Pvt. Raymon Edens was born on July 15, 1919, in Guymon, Texas County, Oklahoma, to
Hiram and Maud Carley-Edens. With his two sisters and brother, he grew up in Sledgeville Township, Texas
County, Oklahoma, and worked on the family far. According to family members, his first name was actually
Raymon was drafted into the U.S. Army and inducted on March 19, 1941, at Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. He did his basic training at Fort Knox Kentucky, and attended tank school there.
One specific training he received is not known.
In the late summer of 1941, Raymon was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he joined
the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion was sent from Ft. Benning, Georgia, to the fort but did not take
part in the maneuvers that were going on there.
When the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was given orders to remain at the
fort. It was on the side of a hill that the members of the battalion learned they were being sent
overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines,
Luzon, Manila. Men, 29 years old or older, were given six hours to resign from federal service.
Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. Raymon volunteered to join the 192nd and
was assigned to C Company.
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 the
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 27th. 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
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
11th. 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 20th, 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 King, who
apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and
Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner
before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20 was the date that the
National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King. The
general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between
the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving
Dinner, which was a stew thrown into their mess kits, before he went to have his
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of
the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove
cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them
from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese
That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and
the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes approaching
the airfield. When bombs began exploding around them, they knew the planes were Japanese. Besides
their .50 caliber machine guns, they had few weapons to use against the planes. Most took cover and
waited out the attack. After it ended, they saw the destruction done by the bombs.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to
the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four
months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form
a defensive line.
At Gumain River, 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. It was there the tankers noted that the
Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked. Among the dead Japanese, the
tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes. The tankers were able to hold up the
Japanese for several weeks.
The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a
defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further
south. They repeated this action over and over.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese
troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Raymon's tank company won the first tank victory of
World War II against enemy tanks.
On December 31, 1941, Capt. William Gentry, commanding officer of C Company, 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
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 John Morley, of the Provisional Tank Group, 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 steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions,
got into his jeep and drove off. Gentry had told Morley 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 held his 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 C Company was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least
eight enemy tanks.
C Company withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank
Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the
tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the
Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through
the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were about 100 yards apart. The Japanese crossing the river knew that the
Americans were there because the tankers shouted at each other to make the Japanese believe troops were in
front of them. The Japanese were within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks opened fire which caused
the rice stacks to catch fire.
The fighting was such a rout that the the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one Japanese
Ray's tank company was next sent to the Barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino Army
which was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, they learned where
the guns were located and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tanks had knocked out three of
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north
side until all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the
bridge which held the Japanese up for a few days. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
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 night.
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 night.
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.
During the Battle of the Pockets the tanks were sent in to wipe out
Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than
trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the
Japanese back. According to members of the battalion they resorted
two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to have three Filipino
soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.
When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it
and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.
Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades
The second method was simple. The tank was
parked with one track across the foxhole. The driver spun the
tank on one track. The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese
soldiers were dead. According to members of the battalion, the
tankers slept upwind from the tanks.
About 6:45 in the morning of April 9, 1942, the
tankers received the order "crash." They destroyed their
tanks and waited for the Japanese to make contact with them. When
they did, the Americans officially became Prisoners of War. They made
their way, as a company, to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
There, they started what they simply referred to as "the march."
From Mariveles, the POWs made their way north to
San Fernando. They received little food and almost no water. At
San Fernando, the POWs were packed into a bull pin. In one corner was
a slit trench that was used as a washroom. The surface moved from the
maggots that covered it.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments
of 100 men. They were marched to the train station and put into small
wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars could hold
forty men or eight horses and were known as "Forty or
Eights." The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those
who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas.
From there, they walked the last miles 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 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.
What is known is that Raymon became ill after
arriving at Camp O'Donnell and was put in the camp hospital.
According to medical records kept by the hospital staff, Pvt. Raymon O.
Edens died on Saturday, May 9, 1942, from malaria and dysentery. He
was buried in the camp cemetery in Section D, Row 8, Grave 4.
After the war, the remains of Pvt. Raymon O. Edens
were positively identified by the U.S. Remains Recovery Team. At the
request of his family, he was buried at the new American Military Cemetery
at Manila in Section A, Row 15, Grave 93.