Theriac



Pvt. Regis Mart Theriac

Born: 13 November 1918 - Vincennes, Knox County, Indiana

Parents: Guy B. Theriac & Yodus H. Coleman-Theriac

Siblings: 5 sisters, 4 brothers

Hometown: Vincennes, Indiana

    - lived in Johnson, Indiana - 1930 

Occupation: farmhand

Inducted:

    - 9 January 1941 - Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana
        - inducted with James Flaitz and John Crago

Training: 

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky

        - tank mechanic

Unit: 

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion
        - learned to repair 57 vehicles used by the Army
        - August 1941 - took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
            - A Company ordered back to Ft. Knox
    - 17th Ordnance Company
       - 17 August 1941 - A Company designated 17th Ordnance Company
            - received orders overseas on same day
Note: The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  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 which was hundred of miles away.  The island had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
     When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore.  Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:
         - traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
            - arrived: Thursday, 5 September 1941
        - ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
            - given physicals and inoculations
            - men with medical conditions replaced
        - removed turrets from tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
            - spray painted tanks' serial numbers on turrets so they could be put on the correct tank body

Overseas Duty: 

    - Ship: S.S. President Calvin 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

            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
        - Tuesday - 16 September 1941 - crossed International Dateline
            - date became - Thursday - 18 September 1941
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
        - 17th Ordnance unloaded tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
    - Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 

Stationed: 

    - Philippine Islands

        - 26 September 1941

Engagements:

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942

    - Battle of Bataan

        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced tanks of 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
            - headquartered in abandoned ordnance depot building 

Prisoner of War:

    - 9 April 1942

        - Death March

            - started march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
            - POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
                - American Artillery returned fire
                    - knocked out three Japanese guns
            - San Fernando - POWs put into small wooden
boxcars
                - each car could hold eight horses or forty men
                - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
                - POWs who died remained standing
            - Capas - POWs leave boxcars - dead fall out of cars
                - walked last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell

POW Camps:

    - Philippine Islands:

        - Camp O'Donnell
            - 1 April 1942 - unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp
                - Japanese believed the camp could hold 15,000 to 20,000 POWs
            - POWs searched upon arrival at camp
                - those found with Japanese money were accused of looting
                - sent to guardhouse
                - over several days, gun shots heard southeast of the camp
                    - POWs who had money on them had been executed
            - Japanese took away any extra clothing from POWs as they entered the camp and refused to return it
                - since no water was available for wash clothing, the POWs threw soiled clothing away
                - clothing was taken from dead
                - few of the POWs in the camp hospital had clothing
            - POWs were not allowed to bathe
            - only one water spigot for entire camp
                - POWs waited 2 hours to 8 hours to get a drink
                    - water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for water to be turned on again
                    - mess kits could not be cleaned
                - POWs had to carry water 3 miles from a river to cook their meals
                - second water spigot installed a week after POWs arrived
            - slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
                - flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
            - camp hospital had no water, soap, or disinfectant
            - the senior POW doctor wrote a list of medicines he wanted to treat the sick and was told by the camp commandant, Capt. Yoshio
              Tsuneyoshi, never to write another letter
                - Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was their names and numbers when they died
                - refused to allow a truckload of medicine sent by the Archbishop of Manila into the camp
                - 95% of the medicine sent by Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
            - POWs in camp hospital lay on floor elbow to elbow
            - operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
            - only one medic out of six assigned to care for 50 sick POWs, in the hospital, was well enough to work
            - as many as 50 POWs died each day
                - each morning dead were found everywhere in the camp and stacked up under the hospital
                - ground under hospital was scrapped and cover with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and cover with lime
                - usually not buried for two or three days
            - work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
                - POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
                    - to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
                    - the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs
            -POWs volunteered to go out on work details to get out of camp
        - Cabanatuan
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
            - camp had been opened to lower death rate among POWs
            - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                - Japanese put base into use as POW camp
                - actually three camps
                    - Camp 1: POWs from Camp O'Donnell sent there in attempt to lower death rate
                    - Camp 2:  two miles away
                        - all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
                        - later used for Naval POWs
                    - Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
                        - POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
                        - camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
                        - Corregidor POWs were in better shape
                            - January 1943 - POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
        - Camp Administration:
            - the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
                - Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
                - POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
                    - Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
                    - Japanese beat them for days
                    - executed them
            - Blood Brother Rule
                - POWs put into groups of ten
                    - if one escaped the others would be executed
                    - housed in same barracks
                    - worked on details together
            - Barracks:
                - each barracks held 50 men
                    - often held between 60 and 120 men
                    - slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, and mosquito netting
                        - diseases spread easily
                    - no showers
            - Morning Roll Call:
                - stood at attention
                    - frequently beaten over their heads for no reason
                - when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in
                  their shins with their hobnailed boots because they didn't like the way the POWs lined up

