Riese_B

 

Pvt. Boyd Albert Riese

    Pvt. Boyd A. Riese was son of Ernest and Ella Riese and was born on April 3, 1921, in Avon County, Wisconsin.  He was raised at 4321 North Walnut Street in Janesville and attended school there. 

    Boyd enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard during his senior year of high school,.  His tank company was called to federal duty as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, which resulted in his receiving his high school diploma at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
    A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress.  Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30.  Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company.  The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
    At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M.  Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating.   At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at 5:30.  After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played.

    In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1 through 30.  During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well.  After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
    On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service and replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The 192nd also got the 753rd's tanks.
    The decision for this move -  which had been made on August 15, 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.
    Traveling west over four different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals bu the battalion's medical detachment.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Other men were simply replaced.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27.  They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4, the ships 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 the S. S. President 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 v 
   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 Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. 
Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.

    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents. 
    For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.

    On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off to patrol the sky against Japanese planes.  At noon, the planes landed, to be refueled, and were parked, in a straight line, outside the pilots' mess hall.
    About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  The tankers had enough time to count two "V" formations totaling in 54 planes.  They saw "raindrops" falling from the planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.

    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 company was sent to the Barrio of Dau, on December 12, so it would be close to a highway and railroad and protect them from sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position so other units could fall back.
 
    On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where 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 but successfully crossed 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 them were the tanks of the 194th which held the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road.  The tanks were asked to hold the position for six ours; they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.

    While in support of the 194th Tank Battalion, 2nd Lt. William Read was killed on December 30.  On a road east of Zaragoza, that night, the company was bivouacked 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 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 1st, 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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.  It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half.  It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.

    The tanks often were the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as Americans and Filipino forces withdrew toward Bataan.  The night of January 7, the A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into Bataan over the Culis Creek.  The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were anywhere in sight.  He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order to withdraw across the bridge.  After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
    The next day the tanks received maintenance.  It was the first rest that the two tank battalions had since December 24.
    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 supposedly beyond it.  That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they were should 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.
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after failed offensive.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank, that had been relieved, had left the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around, in a circle, and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    On March 2 or 3, during "The Battle of the Points."  The tanks had been sent in to wipe out two pockets of Japanese soldiers who had been landed behind the main defensive line.  The Japanese were soon cut off.  When the Japanese attempted to land reinforcements, they landed them at the wrong place creating another pocket. 

   The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and looking out on the China Sea.  By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way.  Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave.  When asked about the Philippines, he said, "There are times when men must die."  The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
    On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched a attack supported by artillery and aircraft.  A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the volcano.  This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line open to the Japanese.  The tanks were a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle where they 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.
    It was the evening of April 8 that 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 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
    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."           
    When American and Filipino forces were surrendered on April 9, 1942, Boyd became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando, where he boarded a small wooden box car used to haul sugarcane.  The cars were known as "Forty or Eights," since each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  One hundred men were packed into each car and the Japanese closed the doors.  The dead fell out when the living climbed out of the cars at Capas.  From there the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    Boyd was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino training base that was 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.

    Within days of arriving, he volunteered to go out on a work detail to collect scrap metal.  The POWs tied vehicles, that had been destroyed during the retreat into Bataan, together and drove them to San Fernando.  From there, the vehicles were taken to Manila and sent to Japan.

    Boyd came down with malaria at some point on the detail.  He was taken to the Pampanga Provincial Hospital and remained there until July 27.  When he was released, he was sent to Cabanatuan which 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.
    The POWs had the job of burying the dead.  To do this, they worked in teams of four men.  Each team carried a litter of four to six dead men to the cemetery where they were buried in graves containing 15 to 20 bodies. Into November 1942, nine POWs were still dying each day.  When the Japanese finally gave out Red Cross Packages at Christmas, the death rate dropped.

    It is known that he was next sent to the Port Area of Manila to work on the docks.  He remained on the detail until July 1944 when he was sent to Bilibid.

    On July 14, 1944, Boyd was boarded onto the Nissyo Maru.  On the July 17, at 7:00 A.M., the ship moved but dropped anchor at the harbor's breakwater.  The POWs remained in the holds of the ship and were not fed for almost a day and a half.  Once they were fed, they received two meals a day of rice and vegetables and received two canteen cups of water.  On July 23, at 8:00 A.M., the ship moved to a point near Corregidor and dropped anchor.  The next morning it sailed as part of a convoy. 
    During this part of the trip, the convoy ran into a American submarine wolf pack during the night.  Some POWs reported hearing something bang off the haul of the ship which was quickly followed by explosions.  One explosion was so strong, that the POWs saw the flames go over the open hatches.  Four of the thirteen ships in the convoy were sunk.
    The convoy reached Takao, Formosa, at 9:00 A.M. on July 28, and sailed again at 7:00 P.M.  On their way to Japan, the ships ran into a storm on July 30 which lasted until August 2.  It was at this time the POWs were issued new clothes.  The ships arrived at Moji, Japan, near midnight on August 3. 
    The next morning, the POWs were disembarked at 8:00 and taken to a theater, where they sat in the dark all day before the Japanese organized the POWs into detachments of 200 men each.  From the theater, the POWs were marched to a train station. 

    From Moji, Boyd was sent to Kamioka Camp also known as Nagoya #1-B, where he worked in lead and zinc mines.  With him in the camp was Emerson Rex of A Company.  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 shoes 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 and slept in pairs to share body heat and blankets.
   
The camp was sixty miles from Nagaski.  When the atomic bomb was dropped, the camp shook.  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 following day, the guards were gone and had left their guns, without bolts, behind.  The POWs learned of the Japanese surrender from a newspaper they bought on the Black Market.  The POWs broke into the supply hut and ate the first good meal they had in three and one half years.      
    On August 15, 1945, the POWs learned of the Japanese surrender from a newspaper purchased on the Black Market.  The prisoners wanted to celebrate, but the officers feared that if they did the Japanese would retaliate.
    It was only after the POWs sent men out to contact the Americans occupying Japan that the camp was liberated on September 7, 1945.  Upon liberation, Boyd was taken to Yokohama and returned to the Philippines where he promoted to sergeant.  He received medical treatment before being boarded onto the U.S.S. Gospher which sailed on September 24th and arrived at Seattle, Washington, on October 21st.  The POWs disembarked were hospitalized at Madigan General Hospital at Ft. Lewis, Washington.

    He returned to Janesville and married Alverda Brenden on December 21, 1946, and became the father of Leslie Ann.  Boyd remained in the military and was assigned to the office of the reorganized reserve corps offices in Milwaukee.

    On Monday, October 24, 1949, after coming home from work, Boyd lapsed into a coma.  He regained consciousness briefly and was taken to Great Lakes Naval Station in Lake County, Illinois.  There, he died never regaining consciousness.  After his death, it was determined he had died from a bacterial infection that he contracted while a POW and had grown in the valves of his heart.

    Sgt. Boyd A. Riese funeral was held in Janesville, and his pallbearers were all members of A Company.  He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville.



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