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Lang, Sgt. Howard R.

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Sgt. Howard Ronald Lang
Born: August 1918 – Saint Paul, Minnesota
Parents: August & Marie Lang
Siblings: 3 brothers, 2 sisters
Hometown: New Brighton, Minnesota
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 20 March 1941
Training:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Camp Polk, Louisiana
– 1 September 1941 – 30 September 1941 – took part in maneuvers
Overseas Duty:
– battalion travels by train, over four different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco,
   California
– taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay by the ferry the
   U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– October 25th & 26th – physicals were given by battalion’s medical detachment
– some men released
– others held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– replacements fill these positions
– Boarded: U.S.S. General H. L. Scott – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– arrived in the morning
– soldiers received shore leave
– Sailed: Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– took a southerly route away from main shipping lanes
– joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– smoke was seen on the horizon
– Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it intercepted the ship
– the ship was from a neutral country
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– soldiers woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday 16 November 1941
– the ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
– Sailed: next day
– passed Japanese held island in total blackout
– Arrived: Thursday – 20 November 1941 – Manila Bay – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers disembark ship three hours after arrival
– boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg – Philippine Islands
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– tank battalions last units to disengage from Japanese during withdrawal to Bataan
– 12 December 1941 – Barrio of Dau
– guarded a road and railway
– 23/24 December 1941
– Urdaneta. Pangatian Province
– while outside barrio the company’s commander Captain Walter Write was killed
– the tanks were not allowed to withdraw, they almost were captured
– tanks made an end run to a bridge in the Bayambang Province over the Agno River
– 25 December 1941 – tanks held south bank of Agno River from Carmen to Taehyung
– held the position until 5:30 A.M. until December 27
– prevented the Japanese from crossing
– 30 December 1941
– A Company wiped out a Japanese Bicycle Battalion that rode into its bivouac at night
– the company had bivouacked on both sides of a road
– a noise was heard – the tankers grabbed Tommy-guns and stood behind their tanks
– as they watched the bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac
– the tankers opened up with everything they had
– when they ceased fire, the entire battalion had been wiped out
– A Company attached to 194th – east of Pampanga
– withdrew from area
– 2nd Lt. William Read killed during withdraw
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 23 January 1942 – 17 February 1942
– Battle of the Pockets
– wiped out Japanese troops cut off behind the main line of defense
– 27 January 1942
– tanks held the position for six hours to allow a new line of defense to form
– tanks and self-propelled mounts inflict 50% casualties on three Japanese units
– 28 January 1942 – beach duty
– prevented Japanese from landing troops on Bataan
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Death March
– Mariveles – POWs started 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. Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, never to
   write another letter
– Tsuneyoshi said that all he wanted to know about the American POWs was 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 lain 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
– 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
– camp created to keep Corregidor POWs separated from Bataan POWs
– Corregidor POWs were in better shape
– January 1943 – POWs from Camp 3 consolidated into Camp 1
– Camp Administration:
– the Japanese left POWs to run the camp on their own
– Japanese entered camp when they had a reason
– POWs patrolled fence to prevent escapes
– Note: men who attempted to escape were recaptured
– Japanese beat them for days
– executed them
– Blood Brother Rule
– POWs put into groups of ten
– if one escaped the others would be executed
– housed in same barracks
– worked on details together
– 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:
– Two main details
– the farm and airfield
– farm detail
– POWs cleared land and grew camotes, cassava, taro, sesame, and various greens
– Japanese took what was grown
– Guards:
– Big Speedo – spoke little English
– in charge of detail
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– fair in the treatment of POWs
– also used the “speedo” when he wanted the POWs to work faster
– Smiley
– always smiling
– could not be trusted
– meanest of guards
– Airfield Detail:
– Japanese built an airfield for fighters
– POWs cut grass, removed dirt, and leveled ground
– at first moved dirt in wheelbarrows
– later pushed mining cars
– Guards:
– Air Raid
– in charge
– usually fair but unpredictable
– had to watch him
– Donald Duck
– always talking
– sounded like the cartoon character
– unpredictable – beat POWs
– POWs told him that Donald Duck was a big American movie star
