Kadel

 

Capt. Richard Coordes Kadel


    Capt. Richard C. Kadel was born on August 13, 1904, in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Phillip H. Kadel & Metta Coodes-Kadel.  With his sister, he grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana.  He married Kathryn Allison Curd in Cave City, Kentucky.  The couple resided on U.S. Highway 70 in Barren, Kentucky.  During World War I, he served with the 35th Divison in France.  He graduated from college and was a civil engineer with the Civilian Conservation Corps when he enlisted in the army on September 8, 1940.

    When the 17th Ordnance Company was formed from the 19th Ordnance Battalion, Kadel became the commanding officer of company.  With the company, he was sent to the Philippine Islands in September 1941.  The company arrived in the Philippines on September 26, 1941.

    During Kadel's time in the Philippines, his company prepared to work on the tanks of the 1st Provisional Tank Group.  On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Kadel witnessed the Japanese bombing of Clark Airfield.  His company watched the field bombed from their quarters at Fort Stotsenburg.  He was promoted to major on December 19, 1941, but never received word of the promotion.

    For four months Kadel's company kept the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion and the 194th Battalion running.  Often, they had to scavenge parts from other tanks.  His company also made landmines from cigar boxes and modified World War I ammunition.  They did this work until they were ordered to surrender on April 9, 1942.  After the surrender, Kadel took part in the death march, but was separated from his company and interrogated by the Japanese. 

    It was at this time that Kadel witnessed the Japanese bury alive three Americans three Filipino officers in the basement of a building.  The men were too ill from dysentery and malnutrition to continue the march.  One man tried to climb out of the basement but was hit in the head with a shovel.  In the building, Kadel was interrogated by a Japanese colonel about American ordnance.  Since he would not reveal anything to the Japanese officer, he was beaten.  Kadel said, "I told him he could go to hell, and then I gave him my name and serial number."  The end result of the beating was that he walked with a cane, the rest of his life, because of the back injuries he suffered.
    Somehow Kadel escaped his captors and rejoined the march.  As he marched, he searched for company.  Kadel was on the march for three
days and saw men tortured by the Japanese.  He said, "During those three days on the march, I saw men behead, their arms cut off, and some buried alive along the road."  At some point he was confined to a shack with malaria.  It was at that time that he made the decision he was going to escape.  Giving the guard a disabling kick, he got the guard's rifle and escaped.  He was found by Filipino civilians who fed him and nursed him back to health.  The Filipinos hid him from the Japanese for several months. 
    He joined the Central Luzon Guerrilla Forces.  With this group, he was in charge of ordnance and also served as executive officer.  As a guerrilla, he was under the command of Col. Gyles Merrill in Zambales Province. 
With him as a guerrilla was Major George E. Crane and Major Winston Jones.  In an attempt to capture the men, the Japanese put a $7500.00 bounty on each man. 
    Kadel said that they had a radio that the Filipinos had gotten from a Japanese truck.  They also enjoyed watching fights between Japanese and American planes.  Usually the end result was the Japanese plane was shot from the sky.  He and the other men cheered.
    Food for the guerrillas was scarce.  Kadel recalled that they ate snails and coconuts on a regular basis.  Their meals also consisted of rice and fish heads.  On one occasion the guerrillas caught a seventeen foot long python and sliced it into strips for food.  They also ate food that the Filipinos stole from the Japanese and brought to the guerrillas.
    On one occasion, while staying with two elderly Filppinas and their elderly brother, he was warned the Japanese were on their way to capture him.  He escaped into a rice field and hid there.  The Japanese searched the home looking for anything American that they could use against the Filipinos.  In a closet, the Japanese captain found an American flag and told them they would be punished.  One of the women pointed out that on the flag it said that it was made in Japan.  The officer left attempting to save face.

    When American forces landed at Subic Bay in late 1944, Capt. Richard Kadel and two other American officers were waiting for them on the beaches.  After making contact with American forces, Kadel learned he had been promoted to Major. 

    In a letter that was sent out on a submarine, he wrote, "At present I am in fine shape.  am free and busy now that the time in near.  These Filipinos are very very poor, but their hearts are pure gold and they are very pro-American, thank God.  I can tell you many stories about life in the swamps, the jungles, and the mountains, and  many of the strange things I have seen, and believe me that time is rapidly approaching when I can see my loved ones again."  The letter was dead November 6, 1944.
    Kadel stated that he and the other men could have left before the Americans landed in the Philippines, but they chose to stay.   When they did land, they landed without firing a shot.
    Life as a free man was not as easy to adapt to as would be thought.  Kadel had grown accustomed to sleeping on bamboo and found it hard to sleep in a bed.  He frequently found himself getting out of bed and sleeping on the floor.  Wearing shoes was another thing that he had to get use to, since he had gone barefooted for a couple of years. 
    Upon being returned to the United States, Kadel was sent to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco.  After his release, he went to Louisville, Kentucky, where he was reunited with his wife.  He was admitted to Nichols General Hospital.  After a few days, the couple returned to Cave City.  A banquet was thrown in his honor there.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on

    After the war, he swore an affidavit against Major General Yoshitaka Kawane and Colonel Kurataro Hirano.  Both men were charged with contributing to the deaths of 1,200 Americans and 10,000 Filipinos during the death march and an additional 1,548 Americans and 25,000 Filipinos at Camp O'Donnell.  Kadel was discharged on November 24, 1946, as a Lieutenant Colonel in February, 1945.

    Richard C. Kadel died on October 27, 1983, in Swain County, North Carolina.  He was buried at Cave City Cemetery in Cave City, Kentucky.


 

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