Porwoll

 

Sgt. Kenneth John Porwoll


Born: 13 April 1920 - Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Parents: Joseph & Katherine Porwoll

Siblings: 1 sister, 2 brothers

Hometown: Brainerd, Minnesota
Education:
    - college student

Enlisted:

    - Minnesota National Guard

        - 1939

Inducted:

    - U. S. Army

        - 10 February 1941 - Brainerd, Minnesota
            - Rank: Corporal
     "The people lined the streets to see us off, and we remembered that through our trials in the the pacific."

Training: 

    - Fort Lewis, Washington
        - promoted: Sergeant

        - tank commander

Units: 

    - A Company, 194th Tank Battalion

Note: On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  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. 
    The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was 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.

    - left old tanks and reconnaissance cars at Ft. Lewis
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: U.S.S. President 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
        - Tuesday - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date became - Thursday-  18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
        - returned to Manila to help 17th Ordnance with unloading of tanks

Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg
        - 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
            - 8 December 1941
                - lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - planes did not go after tanks
                - 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
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24/25 December 1941
                - tank battalions make end run to get south of Agno River
                    - ran into Japanese resistance but successfully crossed river
            - 25/26 December 1941
                - held south bank of Agno River from west of Carmen to Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
                - 192nd held from Carmen to (Route 3) to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin)
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw
                    - 1 platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw

            - 30/31 December 1941
                - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando

            - 31 December 1941 - parents received cable from him saying he was okay

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942

           - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon

                - food rations cut in half
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."
           - 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
        - 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

            - rations cut in half again
        "We ate snakes, we ate monkeys, the mules that pulled the artillery, and when we quit, there was nothing left alive on the peninsula but us
          skinny human beings."

        - 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

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."
        - February 1942
            - tank battalions on their own guarded airfields
            - battalions also guarded beaches to prevent Japanese from landing troops 

        - 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
        - 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

           - 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
        - 8 April 1942
            - fighting on East Coast Road at Cabcaban
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 6,000 sick or wounded troops and 40,000
              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

        - Death March

           - did march with high school friends

           - started march at Mariveles on southern tip of Bataan
           - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor

           - "I was on the death march out of Bataan for eight days to San Fernando in 100 degree temperatures without food and practically no
              water.  We were so tired and weak that I almost had to think about how to walk. 'First it's my right foot, and then it's my left foot,' I
              would say to myself. I had to concentrate on walking. ... I don't know how it was that so many of us survived the march. It had to have
              been a lot of self-determination in each of us."

            - Did march with Byron Veilette, Sid Saign, Jim McComas, and Walter Straka
                - remembering the march he said,

            - "We'd walk by two artesian water holes everyday.  If anyone got near the wells, they shot him.  If they caught you with food, they shot
               you.  Then they would beat on a soldier and invite his companions to come out.  But the invitation meant death.  So most soldiers
               stayed in line.  You begin to hate yourself .  Then you died a little more inside.  And that gets heavy.  You're in a line of 200 men, but
               you feel alone." 

            - McComas had a malaria attack and the other men attempted to carry him

            - when he got worse, McCormas told them to leave him behind on the third day
            - the men threw McComas in a ditch where he hid in a culvert
            - they all knew what happened to POWs who fell out and did not talk about
              what they had done

            - unknown to them, the next day, McComas rejoined the march

            - recalling boyhood friend, Porwoll said, "It's strange what the human spirit will put up with, if you make up your mind.  That's the
              reason these fellows survived - they wanted to."