– at some point, he saw a Donald Duck cartoon
– POWs stayed away from him when he came back to camp
– Work Day: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– worked 6 days a week
– had Sunday off
– Other Details:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens and plant rice
– 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
– Burial Detail
– POWs worked in teams of four
– carried 4 to 6 dead to the cemetery at a time in litters
– a grave contained from 15 to 20 bodies
– daily POW meal
– 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– rice was the main staple, few vegetables or fruits
– 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
– hospitalized – Wednesday – 8 July 1942 – dysentery & malaria
– discharged – Tuesday – 22 September 1942
Hell Ships:
– Interisland Steamers
– Sailed: 1 July 1942 – Manila
– Arrived: 9 July 1942 – Davao, Mindanao
POW Camp:
– Davao – Tuesday – 27 October 1942 – Tuesday – 6 June 1944
– the first American plane was seen in two years in late May 1944
– Japanese began to evacuate POWs
Hell Ships:
Yashu Maru
– POWs were taken by truck to Lasang – 6 June 1944
– hands tied and shoes removed to prevent escapes
– POWs put in forward holds
– remained in holds for six days
– Sailed: Lasang, Mindanao – 12 June 1944
– the ship dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindanao – 14 June 1944
– Arrived: Cebu City – 17 June 1944
– POWs disembarked and put in a warehouse
– Sailed: unnamed ship – 21 June 1944
– POWs called ship “Singoto Maru”
– Arrived: Manila- 24 June 1944
– POWs were taken to Bilibid Prison
POW Camp:
– Bilibid Prison
Hell Ship: Nissyo Maru
– Boarded: Manila – 17 July 1944 – boarded 8:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 18 July 1944 – dropped anchor off the breakwater
– remained there until 23 July 1944
– Sailed: 24 July 1944
– 26 July 1944 – one ship in convoy sunk by American submarine – 3:00 A.M.
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 9:00 A.M. – 28 July 1944
– Sailed: 28 July 1944 – 7:00 P.M.
– sailed through storm 30 July to 2 August 1944
– 3 August 1944 – issued new clothes
– Arrived: Moji, Japan – midnight – 4 August 1944
– disembarked ship – 8:00 A.M.
– marched to theater
– taken by train to the POW camp
POW Camps:
– Japan:
Nagoya #5-B
– sulfuric acid production
Note: Many of the punishments received by the POWs were the result of the Japanese interpreter, Shinshi Kirio, intentionally misinterpreting orders, or outright lying so that the POWs would be beaten. He also made POWs, as punishment, run in circles in the cold.
The POWs were frequently punished by being hit with sticks, clubs, fists, leather belts, shoes, ropes, belt buckles, and bamboo sticks while standing at attention. Afterward, it was not uncommon for the Japanese to rub salt into the man’s wounds and had their food rations cut. They would also be made to stand at attention with their arms outstretched hold a bucket of water at arm’s length. Other men were suspended from ladders – by their wrists – and beaten while they hung there. They also were made to kneel on rocks or bamboo poles with heavy rocks behind their knees or squat for hours at a time.
When Cpl. Takeo Shuraki discovered that the POWs had cut two bars on a window of a bay of the barracks that Roy lived in – for a possible escape during an air raid – the 20 POWs who lived in the bay were questioned one at a time, in Japanese, to find out who had cut them. This was done even though two POWs confessed to cutting the bars.
25 May 1945
Toyama Camp #7-B
– also known as Nagoya #7
Note: The camp was built by and on the property of the Nippon Soda Company, Ltd., and opened on June 6, 1945, about 300 feet from its plant where the POWs worked. The first POWs arrived on July 7. The camp was made up of one barracks, a kitchen and a bathroom, a camp office, and an unknown building. All the buildings were wood and were surrounded by a 10-foot high wooden fence.
The POWs barracks was the largest building with the camp hospital at one end. Along the walls, were two decks of bunks which were merely platforms. Each POW had a 3 foot wide by 7-foot long area to sleep in on straw mattresses. The POWs slept on the side of the building nearest the fence until an air raid on July 30 when they moved to the bunks along the other wall because of damage to the barracks.
The POWs received three meals a day mostly of rice and beans with a few vegetables. Each meal was 4.8 grams and was eaten from mess kits, in the barracks, on tables down to the POWs.
The factory manufactured a steel alloy used in the war effort. The POWs were involved in the melting and forging of metal, and three types of work. 65 POWs worked melting the ore, another 65 worked at forging the metal, and a final 65 did miscellaneous jobs. One detachment worked the night shift. A workday was 12 hours long and the POWs received two days off a month.
On August 1, the City of Toyama was bombed by American planes doing a great deal of damage leaving only five buildings standing. A bomb fell near the camp on July 20, blowing out windows, damaging walls, and roofs on the barracks, while the factory had a great deal of damage.
Liberated: 5 September 1945
– 6 September 1945 – taken to Yokohama Docks
– returned to Philippine Islands for medical treatment
Transport:
U.S.S. Hugh Rodman
– Sailed: Manila – September 1945
– Arrived: San Francisco, California – 3 October 1945
– former POWs were taken to Letterman Hospital
Promoted: Staff Sergeant
Died:
– 1992 – Cumberland, Wisconsin

 

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