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Graf, Pvt. Albert J.

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Pvt. Albert James Graf
Born: 17 December 1916 – Saint Paul, Minnesota
Parents: Barbara Rothenbach-Graf & John B. Graf
– father died when he was eight years old
Hometown: South St. Paul, Minnesota
Siblings: 6 brothers, 7 sisters
Nickname: Spikes
Home: Shell Lake, Wisconsin
Occupation: Worked as a farmhand
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 7 April 1941 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Training:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Louisiana Maneuvers
– after training battalion sent to the base
– soldiers 29 years or older were allowed to resign from federal service
– Graf joined the battalion from the 753rd Tank Battalion
Note: On August 15, 1941, the decision was made to build up American forces in the Philippines at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. This decision was made 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 a Japanese occupied island, hundreds of miles away, with a large radio transmitter on it. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field. By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that 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:
– Over different train routes, the battalion’s companies arrived at San Francisco, California
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe ferried battalion to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island
– battalion’s medical detachment inoculates and gives physicals to tank companies
– those men with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– some men were simply replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: San Francisco – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– soldiers were given shore leave to see the sights
– Sailed: Tuesday – Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– joined by U.S.S. Louisville and an unknown destroyer
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday – 16 November 1941
– ships took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water
– Sailed: Monday – 17 November 1941
– Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands – Thursday – 20 November 1941
– soldiers bused to Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained at pier to unload tanks
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– Colonel Edward King apologizes to soldiers that they had to live in tents
– tents located along main road between fort and Clark Airfield
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941
– lived through attack on Clark Field
– took cover since the medical detachment had no weapons to fight planes
– 13 December 1941
– inspecting aid stations of the tank companies
– drove jeep across Clark Field when Japanese planes attacked
– others in jeep: Capt. Alvin Poweleit, Pvt. Robert Ryan, Pvt. Earl Wheeler
– stopped jeep and it would not stop
– took cover during attack
– 14 December 1941
– medical detachment left Clark Field
– set up aid station in a dried river bed
– 21 December 1941
– medical detachment moved north toward Lingayen Gulf with rest of battalion
– 23 December 1941
– detachment at Sison being shelled
– withdrew with battalion down Route 3
– the detachment bivouac-ed
– heard tanks
– the tanks were Japanese
– packed up and went south through Urdaneta
– crossed over Agno River bridge and passed through Carmen
– 25 December 1941
– set up aid station south of Rosales
– medics checked letter companies
– bivouac bombed and strafed
– 27 December 1941
– located at Santo Tomas
– detachment slept in churchyard
– 28 December 1941
– General MacArthur ordered medics not to carry guns
– kept their guns
– 28/29 December 1941
– located near San Isidro
– area shelled for three hours
– one tank crew injured when a shell caused it to turn over
– medics noted that tank crews were in poor condition from lack of sleep and food
– 30 December 1941
– detachment did not receive order to pull out
– ordered out by Capt. John Morley
– drover trucks through Gapan
– barrio was occupied by Japanese
– went through so fast Japanese could not stop them
– 1 January 1942
– detachment bivouac-ed north of Luog
– 2 January 1942
– treated S/Sgt. Joseph Wierzchon, C Company, who had been wounded by mortar fire
– Pfc. Frank Byars while delivering a message killed by Filipino who mistook him as a German
– 4 January 1942
– medical detachment at Culis
– treated wounded of the 194th Tank Battalion
– 2nd Lt Weeden Petree shot in abdomen
– tank shot down Zero which was strafing
– 6 January 1942
– shelling destroyed 194th Medical Detachment truck
– shared what they had with 194th
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 7 January 1942
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. James Weaver visit tankers
– MacArthur asked why the men were not in the hospital
– Dr. Alvin Poweleit replied, “Who would man the tanks?”
– later in day Japanese bombed and strafed area
– 10 January 1942
– A and B Companies, and companies of 194th assigned beach duty
– from Abucay to Lamao
– 18 January 1942
– moved back to Pilar and Balanga which were burning when they went through
– tanks inflicted heavy damage to Japanese infantry
– 19 January 1942
– dropped back to Orion
– caught wild pig, roasted it
– food truck arrived and medics ate first American food in two days
– 20 January 1942
– bivouac at 147 kilometer marker (from Manila)
– Japanese attempted landing
– 29 January 1942
– ordered to West Coast of Bataan
– start of Battle of the Points
– 31 January 1942
– Quinauan Point cleared
– a Japanese diary said the Japanese were more afraid of being hit by a grenade than having it explode
– 3/8 February 1942
– Battle of the Pockets
– several tanks disabled
– attempted to recover them
– several members of battalion wounded or killed
– 9 February 1942
– medical detachment at 218 Kilometer on West Road
– medics report tank crews in bad shape
– 11 February 1942
– moved to kilometer 205, West Road
– bombed and shelled
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver: “Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay.”
– February 1942
– tank battalions on their own guarded airfields
– battalions also guarded beaches to prevent Japanese from landing troops
– March 1942
– treated tank crews for various sicknesses
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launched a major offensive
– 8 April 1942
– ammunition dumps destroyed
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. King announced that further resistance would result in the massacre of 6,000 sick or wounded troops 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 were blown up
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs start the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
– Americans on Corregidor returned fire
– 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 since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – dead fell to the floors as living left boxcars
