Sgt. James Herman Schultz
Sgt. James H. Schultz was one of the six children of Herman A. Schultz
& Norma E. Davis-Schultz and was born on February 10, 1923, in Milton Junction, Wisconsin. He attended
grade school there and was a graduate of Milton Union High School.
On November 29, 1940, James joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in an armory in Janesville. Four days earlier, the company had been federalized and was preparing for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Since a draft act had just been passed, James may have been attempting to fulfill his military obligation.
By train the company arrived at Ft. Knox and spent nearly a year in
training. 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.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion, took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers, James and the other members of the battalion were kept at the fort. They had no idea why. On the side of a hill, they were informed they were being sent overseas.
The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S. A. T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27t. 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, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and
had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. The tanks were put on full alert around the airfield. At 8:30 A.M., American planes took off to intercept any Japanese planes. Sometime before noon, the planes landed, to be refueled,and were lined up near the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
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 what was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes. It was when the raindrops began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew they were Japanese.
The members of A Company lived through the bombing of Clark Field. 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 most of the Japanese planes did not attack the tanks. The
few that did had their bombs land between the tanks.
That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks
since it was safer then sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in
a bed for the next three and one half years.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of
Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed. The company
returned to the command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
On another occasion the company was in bivouac on two sides of a road. They posted sentries and most of the tankers attempted to get some sleep. The sentries heard noise down the road and woke the company. Every man grabbed a weapon. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. The tankers opened fire with everything they had. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.
It was February, that James and the other soldiers on Bataan learned their fate. Six days later he wrote a letter to his family. In it, he said:
"I am OK and hope the same for everyone there. Even though we are in the Bataan jungles we heard the president's speech on February 22. There isn't much I can say about this whole thing, but we feel as though some day we will be back. Remember, no news is good news."
What James did not mention in his letter was the fact that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had stated in his speech that for the war to be won some Americans would be sacrificed. James and the other soldiers knew the president was speaking of them.
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.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched an all out attack, with fresh
troops from Shanghai, 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.
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.
Sometime after arriving at Mariveles, it was decided by the Japanese that the group of POWs that James was a member of should be used to rebuild bridges that had been destroyed by the retreating Americans. James and the other men were taken to Calauan. After they finished the bridge there, they were sent to Batangas and later Candaleria.
This detail was exceptional in the sense that the Japanese commanding officer and his second in command both treated the Americans well. They made sure that the prisoners were well fed and gave them liberties that were unheard of under the Japanese. When the detail ended, James was sent to Cabanatuan.
A month after his capture, James's family received news he was considered Missing in Action. It would be almost a year before they learned that he was being held as a POW.
In August 1942, James's family received the letter he had written on February 28, 1942. As it turned out, it would be the only letter they received from him.
On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected James and other POWs for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao. He and the other POWs were loaded onto the Erie Maru and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28. When the camp was closed, one group of POWs remained at Davao at the penal colony and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to Lasang, on November 7, and spent the next twenty months building runways. James was part of a work detail of POWs building runways at a Japanese airfield near Lasang, Mindanao.
At the camp, the POWs were housed in eight barracks that were about 148 feet long and
about 16 feet wide. A four foot wide aisle ran down the center of each barracks. In each barracks, were
eighteen bays. Twelve POWs shared a bay. 216 POWs lived in each barracks. Four cages were later
put in a bay. Each cage held two POWs.
At first, the work details were not guarded. The POWs plowed, planted, and harvested the crops, while the sick POWs made baskets. In April 1943, the POWs working conditions varied. Those working the rice fields received the worst treatment. They were beaten for not meeting quotas, misunderstandings between the POWs and guards, and a translator who could not be trusted to tell the truth.
One night the POWs heard the sound of a plane. From the sound of the engine, they knew it was American. It was the first American plane they had heard in over two years. As the plane dove on the airfield, it dropped four bombs at the far end of the runway; the POWs celebrated silently. On June 6, 1944, some of the POWs were sent to Manila, while the remainder of the men stayed on the island until August 19, 1944.
Over the next two weeks, the atmosphere at the airfield changed. The Japanese posted guards with bayonets on their rifles by the POW barracks as air raids became daily. The Japanese camouflaged the airfield and hid their planes in revetments. The POWs heard rumors that the Americans had landed at Palau.
During this time, the POWs rations were cut to a single cup of rice a day. The POWs were now so hungry that they raided the Japanese garbage pile for remnants of vegetables. Many ate the weeds that grew inside the camp until it was bare.
Air raids soon were nightly events. Japanese planes flying out of the airfield were loaded with bombs and carried extra gasoline tanks. Finally, all work on the airfield was stopped.
On that day, the POWs were lined up by fours. The outside men had rope tied to their wrists to prevent escape. They were marched shoeless to the Tabunco Pier and arrived at noon. They were packed into the two holds of the Erie Maru. 400 POWs were in the first hold while the remaining 350 POWs were put in the second hold. In addition, several tons of Japanese baggage were packed into the hold. Around six that evening, the ship sailed.
As the ship made its way north it swayed in the waves. Many of the prisoners became seasick. They retched when they tried to throw up since there was no food in their stomachs. The next day, the POWs heard the sound of a plane. An American plane flew over the ship. Moments later bombs exploded near the ship. The sound of machine gun fire was heard by the POWs. The Japanese once again tied down the hatch covers cutting off the air. Over the next three days, there were several more alerts. Each time the hatch covers were battened down leaving the POWs in darkness.
On August 24, the ship arrived in Zamboanga where it waited for ten days until the Shinyo Maru arrived. The POWs were not allowed out of the holds and the conditions in the ship's holds were terrible. The holds were hot and steamy and the floors were covered with human waste. Twice during this time, they were allowed on deck and showered with fire hoses. In addition, the longer the POWs were in the holds the stench became worse.
It should be noted that the United States had intercepted the order from Japanese command sending the Shinyo Maru to Zamboanga. Someone misinterpreted the order as saying the ship would be transporting "750 military personnel" instead of "750 military prisoners" to Manila, so the U.S.S. Paddle was sent to the area to intercept the ship.
On September 4, the POWs were transferred onto the Shinyo Maru. 250 POWs were put into the ship's smaller hold, while the 500 POWs were its larger hold. That night, bombs from American planes landed alongside of the ship rocking and shaking it. The POWs prayed for the ship would be hit.
The ship sailed on September 5 at 2:00 a.m. Before the ship sailed, the hatch covers were secured so that the POWs could not lift them from below. The ship headed north in a zigzag pattern in an attempt to avoid submarines. The POWs were no longer allowed on deck. Their lips and throats were covered with dust from cement that had previously been hauled by the ship.
For the next two days the ship made good time. It was at this time that the Japanese
guards threatened to kill the POWs if the ship came under attack by American submarines. The ship was now
part of a convoy designated as C-076. Since the POWs had not heard any air raid alerts, they assumed that
they were safe.
Of the 750 POWs who were boarded onto the ship, 82 POWs escaped. One man died on shore while the remainder were rescued by Filipino guerillas and returned to U.S. Forces in October 1944. Sgt. James H. Schultz was not one of these men.
Sgt. James H. Schultz, along with 667 other POWs, died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru. He was 23 years old. Since he was lost at sea, the name of Sgt. James H. Schultz appears on one of the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery in Manila.