Halterman, PFC James J.

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Halterman

PFC James Jacob Halterman 
Born: 20 December 1920 – Buckhannon, West Virginia 
Parents: Arthur R. Halterman & Ana E. Crites-Halterman 
Siblings: 3 sisters, 4 brothers 
Hometown: 
– Akron, Ohio – 1930 
– 161 Wood Street – Buckhannon, West Virginia 
Enlisted: 
– U.S. Army 
– 1941 – Ashford General Hospital, West Virginia 
Training: 
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
– trained alongside the 192nd Tank Battalion at Ft. Knox
– trained to maintain 57 different vehicles used by the Army
– 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
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 as a mechanic
– 17th Ordnance Company
– 17 August 1941
– the company created from A Company, 19th Ordnance
– received overseas orders 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:
– 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
– 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 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
– 12:45 P.M. – Japanese attacked
– Japanese wipe out Army Air Corps
– dead and wounded were everywhere
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by tanks
– set up fuel dumps for tanks as they withdrew toward Bataan
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– manufactured and scavenged spare tank parts
– 17th Ordnance worked to keep the tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions running repairing the tanks on the front lines in combat situations
– the company headquartered in ordnance depot building which was empty
Prisoner of War
– 6 May 1942
– escaped to Corregidor – 8 April 1942
– most likely one of tank group members who found a boat and forced the owner to take them to Corregidor by gunpoint
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– Cabanatuan
– 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
– September 1942 – Camps 1 & 3 consolidated
– “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
– 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
– volunteered to be transported to another occupied country
It was during May 1942, that his family received this message:

“According to War Department records you have been designated as the emergency addressee of PFC James J. Halterman, who according to the latest information available, was serving in the Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender.
“We deeply regret that it is impossible for us to give you more information. In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the war department. Conceivably, the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly of other islands of the Philippines. The Japanese government has indicated its intentions of conforming to the terms of the Geneva convention with respects to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war. At some future date, this government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war. Until that time the war department cannot give you positive information.
“The war department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as ‘missing in action’ from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received. It is hoped that the Japanese government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date. At this time you will be notified by this office in the event his name (James J. Halterman) is contained in the list of prisoners of war.”

The following excerpt is from a letter that appears to have been sent to families in July 1942:

“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, PFC James J. Halterman had not been reported as a casualty. The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, until definite information to the contrary is received. “Efforts to secure prisoner of war lists from the Philippines have not been successful to this date due to the lack of communication and the fact that the Japanese Government has not yet given permission for the Swiss representative and the International Red Cross delegates to make visits to prisoner of war camps in the islands. When the lists of prisoners are received, we will clear the name of your son and send you any additional information that we may have.”

Hell Ship:
Nagara Maru
– Sailed: Manila – 12 August 1942
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 14 August 1942
Otaru Maru
– ship’s actual name – Suzuya Maru
– Sailed: 14 August 1942
– Arrived: Keelung, Formosa – 15 August 1942
POW Camps:
– Formosa
Karenko
– transferred to Heito Camp – May 1943
Heito
– the camp closed after the bombing
– POWs transferred to Taihoku #6 – February 1945
Taihoku #6
– liberated at Taihoku
– sent to Kaneko to be evacuated
Liberated: 2 September 1945
Promoted: Sergeant
Transport:
U.S.S. Gosper
– Sailed: Manila – 24 September 1945
-Arrived: Seattle, Washington – 12 October 1945
– taken to Madigan General Hospital – Ft. Lewis, Washington
Reenlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 1 February 1946
Married: Betty Miller
Children: 1 son
Stationed:
– South Charleston, West Virginia – 1947 – January 1952
– Europe – January 1952
– had been assigned to go to Asia but his commanding officer had his orders changed
Died:
– 11 December 1955
– wounds during “Operation Sage Brush” – near Longville, Louisiana
Buried:
– Heavner Cemetery, Buckhannon, West Virginia

Default Gravesite 1

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