Pvt. Orvis L. Rinehart was born November 9, 1916, to Ray Rinehart & Grace
Hoffmister-Rinehart in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. With his brother, he was raised at 1416 South Osborne
Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin, and worked with his father and brother on a small farm just outside of
At some point, Orvis joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company located in
Janesville. On November 25, 1940, Orvis was called to federal duty when the tank company was
federalized. The tank company was now known as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, and left Janesville on
November 28 for 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 which was 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. During his training, Orvis qualified as a motorcycle messenger for A
After a year of training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the company was sent on maneuvers in
Louisiana from September 1 to 30. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox. Orvis and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being
sent overseas on the side of a hill. He was given a ten day pass home before reporting to Camp Polk,
Louisiana, to prepare for duty overseas.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A
squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, who was flying lower than the
other planes, noticed something odd in the water. He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag,
in the water and saw another in the distance. He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up - in a straight
line - for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, hudred of miles to the
northwest, which had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to
Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next day - when a when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up and
a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between the planes and Navy was
poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and
ferried to Angel Island on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe. On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals by 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. 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.
They arrived at Honolulu 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
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.
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
which had been greased to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank
maintenance as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank
The morning of Monday, December 8, they alerted of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just ten
hours earlier. At 8:30 in the morning, American planes took off and patrolled the sky. At noon, the
planes landed and the pilots parked them, in a straight line, outside their mess hall. The pilots went to
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north
at about 12:45. Many of the tankers counted 54 planes. The planes approached the airfield and watched
hat was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes. When the raindrops began exploding on
the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.
During the attack, they could do little since their guns were not made to use against
planes. For some reason, not known to the tankers, the Japanese did not attack the tanks, and the few that
did had their bombs land between the tanks.
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.
That night, the tankers slept under their tanks since it was safer then sleeping in their
tents. Those who weren't assigned to a tank or half-track slept in a dried latrine and were food for
the mosquitoes. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and
one half years.
The company, on December 12, was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a
highway and railroad against sabotage. From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the
192nd just south of the Agno River.
On December 22, A and C Companies were sent north to support B Company. The Japanese
had landed troops at Lingayen Gulf, and B Company was sent to the area so the U. S. 26th Calvary could disengage
from action with the Japanese. Orvis's job was to lead the column of tanks and half-tracks. Since
the Americans had no air cover, they had to do this at night. Orvis's biggest fear was that one of his
own tanks was going to run him down.
The tank companies were in the area of Urdaneta, where A Company lost the company
commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the battalion's tanks 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 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 were
asked to hold the position for six hours; they held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, 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.
The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line 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. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29
serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
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 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 bridge 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. 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.
On January 5, while attached to the 194th Tank Battalion, A Company withdrew from the
line. Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a tail
picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group that the
trail did not exist.
It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near Lubao
along a dried up creek bed. Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep. Their sleep was interrupted by
the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M. The tankers had no idea that they were about to engage the
Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them easy
targets. There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the Japanese broke
off the attack. Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the 192nd.
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.
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.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets - from January 23 to February 17
- to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a Japanese offensive
was stopped and pushed pack to the original line of defense. 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 exited the
pocket. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one that was
being held in reserve.
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
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 and grinding its way
down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of gasoline,
against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the
back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the Japanese before they
got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers did not like to do
this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the tank, its rivets would
pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank
Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at a
time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit the
pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug "spider holes" among the
roots the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the
The tankers from A, B, and C Companies were able to clear the pockets. But before
this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank just sat
there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the night, its
crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out, the tank was
turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put back into use.
At the same time, the tanks were also used to clear out the Japanese in what was called
"The Battle of the Points." The Japanese had attempted to land troops behind the main defensive
line and ended up with troops trapped on two different points on the peninsula.
The Japanese Marines were driven to the cliffs and hid in the caves below the cliff
lines. They used the caves for protection and would climb down the cliffs to enter them or leave
them. The tankers fired into the caves repeatedly until the Japanese were dead or came out of the caves.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to
eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also began
to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers' rations were
cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a day.
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on
them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture had
been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
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 an 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 Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan on April
7. The companies were pulled out of their positions to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.
Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned
area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.
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
The night of April 8, the tankers destroyed their tanks and became Prisoners of War the
morning of April 9, 1942. They made their way to Mariveles where they started what became known as the
death march. The POWs walked up hill the first few miles as they made their way to San Fernando.
It was there that the POWs were herded into a bullpen and left for the day. How
long they were there is not known, but at some point they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men and marched
to the train station.
At the train station they were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or
eights" since they each could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese put 100 men into each car
and closed the doors. Those heat in the cars was tremendous and those who died remained standing, since
there was no room for them to fall to the floor. At Capas, the living left the car, and the dead fell to
Camp O'Donnell 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
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. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something,
so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard
where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been
the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was known as Camp Panagaian.
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
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
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
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
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. The death rate was still as high as nine men a day in November and only dropped
when Red Cross Packages were issued for Christmas.
In late September 1942, a POW transfer list was posted at the camp. 800 POWs gathered
at 2:00 A.M. on October 6, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball. After eating and
packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the
gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M. There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the
small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M. The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and
because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila. Some
of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier. The
detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier. The
Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted. They also were allowed to
Before boarding the ship on October 7, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group
was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship, for those in the
holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off. This situation was made worse by the
fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the POWs
dying during the trip.
The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at
noon. In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship. That night some POWs slept in the
holds, but a large number slept on the deck. The first day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread
for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - the loaves were suppose to last two days, but most men ate
them in one meal. The men did ration their water. The ship was at sea, when two torpedoes fired at by
an American submarine missed the ship. The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but
these also missed. A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine. The POWs
were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 11. Since most were sick with something,
the line to use the latrines went around the ship. The American doctors had no medicine to help the sick, and
some were seen as benefiting off the sick. It was at this time that the POWs on the ship, from Mindanao, were moved
to a second hold putting 500 POWs in each hold.
