Woodson_J

 

1st Lt. Jack Thurston Woodson


Born: 17 September 1917 - Vinita, Oklahoma
Parents: Charles W. & Winifred Woodson
Siblings: 1 brother

Hometown: Vinita, Oklahoma

Education:

    - University of Oklahoma

        - Bachelors Degree - Electrical Engineering
    - ROTC
        - joined to earn extra money
Occupation:
    - Electrical Engineer - Southwestern Light & Power Company, Lawton, Oklahoma

Inducted:

    - April 1941
        - Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma

Unit:

    - 19th Ordnance Battalion
        - trained with 1st Armor Division
    - 17th Ordnance Company
        - created from one company of 19th Ordnance

Training:

    - Ft. Knox, Kentucky
        - 19th Ordnance Battalion
            - learned maintenance on 57 different vehicles
            - trained on gun maintenance
        - 17th Ordnance Company
            - August 1941 - created from one company of 19th Ordnance
            - received orders for overseas duty
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
            - company learned they were going to the Philippines on the train

            - rode in the cupola of the caboose
            - 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
     - Ship: U.S.S. President Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day

            - officers had a suite

            - meals were civilian meals
                - ship had just been converted for military use

        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.

            - swam at Wiikaki Beach

            - toured the island
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria,  and an unknown destroyer

            - during voyage the ships operated as if they were at war

                - no lights were allowed at night
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships

                    - ships were from friendly countries

            - never celebrated his birthday

                - Tuesday - 16 September 1941 - ship crossed International Dateline
                    - went to bed, when he woke up it was Thursday, 18 September 1941

                    - his birthday had been skipped
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
            - maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets

                - slept on ship that night
                - 27 September 1941 - job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941

            - officers were assigned to 2 men tents
            - first night in tents it rained and area flooded

Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1942 - 6 January 1942
            - 8 December 1942 - lived through Japanese attack on Clark Field

                - Jack was at breakfast when they heard the news about Pearl Harbor on a radio on his table

                    - ate breakfast and went bivouac

                - no maps

                    - someone went Manila and bought road maps

                    - on the map they saw a bamboo thicket they could disperse vehicles

                    - company set up bivouac

                        - set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks

                - received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg

        12:45 P.M. - Japanese attacked

            - manned a .50 caliber machine gun a

                - was about to fire when his commanding officer ordered him not to

                - said the planes were Filipino

                - none of the soldiers had been trained in plane recognition
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
            - serviced tanks of the Provisional Tank Group
            - company headquarters was housed in ordnance depot building
                - building had been completed empty of ordnance
            - heard President Roosevelt on radio
It was at this time that the tank battalion commanders received this order, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished."
            - 10:30 P.M. - Gen. Edward P. King announced that further resistance would result the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded and 40,000
              civilians
            - less than 25% of his troops were healthy enough to continue fighting
            - he estimated they could hold out one more day
            - sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan
            - 11:40 P.M. - ammunition dumps blown up

Prisoner of War:
    - 9 April 1942
        - men received word of the surrender from Capt. Richard Kadel
        - prepared a meal with all their remaining food
        - moved to a pass and waited for the Japanese
           - while there, they were strafed and bombed by Japanese planes

    - 10 April 1941

        - Death March

            - POWs start march at Mariveles at southern tip of Bataan

                - remained there for half a day before they started march
            - Japanese told them to sit at one point
                - they were in front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor

                - American artillery returned fire
            - Filipinos threw them ball of rice as they passed through barrios
                - one was shot at by Japanese
            - saw a Japanese soldier put the barrow of his gun under a Filipino child being held by his father
                - guard pulled the trigger
            - POWs not fed for days

        - San Fernando

            - POWs packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane

            - each boxcar could hold 40 men or eight horses

            - Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar

            - POWs who died remained standing

        - Capas

            - POWs left boxcars

            - dead fall to floor

            - POWs walked the 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 covered with lime to clean it
                - the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped and covered 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
        - Japanese opened new POW camp to lower death rate
            - 1 June 1942 - POWs formed detachments of 100 men
                - POWs marched out gate and marched toward Capas
                    - Filipino people gave POWs small bundles of food
                        - the guards did not stop them
                - At Capas, the POWs were put into steel boxcars and rode them to Manila
                - train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
                    - POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a school yard
                    - fed rice and onion soup         
        - Cabanatuan #1
            - original name - Camp Panagaian
                - Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
                    - put into use by Japanese as a 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
                            - 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
        - Meals:
            - 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

            - hospitalized - 30 March 1943 - malaria
                 - discharged -no date given
            - 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:

    - Coral Maru

        - also known as Taga Maru 

         - Sailed: Manila -  20 September 1943

        - Arrived: Takao, Formosa - 23 September 1943

        - Sailed: Takao - 26 September 1943

        - Arrived: Moji, Japan - 5 October 1943
POW Camps:

    - Japan:

        - Tsumori Camp
            - 9 October 1943 - arrived at camp

            - 22 March 1945

                - Japanese found a hidden radio in a barracks

                - 13 officers and 6 enlisted men forced to stand at rigid attention for hours
                - beaten with clubs until knocked down

                    - ordered to stand at attention again

                    - beaten again until they were knocked down again
                - forced to kneel on bamboo poles
                    - upper part of their bodies had to be rigidly erect
                    - as they knelt they were slapped in the face

                - Jack was mentioned as one of the POWs beaten

                    - after the war when he gave testimony, he never mentioned that he was beaten
            - Red Cross packages appropriated by Japanese
            - 30 March 1945 - transferred

        - Oeyama Camp #3D

            - Work: Nickel Refinery
                - some of the POWs later worked at Miyazu Harbor

Liberated: 2 September 1945
    - returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
        - U.S.S. Storm King
            - Sailed: Manila - not known
            - Arrived: San Francisco - 15 October 1945
                - taken to Letterman General Hospital

Wife: Margaret

Children: 1 daughter, 1 son

Residence:

     - Lee's Summit, Missouri

     - Independence, Missouri

Died:

 - 2 March 2011 - Independence, Missouri

Buried:

   - Longview Memorial Garden - Kansas City, Missouri 


 

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