Goemmer, Pvt. Milton J.

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Pvt. Milton J. Goemmer
Born: 9 June 1923 – Louisville, Kentucky
Parents: Harry O. Goemmer and Lillian Franklin-Goemmer
Siblings: 2 sisters
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Enlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 30 May 1940 – Miami Beach, Florida
Training:
– Ft. Knox, Kentucky
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– 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
– trained alongside 192nd Tank Battalion
– learned to do maintenance on 57 vehicles used by the Army
– August 1941 – the 19th Ordnance Battalion was on maneuvers in Arkansas
Overseas Duty:
– On 15 August 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion ordered back to Ft. Knox
– designated 17th Ordnance Company
– received orders for duty in the Philippines
– 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, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up – in a straight line – for 30 miles
   to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds of miles away.
– The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do
   anything that day.
– The next day – when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat – with a tarp covering something on its deck – was
    seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the Air Corps and the Navy was poor, so the boat escaped
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
Deployment:
– traveled by train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– arrived Thursday, 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on the 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
– Boarded: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– 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, the U.S.S. Astoria, an unknown destroyer, and the U.S.S. Guadalupe a fleet replenishment oiler
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– 16 September 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– became Thursday – 18 September 1941
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembark ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks completed – 15 November 1941
– 8 December 1942 – lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field
– the company went to a bamboo thicket where they could disperse vehicles
– the company set up a bivouac
– set up machine shop trucks, half-tracks, and trucks
– received orders to return to Ft. Stotsenburg
– the attack took place at 12:45
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– maintained tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions
– headquartered in an ordnance depot building
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1941
– Death March
– started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– ordered to sit in front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– Corregidor returned fire
– knocked out the Japanese artillery
– San Fernando – POWs packed into small wooden boxcars
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars – dead fall-out of cars
POW Camps:
– Philippine Islands:
– Camp O’Donnell
– unfinished Filipino training base Japanese put into use as a POW camp – 1 April 1942
– 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, gunshots 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 the entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and the next man in line waited as long as 4 hours for the 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
– the 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 were 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 the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow
– operations on POWs were performed with mess kit knives
– only one medic – out of six medics assigned to care for 50 sick POWs in the hospital – but the Japanese decided who 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
– the 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 scraped 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
– 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
– 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 to train
– Goemmer left behind because he was considered “too sick” to be moved
Died:
– Friday – 12 June 1942 – dysentery
– approximate time of death – 5:30 PM
– he was the 124 POW to die at the camp
Buried:
– Camp O’Donnell Cemetery
– remains could not be positively identified after the war
– buried as an “Unknown” at the new American cemetery
Memorial:
-Tablets of the Missing – American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands

Goemmertm

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