Mihok

 

Pvt. Joseph Alexander Mihok


Born: 2 Sept. 1917 - Bridgeport, Connecticut

Home: 194 Walnut Street - Bridgeport, Connecticut

Inducted:

    - U. S. Army 

        - 11 Feb. 1941 - Ft. Devens, Massachusetts

Training:

    - Ft. Knox, Kentucky
Units:
    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
        - taught how to maintain 57 vehicles in use by the Army
        - learned to repair and maintain guns
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - 17 August 1941 - company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
            - received orders for overseas duty the same day
Note:  The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky - 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: San Francisco, California - Monday - 8 September 1941
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers given shore leave for the day
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M.
            - 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 became Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands - Friday - 26 September 1941
        - Disembarked:
            - 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
                - reattached turrets to tanks
                - worked in shifts
                - slept on ship that night
        - finished attaching turrets at 9:00 A.M. the next day
        - rode bus to Ft. Stotsenburg                 
        - serviced tanks of Provisional Tank Group
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 1942 - 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
Tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished."
            - 10:30 P.M. - Gen. King announced that further resistance would result in the
              massacre of 6000 sick or wounded troops and 40000 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

         - took Mihok until 15 April 1942 to complete march

          - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan

         - POWs passed Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor

             - American artillery returned fire
         - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden
boxcars

             - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men

             - 100 POWs packed into each car

             - POWs who died remained standing
         - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
         - walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    - 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

        - POWs volunteer to go out on work details to get out of camp 

    - Bridge Building Detail - 5 May 1942 - 8 Sept. 1942

Note: A work detail was created - under the command of Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd Tank Battalion - to rebuild the bridges that had been destroyed during the withdraw into Bataan.  Joseph was selected to go out on the detail to rebuild the bridges that were destroyed during the withdrawal into Bataan.
    The POWs were sent to Calaun to rebuild the bridge there that had been destroyed during the withdraw into Bataan.  The POWs rebuilt the bridge at Calaun from May 11 to June 16.  The detail next rebuilt the bridge at Batangas, Batangas, from June 7th until July 12.  On July 12, the detail moved to Lipa, Batangas, to rebuild the bridge there.  The POWs remained at this barrio until August 2.
    The POWs arrived at Candelaria on August 3rd to rebuild the bridge there.  They remained there until September 25.  It was at that time that the POWs were sent to Cabanatuan POW Camp, which was opened while they were on the detail, arriving there on September 27. 

    - 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
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - January 1943 - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
            - Blood Brother Rule
                - POWs put into groups of ten
                    - if one escaped the others would be executed
                    - housed in same barracks
                    - worked on details together
            - 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 because they didn't like the way the POWs lined up
            - Work Details:
                - Two main details
                    - the farm and airfield
                        - farm detail
                            - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                            - Japanese took what was grown
                    - Guards:
                        - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                            - in charge of detail
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - spoke little English
                                - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                        - Little Speedo
                            - also used "speedo" when he wanted POWs to work faster
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - Smiley
                            - always smiling
                            - could not be trusted
                            - meanest of guards
            - Airfield Detail:
                - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                    - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                        - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                        - later pushed mining cars
                   - Guards:
                        - Air Raid
                            - in charge
                            - usually fair but unpredictable
                                - had to watch him
                        - Donald Duck
                            - always talking
                            - sounded like the cartoon character
                            - unpredictable - beat POWs
                            - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                                - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                                - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
            - Other Details:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                    - 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
            - Burial Detail
                - POWs worked in teams of four
                    - carried 4 to 6 dead to cemetery at a time in liter
                    - a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies 
            - daily POW meal
                - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - 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:

        - POWs leave camp - 5 October 1942

            - housed in warehouse on Pier 7 at Manila

    - Tottori Maru

        - Boarded: 7 October 1942 - 1961 POWs put into ship's holds 

            - 500 forward hold

            - 1461 in aft hold

        - Sailed: 8 Oct. 1942 - Manila

            - 9 October 1942 - torpedo from an American submarine passes ship

            - ship misses mine laid by submarine

         - Arrived:  12 October 1942 - Takao, Formosa

         - Sailed: 16 October 1942

             - returned to Takao

         - Sailed: 18 October 1942

         - Arrived: Pescadores Islands - same day

             - anchor off islands

             - remained off islands for several days 

          - Sailed: 27 October 1942

            - Pescadores Islands to Kusan, Korea

          - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - same day

              - POWs taken off ship and given showers with firehoses

          - Sailed: 30 October 1942

          - Arrived: Makou, Pescadores Islands- same day

          - Sailed: 31 October 1942

          - Arrived: 7 November 1942 - Fuson, Korea

              - 8 November 1942 - POWs disembark

                  - sick POWs left behind at Fuson

          - Train:

