Houghland


Pvt. Robert Jack Houghland


Born: 23 December 1921 - Boonville, Indiana

Parents: Oliver & Alma Houghland

Siblings: 1 sister

Home: 307 East Walnut Street - Boonville, Indiana

Nickname: "Bob"

Enlisted:

    - U.S. Army 

        - 13 February 1940 - Camp Atterbury, Columbus, Indiana

Training:
    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

Unit:

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox

        - trained to repair 57 different vehicles in use by the Army
        - trained in maintaining the weapons used by a tank battalion

        - one company detached from 19th Ordnance

            - 17 August 1941 - 17th Ordnance Company created

                - received overseas orders the same day
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:

    - 4 September  1941
        - battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
    - Arrived: 7:30 A.M. - 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
    - Ship: 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 Dateline
            - date jumped to 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.
    - Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
            - member of tank wrecker crew
                - recovered disabled tanks

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

            - at one point part of a wrecker crew

            - on one occasion he and Shelby Johnson were driving the

              wrecker when it was strafed and bombed by Japanese planes

            - abandoned wrecker which was bombed and strafed

            - the Japanese failed to hit wrecker or the tank it was tolling

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1941

        - Death March

            - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan

            - San Fernando - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars

            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
            - walk last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell
 

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands

        - 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
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs
        - 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
                        - September 1942 - Camps 1 & 3 consolidated
                - "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:

    - Taga Maru
        - ships also known as the Coral Maru
        - Sailed: Manila - 19 September 1943

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 September 1943

        - Sailed: 26 October 1943

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 5 October 1943
POW Camp:

    - Japan

        - Osaka Main Camp

            - designation given when POW camp is not known 

            - Work:

                - Operated mud gun

                - worked blast furnaces

                - worked slag pits

                    - worked as stone cutter

                     - July 1944 - September 1944

Liberated:

        - September 1945

        - American planes dropped food

            - ate 26 chocolate bars - sick for 2 days
        - returned to Philippine Islands
Transport:
    - U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 16 October 1945
            - sent to Letterman General Hospital

Military:

    - 13 February 1946 - transferred to U.S. Air Force

        - recruiter

Discharged:

    - 28 February 1961

Married:

    - First Marriage

Children: 2 sons

    - Second Marriage

Children 2 stepsons, 2 stepdaughters

Home: Sacramento, California

    - moved to California in late 1950s

    - worked City of Sacramento Golf Courses

Died: 5 February 1997 - Sacramento, California






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