1st Sgt. Gerald Lee Moffett
    1st Sgt. Gerald L. Moffett was born on April 19, 1910, to Frank Moffett & Inez Moffett in Green County, Indiana.  He resided at 707 South Franklin Street in Bloomfield, Indiana, with his two brothers and a sister.  It is known he completed high school, was married, and at some point, he joined the Indiana National Guard.  On August 5, 1930, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
    Gerald was stationed at Schofield Barracks in 1935, and at Ft. Knox in 1940.  It was at that time that he joined the 19th Ordnance Battalion.  On August 17, 1941, A Company of the battalion was designated the 17th Ordnance Company and received overseas orders. 
    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.
    On September 1, 1941, the company rode a train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, on September 5, and were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  It was there the soldiers received physicals and inoculations and those men found with medical conditions were replaced.
    The soldiers spent three days preparing their equipment and the equipment of the 194th Tank Battalion for shipment to the Philippine Islands.  The turrets of the tanks were removed and the tank's serial number was sprayed on each one so that it could be reattached to the right tank.
    The men boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge on September 8 at 3:00 P.M. and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine Islands.  To get the tanks to fit in the ship's holds, the turrets had serial numbers spray painted on them and were removed from the tanks.  They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday, September 13 at 7:00 A.M., and most of the soldiers were allowed off ship to see the island but had to be back on board before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
    After leaving Hawaii, the ship took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time that it was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria, a heavy cruiser, and an unknown destroyer that were its escorts.  During this part of the trip, on several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon, and the Astoria took off in the direction of the smoke.  Each time it was found that the smoke was from a ship belonging to a friendly country.
    The Coolidge entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M., on September 26, and reached Manila several hours later.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were driven on buses to Clark Field.  The maintenance section of the battalion and members of 17th Ordnance remained at the dock to unload the battalion's tanks and reattach the turrets which wasn't finished until the next morning.
    The soldiers rode buses to Fort Stotsenburg and taken to an area between the fort and Clark Field, where they were housed in tents since the barracks for them had not been completed.  The first night in the tents it rained and their tents flooded.  On November 15, they moved into their barracks.
    On December 8, 1941, Gerald lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield just ten hours after Pearl Harbor.   From this day until January 6, 1942, he took part in the Battle of Luzon.  He then took place in the Battle of Bataan from January 7 to April 9.  During that time, 17th Ordnance worked to service the tanks of the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions running.  To do this, they worked out of an abandoned ordnance depot building.  They also worked to supply the tanks with ammunition and gasoline.
    On April 9, 1942, Gerald became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  17th Ordnance made their way south to Mariveles.  From there, they started what became known as the death march.  Fanson and the other Prisoners of War made their way to San Fernando.  Once there, they were boarded into wooden boxcars.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, the Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  At Capas, the dead fell out of the cars when the disembarked.
    The POWs marched eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.  The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.  The Japanese pressed the camp into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.  When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them.  They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse.  Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp.  These POWs had been executed for looting.
    There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to eight hours waiting for a drink.  The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again.  This situation improved when a second faucet was added.
    There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it had been soiled.  In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and mess kits could not be washed.  The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery.  The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW kitchens and in the food.
    The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant.  When the ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was told never to write another letter.
    The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp.  When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
    The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them.  When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
    Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the hospital and placed underneath it.  The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria.  To clean the ground under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it.  The bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
    Work details were sent out on a daily basis.  Each day, the American doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work.  If the quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work.  The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.  The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
    On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas.  There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards.  At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan.  The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.  From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.

    To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.  The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch.  It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.  Other POWs worked in rice paddies.  Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools.  As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.  While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard.  Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned. 
    On December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a detail was being sent out from Cabanatuan.  The POWs were given a farce of an inspection.  They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued, and that they would receive a meal to eat and one to take with them.  The Japanese stated that they would leave by 7:00 A.M., so the lights were left on all night.  At 4:00 A.M. the morning of December 13th, the POWs who gone to sleep were awakened.
    By 8:00, the POWs were lined-up and roll call was taken.  The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in."  The men were fed and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila.  During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things damaged by the raids had not been repaired. 
    At the harbor, the POWs saw that American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports.  There were at  least forty wrecked ships in the bay.  When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked.  One was a run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape.  They soon discovered that one of the two nicer ships was theirs.      
    The POWs were allowed to sit.  Many fell asleep and slept to around 3:45.  About 5:00 P.M., the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan.  It is not known in which hold Harold was held in, but the sides of the hold had two tiers of bunks that went around the diameter.  The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
    The ship left Manila on the December 14th at about 3:30 in the morning as part MATA-37 a conviy bound for Takao, Formosa.  By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell the ship was at sea.
    The POWs received their first meal at 3:30 in the afternoon.  Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water.  Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs. 
    The meal had just ended when the sound of guns were heard.  At first the POWs thought the Japanese gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard planes.  It was only when the first bomb hit the ship that they knew it was no drill.  By the change in  plane's engine's sound, they knew that the plane was making a bombing run on a ship.  Explosions were taking place all around the ship.  Bullets from the ship ricocheted into the hold killing many.  As it turned out, the POWs had to sweat out five air raids which resulted with the cancellation of evening meal.
    At four-thirty in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack.  It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern.  Most of the POWs who were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions.  Bombs that exploded near the ship sent turrets of water over it.  Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevented most from penetrating.  The ship bounced in the water from the exploding bombs that hit near it.  Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
    After the first air raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the water.  The fighters went after the other ships in the convoy.  The moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night.  That night 25 POWs died in the hold.  The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning.  It was a suitable landing place.      
