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Hollon, Pvt. Dexter J.

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Pvt. Dexter Jackson Hollon
Born: 1909 – Jeffersonville, Kentucky
Father: Curtis Hollon & Emma Hollon
– mother died while he was a child – father remarried
Siblings: 2 sisters, 2 brothers
Home: 253 Richmond Avenue – Mount Sterling, Kentucky
Married: Widower
Occupation: paper mill worker
Enlisted: 6 January 1941 – Fort Knox, Kentucky
Units:
– 19th Ordnance Battalion
Training:
– 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
Arkansas Maneuvers:
– August 1941
– A Company ordered back to Ft. Knox
– 17 August 1941 – 17th Ordnance formed from A Company, 19th Ordnance Battalion
– received orders for overseas duty
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
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
– the date 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
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 17th Ordnance worked to keep the tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions running
– the company was headquartered in ordnance depot building which was empty
– repaired tanks damaged by Japanese or tank crews
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– started the march at Mariveles on the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American Artillery returned fire
– knocked out three Japanese guns
– San Fernando – POWs put into small wooden boxcars
– each car could hold eight horses or forty men
– Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar
– POWs who died remained standing since they could not fall to the floors
– Capas – POWs leave boxcars – dead fall-out of cars
– walked last miles to Camp O’Donnell
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
– 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 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
– 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
– the death rate dropped after POWs received Red Cross packages and other changes had been made
– During May 1942, his family received the following letter from the War Department.

“According to War Department records you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Pvt. Dexter J. Hollon, 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 (Dexter J. Hollon) is contained in the list of prisoners of war.”

– During July 1942, his wife received a second letter from the War Department. The following is an excerpt from it.

“The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, Pvt. Dexter J. Hollon 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:
Tottori Maru
– POWs housed in warehouse on Pier 7
– POWs board ship – 7 October 1942
– 1961 POWs put on ship
– 500 POWs put in front hold
– remainder of POWs put in rear hold
– Sailed: Manila – 8 October 1942
– 9 October 1942 – two torpedoes fired at ship by an American submarine
– ship misses mine laid by submarine
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 12 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942
– returned to Takao
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands – same day
– anchored off islands for several days
– two POWs died
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: 30 October 1942 – Maku, Pescadores Islands
– Sailed: 31 October 1942
– Arrived: Fusan, Korea – 7 November 1942
– POWs disembark – 8 November 1942
– sick POWs left at Fusan
– Arrived: Mukden, Manchuria – 11 November 1942
POW Camp:
Mukden, Manchuria
– Hooten Camp
– Work: POWs worked in a machine shop or lumber mill
– 150 POWs selected to be sent to Japan
Hell Ship:
Nissyo Maru
– Sailed: 24 May 1944
– Arrived: 26 May 1944 – Takao, Formosa
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: 29 May 1944 – Moji, Japan
– ship misses mine laid by submarine
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 12 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942
– returned to Takao
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands – same day
– anchored off islands for several days
– two POWs died
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: 30 October 1942 – Maku, Pescadores Islands
– Sailed: 31 October 1942
– Arrived: Fusan, Korea – 7 November 1942
– POWs disembark – 8 November 1942
– sick POWs left at Fusan
– Arrived: Mukden, Manchuria – 11 November 1942
– 2 July 1943 – his family learned he was a POW
POW Camp:
– Japan
– Kamioka Camp
– also known as Nagoya #1-B
– POWs arrive from Mukden, Manchuria – 29 May 1944
– His POW detachment became known as the 1st American Company
– Barracks:
– POWs slept on straw mats
– rooms built to hold 10 men held 24 men
– heated by a fire pit in the middle of barracks
– received two handfuls of charcoal a day
– POWs had to shovel snow off roofs so that the buildings would not collapse
– Meals:
– rice and maize
– one ounce of fish each month
– 5 ounces of soybean each month for working hard
– Work:
– zinc & lead mining
– POWs worked in zinc and lead mines
– POWs had to climb 340 steps to leave mine
– in winter the POWs had to go through 4 to 5-foot high snow
– wore canvas shoes issued by Japanese
– lined them with air raid material from blackout curtains to prevent frostbite
– Japanese did not issue Red Cross shoes
– Punishment:
– Japanese brutally treated POWs after each air raid
– eight to ten POWs selected for beatings
– put in the guardhouse and forgotten about for days
– as the end of war got closer, the beatings became more frequent and brutal
– beaten on heads and all over their bodies until they were unconscious
– revived the men and continued beating
– burned after a flammable substance put on them
– one guard burned the rising sun around the navels of the POWs
– stood naked in inclement weather
– made to assume painful positions
– Medical Treatment:
– Red Cross medical supplies withheld from POWs
– sick forced to work to meet the quota of workers needed each day
– those who could walk had to work
– Japanese beat those who refused
– sick POWs were given “light work”
– Japanese made them haul contaminated slug up a mountain
– the guard would not go near the slug
– nothing grew where it was dumped
– worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week
– Japanese limited number of POWs who could be in the hospital at any time
– an “old” sick POW was replaced with a “new” sick POW
– Red Cross Boxes:
– Japanese did not issue Red Cross packages
– misappropriated food and clothing
Atomic Bomb:
– POWs felt atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki
– After atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japanese made POWs do close order drill
– POWs learned of surrender from a newspaper they bought on Black Market
Liberated:
– 18 August 1945 – POWs informed of the surrender
– 4 September 1945 – B-29s drop food and clothing to POWs
– POWs left camp and driven to train station
– rode a train to Yokohama
– taken by hospital ship to Okinawa
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Died:
– Monday – 10 September 1945
– flown to the Philippines by 494th Bomb Group, 866th Bomb Squadron
– 20 passengers and 5 crew members on the plane
– name of the plane: Liquidator
– killed in a plane crash at Nielson Field, Philippine Islands
– the plane was attempting to land in bad weather
– all passengers and crewmen killed in crash
Note:
– Wednesday – 13 September 45 – parents received word he had been liberated
– they had assumed he was dead since they never heard anything about him while he was a POW
– Thursday – 15 November 1945 – parents informed that he was missing since being liberated
– no other information provided to them
Buried:
– 22 February 1950
– Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery – Saint Louis, Missouri
– Section: 78 Site: 1007-1009B

 

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