Aikin, Pvt. James T.

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Pvt. James Taylor Aikin
Born: 11 December 1926 – Hardin County, Kentucky
Nickname: “Ted”
Parents: Samuel & Minola Aikin
Siblings: 3 sisters, 2 brothers
Home: Hardin County, Kentucky
– U.S. Army
– 1941
-lied about his age – only fifteen years old
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– first six weeks was the primary training
– Week 1: infantry drilling
– Week 2: manual arms and marching to music
– Week 3: machine gun
– Week 4: pistol
– Week 5: M1 rifle
– Week 6: field week – training with gas masks, gas attacks, pitching tents, and hikes
– Weeks 7,8,9: Time was spent learning the weapons, firing each one, learning the parts of the weapons and their functions, field stripping and caring for
   weapons, and the cleaning of weapons
– the company
Classroom: courses lasted 3 months
– Weapons: soldiers assigned to ordnance issued a pistol, and possibly a machine gun or submachine gun
– Vehicle Training: soldiers attended different schools
– tank maintenance, truck maintenance, scout car maintenance, motorcycle maintenance, and carpentry
– Company’s machine shop, welding shop, and kitchen were all on trucks
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– trained alongside 192nd Tank Battalion
– learned to repair the 57 vehicles used by the Army
– August 1941 – took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
– 17th Ordnance Company
– A Company, 19th Ordnance designated 17th Ordnance Company
– received orders to go overseas the 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 a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds 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:
– 4 September 1941
– the company traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 5 September 1941
– rode the train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island
– given physicals and inoculated by battalion’s medical detachment
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – the same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – the same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked ship – 3:00 P.M.
– 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
-27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
– Ft. Stotsenburg – Philippine Islands
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced the tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs start march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– Ted ate toothpaste powder and used iodine to purify water
– at one point, he witnessed an American beheaded with a bayonet
– the Japanese struck the man’s head on a pole
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or forty men
– 100 POWs packed into each car
– POWs who died remained standing
– Capas – dead fell to the floor as living left boxcars
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– Camp O’Donnell
– unfinished Filipino training base
– Japanese put camp into use as POW Camp
– only one water spigot for entire camp
– as many as 50 POWs died each day
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower death rate
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out the 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
– the train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembark the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– arrived at Cabanatuan
– Cabanatuan
– original name: Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell
– Camp 2: four 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 1:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– 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
– 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 to drive them deeper into the mud
– 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
– to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp’s fence
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
– the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– Barracks:
– each barracks built for 50 POWs
– 60 to 120 POWs were held in each one
– POWs slept on bamboo strips
– no showers
– Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on the bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6-foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given the 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
– POWs were taken by truck to Bilibid Prison – 28 October 1942
– many deaths caused by malnutrition
– others became ill because of lack of bedding, covers, and mosquito netting
Hell Ship:
Nagato Maru
– Boarded: 6 November 1942
– Sailed: Manila – 7 November 1942
– three-ship convoy
– submarine attacked convoy
– Japanese put hatch covers on holds
– POWs felt depth charges explosions through hauls
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 November 1942
– Sailed: 14 November 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands
– remained off islands because of a storm for two days
– lice spread among POWs
– Sailed: 18 November 1942
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – 18 November 1942
– Sailed: 20 November 1942
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – 24 November 1942
Disembarked: 25 November 1942
– POWs deloused, showered, fed, and issued new clothes
– POWs boarded a train and rode to POW camp
– Arrived: 26 November 1942
POW Camp:
– Japan:
Tokyo #16-B
– also known as the Brickyard
– Barracks:
– two-floor wooden building
– American POWs lived on the bottom floor
– British POWs lived on the top floor
– Work:
– POWs produced 6,000 bricks a day
– Meals:
– soup, koaling, tea
– fried fish every five days
– during his time in the camp, he was tied to a tree and beaten for 3 hours
– Red Cross Boxes:
– POWs considered working hard got a full box
– others received half of a box
– Transferred: not known
– Tokyo #16-B
– Work: carbide mill – POWs made carbide rods
– owned by Showa K+Lenko Company
– worked in dangerous conditions, poor lighting, and supervision
– no safety devices for POWs
– the factory was located in a mine
– POWs worked in a carbide mill
– Collective Punishment:
– The camp commanding officer was actually kinder to POWs than COs at other camps, but he did not stop mistreatment by subordinates
– all the POWs were punished when one broke a camp rule
– POWs were beaten while standing at attention
-15 April 1944 – 15 August 1945
– Aikin and to other POWs were repeatedly beaten
– February 1945:
– military trial records show Aikin was beaten with a bamboo stick in the camp office
– removed from camp office and a Japanese guard continued the beating with a wooden shoe
– Aikin was tied to a tree in the snow where he remained for 2 hours
– reason for the beating was that he had stolen and eaten the entire day’s meat supply for the POWs
– the other POWs wanted him punished for doing this
– July 1945 – all POWs lined up and beaten
– failed to fallout during an air raid
– hit and knocked to the ground
– once on the ground, they were kicked
– Medical Treatment:
– sick POWs were not required to work
– Red Cross packages were withheld from POWs
– Japanese took what they wanted from packages
– also took clothing, blankets, and shoes meant for POW use
Liberated: September 1945
– returned to the Philippine Islands
– 7 September 1945 – family notified he was liberated
Promoted: Corporal
U.S.S. Yarmouth
– Sailed: Manila – not known
– Arrived: San Francisco – 8 October 1945
Reenlisted: 15 June 1946
Married: Jackie Ruth Wright – 17 September 1946
Children: 2 daughters, 3 sons
Retired: 1968
Rank: Master Sergeant
Owner: Akin Service Station – 25 years
– turned station into a game room – ran it for five years
Residence: West Point, Kentucky
Died: 30 August 2013 – Radcliff, Kentucky
Buried: Garnettsville Cemetery – Meade County, Kentucky