Gazer

 





Tec 4 Joseph A. Gazer
Born: October 1917 - Cleveland, Ohio
Parents: Thomas Gazdecki & Mary Faldowski-Gazdecki
    - mother died when he was two years old
Step-mother: Julia Poshyvak - 1920
    - last name legally changed to "Gazer"
Home: 3625 East 57th Street - Cleveland, Ohio
Siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother
Education: 3 years of high school
Occupation: machinist - aluminum company
Residence: 9735 Kensington Road - Detroit, Michigan
    - living with sister and brother-in-law
Engaged: Helen Marie Klein - November 1940
Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 1941
Units:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - learned to work on 57 different military vehicles
        - also learned gun maintenance
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - one company, 19th Ordnance Battalion designated 17th Ordnance Company
            - company received overseas orders
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: 
        - traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
            - Arrived: Thursday, 5 September 1941
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
            - given physicals and inoculations
            - men with medical conditions replaced
        - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
     - 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
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Date Line
            - date became Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
                -27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
            - 8 December 1942 - lived through Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - company went to a bamboo thicket where they could disperse vehicles
                    - company set up bivouac
                        - set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks
                - received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg
       - 12:45 P.M. - Japanese attacked
           - Japanese wipe out Army Air Corps
           - dead and wounded were everywhere
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
    - Battle of Bataan
        7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
        - 17th Ordnance worked to keep the tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions running
        - company headquartered in ordnance depot building which was empty
        - repaired tanks damaged by Japanese or tank crews
    - 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 at the southern tip of Bataan
            - sat in front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - Americans returned fire
                    - three Japanese guns knocked out
           - San Fernando
               - POWs herded into bull-pen
                   - in one corner was a slit trench that moved from the flies on it
                   - floor of bull-pin covered in human waste
               - POWs organized into detachment of 100 men
                   - packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
               - 100 POWs put into each car
               - cars were known as "forty or eights"
                   - each car could hold forty men or eight horses
               - Capas - POWs leave cars
                  - the dead fall to the floors of the cars
               - POWs walk the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camp:
    - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - 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
        - 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 #1
            - 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
Hell Ship:
    - Tottori Maru
        - 7 October 1942 - boarded ship
        - Sailed: Manila - 9 October 1942
             - two torpedoes fired at ship from an American submarine
             - ship missed mine laid by submarine
        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 12 October 1942
        - Sailed: 16 October 1942
        - Arrived: Pecadores Islands - same day
            - remained anchored off islands for several days
            - two POWs died - buried at sea
        - Sailed: 27 October 1942
        - Arrived: Takao - same day
            - 28 October 1942 - POWs taken ashore and showered
        - Sailed: 30 October 1942
        - Arrived: Makou Island - Pescadores Islands - same day
        - Sailed: 31 October 1942
Died: 31 October 1942
        - since T/4 Joseph Gazer died at sea, his body was thrown into the sea
        - 2 February 1944 - father learned of his death
Memorial:
    - Tablets of the Missing
        - American Military Cemetery at Manila








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