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Henson, Pvt. Donald R.

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Pvt. Donald R. Henson
Born: 8 February 1919 – Castoria, California
Parents: Silas B. Henson & Luella Jones-Henson
Siblings: 3 sisters, 5 brothers
Home: Durham Ferry Road – Castoria, California
Occupation: dairy farmer
Enlisted:
– U.S. Army
– 20 October 1940
Training:
– Unknown
Units:
– 17th Ordnance Company
– the company created from A Company of 19th Ordnance
– may have joined 17th Ordnance at Angel Island
– the company had orders for overseas duty
Overseas Duty:
– Ship: U.S.S. Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: San Francisco, California – Monday – 8 September 1941
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M.
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers were given shore leave for the day
– Sailed: same day
– joined as sea by 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
– the date became Thursday – 18 September 1941
– Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands – Friday – 26 September 1941
– Disembark
– 17th Ordnance remained behind to unload tanks of the 194th Tank Battalion
– reattached turrets to tanks
– rode the bus to Ft. Stotsenburg
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1942 – 6 January 1942
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced tanks of the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions
– headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building
– repaired tanks under constant enemy fire
Prisoner of War
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs started the march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs sat in front of Japanese artillery that was firing at Corregidor
– American artillery returned fire
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– each boxcar could hold eight horses or 40 men
– Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car
– POWs that died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs left boxcars – dead fell to floors of boxcar
POW Camps:
– Philippines:
– 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. 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 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 scraped 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
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower death rate
Died:
– Saturday – 23 May 1942- dysentery
Buried:
– Camp O’Donnell Cemetery
Reburied:
– American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands
– Plot: D Row: 8 Grave: 6

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