            - Work Details:
                - Two main details
                    - the farm and airfield
                        - farm detail
                            - POWs cleared land and grew comotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
                            - Japanese took what was grown
                    - Guards:
                        - Big Speedo - spoke little English
                            - in charge of detail
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                            - spoke little English
                                - to get POWs to work faster said, "speedo"
                        - Little Speedo
                            - also used "speedo" when he wanted POWs to work faster
                            - fair in treatment of POWs
                        - Smiley
                            - always smiling
                            - could not be trusted
                            - meanest of guards
            - Airfield Detail:
                - Japanese built an airfield for fighters
                    - POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
                        - at first moved dirt in wheel barrows
                        - later pushed mining cars
                   - Guards:
                        - Air Raid
                            - in charge
                            - usually fair but unpredictable
                                - had to watch him
                        - Donald Duck
                            - always talking
                            - sounded like the cartoon character
                            - unpredictable - beat POWs
                            - POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
                                - at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
                                - POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
                - Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
                    - worked 6 days a week
                        - had Sunday off
            - Other Details:
                - work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
                    - they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
                - POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on
                - the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
                - if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn't doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
                - many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
            - daily POW meal
                - 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
                - rice was main staple, few vegetables or fruits
        - Camp Hospital:
            - 30 Wards
                - each ward could hold 40 men
                    - frequently had 100 men in each
               - two tiers of bunks
                   - sickest POWs on bottom tier
               - each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
            - Zero Ward
                - given name because it had been missed when counting wards
                - became ward where those who were going to die were sent
                - fenced off from other wards
                    - Japanese guards would not go near it
                    - POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
                    - medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
                    - many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
        - Burial Detail:
            - POWs worked in teams of four men to bury dead
                - carried as many as six dead POWs in slings to cemetery
                - buried in graves that contained 16 to 20 bodies

Hell Ship:

    - Tottori Maru

            - Note: 

                - 1961 POWs boarded - 7 October 1942

                - POWs divided into two groups. One group remained on deck other

                  went into ship's hold POWs not fed for two weeks

                - voyage to Korea should have taken eight days but took 30 days

                   because of American

                  submarines

        - Sailed: Manila - 8 October 1942

            - American submarine fires two torpedoes at ship

            - ship passes mine laid by submarine 

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 12 October 1942

        - Sailed: Takao - 16 October 1942

            - returned to Takao

        - Sailed: 18 October 1942

        - Arrived: Pescadores Islands -same day

            - remained anchored  for several days

            - two POWs died

        - Sailed: 27 October 1942

        - Arrived: Takao - 27 October 1942

             - 28 October 1942 - POWs taken ashore and showered   

        - Sailed: 30 October 1942 

        - Arrived: Makou Island in Pecadores Islands - same day

        - Sailed: 31 October 1942

        - Arrived: Pusan, Korea - 7 November 1942

            - Note:

                 - POWs took a two day train trip to Mukden, Manchuria

                 - arrived - 11 November 1942
POW Camp:

    - Mukden, Manchuria

        - Shenyang Sub-camp

Liberated: September 1945 - Russian Army
    - returned to the Philippine Islands

Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Transport:
    - U.S.S. Tryon
        - Sailed: not known
        - Arrived: San Francisco - 24 October 1945
            - taken to Letterman General Hospital
            - sent to hospital closer to home

Hospitalized: 

    - tuberculosis - in hospital until discharged

Discharged:

    - February 1947

Married: Fern L. Baker - 17 June 1947

Children: 2 sons

Residence: Wheatland, Indiana

Occupation: machinist - Crane Naval Depot

Died: 28 February 2003 - Vincennes, Indiana

Buried:

    - Memorial Park Cemetery - Vincennes, Indiana




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