Muther

 

Cpl. Frank I. Muther


Born: 22 January 1920 - Oakland, California

Parents: Josef Muther & Frieda Wifli-Muther

Siblings: 1 sister, 1 step-brother
    - family had a diary farm near Puyallup, Washington
    - bought diary farm near Salinas, California

Home: Monterey Road - Alisal, California

Education:

    - Blanco School

    - Salinas High School

    - Hartnell College

Enlisted: California National Guard

Inducted: 

    - U. S. Army

        -  10 February 1941 - Salinas Army Air Base
            - C Company, 194th Tank Battalion

Training: 

    - Fort Lewis, Washington

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

        - Radio Operator

    - Tank Crew:

        - Lt. Ray Bradford

        - Pfc. Gene Stahl

        - Fourth member of tank crew referred to as "L"
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:
    - 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
                - ships from friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembarked 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.
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
        - 1 December 1941
            - tanks ordered to perimeter of Clark Field
            - 194th guarded north end of airfield with 192nd guarding south portion
            - two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with vehicle at all times
                - meals served by food trucks
            - those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at command post

Engagements: 

   - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
                - lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
                -at Quartermasters Office
                    - getting a new canteen cup

                - He looked up at planes and said, "Hey!  Look at all those beautiful planes!"
                    - as he was counting the planes bombs began exploding around him
                    - dove into a ditch hitting his head on a metal culvert

                    - Jack Frost jumped into ditch on top of him

                        - Frost's revolver rammed into Muther's back

                            Of this, Frank said to Frost, "You know you would have been the one to get hit with shrapnel
                            before me."

                - planes did not go after tanks

                - made his way to his tank

                    - slammed hatch on four fingers on his left hand in grove that sealed the hatch

                    - Bradford said to him, "Why didn't you close the door?"
                        - reached out and  pulled the hatch shut from inside tank
                        - watched through the glass slot a sergeant in a half-track fire at a Zero

                        - his gun jammed and the Zero came in

                        - fired bow gun in rounds of five at Zero
                        - had front of Zero sighted

                        - Bradford said to him, "Don't shoot! You'll give our position away!  Here we are in ta full-scale
                          air raid, and he was afraid of giving our position away."
                   
- first wave took out two anti-aircraft radar units
                    - that night the tankers spent the night loading machine gun belts with a tracer every fourth shell
                        - used bullets from WWI rifle clips

                    - Japanese attacked the next morning
                        - hit buildings they missed the day before
                    - of the attack, he said,"The bombs landed so close the tank seemed to lift off the ground."
                    - after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
                    - from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolus Road
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 15 December 1941

                    - Bradford spotted a blinking light in the second floor of a house
                        - "Gene and Frank, secure that light!"
                        - the two men made left the tank about 50 yards from the house
                        - Muther carried his .45 and a machine gun
                        - Stahl said to him, "You take the front and I'll go around the back."
                        - Frank said, "Okay, but be careful."
                            - broke down front door, heard something behind him whirled around and saw Stahl
                            - the two men made their way upstairs and heard someone run across the room
                            - they found the light, but the fifth columnist was gone
                                - apparently he had jumped out the window

                        - rest of company had continued to move south

                        - sped to catch up with company
                - C Company took position at Tagaytay Ridge
                    - gasoline truck blew up that night lighting the sky

                    - a spark from its batteries ignited some gas cans on top of them
            - 24 December 1941
                - company moved over Taal Road to Santo Tomas
                    - bivouacked near San Paolo
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - defended in Southern Luzon near Lucban
                - supported Philippine Army
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30 December 1941
                    - covered withdraw of Philippine Divisions
                    - it was around this time that the company rejoined the battalion
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Poraline
                  Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                    - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
           - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
           - 8 January 1942
                - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect
                  East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                    - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the
                      Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been formed
                - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                    - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                    - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                    - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
Note: It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver:  "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
        - 12 January 1942
                - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                    - forward position with little alert time
        - 13 January 1942
                - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
                - returned to battalion
        - 16 January 1942
                -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                    - highway had been cut by Japanese
                    - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                        - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                            - tanks knock out gun
                            - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
        - 20 January 1942
                - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
        - 24 January 1942
                - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                     - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
        - 26 January 1942
            - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
            - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
        - 28 January 1942
                - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
                - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
                - half-tracks patrolled roads
                    - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
        - March 1942
                - two tanks were bogged down in mud
                - the tankers were working to get them out
                - Japanese Regiment entered the area
                - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                    - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment

                - Miller was meeting with the tank commanders and radio operators

                    - the whistling sound of a shell was heard and everyone hit the ground

                    - the shell exploded a few yards from them

                    - when they got up, Miller was still standing and said, "Those sons of bitches."
        - 4 April 1942
            - Japanese launched major offensive
            - tanks sent into various sectors to stop Japanese advance
        - 6 April 1942
            - four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
                - one tank knocked out by anti-tank fire at junction of Trails 8 & 6
                - other tanks covered withdraw
            - 3rd Platoon sent up west coast road
                - near Mount Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
                - the tanks withdrew to Marivales
        - 8 April 1942
            - fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban

Prisoner of War: 

    - 9 April 1942
        - received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
            - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
        - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
    - 10 April 1942
            - 7:00 P.M. - started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
            - 3:00 A.M. - halted and rested for an hour
            - 4:00 A.M. - resume march
                - at times slipped on remains of dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
    - 11 April 1942
        - 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
            - allowed to forage for food
        - 9:00 A.M. - resumed march
        - Noon - reached Limay and main road
            - officers, majors and up, separated from lower ranking officers and enlisted men

            - escaped, with Tom and James Hicks of C Company, for two days until they were recaptured
                - started march a second time

            - took Muther 11 days to complete march
            - at one point he was jabbed with a bayonet in the back because a guard felt he
              wasn't moving fast enough
            - "If you fell down, they would just kill you. You had to stay on your feet."
           
- He recalled: "One night we got in late and walked over something soft.  When we
              got up the next morning, we saw they were dead bodies."

POW Camps:

    - Philippines:

        - 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 Detail
             - POWs went out on detail to get out of Camp O'Donnell
             - rebuilt bridges that were destroyed during retreat into Bataan
             - detail ended August 1942

        - Cabanatuan #1
            - original name: Camp Pangaian
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - actually three camps
                -  POWs from Camp O'Donnell put in Camp 1
                    - Camp 2 was four miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3 was six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - 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
                    - they also were frequently it 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
        - 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
                - cerebral malaria and beriberi    
             - hospitalized - 4 April 1943

                - cerebral malaria and beriberi
            - discharged - no date given

            - POWs sent to Manila - 18 September 1943

Hell Ship:

     - Coral Maru

        - Note: Ship was also known as the Taga Maru

        - Sailed: Manila - 20 September 1943
        - Arrived: Takaro, Formosa - 23 September 1943
        - Sailed: 26 September 1943

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

    - Japan:

        - Hirohata 12-B

            - Work: Seitetsu Steel Mills    

                - POWs worked as stevedores

                - POWs also cleaned ovens and slag
                - while Frank was in camp POWs were beaten for stealing rice while unloading a ship
                - The guard, Cpl  Kitro Ishida hit them with a belt, rope, fists, and a club
                   - he also forced water down their noses and forced them underwater

                - Ishida was sentenced to a year in prison after the war.

            - POWs who broke a camp rule were submerged in water and made to stand nude in the cold   
                - the guards also stole food from the POWs and items from their Red Cross packages, as well as,
                  shoes and clothes sent by the Red Cross for the POWs

Note: During his time as a POW, Frank kept a record of the members of C Company.  He smuggled his record from camp to camp.

    - camp was 60 miles from Hiroshima
        - did not see bomb
        - POWs did see smoke swirling up for two days from the city
    - "We were being bombed all the time by American planes anyway.  We didn't realize what was happening down
         there at Hiroshima."

Liberated:

    -  9 September 1945
        - returned to Philippine Islands
        - flown to Hawaii
        - Arrived at Hamilton Airfield, California - 22 September 1945
    - Letterman General Hospital - San Francisco, California
        - issued 90 day pass home

Married: Edna Mae Norred - 2 February 1946
Discharged: March 1947 - Salt Lake City, Utah

Children:

    - 2 daughters

    - 1 son

Occupation: Dairy Farmer

Died: 1 June 2006 - Salinas, California

Buried:

    - Garden of Memories Memorial Park - Salinas, California 


 

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