     - San Fernando

           - POWs put into small wooden boxcars
               - 100 POWs packed into each boxcar
                   - those who died remain standing
           - Capas - living left cars - dead fell out of boxcars
           - POWs walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

    - December 1943 - mother received POW postcard from him

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - 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

            - The second morning in camp Ken opened his eyes and saw a pair of eyes staring into his.  It was Jim McComas.  Ken asked him
              how he got there.  Jim told him that after he was dropped in the ditch, he found a culvert where they had dropped him that he
              could crawl into and sleep.  He slept the rest of the day and night in it. 
When he woke, he joined the Americans who were
              marching past him.
                - 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

                    - Lugao for breakfast
                        - dysentery spread because cooks used dirty water to thin rice

                    - POWs caught mice and ate them

                - 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
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by
                      wild dogs

        - Bridge Building Detail
            - under command of Japanese engineers
                - American commanding officer - Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, 192nd Tank Battalion
                    - detail made up of 300 POWs - most tank battalion members from the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions
                    - Wickord did this to get them out of Camp O'Donnell

            - 1 May 1942 - carried himself out of "Zero" ward to go on detail
                - 150 POWs worked at a saw mill

                    - A POWs at the saw mill escaped, so the Japanese executed his "Blood Brothers"

                    - Wickord had to watch execution so he could tell the POWs rebuilding the bridges about it
                - 150 POWs rebuilt the bridges

            - Japanese commanding officer allowed POWs to roam the barrios, but they could not go beyond the boundaries of the barrio
            - rebuilt three bridges           
                - Calauan Bridge
                    - Filipinos had a doctor and nurses care for POWs and give them medicine
                    - arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor

                - Batangas Bridge

                    - 12 POWs were selected to attend a dinner given by Roman Catholic nuns

                    - Col. Wickord picked the 12 POWs who looked like they needed the meal the most
                - Candelaria Bridge
                    - slept in an old coconut mill with a fence around it
                    - twice a week the Filipinos brought bread and other food for the POWs to supplement their meals
                - August 1942 - detail ended - POWs sent to Cabanatuan

        - Cabanatuan
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division

                - original name: Camp Panagaian

                - three camps:
                    -  Camp #1
                        - POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there
                    - 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
            - "Blood Brother" rule implemented
                - if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
            - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
                - when POWs lined up, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to
                   kick the POWs in their shins with their hobnailed boots
                - 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 and as they came out, they were hit in the head
                - 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
            - men who attempted to escape and caught were executed
            - daily POW meal - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
            - hospitalized - 8 August 1942
                - discharged - no date given

        - 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
        - Las Pinas Work Detail

                - 31 August 1942
                    - 500 POWs arrive 
                        - heads were shaven     
                        - POWs were in fairly good shape when they arrived at Las Pinas
        - Bilibid Prison

