, the tankers took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after
these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they
had expected. On the side of a hill, the battalion learned it was being sent overseas as part of Operation
PLUM. Within hours, the tankers had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those
men 29 years old, or older, were allowed to resign to from federal service and were replaced by men of the 753rd
Tank Battalion, and the battalion received the tanks of the 753rd.
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.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto
flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.
Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held 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. Gen. 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. They 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 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
U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport,
S.S. President 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, the tankers were met by General Edward 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
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 crew
remained with each 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. The members of the tank crews returned
to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
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. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were
Japanese. After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. They were than
sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
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 23 and 24, 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 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 held
the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and
December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. 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
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
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 Baluiag
2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from
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
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 28, 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.
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main
battle line on Bataan. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements,
they were landed in the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle
of the Points.
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton
A. Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks
from the Provisional Tank Group. On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point
where the Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick
reconnaissance of the area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive
tanks into the edge of the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was
slow but steady until a Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks
withdrew. It turned out that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at
the time. The decision was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left
side of the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so
they would not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver.
Coordinating the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so
that the tanks and infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each
tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so
that the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to
where they were needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to
the cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks
were released to returned to the 192nd.
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
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 clearing out the Japanese, the Japanese sent soldiers carrying
cans of gasoline against the tanks. The soldiers would attempt 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 them
before they reached the tanks, they would shoot them as they stood on the tanks. The tankers did not like
to do this because of what it did to the crews inside the tanks. The bullets hitting the tank often
popped the tank's rivets which hit the crew members and wounded them.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3. On April 7, the 57th
Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators
prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks
successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while
hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being
near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
It was at this time that Gen. King decided that further resistance was futile.
Approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.
In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who were sick or wounded and 40,000 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
After months of falling back, Alton and the other members of C Company became Prisoners Of War when Bataan was
surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. He and the other soldiers made their way to Mariveles where
they began what became known as the death march.
Alton like the other defenders of Bataan had gone months on inadequate meals. When he
started the march, he was already ill and suffering from dysentery. He marched for four days when he
collapsed from the lack of food and water.
Sgt. Charles Chaffin,
Cpl. Howard Wodrich and
Sgt. John Andrews managed to get Alton onto a truck. He rode in the truck all
the way to Camp O'Donnell.
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. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to
do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a
schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to 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.
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.
Once Alton was in the camp, he was put into the camp hospital. Without proper medical
care, T/5 Alton M. Dodway died of dysentery on Saturday, May 9, 1942. He was buried in the camp's
cemetery in Section D, Row 7, Grave 3. His family learned in August 11, 1944, that the army had listed him
as dead, but they did not learn officially of his death until May 31, 1945.
After the war, Alton's remains were taken to Manila and buried at a temporary
cemetery until his family requested that his remains be returned to the United States. Tec 5 Alton M.
Dodway was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Port Clinton, Ohio.