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Pfc. Paul Alexander Paden


    Pfc. Paul A. Paden was the son of Samuel A. Paden & Eva L. Lofton-Paden.  He was born in August 12, 1917, in Kansas and grew up in Center, Kansas, with his three brothers and sister.  At some point, Paul moved to 814 Lincoln Street, Saint Joseph, Missouri, and lived with his brother and sister-in-law.  He worked as truck driver for a delivery service and joined the Missouri National Guard.

    On February 10, 1941, Paul was inducted into the U. S. Army when his National Guard Tank Company was federalized at Saint Joseph, Missouri.  He was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington, where the company was designated B Company and joined the 194th Tank Battalion.  When Headquarters Company was created, he was reassigned to HQ Company.
    In September 1941, the 194th was sent to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and ferried on the U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island where they received physicals and inoculations from the battalion's medical detachment.  Those men with medical conditions were replaced.
    The reason for this move was an event that took place in 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 for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    By the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way toward shore.  Since, communication between the Air Corps and Navy were poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    The tankers boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge on September 8th 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 13th 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, that was its escort.  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. 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.
    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
    The tankers lived in tents at the fort until their barracks were finished on November 15th. The first week of December, 1941, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  Two tank crew members remained with the tank at all times and received their meals from food tucks. 
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers heard the news of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  As they sat their tanks, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and were lined up in a straight line outside the mess hall.  The pilots went to lunch.
    The tankers were having lunch, which meant a tank crew member went to the food truck and got food for the other members of the crew.  As they sat in their tanks, they watched two formations, of 27 planes each, approaching the airfield from the north.  At first they believed the planes were American, it was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
    During the attack the members of HQ Company took cover in ditches since they had few weapons that could be used against planes.  The attack lasted for about 45 minutes.  When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the wounded was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    The battalion was sent to the barrio of San Jaoaquin on the Malolus Road and moved to an area just south of San Joaquin near the Calumpit Bridge on December 12th.  It would receive 15 Bren Gun carriers that were used to test the ground to see if it could support the weight of a tank.  The battalion moved again to west and north of Rosario and was operating in north of the Agno River the night of December 22/23.
    The tank battalions formed the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas defensive line the night of December 26/27.  They were holding a new line at the Bamban River the night of December 29/30 and were at the Calumpit Bridge the next night.
On January 5th, they were at Lyac Junction and dropped back to Remedios were a new defensive line was formed.
    The night of January 6/7, the 194th withdrew over a bridge on the Culis Creek covered by the 192nd Tank Battalion, and entered Bataan.  The 192nd crossed the bridge before it was destroyed and entered Bataan.
    The tank battalions were covering the East Coast Road on January 8th.  It was at this time that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks each and HQ Company with the 17th Ordnance Company were able to do long overdue maintenance on the tanks.
    The tanks continued to cover withdraws for the rest of January and February.  In March, HQ Company was recovering two tanks that had been bogged down  in the mud when the Japanese entered the area.  Lt. Col. Miller ordered the tanks to fire at point blank range and ran from tank to tank directing the fire.
    On April 4th, the Japanese lunched an all out offensive at 3:00 P.M., and the tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance.  The tank battalion commanders received this order on April 8th, "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."
    When it became apparent to Gen. Edward King that the situation was hopeless and he wanted to prevent a massacre since he only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight, while approximately 6,000 troops were hospitalized from wounds or disease.  In addition, there were approximately 40,000 civilians.  The night of April 8th, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms with the Japanese.
    The evening of April 8, 1942, the tankers were informed that Bataan would be surrendered the next morning.  It was on April 9th that Hugh became a Prisoner of War and took part in the death march and was packed into small wooden box cars that were used to haul sugarcane.  At Capas, the POWs climbed out of the cars and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    The conditions in the camp were so bad, that the as many as 50 men died each day.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp.  The situation was so bad, the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Paul was one of the healthier POWs, so he was sent there.

