Swearingen_R

 

 

 

2nd Lt. Russell Leroy Swearingen
Born: 27 June 1914 - Groton, South Dakota
Parents: William Swearingen & Cora Carper-Swearingen
Siblings: 3 sisters, 5 brothers
Married: Eleanor H. Palmer - 30 June 1939
Children: 1 daughter, 1 son, 1 step-daughter, 1 step-son
Home: 1305 Pine Street - Brainerd, Minnesota
Occupation: chief caretaker - armory
Enlisted: Minnesota National Guard
Inducted:
    • - U. S. Army
      • - 10 February 1941 - Brainard, Minnesota
Training:
    • -Fort Lewis, Washington
      • - went to Ft. Lewis as a Staff Sergeant
Duties:
    • - Chief Mechanic
Unit:
    • - 194th Tank Battalion
      • - assigned to HQ Company -  transportation officer
Note: On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  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, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next morning, by the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since communication between and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:

    • Ship: U.S.S. President Coolidge
      • - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
      • - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
      • - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
      • - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
      •     - sailed south away from main shipping lanes
        - escorted by the heavy cruiser - U.S.S. Astoria
            - smoke seen on horizon several times
            -  cruiser intercepted ships
            - ships from friendly countries

      • - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
        • - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
        • - taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
        • - Ft. Stotsenburg Philippines lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941
Engagements:
    • - Battle of Luzon
      • - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942
      • - 12 December 1941 - shot down Japanese Zero
    • - Battle of Bataan
      • - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
      • - 26 January 1942 - Banibani Road
        • - Swearingen picked up nickname "Kid Marathon"
        • - He and a driver had come up the road with a wrecker parked it, he got out and began walking up the road at the same time, the battalion was ordered to withdraw from their positions suddenly the tanks began speeding past him in the opposite direction. Miller's half-track was the last vehicle and sped passed Swearingen. Swearingen ran after the half-track yelling, "Hey, you guys, wait for me!" Miller's half-track stopped and waited for him.  Swearingen had a smile on his face that went from ear to ear.
      • - March 1942
        • - Two tanks were bogged down in mud. The tankers were working to get them out. Japanese Regiment entered the area. Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range. Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire wiped out Japanese regiment
      • - 3 April 1942
        • - 3:00 P.M. - Japanese lunched major offensive
      • - 8 April 1942
        • - 10:30 P.M. - decision made to send white flag across battle line to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
        • - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up the tankers received this message over their radios at 6:45 A.M.
      • - 9 April 1942
        • - circled tanks and fired an armor piercing shell into each tank's engine
        • - opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into crew compartment
Prisoner of War:
    • - 9 April 1945
      • - received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
      • - Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
      • - Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
    • - 10 April 1942
      • - 7:00 P.M. - started march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
      • - 3:00 A.M. - halted and rested for an hour
      • - 4:00 A.M. - resume march
        • at times slipped on remains of dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
    • - 11 April 1942
      • - 8:00 A.M. - reached Lamao
        • allowed to forage for food
      • - 9:00 A.M. - resumed march
      • - Noon - reached Limay and main road
        • - officers, majors and up, separated from lower ranking officers and enlisted men
    • - Death March
      • - 4:00 P.M officers put on trucks
      • - officers arrived at Balanga
      • - Japanese find handgun in field bag of an officer
        • - he was clubbed and bayoneted
        • - because of this they were not fed
      • - Dusk - officers ordered to form ranks and marched
        • - marched through Abucay and Samal
    • - 12 April 1942
      • - 3:00 A.M. - officers reached Orani 
        • - herded into a fenced in area and ordered to lie down
        • - in morning found they had been lying in human waste
        • - latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
      • - Noon - fed rice and salt
        • - first meal
      • - Afternoon - lower ranking officers and enlisted men arrive at Orani
      • - 6:30 P.M. - ordered to form 100 men detachments
        • - POWs marched at faster pace fewer breaks
        • - when given break, the POWs sat on road
        • - North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement made march easier
    • - 13 April 1942
      • - 2:00 A.M. - POWs given an hour rest on road
        • - those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
        • - POWs march through Layac and Lurao
        • - rains - POWs drank as much as they could
      • - 4:30 P.M. - reached San Fernando
        • - POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
        • - one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
        • - pottery jars of water given out the same way
    • - 14 April 1942
      • - 4:00 A.M. - POWs awakened
        • - formed detachments of 100 men and marched to train station
        • - POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
        • - each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
        • - 100 POWs packed into each car
        • - POWs who died remained standing
      • - 9:00 A.M. - Capas - dead fell to floor as living left boxcars
        • - as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
        • - also gave them water
        • - POWs walked last 8 kilometers to Camp O'Donnell
POW Camps:
    • - Camp O'Donnell
      • - unfinished Filipino Army training base
      • -one water spigot for the entire camp
        • - men literally died waiting for a drink of water
      • - death rate among POWs rises to as many as 50 POWs a day
      • - burial detail works day and night to bury the dead
    • - Cabanatuan
      • - Japanese opened camp in an attempt to lower the death rate among the POWs
      •   - assigned to Barracks #29 - officers' barracks
Hell Ship:
    • - Nagato Maru
      • - Sailed: Manila - 4 November 1942
      • - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 11 November 1942
      • - Sailed: 17 November 1942
      • - Arrived: Pesacadores Islands - 17 November 1942
      • - Sailed: 18 November 1942
      • - Arrived: Keelung, Formosa - 18 November 1942
      • - Sailed: 20 November 1942
      • - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 24 November 1942
POW Camps: Liberated: 7 September 1945
    • -returned to the Philippine Islands
Promoted: 1st Lieutenant
Transport:
    • - U.S.S. Storm King
      • - Sailed: not known
      • - Arrived: San Francisco, California - 15 October 1945
        • - taken to Letterman General Hospital
Discharged: 26 September 1946
Occupation:
    • - operated his own appliance repair business
Died: 23 October 2001 - Crosby, Minnesota
Buried:
  • Lakewood Cemetery - Crosby, Minnesota
    • Plot: I 350



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