Rex

 

Pvt. Emerson Samuel Rex


    Pvt. Emerson S. Rex was born August 20, 1919, to Emerson A. Rex and Estella C. Crouse-Rex, in Mulberry, Indiana, and was one of six children born to the couple and was known as "Junior" to his family.  He would later move to Frankfort, Indiana, where he lived at 603 Sims Street.  He graduated from Frankfort High School, and, in 1937, he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, and lived with his brother who ran the Rock County Jail. 

    In 1940, Emerson joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company which was headquartered in an armory in Janesville.  His reason for doing this was to fulfill his military obligation and get on with his life.  Before he left for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he got married Genevieve Matheny on November 12, 1940, and started a home at 615 South Pearl Street.
    In January 1941, Emerson was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed with men from the four letter companies of the battalion.  His exact duties with the company are not known.
    A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly.  Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30.  After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
    At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they went back to work by attending the various schools.  At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30.  The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.

    After training at Ft. Knox, Emerson took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  It was after the completion of the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  On the side of a hill, they learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours the soldiers had figured out they were being sent to the Philippines.
    The decision for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - 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.

    Receiving a ten day pass home, Emerson said goodbye to his wife, Genevive Manthey-Rex, and baby.  He returned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and prepared for shipment overseas.
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California.  Arriving there, the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment.  Those with major health issues were replaced, while those with minor health issues were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the company at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  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 2 and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. 
    On Wednesday, November 5, 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. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15, 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. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly countr
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, 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 20, 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 Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field, but the fact was that he had not learned of their arrival until just days before their ship docked.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.    
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.

    On Monday, December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half.  At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles.  Meals were brought to them by food trucks.  
    At six in the morning on December 8, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort.  They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength at the perimeter of airfield.  All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tankers could do little more than watch since their weapons, except for the tanks' machine guns, were useless against planes.  After the attack, the tankers saw the damage done to the airfield.  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.  They remained at the airfield until December 12 when they were sent to the Barrio of Dau, to protect a road and railroad from sabotage.  On December 21, the company was sent north to the Lingayen Gulf area.in support of B and C Companies. 

    On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
    The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to a line from on the night of December 27 and 28.  From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga on December 30th.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read.  On a road east of Zaragoza, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries.  The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.  To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
    At the Gumain River, the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The Japanese were taking heavy casualties, so they attempted to use smoke to cover their advance, but the wind blew the smoke into the Japanese.  When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had suffered fifty percent casualties.
    At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese.  Somehow, the tanks were mistaken, by the Filipinos to be Japanese.  The 11th Division accurately used mortars on them.  The result was the loss of three tanks.
    On January 1, the tanks of the 194th were holding the Calumpit Bridge allowing the Southern Luzon Forces to cross the bridge toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was attempting to hold the main Japanese force coming down Route 5 to prevent the troops from being cut off.  General MacArthur's chief of staff gave conflicting orders involving whose command the defenders were under which caused confusion.  Gen. Wainwright was not aware these orders had been given.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion, the Japanese were halted.  From January 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  The company returned to the command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.  The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.   
    While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing  from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.  The morning of January 27, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the retreating forces.  The tanks held their position for six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualti
    While American and Filipino forces were withdrawing from the Pilar-Bigac Line, the battalion prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the withdrawing troops.  The morning of January 27th, a new battle line had been formed and all units were suppose to be beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were suppose to have withdrawn.  While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts, ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.  
    On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    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."
    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 4.  On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening.  During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew.  C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
   On April 3, the Japanese launched an all out attack.  The evening of April 8, Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.  At 11;40, the ammunition dumps were blown up.
    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."          
    The evening of April 8, 1942,
Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."   
    On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment.  Donald was now a Prisoner of War.  A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment.  They were now Prisoners of War.  Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them.  As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.  They remained along the sides of the road for hours.           

    HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit.  As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them.  They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.         

    As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail.  After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off.  The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
  

    Emerson took part in the death march and concluded that although they were treated poorly, the Americans were treated better than the Filipinos.  He watched as Filipino prisoners were bayoneted or roughed up by the guards.  It was his belief this was done because they had chosen to fight alongside the Americans against other Asians.

    On the march, the only water the POWs were allowed to drink was from the wallows of caribou or from the ditches alongside the road.   The water in the ditches often had dead soldiers floating in it.  Unlike many of the POWs, Emerson had iodine, which he had hidden during the shakedowns by the Japanese, which he used to disinfect the water and make it safe to drink. 

