Nugent

 



Cpl. Daniel Harden Nugent
    Cpl, Daniel H. Nugent was born on July 14, 1920, in Meade County, Kentucky, to Daniel Nugent & Annie Jane Gray-Nugent.  With his three sisters and brother, he lived at 122 Main Cross Street in Hawesville, Kentucky.  He worked as a riverboat pilot on a ferry that traveled between Hawesville and Cannelton, Indiana.
     Daniel was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 8, 1941, at Camp Atterbury in Columbus, Indiana.  He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to Headquarters Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  It is not known what training he received or what his duties were in the company.
   
  The 192nd was sent to Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers.  During the maneuvers, HQ Company serviced the tanks of the battalion, but they did not actively participate.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox. 
    On the side of a hill, the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.  According to members of the battalion, General George Patton had selected them.  Men 29 years old or older, or who were married, were given the chance to be released from federal service.  Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
    The 192nd Tank Battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water.  He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up - in a straight line - for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island hundred of miles to the northwest, with a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. 
    The next day - when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between the planes and Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    Many of the members of the battalion were given leaves home so they could say goodbye to family and friends.  They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.

    The 192nd Tank Battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island.  When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen.  The next morning another squadron was sent to the area and found the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, no ship was in the area to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
     Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, on the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island and given physicals and inoculations.  The members of the medical detachment administered the physicals to the soldiers of the tank companies.  Men with 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 Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
   At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons which had been greased to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance and prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.  It was at this time Daniel was transferred to Headquarters of the Provisional Tank Group.  It is not known what specific dutied Daniel performed with the tank group.
    On April 9, 1942, Daniel became a Prisoner of War.  Being that he was with the Provisional Tank Group, he did not start the march at Mariveles.  The members of the group were marched out to the main road the morning of April 10th.  There, the enlisted men were separated from the officers.  When they reached the road, they spent the rest of the day sitting and guessing what was going to happen.
    After dark, they were ordered to move.  They made their way north while Japanese troops attempted to go south.  Marching on the stony road was hard.  At midnight, they were allowed to rest for an hour.  They marched again until dawn when they were given another break.
    When they reached the Lamao River, they could smell the corpses of those who had died two days earlier in the Japanese final push.  In front of the members of the Provisional Tank Group were a group of Army Air Corps members.  They broke from the ranks and drank from the river and filled their canteens with water.  This would later be the reason so many POWs died at Camp O'Donnell.
The POWs made their way north through Limay, on April 11th, against the flow of Japanese troops who were moving south.  
   They made their way north to Balanga and
arrived in Orani on April 12th, where they were reunited with the officers of the tank group in a bull pen.  At 6:30 that evening, the POWs resumed the march and were marched at a faster pace.  The guards also seemed to be nervous about something.  This time they made the POWs make their way to Hormosa.  There, the road went from gravel to concrete.  This change of surface made the march easier.  When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
    The POWs continued north through Layac before daylight, Lurao in the morning, and Guagua at midday.  Many POWs fell out at this point.  The guards beat the men, but if they didn't get up, they allowed them to lay on the ground until they could continue or were taken by truck to San Fernando.
    At San Fernando,
the men were forced into another bull pen.  This one was already filled with Filipino soldiers.  The POWs were put into groups of 200 men to be fed.  A couple of the POWs would get the food which was distributed to each member of the group.  Water was given out in a similar fashion.  That night not all the POWs could lie down to sleep.
    The POWs were awoken at 4:00 A.M., ordered to form 100 men detachments, and taken to the train station at San Fernando. 
They were put into a small wooden boxcars and taken to Capas.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars.  From Capas, they walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell. 
   
Once in the camp, the POWs were taken into a large field were they were counted and searched.  Blankets, knives, and matches were taken from the them.  Finally, the camp commandant came out, stood on a box and told them that they were enemies of Japan and would always be Japan's enemies.  The prisoners were than allowed to go to their barracks.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp.  It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day.  There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp.  To get a drink, men stood in line for hours.  Many died while waiting for a drink.  The death rate among the POWs was high enough to get POWs to volunteer to go out on work details to escape the camp. 
    The Japanese recognized that they had to do something to lower the death rate, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Daniel was sent to the new camp because he was one of the healthier POWs.   He did not remain in the camp very long.
        
    In early August,
Daniel's name appeared on a roster of POWs being transferred to another part of the Japanese Empire.  The POWs were taken by truck to Bilibid Prison.   On August 11th, they were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Nagara Maru.  The ship sailed on August 12th and arrived at Takao, Formosa, of August 14th.  The POWs were disembarked and boarded onto a second ship, the Suzuya Maru, which sailed on August 16th and arrived at Keelung, Formosa, on August 17th.  The POWs were disembarked and taken Karenko POW Camp, where they worked on a farm.  He remained in the camp until October 1944.      
    While he was a POW on Formosa, Daniel became the orderly for General James N. Weaver who had previously been the commander of the Provisional Tank Group.  Daniel took care of the general and made sure that he remained in descent health.  For his dedication to General Weaver, Brigadier General William E. Brougher wrote a
poem about Daniel.
              

    The POWs were moved to Shirakawa Camp where the POWs once again worked on a farm until the POWs were sent to Keelung and boarded a third ship, the Oryoku Maru.  The ship left Keelung on October 24th and arrived at Fusan, Korea, on October 27, 1944, and disembarked.  The healthier POWs took a two day train trip to Mukden, Manchuria.

    At Mukden, the POWs were held at Hoten Camp.  When they first got there, they lived in dugouts and were later moved to a two story barracks.  Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night.  The officers got one blanket and a mattress.  Meals were the same everyday.  For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun.  Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.
    Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans which usually came in the form of soup.  They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one eating a dead Chinese.    
    In the camp, Daniel continued to play the role of General Weaver's orderly.  Weaver promoted Daniel to Technical Sergeant while he was a POW.  He was most likely the only POW ever promoted in rank while still in enemy hands.
    During his time in the camp, the POWs were forced out into the cold and snow and made to strip when the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the factories.   They were made to stand in the snow barefooted while the Japanese searched all 700 POWs.
    Punishment was given for any infraction.  Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the ribs for violating a camp rule.  At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area.  They would also withhold Red Cross packages.  On one occasion, Lt Murado ordered the prisoners to remove their shoes.  After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
 
    Daniel was liberated at Mukden and promoted to staff sergeant.  He returned home and married Maude Koonce and became the father of a daughter.  He remained in the Army and after the war he became the driver for Gen. Mark Clark.  On January 31, 1961, Daniel retired from the military.  After he retired, he worked as a carpenter.
    Daniel Nugent later resided in Panama City,  Florida.  He died on May 13, 1999, and was buried in Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Panama City.
    
   






                     
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