On October 14, food stuffs were loaded onto the ship, and each POW got two candy bags of hard
tack and one meal of rice and soup each day. The ship sailed on October 16 at 7:30 A.M. but turned around at
3:30 P.M. arriving back at Takao at 10:30 P.M. It was believed the ship had turned around because American
submarines were in the area.
The ship sailed again on October 18 and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M..
There it dropped anchor off the Island of Makou, Pescadores Islands, where it remained anchored until October
27 when it returned to Takao. During this time the quality of food deteriorated and was barely
edible. Two POWs also died and their bodies were thrown into the sea at 4:00 P.M. The ship sailed
again on October 27 and returned to Takao the same day. While it was docked food stuffs were again loaded onto
The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was
cleaned. They were again put into the holds and the ship and remained there until the ship sailed on October
29. At 5:00 P.M. it again arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands. During this time the POWs were fed two
meals of day of rice and soup. The ship sailed on October 31, as part of a seven ship convoy. During this
part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea. On November 3, three more
POWs died. On November 5, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships
arrived at Fusan on November 7, but the 1300 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until November 8 and were
issued fur lined over coats and new clothing. Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to
, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan. Those who died were cremated and had their ashes placed in small
white boxes which were sent to Mukden.
As they marched, the civilians in the town spit on them, hit them, and made fun of the
POWs. The POWs reached a train station where they boarded a train and were given a little box which contained
rice, pickled grasshoppers, and a little fish. They were sent on a three day train trip north.
At Mukden, the POWs were held at Hoten Camp. When they first got there, they lived in
dugouts and were later moved to a two story barracks. Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover
themselves with at night. The officers got one blanket and a mattress. Meals were the same
everyday. For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun. Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans
and a bun.
Since they were underfed, the POWs trapped wild dogs to supplement their meals of soy beans
which usually came in the form of soup. They continued to trap dogs until, while marching to work, they saw one
eating a dead Chinese.
The POWs worked either at a machine shop or a saw mill from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00
P.M. each day. The machine shop never produced anything that was useful to the Japanese. Each
morning, the POWs were marched three miles to the shop where they worked manufacturing weapons for the
Japanese. To prevent the production of weapons, they committed acts of sabotage like pouring sand into
the machine oiling holes. The Japanese usually blamed these acts of sabotage on the Chinese in the plant
because they believed the Americans were not smart enough to commit the sabotage.
Life in the camp was hard with and beatings were common for breaking camp rules that often
changed from guard to guard. The POWs were forced out into the cold and snow and made to strip when the
Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the
factories. They were made to stand in the snow barefooted while the Japanese searched all 700 POWs.
Punishment was given for any infraction. Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in
the ribs for violating a camp rule. At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the
Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an
unauthorized area. They would also withhold Red Cross packages. On one occasion, Lt Murado ordered
the prisoners to remove their shoes. After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
Orvis recalled that the weather was extreme at the camp. During the winter, the
temperature dropped to 62 degrees below zero. The POWs grew beards to protect their faces against the
cold. The moisture from their breath froze to the beard because of the cold. Since Japanese only gave
the prisoners socks once every four months, Orvis's feet often froze during the winter. If a POW died
during the winter, his body was put in a warehouse until the spring came and the man was buried. In his
opinion, the summers were the opposite and extremely hot.
Most of the POWs who died in the camp died because the Japanese would not distribute the
Red Cross boxes to them. When the boxes were received the Japanese looted them before storing them in a
As the war went on the POWs saw American planes. On one occasion, a formation of
B-29s bombed Japanese ammunition dumps that were in line with the camp. One bomb hit a barracks in the camp
killing twenty POWs. Later, the POWs learned that this was because the ammunition dumps were close to the
At the end of the war, Orvis was liberated by the Russian Army. The Russians made the
Japanese go through a formal surrender ceremony in front of the former POWs. The POWs were the guests of
honor at the ceremony.
In a letter home, he wrote that during his time as a POW, he saw a great deal of death, and
that death was something that he lived with everyday. The one thing that he hoped to do was learn to smile
After he was liberated, Orvis suffered from his years as a prisoner. He would have
vision problems the rest of his life because of the lack of vitamins while a POW, and it was later discovered
that he had tuberculosis. He also had to have all his teeth pulled out because of damaged done to them
while a POW.
After being liberated, Orvis wrote a letter home.
"You asked about the Luther boys. There is not much hope for them. They were aboard a
Japanese prisoner and troop transport that was sunk two days out of Manila. We have a few survivors here
in this camp with us."
"I am the only member of A Company at this camp. Life was pretty rough as a
prisoner. But it's all over now and I have many things to look forward to."
From the camp, the POWs were sent to Darien, China, and taken by ship to the
Philippines. After receiving medical treatment, Orvis was boarded onto the
S.S. Simon Bolivar
and arrived at San Francisco on October 21, 1945. After arriving he was sent to Letterman General Hospital
for further medical treatment before returning home.
He married Dora Lee Hurst on November 9, 1945, in Owensboro, Kentucky. She was a
cousin of Arch & Edwin Rue of D and HQ Companies. Orvis returned to Janesville and was discharged from
the army on July 9, 1946. He and his wife resided in Janesville where he spent the rest of his life and
worked as a machinist at Gibbs Manufacturing Company.
Orvis Rinehart passed away on January 3, 1973, after a long battle with tuberculosis. He
was 56 years old and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville, Wisconsin.