Pvt. J. M. Lillard
| Pvt. J. M.
Lillard was born on July 21, 1914, in Leonard, Texas,
to William B. Lillard & Margie E.
Higgins-Lillard. The initials "J. M."were his
first name. With his four brothers and six
sisters, he grew up in Caddo, Oklahoma, and later
resided in Aubrey, Texas.
J. M. was inducted into the U. S. Army on
March 18, 1941, in Dallas, Texas. It is known
that he completed his basic training at Fort Knox,
and attended tank mechanics school and qualified as
a tank mechanic. After basic training, in the
late summer of 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, where
he became a member of A Company, 753rd Tank
Battalion, which had been sent to Camp Polk,
Louisiana from Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Traveling west by train, over
different train routes, the 192nd arrived in San
Francisco, California, and was ferried, by the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island for physicals and inoculations by the
battalion's medical detachment. Those men determined
to have 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. 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. The ship 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 the island.
On April 11th,
the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's
encampment, and a Japanese officer ordered the
company, with their possessions, out onto the road
that ran in front of their encampment. J. M.
was now a Prisoner of War. Once on the road,
the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides
of the road with their possessions in front of
them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers,
who were passing them, went through their
possessions and took whatever they wanted from the
Americans. The POWs were left kneeling along the
sides of the road for hours.
J. M. and his
company finally boarded the trucks and drove to just
outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked
to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit and wait.
Without knowing it, they were being given
what became known as the sun treatment. The
Japanese made no effort to give the POWs food or
Later in the day, J. M.'s group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. Again they were left sitting in the sun for hours, and the Japanese again did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group of POWs that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move
again by the Japanese. They had no idea that
they had started what became known as the death
march. During the march he received no water
and little food. At San Fernando, the POWs
were put into a bull pen - which was covered by
human waste - and ordered to sit. The POWs
could sit but not lie down. They remained in
the bull pen most of the day until the Japanese
ordered them to form 100 men detachments.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training
base that the Japanese pressed into service as a
Prisoner of War camp. There was only one
working water faucet for the entire camp. To get a
drink, men stood in line for hours, and many
died while waiting for a drink. Since
the doctors had no medicine, the death rate among
the POWs rose to as high as 50 men dying each
day. The Japanese realized they had to do
something to lower the death rate.
J. M. remained in at Camp O'Donnell until he was
sent to the new camp that was opened at Cabanatuan
to lower the death rate among the
POWs. During his time in the camp, he
was assigned to Barracks 5, Group 2.
His POW number was 8142. Medical records
kept at the camp indicate that Lillard was
admitted to Hospital Building #3, from Group 2,
Building 5 on July 5, 1944. No reason was
given to why he was admitted to the hospital.
After the war, J.M. married Florence Krueger on February 7, 1947 and became the father of a son. He remained in the military and served in the Korean War and was also stationed in Germany with the Second Armored Division. He retired, after seventeen years of service on November 26, 1956, as a Sergeant First Class and a tank commander. After retiring, he moved to Midland, Texas. His wife, Florence, passed away in 1969, and he married Carrie Dell Bowman-Stricklin on July 9, 1970.
He later moved to Pilot Point, Texas, and spent the rest of his life there. J. M. Lillard died on September 2, 2003, and was buried at Pilot Point Community Cemetery in Pilot Point, Texas.
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