Capt. Arthur J. Root
Capt. Arthur J. Root was born to Oscar Root & Margaret Sharpe-Root on August 24, 1917, in Brainerd, Minnesota. He attended local schools and graduated from Washington High School in Brainerd in 1936. On May 24, 1939, he married Harriet Alice Eide. The couple resided with his parents at 220 Southwest 5th Street. He worked as a salesman in a retail store.
On June 10,
1936, he had joined the Minnesota National Guard
in Brainerd. His company was federalized
in November 1940, and he was promoted to 2nd
Lieutenant on February 10, 1941, as the company
was leaving for Fort Lewis, Washington.
The tank company was now A Company, 194th Tank
Battalion. At Ft. Lewis he trained with
his tank company, as a tank platoon commander,
for a little over six months.
The battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason, in San Francisco, and were ferried on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island, Arthur and the other members of the battalion received physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands. Those determined to be too old for overseas duty were reassigned. Replacements joined the battalion at this point.
On September 8, 1941, the battalion sailed for the Philippine Islands at 9:00 P.M. on the S.S. President Calvin Cooledge and at 7:00 AM on Sunday, September 13th, arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii. The tankers were allowed ashore but had to report back in the afternoon. The ship sailed again at 5:00 PM. and took a southerly route away from the major shipping lanes and was joined by the heavy cruiser the U.S.S. Astoria. During this part of the trip, the cruiser took off, several times, to intercept ships when smoke was spotted on the horizon. Each time it turned out the ship was from a friendly country.
The 194th arrived in
the Philippines on September 26th. After
entering Manila Bay, the ranking officers met
with a boarding party and decided the 194th and
17th Ordnance would be taken by bus to Ft.
Stotsenburg, about 60 miles north of
Manila. The maintenance section of the
battalion remained behind to unload tanks.
Since the commanding officer of the
instillation, General Edward King had not
received advanced warning of the arrival
of the units, the tankers found themselves
living in tents along the main road between Ft.
Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield. At some
point, he became the commanding officer of A
For over two months, the battalion trained at Ft. Stotsenburg awaiting for additional training to take place with the arrival of the 192nd Tank Battalion. The M-3 tanks that they now had were totally new to the tankers, so training in them would be beneficial. The training they would receive was not what they expected. It is known that the 194th were allowed to simulate deployment against an invasion force in early November 1941.
Arthur and the other tankers engaged
the Japanese in battle after battle.
Often, the tanks were the last unit to disengage
from the enemy. Meals for the crews
consisted of two meals a day. The longer
they held out, their food rations were cut
further. It is known that on December 24,
1941, he was promoted to 1st
Lieutenant, and that he was promoted to
Captain on February 11, 1942. At some
point he wrote home and said:
Arthur was able to send a
telegram home on April 4, 1942. In it he
said, "Everything OK, I am
well, eating well. Love, Arthur." When Bataan was surrendered to
the Japanese, he became a Prisoner of War.
The POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the
Provisional Tank Group. It was from there
that they were marched to join the main column
of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
work detail ended, Arthur was sent to
Cabanatuan. It was in the camp that his
wife was notified that he was a POW on May
27, 1943. It
is known that on Monday, August 23, 1943, Arthur
was admitted into the camp hospital. The
report kept by the hospital staff did not indicate
why he was admitted or when he was
discharged. On October 14, 1944, a list was
posted in the camp with the names of the POWs who
were being transferred to Bilibid Prison outside
Manila. Arthur's name was on it.
The POWs were allowed to sit. Many fell asleep and slept to around 3:45. About 5:00 P.M., the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru for transport to Korea. It is not known in which hold Frank was put in. The sides of the holds had two tiers of bunks that went around the diameter. It is known that 700 POWs were put in aft hold, 600 POWs were put in forward hold, and 300 POWs were put in the amidships hold. The POWs near the hatch used anything they could find to fan the air to the POWs further away from it.
ship left Manila on December 14th, at about
3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound
for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the
water, the POWs could tell that the ship was
in open water.
The POWs heard the change in
the planes' engines sound as they began their
dive toward the ships in the convoy.
Explosions were taking place all around the
POWs. Bullets from the planes
ricocheted in to the hold causing many
casualties. In all, the POWs would have
to sweat out five air raids. The one
result of the raid was no evening meal.
After the first air raid, the
ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the
water. The fighters went after the other
ships in the convoy. The moaning and
muttering of men who were losing their minds
kept the POWs up all night. That night 25
POWs died in the hold. The ship reached
Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning. It was a
suitable landing place.
time after midnight, the POWs heard noise on
deck as women and children were
unloaded. During the night, the medics
in the ship's holds were ordered out on deck
to treat the Japanese wounded. One of
the medics recalled the dead, dying, and
wounded were everywhere.
At 8:00 AM, a Japanese
guard yelled to the POWs, "All go home;
also shouted that the wounded would be the
first to be evacuated. The pilots had
no idea that the ship was carrying
It should be mentioned that one of the effects of Arthur's death was that his mother suffered so badly from grief at the loss of her only child. She ended up in a sanatorium.