                  - Fusan, Korea to Mukden, Manchuria

                      - two day trip
POW Camp:
    - Mukden, Manchuria:
        - Hoten Camp
            - Barracks:
                - two story brick buildings
                - buildings had electricity and cold running water
                - heated with "petchka" stoves
                    - provided adequate heat
                - building infested with fleas, bedbugs, and lice
                - divided into ten sections
                    - five on first floor and five on second floor
                    - each section divided into four double-decked sleeping bays
                        - 8 POWs slept in a bay
                        - 48 POWs slept in a section
        - Meals:
            - Breakfast: corn meal mush, beans, bun
            - Lunch: maize and beans
            - Supper: beans and a bun
                 - POWs made snares to catch wild dogs that roamed into camp
                 - stopped catching dogs when one was saw eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian
        - Hospital:
            - many of POWs who died in the camp died due illnesses caused by malnutrition
                - sick forced to work
        - Deaths:
            - over 200 POWs died the first winter in the camp
                - most died from diseases which were the result of malnutrition
                - POWs who died during winter were stored in a building until the ground thawed and they could be buried
        - Work:
            - POWs worked in machine shop and lumber mill
            - Japanese wanted POWs to produce guns
            - POWs sabotaged machines by dropping sand in oiling holes
            - while poring cement, the POWs would drop pieces of machines into the cement to sabotage them
        - Punishment:
            - POWs kicked, hit with clubs, sticks, bamboo poles, shoe heals, sabers, and fists
            - any reason used to beat them
            - Collective Punishment:
                - when the Japanese suspected some POWs had smuggled cigarettes into their barracks, all the POWs were ordered outside and
                  stood at attention
                - POWs ordered to strip and stood nude in the code
                - stood in snow barefooted for hours as the barracks and the 700 POWs, who lived in it were searched
            - Eiichai Nada - guard
                - was considered the worse abuser of POWs
                - born, raised, and educated in Berkley, California
                  - frequently beat POWs at morning assembly
                     - when they fell to the ground he screamed at them
                     - "Get up, you yellow, white son of a bitch!"
             - Lt. Mikki - walked through the barracks with a 3 foot and hit the POWs with it
        - Red Cross clothing withheld from POWs
            - Chinese told them there was a warehouse full of Red Cross clothing
        - Unit 731:
            - POWs from camp selected to be used in Japanese germ warfare experiments
                - injected with deadly diseases
                - some of these men were dissected while alive
        Air Raids:
            - B-29s start bombing Mukden late 1944
                - camp bombed because it was lined up with military targets
Note: Japanese medical officer, Jeichi Kuwashima, asked the POWs, wounded from bombings, to write letters asking the Allies to stop the bombing of Mukden.  The POWs did write the letters but told the Allies that they wouldn't mind more frequent bombings.
Extermination Order:
    - Camp commander received order to march the POWs into the forest and execute them
    - 16 August 1945 - Four American OSS officers parachuted into camp and told the commander the war was over
    - the team was held as POWs for one night and sent to Sian Camp
        - this was the camp where high ranking officers were imprisoned
Liberated: 20 August 1945 - Russian Army
    - B-29s appeared over area where the POWs lit oil drums to signal planes with smoke
        - lead plane came down and saw the POWs
        - circle and dropped medical supplies, food, and clothing to POWs
    - American planes dropped walkie-talkies to POWs
        - allowed POWs to talk to air crews
            - POWs told the crews what they wanted
            - planes dropped them ice cream to now fiddle strings
    - 29 August 1945 - American Recovery Team enters camp
         - POWs taken by train to Dalian, China
        - taken by ship to Okinawa
         returned to the Philippine Islands

Liberated:

    - August 1945 - Russian Army

Married: Dorothy

    - divorced

Children:

    - 1 son

Married: Louise

Resided: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Occupation: Industrial Engineer - General Electric

Residence:

    - Louisville, Kentucky

 Died: 19 November 2004 - Louisville, Kentucky
Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery - Louisville, Kentucky


 


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