Pfc. Myron Ellsworth Dolk
Pfc. Myron E. Dollk was born in North Dakota in May 1918 to Seth A. & Mable M. Dolk. He was known as "Mickey" to his family. His parents, who were from Iowa, returned there and resided in Pilot Mound. During his time in Iowa, his younger brother was born. His family would later move to Riverside, California, where he graduated from Riverside Polytechnic High School in 1936. It is known that he played polo. He would later reside in Bakersfield and work as a mechanic on farm equipment.
Myron's family moved to Salinas
and resided at 267 Maple Street. At some
point, Myron joined the California National
Guard in Salinas. He was inducted into
federal service on February 10, 1941, and sent
to Fort Lewis, Washington for training. It
was during this training that Myron became a
On August 15,
1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the 194th received
orders for duty in the Philippine Islands
because of an event that happened during the
summer. A squadron of American fighters
was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the
pilots, whose plane was at a lower altitude,
noticed something odd in the water. He
took his plane down and identified a flagged
buoy in the water and a second in the
distance. The squadron followed the buoys
and found that they lined up, in a straight line
for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction
of an Japanese occupied island, hundreds of
miles away, which had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron resumed its
flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before
returning to Clark Field. By the time the
planes landed, it was too late in the evening to
do anything that day.
On December 1st, the 194th was ordered to its
position at Clark Field. Their job was
to protect the northern half of the airfield
from paratroopers. The 192nd Tank
Battalion, which had arrived in November
guarded the southern half. Two crew men
remained with the tanks at all times and
received their meals from food trucks.
withdrew through San Fernando at 2:00 A.M. on
January 2nd, and fell back to the Lyac
Junction. The two tank battalions were
holding a line between Culis and Hermosa. The
tanks withdrew from the line the night of the
6th/7th. While doing this, the maintenance
section of the battalions repaired abandoned
trucks to use to haul food and the gasoline
caches they found and bring it into
Bataan. That night, the 194th crossed the
bridge over the Culis Creek, covered by the
192nd, and entered Bataan.
A Composite tank company was formed from the tank battalions and given the job of protecting the East road north to Hermosa. This was a dangerous job since the tanks were in range of Japanese artillery. The other tanks were ordered to a bivouac south of the Abubucay-Hacienda Line.
formed a new bivouac just south of the
Pilar-Bagao Road and had a few days rest.
While they rested, 17th Ordnance and the
maintenance sections of the battalion did long
overdue work on the tanks. Also around
this time, the tank companies were reduced to
ten tanks so that tanks could be given to D
Company, 192nd, which had lost its tanks after a
bridge had been destroyed before they had
In the letter he said, "A polo pony would have a
rough time of it here, and were having kind
of a rough time too. But you can't say
Both tank battalions held a line along the Balanga-Cardre Road-Banobano Road, so that other units could withdraw which was completed by midnight. They held the line until the night of the 26th/27th when they withdrew and formed a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Road.
At about 9:45 A.M., a Filipino civilian came down the road and warned the tankers that a Japanese force was on its way. The tanks, with four SPMs opened up on the Japanese when they appeared. The fighting lasted 45 minutes when the Japanese withdrew having suffered 50 percent casualties. This action prevented the Japanese from overrunning the new defensive line which was still being formed.
battalions were given beach duty so that the
Japanese could not land troops behind the main
line of defense. The half-tracks of the
battalions patrolled the roads. At 2;50
A.M., a Japanese motorized unit was head coming
down the road with its lead vehicle having
dimmed headlights. The 194th had a
roadblock in place with guns aimed at various
angles. When they opened up, they caused
heavy damage to the Japanese column.
It was also
at this time that the tank battalions, without
orders, took on the job of protecting three
airfields. The airfields had been built so
a rebuilt Air Corps would have places to
land. About the same time, the
fighting on Bataan came to a standstill
since the Japanese troops were exhausted and
suffering from the same tropical illnesses
as the defenders. To end the
stalemate, the Japanese brought in fresh
troops from Singapore.
It was at
this time that the 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 accomplished."
part of the march to reach the main road out of
Bataan, the POWs noted that they were treated
well by the Japanese who were combat hardened
troops. Their guards were surprised
that they had surrendered and treated them
fairly well. It was at Limay that the
treatment they received would change.
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 Japanese lieutenant.
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.
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
In the camp
the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother"
rule. If one man escaped the other nine
men in his group would be executed. POWs
caught trying to escape were beaten. Those
who did escape and were caught, were tortured
before being executed. It is not known if
any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
On December 13, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out. They were boarded onto trucks and driven to Manila. The POWs got off the trucks, lined up for roll call, marched to Pier 7 in Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw that the American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked. One was a old run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
It was at this time that the POWs were allowed to sit down. Many fell asleep and slept until 3:45 in the afternoon when they were awakened. At about 5:00 PM and boarded the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.
Myron was one of 800 POWs put into the ship's rear hold. Meals for the POWs were fish and barley. The sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around its diameter. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
The ship left Manila on December 14th, at about 3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water.
The POWs received their first meal at about 3:30 that afternoon. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water. Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by twenty POWs. The prisoners had just eaten when they heard the sounds of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit that they knew it was no drill. The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions were taking place all around the POWs. Bullets from the planes ricocheted in to the hold causing many casualties. In all, the POWs would have to sweat out five air raids. The one result of the raid was no evening meal.
At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack. It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions. Bombs that exploded near the ship sent turrets of water over it. Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevent most from penetrating the hull. Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
After the first raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the water. The fighters went after the other ships in the convoy. The moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold. The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning. It was a suitable landing place.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard noise on deck as women and children were unloaded. During the night, the medics in the ship's hold were ordered out by a Japanese officer to tend to the Japanese wounded. One of the medics recalled that the dead, dying and wounded were everywhere.
The ship steamed in closer to the beach and its anchor was dropped. The POWs were told, at 4:00 in the morning, that they would be disembarked after daybreak. It was December 15th. The POWs sat in the hold four hours after daybreak when the sound of planes was heard. They would live through three more attacks. When the U.S. Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks came in waves. JThe other POWs noted that attack was heavier then the day before.
At 8:00 AM, a Japanese guard yelled to the POWs, "All go home; Speedo!" He also shouted that the wounded would be the first evacuated. As the POWs were abandoning ship, the planes returned. The pilots of the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners. It was not until the pilots saw the POWs climbing out of the ship's holds that they realized it was a prison ship and stopped the attack.
In the hold the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. A Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
When the attack resumed, the ship bounced in the water from the explosions. The POWs in the holds lived through seventeen attacks from American planes before sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many.
About a half hour later, the ship's stern started to really burn. Many POWs swam to shore near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon. As he swam to shore, which was about 300 to 400 yards away. Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs to keep them in the water so they would not escape.
After the POWs had abandoned ship, the Oryoku Maru was sunk by American planes. The surviving POWs were herded onto a tennis court. When roll was taken, it was discovered that 329 of the 1,619 POWs had been killed during the attack. Myron was one of these POWs.
Pfc. Myron Dolk died in the sinking of the Oryoku Maru in Subic Bay, off Olongapo Navel Base, on December 15, 1944. His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.