M/Sgt. George Ralph Prueher
M/Sgt. George R. Prueher was
one of five sons of George S. Prueher and Mary
Schoenichi-Prueher. He was born on October
7, 1920, in Bloomer, Wisconsin, and with his
brothers and sister, George grew up in Chippewa
Falls, Wisconsin. He attended St. Charles
School before his family moved to Janesville in
1930, where they lived at 440 Bluff Street and
attended St. Mary's School where he played
baseball. After grade school, he attended
Janesville High School, where he played tennis and
graduated as a member of the Class of 1938.
After George graduated high school, he worked for a construction company as a bookkeeper. Like many young men of his age, he wanted to fulfill his military service before he was drafted into the army, so he joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company which was headquartered in an armory in Janesville.
In November 1940, his National Guard company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. With the company, on November 25, George traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he attended classes and qualified as a company clerk.
In January of 1941, Headquarters Company was created with soldiers from the four letter companies of the battalion. During this time, he rose in rank from private first class to master sergeant. George was transferred to the company as a clerk and assigned the duties of battalion personnel sergeant.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent
to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers from
September 1st through 30th. As a member of
HQ Company, George did not actively take part in
maneuvers but worked to make sure the tanks and
other equipment kept running.
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. By the time a
Navy ship was sent to the area, the buoys had
been picked up. It was at that time the
decision was made to build up the American
military presence in the Philippines.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L.
27th. During this part of the trip,
but once they
recovered they spent much of the time
and had a two
so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the
On April 9, 1942, the members of the tank group
were informed of the surrender to the
Japanese. On April 10th, the Japanese
arrived and ordered HQ personnel onto the road
that ran in front of their bivouac. When
the POWs were ordered to move, they found
walking on the gravel trail difficult. When the trial ended, and the
POWs were on the main road, the first thing the Japanese did
was separate the officers from the enlisted
At the train station, the POWs were crammed into small wooden boxcars known as "Forty or Eights," since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese forced 100 men into each boxcar and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing since there was no room for them to fall to the floors. At Capas, the living left the cars and the dead fell to the floors. From there, the surviving POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an
unfinished Filipino Army training base that
the Japanese put into use as a POW camp, and
there was only one water faucet for the entire
camp. Men stood in line for days to get
a drink of water. Disease in the camp
ran wild because the medical staff had no
medicine to treat the sick. The death
rate among the POWs rose to as many as 50 men
It should be noted
that George's younger brother, Franklin, was
killed in action on December 25, 1944, when
his troop ship was sunk by a German U-Boat
in the English Channel.