– POWs 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, 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. YoshioTsuneyoshi, 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 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
– the 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 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 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 disembarked the train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– Cabanatuan #1
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by the Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in an attempt to lower the 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
– POWs from Camps 1 & 3 consolidated into one camp
– “Blood Brother” rule implemented
– if one POW in the group of 10 escaped, the other nine would be killed
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– 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 looked
– Work Details:
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– 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
– most of the food the POWs grew went to the Japanese
– 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
– medical staff had little to no medicine to treat sick
– many deaths from disease caused by malnutrition
– Albert was on the medical detachment at the camp
Hell Ship:
Tottori Maru
– 6 October 1942 – POWs left Cabanatuan for Manila
– housed in a warehouse on Pier 7
– 7 October 1942 – POWs boarded onto Tottori Maru
– Sailed: Manila – 8 October 1942- 10:00 A.M.
– POW meal three loaves of bread which equaled one American loaf of bread
 – the loaves were supposed to last for two days
– Note: 9 October 1942 – 9:00 A.M. – American submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship
– ship’s captain maneuver ship and avoided torpedoes
– passes a mine laid by an American submarine
– POW meal: 3 candy bags of soda crackers and hardtack
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 11 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942 – 7:30 A.M.
– returned to Takao- 10;30 P.M
– POW meal: two bags of hardtack and a bowl of rice and soup
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands
– anchored off the Pescadores Islands – same day
– remained anchored for several days
– two POWs died – buried at sea
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: Takao – 27 October 1942
– 28 October 1942 – POWs were taken ashore and bathed
– the ship also was cleaned
– Sailed: 30 October 1942
– Arrived: 30 October 1942 – Makou, Pescadores Islands – 5:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 31 October 1942
– seven-ship convoy
– sailed through a storm for five days
– one ship sunk by an American submarine
– the rest scattered
– Arrived: Fusan, Korea – 7 November 1942
– 8 November 1942 – POWs disembarked the ship
– issued new clothing and fur-lined overcoats
– sick POWs left behind at Fusan
– those who recovered came to Mukden at a later date
– white boxes contained the ashes of POWs who died
– POWs took a two-day train trip to Mukden, Manchuria
– 11 November 1942 – arrived Mukden
POW Camp:
– Mukden, Manchuria
– Hoten Camp
– Barracks:
– two-story brick buildings
– buildings had electricity and cold running water
– heated with “petchka” stoves
– provided adequate heat
– building infested with fleas, bedbugs, and lice
– divided into ten sections
– five on the first floor and five on the second floor
– each section divided into four double-decked sleeping bays
– 8 POWs slept in a bay
– 48 POWs slept in a section
– Meals:
– Breakfast: cornmeal mush, beans, bun
– Lunch: maize and beans
– Supper: beans and a bun
– POWs made snares to catch wild dogs that roamed into camp
– stopped catching dogs when one was seen eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian
– Hospital:
– many of POWs who died in the camp died due to illnesses caused by malnutrition
– sick forced to work
– Deaths:
– over 200 POWs died the first winter in the camp
– most died from diseases which were the result of malnutrition
– POWs who died during winter were stored in a building until the ground thawed and they could be buried
– Work:
– POWs worked in a machine shop and lumber mill
– Japanese wanted POWs to produce guns
– POWs sabotaged machines by dropping sand in oiling holes
– while pouring cement, the POWs would drop pieces of machines into the cement to sabotage them
– Punishment:
– POWs kicked, hit with clubs, sticks, bamboo poles, shoe heals, sabers, and fists
– any reason used to beat them
– Collective Punishment:
– when the Japanese suspected some POWs had smuggled cigarettes into their barracks, all the POWs were ordered outside and stood at attention
– POWs ordered to strip and stood nude in the code
– stood in the snow barefooted for hours as the barracks and the 700 POWs, who lived in it were searched
– Eiichi Nada – guard
– was considered the worse abuser of POWs
– born, raised, and educated in Berkley, California
– frequently beat POWs at morning assembly
– when they fell to the ground he screamed at them
– “Get up, you yellow, white, son of a bitch!”
– Lt. Mikki – walked through the barracks with a 3 foot and hit the POWs with it
– Red Cross clothing withheld from POWs
– Chinese told them there was a warehouse full of Red Cross clothing
– Unit 731:
– POWs from camp selected to be used in Japanese germ warfare experiments
– injected with deadly diseases
– some of these men were dissected while alive
Air Raids:
– B-29s start bombing Mukden late 1944
– camp bombed because it was lined up with military targets
Note: Japanese medical officer, Jiechi Kuwashima, asked the POWs, wounded from bombings, to write letters asking the Allies to stop the bombing of Mukden. The POWs did write the letters but told the Allies that they wouldn’t mind more frequent bombings.
Extermination Order:
– The camp commander received the order to march the POWs into the forest and execute them
– 16 August 1945 – Four American OSS officers parachuted into camp and told the commander the war was over
– the team was held as POWs for one night and sent to Sian Camp
– this was the camp where high ranking officers were imprisoned
Liberated: 20 August 1945 – Russian Army
– B-29s appeared over the area where the POWs lit oil drums to signal planes with smoke
– the lead plane came down and saw the POWs
– circle and dropped medical supplies, food, and clothing to POWs
– American planes dropped walkie-talkies to POWs
– allowed POWs to talk to aircrews
– POWs told the crews what they wanted
– planes dropped them ice cream to now fiddle strings
– 29 August 1945 – American Recovery Team enters the camp
– POWs were taken by train to Dalian, China
– taken by ship to Okinawa
returned to the Philippine Islands
Sailed: Manila – U.S.S. Tryon – September 1945
Arrived: San Francisco – 24 October 1945
Discharged: 5 July 1946
Married: Deloris Robinette
– passed away – 29 June 1979
Children: 2 sons
Died: 16 March 1997 – Tuscon, Arizona
Buried: Fort Snelling National Cemetery – Minneapolis, Minnesota
– Plot: R Section: O Grave 926

Default Gravesite 1

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