    At some point, Paul was sent out on a work detail to Manila that repaired trucks and other equipment for the Japanese.  The detail was known as the Bachrach Garage Detail.   This was the name of a cab company in Manila.  Paul would remain on this detail until 1944.
    In early October the detail was ended and the POWs were sent to Bilibid.  On October 11, 1944 the POWs were marched to Pier 7.  Once there, they were boarded onto the Arisan Maru.  They were put on this ship because the ship they were scheduled to sail on had sailed earlier with other POWs on it.  This was because not all the POWs in Hugh's detachment had arrived at the pier.
    Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks.  These bunks were so close together that a man could not lift himself up while laying down.  Those standing also had no room to lie down. The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans.  Since the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly, many of the POWs could not get near the cans.  The floor of the hold was covered with human waste.  
    The ship set sail but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  It arrived at a cove off Palawan Island where it dropped anchor.  This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes.
    While in the cove, the POWs discovered that the Japanese had removed the light bulbs from the hold's lighting system, but that they had not turned off the power to the system.  The POWs managed to hot wire the hold's ventilation system into the lights.  For two days, the POWs had fresh air.  When the Japanese discovered what the POWs had done, they turned off the power.
     The POWs began developing heat blisters, so the Japanese decided to move some of them to another hold.  While transferring the POWs one man was shot when he tried to escape.  It was also at this time the ship was attacked by American planes that had just conducted a raid on Palawan.
    The Arisan Maru returned to the Manila nine days later., where it became part of a twelve ship convoy bound for Formosa.  On October 21st, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with "red crosses" to indicate they were carrying POWs.  This made the ships targets for submarines.  In addition, to protect the fact that American Military Intelligence had cracked the Japanese code, the submarine crews were not informed that POWs were being transported on the ships.
    The evening of October 24th at about 5:00 P.M., the convoy was in the Bashi Channel, of the South China Sea, off the coast of China, when it came under attack by American submarines. The waves were high since a storm had just passed.  At about 5:50 P.M., a number of POWs were on deck preparing dinner.  About half the POWs on the ship had been fed.  When the guards ran to the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo as it barely missed the ship.  The guards next ran to the stern of the ship, and a second torpedo passed behind the ship.
    Suddenly the Arisan Maru shook, it had been hit by two torpedoes from the U.S.S. Shark, amidship, killing POWs while those still alive began cheering wildly.  A little while later the cheering ended and the men realized they were facing death.
    The guards went after the POWs who cooking dinner and began beating them with their guns and forcing them into the second hold.  Once they were in the hold the Japanese cut the rope ladders and slammed down the hatch cover before abandoning the ship.
    POWs in the first hold managed to make their way onto the deck and reattached the rope ladders and dropped them into the holds.  The surviving POWs made their way onto the deck.  On the ship's deck an American major spoke to the POWs, he said, "Boys, we're in a hellva a jam - but we've been in jams before.  Remember just one thing: We're American soldiers.  Let's play it that way to the very end of the script."  Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them, "Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men."
    According to surviving POWs, the ship stayed afloat for hours but got lower in the water.  At one point, the stern of the ship began going under which caused the ship to split in half but the halves remained afloat.  It was about this time that about 35 POWs swam to the nearest Japanese ship.  When the Japanese realized that they were POWs, they pushed them underwater with poles and drowned them or hit them with clubs.  Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers for a last meal.  These men wanted to die with full stomachs.  Other POWs took to the water with anything that would float. 
    Three men managed to get into a lifeboat that had been abandoned by the Japanese.  But since the sea was rough and they had no paddles, they could not maneuver the boat.  According to the men as the night went on, the cries for help became fewer until there was silence.  The next morning, they rescued two more POWs.

    According to the three POWs who had reached an abandoned lifeboat, the Arisan Maru sank slowly into the water.  At some point the ship broke in two where it had been struck by the torpedoes.  The exact time of the ship's sinking was not known since it occurred at night.  The cries for help slowly ceased until there was silence.  The next morning they rescued two more POWs.

     Pfc. Paul A. Paden lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea.  Of the nearly 1800 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking.  Eight of the men survived the war.  Since he was lost at sea, Pfc. Paul A. Paden's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
    Pfc. Paul Paden's parents also had a memorial headstone placed at the Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Kansas.


 

 


 

 

 

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