            - hospitalized with dysentery - October 1942

            - assigned to Ward VIII

            - discharged and sent back to work detail
   
    - Las Pinas Work Detail - 6 December 1942

            - Nichols Field Detail
                - 6 December 1942
                - 800 POWs on detail
                - Pasay School:
                    - 3 miles from Nichols Field
                    - POW housed in school rooms
                    - each room was 20 feet by 30 feet and accommodated 28 to 30 men
                     - men slept so close together, on thin mattresses, and could hardly turn over
                        - each POW had two small blankets
                        - room infested with bedbugs, ants, and mosquitoes
            - Cherry Blossom
                - got name from flral insignia he wore on his shoulder pieces
                - Japanese civilian in command of barracks
                - temperamental and described as terribly, terribly stupid
                - roll calls took forever since he could not count over 100
                    - American officers had to correct roll call
                - Latrines:
                    - two toilets for 500 men
                        - cans also were put in rooms
                    - 300 POWs shared seven showers
                    - 500 POWs shared  four showers
                        - waited in line for up to an hour to take a shower
                - Meals:
                    - main diet was boiled rice which was from sweepings of a warehouse floor
                        - nails, worms, dust, glass, bottle caps, were often in it
                        - POWs picked the rice to eat it
                            - each POW received 240 grams of rice
                            - later cut to 120 grams
                    - POWs grew squash, gourds, green beans, egg plant, and sweet potatoes
                        - did not meet their nutritional needs since they got scraps from Japanese mess
                        - meat was in a form of a fish used as fertilizer
                            - fish usually rotten
                    - POWs also received 250 pounds of potatoes each day for 500 POWs
                        - Japanese would let potatoes rot before giving them to POWs
                    - 80 pounds of flour given to POWs each week
                    - 20 pounds of meat a week for 800 POWs
                    - although they worked where fruit grew, the POWs were not allowed to eat any
                    - when Red Cross packages were given to POWs the Japanese cut the food rations by one fourth for 15
                      days
                    - beriberi spread among POWs because of diet
            - Clothing:
                - Philippine Red Cross gave clothing for POWs
                    - Japanese did not give it to them
                        - also kept Red Cross packages containing clothing
                - every 3 months, the Japanese gave 18 shirts and 18 trousers for 500 POWs
                    - there was enough clothing in a warehouse to furnish each POW with two sets of clothes including shoes
            - Camp Commander:
                - Capt. Kenji Iwataka
                    - called the "White Angel"
                    - wore a spotless naval uniform
                    - commanded camp for 13 months
            - Beatings:
                - a daily event
                - POWs were beaten on their way to the airfield, at the airfield, at lunch, and on their way from the airfield
                  at the end of the day
                - one POW collapsed while working and the White Angel ordered him to get up
                    - four other POWs took the man back to the school
                    - Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes
                    - the rest of the Americans were ordered to Pasay School
                    - the White Angel took an American officer behind the school with him where the man was
                    - the other POWs heard two shots
                    - the White Angel told the remaining POWs this was what was going to happen to anyone who would not
                      work for the Japanese Empire
                    - later the American officer told the POWs what the White Angel had done to the man
                - Yakota - second in command and looked like a wolf
                    - "The Wolf"
                    - civilian that wore a naval uniform
                    - each morning The Wolf selected POWs who looked the sickest and lines them up
                        - the POWs had to put one leg on each side of a slit trench and next do 50 push-ups
                        - if the man collapsed and touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles
                - A POW collapsed while working
                    - The Wolf had him taken to the school
                    - that evening the Wolf came to the barracks and the man was still unconscious
                        - he took the man and banged his head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head
                        - the man was taken to the showers where The Wolf drowned him in the basin
                 - a third POW tried to walk away from the detail
                    - told the Japanese guards to shoot him
                    - he was taken back to the school by the guards
                    - he was strung up by his thumbs outside the doorway of the school
                        - a bottle of beer and sandwich were placed in front of him
                        -he was dead by that evening
            - Ikagami
                - second in command behind the Wolf
                - compared to The Wolf, he was good to the men
                - he let them smoke, gave the sick breaks but told them to work if The Wolf or the captain showed up
                - bought cigarettes, rice cakes  and sugar for POWs with their money
                - he also would give a POW his shoes and exchange their shoes for another pair that he gave to another
                  POW for his shoes
                    - did this repeatedly
            - Work:
                - 1 September 1942 - work started on runway
                    - Reveille: 6:00 A.M.
                    - 6:15 A.M. - roll call taken
                    - breakfast: fish soup and rice
                    - roll call taken again
                        - both healthy and sick POWs were counted
                    - POWs marched a mile and half to airfield
                        - arrived at 8:30 A.M.
                    - Roll Call - after arriving at airfield
                    - tools handed out at tool shed
                    - Initially the POWs worked until 11:30 A.M. and did not work again until 1:30 P.M.
                        - work day ended at 4:15
                    - Japanese took roll call
                        - POWs arrived at school at about 5:50 P.M.
                        - roll call taken again
                        - rush to showers
                        - supper
                        - roll call again
                        - lights out at 9:00 P.M.
                        - work day got longer the longer the detail went on
            - Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and approximately a mile long
                - runway would go through swamp ground southeastward and straight through the hills
                    - plans for runway came from Americans who had planned to build it with construction equipment
                    - Japanese had no plans to use construction equipment
                - POWs built runway with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows
                    - most had dysentery, malaria, beriberi, diarrhea, and were malnourished
                - POWs worked under the 103rd Construction Unit by order of the Southern Third Fleet
                    - work was easy at first because the ground was almost level
                    - about 400 yards from start, the runway hit the foothills as tall as 80 feet had to be leveled with picks
                      and shovels
                    - work got harder
                    - literally removed the side of a mountain by hand
                    -called "The Cut"
                    - POWs worked barefooted on gravel, rocks, and sun baked mud and left bloody footprints
                        - many only had g-strings for clothing
                        - others worked nude
                    - dirt carried to  swamp in wheelbarrows and dumped as landfill to fill-in swampland
                    - Japanese bring in old mine cars and rail
                        - laid four sets of tracks
                        - four POWs assigned to each mine car to keep them moving
                    - POWs loaded mine cars with earth and two POWs pushed cars to dumping area
                        - car returned to loading area where two of the POWs had another load waiting
                        - all four of the POWs loaded minecar
                        - as tracks got longer, loading pushing, dumping, unloading took longer to do
                        - each track had a quota which had to be met before POWs before the POWs could stop working
            - Medical Supplies:
                - Japanese issued little of the Red Cross medical supplies that came into the camp
                - POW doctors said there was not enough medicine to cure an ailment but just enough to prolong the
                  ailment
                    - there was a lack of quinine and carborine
                    - there was no emetine to cure amoebic dysentery
                - request for medicines were repeatedly turned down
                - operations performed without anesthetics or proper medical equipment
                - only 80 POWs were allowed to be on sick call each day
                    - Japanese determined which men were sick enough not to work
                - POWs who brought the dead to Bilibid for burial
                    - most died of exhaustion or beatings
                    - POW medical staff told to write "malaria," or other disease, as cause of death on death certificates
                    - POWs on detail would not talk about the detail
                    - attempts were made to open boxes containing dead to take fingerprints
                    - Japanese would not allow the boxes to be opened