    When they reached San Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pen which had been created by putting barbwire around a school yard.  They were left there for hours sitting in the sun.  At some point, the Japanese ordered them to form 100 men detachments.  When this was done, they were marched to the train station.
    At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "Forty or Eights." The cars could hold forty men of eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those POWs who died in the cars did not fall to the floors until the living left the cars at Capas.
  From Caps, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell which
was an unfinished Filipino training base pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. 
    When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them.  They searched the POWs and if a man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse.  Over the next several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp.  These POWs had been executed for looting.
    There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to eight hours waiting for a drink.  The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again.  This situation improved when a second faucet was added.
    There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it had been soiled.  In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and mess kits could not be washed.  The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery.  The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW kitchens and in the food.
    The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant.  When the ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was told never to write another letter.  When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp.  When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies to the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
    The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them.  When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
    Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the hospital and placed underneath it.  The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria.  To clean the ground under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it.  The bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
    Work details were sent out on a daily basis.  Each day, the American doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work.  If the quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work.  The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.

    To get out of the camp, Emerson went out on a work detail to rebuild bridges that the retreating Filipino and American forces withdrew into the Bataan Peninsula.  The detail was under the command the Japanese engineers but the ranking American officer was Lt. Colonel Ted Wickord who had been the commanding officer of the 192nd.

     The POWs first worked at Calauan.  There the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them medication.  They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor. 

    They were next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.

    The next bridge the POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria.  Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  Wickord picked the twelve sickess looking POWs. 

    When the detail ended, Emerson was sent to Cabanatuan which had opened while he was on the detail.  The camp was actually three camps.  Camp 1 was where the men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held.  Camp 2 did not have an adequate water supply and was closed.  It later reopened and housed Naval POWs.  Camp 3 was where those men captured when Corregidor surrender were taken.  In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized when the surrender came were sent to the camp.  Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
    Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp.  The Japanese only entered if they had an issue they wanted to deal with.  To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.  The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch.  It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule.  If one man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed.  POWs caught trying to escape were beaten.  Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed.  It is not known if any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120 POWs in them.  The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting.  Many quickly became ill.  The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
    The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years.  A typical day on any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until  5:00 P.M.  The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a shed each morning to get tools.  As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit them over their heads.
    The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little English.  When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs "speedo."  Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair.  Another guard was "Little Speedo" who was smaller and also used "speedo" when he wanted the POWs to work faster.  The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of them.  "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be trusted.  He was the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason.  He liked to hit the POWs with the club.  Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it.  Any prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it.  Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools.  As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.
    Other POWs worked in rice paddies.  While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard to drive their faces deeper into the mud.  Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
    Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant "wet rice."  During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no fruit.  Once in awhile, they received bread.
    The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the Japanese when they counted barracks.  The sickest POWs were sent there to die.  The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building.  There were two rolls of wooden platforms around the perimeter of the building.  The sickest POWs were put on the lower platform which had holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves.  Most of those who entered the ward died.

    In October 1942, Emerson was among POWs selected to be transferred to the Port Area Detail in Manila.  This detail was designated as Camp #11.  The POWs worked as stevedores loading and unloading ships at pier #7.  It was while he was a POW there that his family received the first word that he was a Prisoner of War in February 1943.  He would remain on this detail for over a year.  During his time as a POW, he suffered from dysentery and beriberi.

    In July 1944, Emerson was selected to be sent to Japan.  He recalled that while he was on the pier he saw John and Henry Luther who were on what was called the Bachrach Garage Detail.  They were the last two members of the Wisconsin National Guardsmen that he saw for the rest of the war.
    When the POWs boarded the ship, the Japanese tried to put all the POWs in one hold.  When they realized that this could not be done, they opened another hold and put POWs in it.  It finally sailed on July 17 but dropped anchor and remained in the harbor until July 24 when it sailed as part of a convoy.  During the trip the ships were attacked by American submarines resulting in the sinking of several ships.  The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, remained two days and sailed for Moji, Japan, on July 28, and arriving there on August 3.  The POWs disembarked the ship and allowed to sleep.  They later were taken to the train station and rode the train to the camps along the line. 
Emerson was sent to a Kamioka POW camp which was eighty miles north of Osaka.  The camp would later be named Nagoya #1-B.