    Some time after midnight, the POWs heard noise on the deck as the women and children were being evacuated from the ship.  During the night, the medics in the holds were ordered out by the Japanese to treat their wounded.  One medic recalled the dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
    The ship steamed closer to the beach and dropped anchor.  The POWs were told that they would be evacuated at 4:00 A.M.  Four hours after sunrise, the POWs were still sitting in the hold.  When the Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks came in waves.  The sound of planes was heard by the POWs and they lived through three more attacks.  The attacks were heavier than the day before.  The ship again bounced in the water from the explosions.  Overall, six bombs hit the ship; one hit the stern killing many.
    In the holds the POWs crowded together.  They could see daylight through the walls  from the armor piercing bullets.  A Catholic priest, Father Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
    At some point, a Japanese guard yelled to the POWs, "All go; Speedo!" He also told them that the wounded would be the first to be evacuated.  As the POWs were climbing from the holds, the planes returned and attacked.  The pilots in the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners.  It was not until the pilots saw the large number of men leaving the holds and swimming in the water that they realized the ship was a prisoner ship.  They immediately called off the attack.
    About a half hour later, ship's stern began to burn.  Gerald made his way on deck and went over the side.  As he was to shore near Olongopo, Subic Bay,  Japanese soldiers fired at the POWs to prevent them from trying to escape.  The swim was somewhere between 300 or 400 yards.  The better swimmers helped the weaker swimmers to shore.
    While the POWs were at Olongapo Naval Station, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid.  Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck.  They were taken into the mountains and never seen again.  They were buried at a cemetery nearby.  The remainder of the POWs remained on the tennis courts for five or six days.  During that time, they were given water but not fed.
     On December 24th, the remainder of the POWs were boarded onto trains at San Fernando, Pampanga.  The widows of the train were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible.  From December 24th to the 27th, the POWs were held in a school house and later on a beach at San Fernando, La Union.  During this time they were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water.  The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater.   Many of these men died.     
    The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days.  During their time of the courts, American planes attacked the area around them.  The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of their dives.  On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out.  The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
    Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show.  They believed that the pilots knew that they were Americans, but they had no way of proving this was true.  What appeared to prove this belief true was that not one bomb was dropped on the tennis courts were they were being held.
    The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs.  About half of the rice  had fallen out of the bags because of holes.  Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
    At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court.  Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken.  At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English,"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid."  The guard knew as little as the POWs.
     Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show.  They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true.  But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
    The remaining prisoners at San Fernando, La Union, where they boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru.   On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds.  The ship had been used to haul cattle.  The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in.  In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men.  Each man had four feet of space.  Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards. 
    The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs.  About half of the rice  had fallen out of the bags because of holes.  Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
    At about 8:00 AM on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court.  Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken.  At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid."  The guard knew as little as the POWs.
    On December 21st, the POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon.  Once there, they were put in a movie theater.  Since it was dark, the POWs saw as a dungeon.
    During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids.  The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area.  Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio.   Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen. 
    December 23rd, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs.  The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck.  Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid.  The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
    After 10:00 AM on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station.  The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing.  180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards.  The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible.  Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two guards.  The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
     On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM and disembarked.  They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio.  From December 25th until the 26th.  The POWs were held in a school house.  The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach.  During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water.  The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater.   Many of those men died.
    The remaining prisoners at San Fernando, La Union, where they boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru.   On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds.  The ship had been used to haul cattle.  The POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in.  In the lower hold, the POWs were lined up in companies 108 men.  Each man had four feet of space.  Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards. 
    The Daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold.  Once on deck, they used ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets.  Afterwards, the men on deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
    During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM.  After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat.  This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the POWs received little water.  From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day and very little water.  This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise.  On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day. 
    The Enoura Maru also came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th.  The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine-guns was heard.  The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard.  The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
    One bomb that hit the ship exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 POWs.  The surviving POWs remained in the hold for three days with the stench from the dead filling the air.  On January 11th, a work detail was formed and about half of the dead were removed from the ship.  After the dead were removed, they were taken by the POW detail took them to a large furnace where they were cremated.  According to the POWs on the detail, 150 bodies were cremated and a large urn with the ashes was buried.  The POWs in the forward hold were moved into another hold later the same day.      
    On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third ship, the Brazil Maru.  In the hold the POWs had room to move and were issued life jackets.  The ship sailed on January 14th as part of a convoy and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945.  During this part of the trip as many as 30 POWs died each day.  At one point, the ship towed one or two ships which had mechanic issues.  Of the original 1619 men who boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 had survived the trip to Japan.
    In Japan, Gerald was taken by train to Fukuoka #4B arriving there on January 30th.  When they arrived at the camp, the other POWs could not believe the condition they were in.  The POWs in the camp were used as stevedores at companies around the camp.
    It is not known exactly when the POWs learned the war had ended, but they were liberated on September 13, 1945. Gerald was returned to the Philippines for medical care before returning to the United States on the U.S.S. Marine Shark.  The ship arrived at Seattle, Washington, on November 1, 1945.  He was taken to Madigan General Hospital for addition medical treatment.
    Gerald married Inez, and with his wife resided in Washington State.  Gerald L. Moffett passed away on August 15, 1994, in Toledo, Washington.  He was buried at Tohoma National Cemetery in Section I, Row E, Grave 54, in Kent, Washington. 




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