        - Bilibid Prison
            - sent to Bilibid because he was too ill to continue working at Nichols Field

            - selected to be sent to Japan but was too sick

            - Pvt. Joseph Sanchez nursed him back to health

Hell Ship:

    - Taga Maru

        - Boarded: 18 September 1943

        - Sailed: Manila - 20 September 1943

        - Stopped: Tokao, Formosa - 23 September 1943

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 5 October 1943

POW Camp:

    - Japan

        - Niigata #5B

            - worked in Rinko Coal Mine

            - ran an elevator
        - 18 January 1945 - his mother received a letter from him which appeared to have been
           written in December 1943

        - Recalling his time in the he said:
    "The Japanese are superstitious to begin with.  we helped them even more so.  The prison buildings were two-story ones with heavy, low hanging beams on the first floor.  One had to duck beneath the beams in crossing the ground floor.  At night with the lights on , the ducking figures made weird, dodging shadows on the fence outside. 
     The Japanese believed them to be the spirits of dead Americans.  We gave the Japs a bit of a help with the superstition by telling them the coal cars on the circular track above the pit would go round and round when we left --- our spirits would be punishing them.
    One night there was a terrific wind and the coal cars started going round the track after slipping the blocks.  The Nips were scared to death and didn't know quite what to make of it."

        - POWs happy when they saw the first B-29s
            - each day the planes came over in increasing numbers

Liberated: 5 September 1945

    - POWs saw American carriers in Tokyo Harbor

    - left camp and found the headquarters 11th Airborne Division
        - returned to the Philippine Islands for medical treatment

Transport:

    - U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman
        - Sailed: Manila - not known

        - Arrived: San Francisco, California - 16 October 1945

Hospitals:

        - Letterman General Hospital - San Francisco, California
        - Schech General Hospital - Clinton, Iowa
            - transferred -December 1945

        - Bruns General Hospital - Santa Fe, New Mexico

        - Glen Lake Sanatorium - Minnetonka, Minnesota
     - when asked about his POW experience, he said:  "I am very fortunate to be back in the United Sates."

Returned Home: 17 August 1946

Discharged
Education:

    - University of Minnesota

Career:

    - Capitol Gears - 33 years

Volunteered

    - VA Medical Center

        - barber for the homeless   

Married: Mary Ellen

    - 1953

    - father of nine children

Died: 11 November 2013

Buried:

    - Fort Snelling National Cemetery - Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Note: The photo at the bottom of the page was taken of Kenneth while he

           was a POW at Niigata #5B.


 

 

 

 

 


Ken Porwoll Interview



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