    Emerson was not the only member of A Company in the camp, with him were John Spencer and Boyd Riese.  In addition, there were other members of the 192nd in the camp.  Spencer was later transferred to Sendai #6-B.  The POW diet in the camp was cooked rice.  Every two weeks they would receive three ounces of fish.  Once a month each man received one once of meat, and every three weeks, if they were being rewarded for working hard, they received five ounces of soy beans.  The Japanese did not treat the sick or injured well and withheld medicine from the POWs even though it was in the Red Cross packages.  Most of the POWs never received one letter, from home, while in the camp.
     The Japanese treatment of the POWs was brutal.  If one POW broke a rule, all the POWs would be beaten, clubbed, or burned.  When the Japanese heard news of an air raid by the Americans, they selected eight or ten POWs and punished them.  Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men were forgotten.  The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were getting closer.
    The POWs slept 24 men to a barracks, and their beds were straw mats.  The blankets they received were not much protection against the cold.  The barracks were heated by coal burning stoves, but only two handfuls of coal were issued each day.  To prevent the buildings from collapsing in the winter, the POWs had to clear the roofs of snow each time it snowed.
    Since a certain number of POWs were needed for work each day, the sick, who could walk, were forced to work.  Those who refused were beaten.  In addition, the Japanese set a limit on the number of POWs who could be in the hospital at any time.  At the same time, the Japanese refused to give the POWs the medicine and medical supplies sent by the Red Cross.
    The sick POWs were put on "light duty."  To the Japanese "light duty" was going up a mountain and hauling green muck.  As it turned out, this muck was contaminated and even the Japanese guards kept away from it.  The prisoners noticed that nothing would grow where the muck was dumped.  The prisoners worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  Every two weeks they would get one day off.
    This detail was not bad during the summer because the old supervisor would allow two of the six prisoners to look for edible plants.  During the winter, the prisoners had to climb the mountain through snow that was four to five feet deep.  Since the Japanese did not issue the shes that were sent by the Red Cross, to protect their feet from frostbite, the POW's made socks from blackout curtains to put inside their canvas shoes.  The prisoners also were never warm.  They slept in pairs to share body heat and blankets.

    The civilians that the POWs worked with were more unfriendly than the guards.  Occasionally,  the POWs were able to trade something with a civilian and in return receive a special food the man's wife made.

    The main diet for the POWs in the camp consisted of rice and soybeans.  Since the diet in the camp was not adequate, Emerson also suffered from beriberi and dysentery.  He lost his vision in his right eye because of the poor diet.  It would return with a better diet and treatment.  By the time he was liberated, he had lost 112 pounds.  "Occasionally we would get a little horse meat or mule meat." When asked if it tasted good, he said, "It is - if you're really hungry."

    Emerson and the other POWs had no idea how the war was going.  They were told by the Japanese that New York, Chicago, and San Francisco had been bombed and destroyed.  Emerson and the other men never accepted these stories as true, but the longer that he was in the camp he began to lose his spirit.  He even reached the point that he no longer cared who won the war.
    The Japanese treatment of the POWs was brutal.  If one POW broke a rule, all the POWs would be beaten, clubbed, or burned on their hands, necks, and abdomens.  When the Japanese heard news of an air raid by the Americans, they selected eight or ten POWs and punished them.  Afterwards, they threw them into the guardhouse where the men were forgotten.  The POWs also learned that when the Japanese called them out in the middle of the night for an inspection, it meant that the Japanese had suffered another defeat and that the Americans were getting closer.
    The day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese were angry and made the POWs do close drill before going off to work.  The POWs had no idea why this was done.  When they got to the mine, they noticed a guard in the tower.  The guard was a "spotter" looking for American bombers.  The next day, the prisoners did not have to work.  They were told it was the birthday of the wife of the mine owner.  The following day, the guards were gone and had left their guns, without bolts, behind.  The POWs broke into the supply hut and ate the first good meal they had in three and one half years.  Finally, on a radio the POWs heard the emperor announcing the Japanese surrender.

    Emerson recalled, "Although the Japs told us the war was over, we didn't believe them until the B-29s began dropping food."  The next day the POWs awoke to find the guards were gone.  When the Americans did not liberate the camp, the POWs sent three men out to contact them.  

    Emerson was liberated on September 7, 1945, and taken to Yokohama for transport to the Philippines.  He was promoted to corporal and a week later he was promoted to sergeant.  He was flown to Hawaii by the Air Transport Command and than to Hamilton Airfield north of San Francisco arriving on September 16 and taken to Letterman General Hospital.  After this, he was sent to Vaughan VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, to recuperate.  This hospital was next to Maywood which was the hometown of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. 
    After a few weeks at the hospital, Emerson was promoted to corporal, and the next day he was told he was being promoted to sergeant.  He recalled that it was a good week for him.  He was flown to Hawaii and to San Francisco, where he was taken to Letterman General Hospital.  After arriving there, his wife and mother received word he was there.

    Emerson returned to Janesville and later Delphi, Indiana,, and was discharged from the army on January 22, 1946.  In 1949, he was admitted to Billings VA Hospital, in Indianapolis, for additional medical treatment.  His first marriage ended in divorce, and he married Betty Louise Reed on July 5, 1950, and was the father of two sons.  Later, he moved to the Rockford, Illinois, before he returned to Frankfort, Indiana.  There, he was employed by the Indiana State Highway Department and later an asphalt company.    
    Emerson Rex passed away on February 10, 1971, in Frankfort, Indiana.  He was buried at Bunnell Cemetery in Frankfort


 

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