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
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.
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
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
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.
At 7:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 1944, the U.S.S Paddle spotted the convoy off the west coast of Mindanao at Sindangan Point. It fired two torpedoes at the ship. The first torpedo hit the ship in its main hold. Moments later, a second torpedo hit the ship. There was a gapping hole in the ship's side. Those POWs still alive saw the bodies of the dead floating in the water as the hold filled with water.
The POWs found that the hatch cover had been blown off the hold by the explosion. As the water level rose, they were able to climb out. Seven Japanese officers were on the bridge with rifles. As the POWs emerged from the hold, they picked them off. The lucky POWs made it through their fire and dove into the water.
The POWs in the smaller hold were also wounded from the torpedo hits. But, the hold remained dry. Many of these POWs also were able to make it onto the deck and attempted to swim to shore. As they swam, they were fired upon by the same seven Japanese officers.
According to the POWs in the water, the Shinyo Maru began to capsize. There was a tremendous crushing sound and the ship seemed to bend upward in the middle. It split in two and sunk into the water.
Japanese seaplanes dropped depth charges in an attempt to sink the American submarine. The good thing about the depth charges was that they kept sharks away from the POWs. When the Japanese planes spotted the POWs in the water, they strafed them. They stopped when they realized that there were Japanese in the water too.
A Japanese tanker that had been hit by torpedoes spilled oil and gasoline into the water. The ship ran aground. The Japanese quickly set up machineguns and fired on the POWs. Boats from the other ships in the convoy attempted to hunt down the POWs swimming in the water. If they found a man, they shot him. What saved many lives was that with dusk it became harder for the Japanese to see them.
The Japanese announced to the Americans that if they surrendered that they would be treated with compassion. About 30 men gave up after hearing this. According to one man who escaped after surrendering, the POWs had their hands tied to the ship's rail, and the Japanese shot each POW in the back of the head. They then pushed the bodies overboard.
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.