McKusick, Sgt. Joseph C.

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McKusik

Sgt. Joseph Clarence McKusick 
Born: 18 November 1919 – San Luis Obispo, California 
Parents: Clarence W. McKusick and Romelda Pedraita-McKusick 
Siblings: 1 sister 
Home: South U.S. Highway 101 – Santa Margarita, California 
– his family had previously lived in Salinas 
Enlisted: California National Guard 
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940 
– did not have to register since he already was in the National Guard 
Inducted: 
– U. S. Army 
– 10 February 1941 – Salinas Army Air Base 
Unit: C Company, 194th Tank Battalion 
Stationed:
– Fort Lewis, Washington
– described as constantly raining during the winter 
– many men ended up in the camp hospital with colds 
– Typical Day – after they arrived at Ft. Lewis 
– 6:00 A.M. – first call 
– 6:30 A.M. – breakfast 
– During this time the soldiers made their cots, policed the grounds around the barracks, swept the floors of their barracks, and performed other duties. 
– 7:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. – drill 
– 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. – lunch 
– 1:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. – drill 
– 5:00 P.M. – retreat 
– 5:30 P.M. – dinner 
– men were free after this 
– a canteen was located near their barracks and was visited often 
– the movie theater on the base that they visited.  
– The theater where the tanks were kept was not finished, but when it was, the tankers only had to cross the road to their tanks.
– Saturdays the men had off, and many rode a bus 15 miles northeast to Tacoma which was the largest town nearest to the base
– Sundays, many of the men went to church and services were held at different times for the different denominations
Training:
– the battalion went on long reconnaissance with trucks and tanks
– drove all over reservation following maps and learned from observation what the land surrounding the fort looked like
– the purpose was to collect tank data which they would use later
– often had to live off the land
– 30 April 1941 – battalion went on an all-day march
– ate dinner in woods brought to them by the cooks in trucks
– march was two hours one way and covered about 10 miles total
– stopped in an abandoned apple orchard in bloom
– Motorcycles:
– first motorcycles arrived in May 1941
– all battalion members had to learn to ride them
– in early May 1941, the battalion, except men who had been drafted, went on its first overnight bivouac
– the new men did not have shelter halves
– left around noon and returned around noon the next day
Specialized Training:
– some members of the battalion received specific training
– many went to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for training in tank maintenance, radio operation, and other specific jobs
– attended radio school at Ft. Knox
– qualified as a radio operator
– those men who remained at Ft. Lewis often found themselves policing the base collecting garbage and distributing coal for the base during the week
– the battalion did most of its tank training on weekends
Overseas Duty:
– received orders for duty in the Philippines 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, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up – in a straight line – for 30 miles
   to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds of miles away.
– the squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field
– when the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day
– The next day – when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat – with a tarp covering something on its deck – was
    seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the Air Corps and the Navy was poor, so the boat escaped
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
Deployment:
– rode the train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 6 September 1941
– ferried on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island
– given physicals and inoculated by battalion’s medical detachment
– men with medical conditions replaced
– 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 the U.S.S. Guadalupe a replenishment oiler
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked 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 upon arriving
– 15 November 1941 – moved into barracks
– the barracks walls were open and screened three feet from the bottom of the wall to the floor
– above that, the walls were woven bamboo that allowed the air to pass through
– washing facilities seemed to be limited with the lucky man being able to wash by a faucet with running water
Work Day:
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– soldiers washed
– 6:00 A.M. – mess
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M. 
– Noon – mess
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the afternoon was described as “recreation in the motor pool”
– on the base, the soldiers were not expected to work in the heat
– 5:10 – mess
Recreation:
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling, going to the movies,
– they also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw a football around
– on Wednesday afternoons, they went swimming
– they also went to Mt. Aarayat National Park and swam in the swimming pool there that was filled with mountain water
– men were allowed to go to Manila in small groups
– they also went to canoeing at Pagsanjan Falls in their swimsuits
– the country was described as being beautiful
Uniforms:
– the battalion wore fatigues to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms while working
– they continued to wear fatigues in their barracks area to do their work
– if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they were expected to wear dress uniforms
Alert:
– 1 December 1941 – tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– their job was to protect the airfield from enemy paratroopers
– two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times
– 194th guard north end of the airfield and the 192nd Tank Battalion guarded the south end of the airfield
– meals served by food trucks to men with the tanks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon 
– 8 December 1941
– lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
– planes did not go after tanks
– after the attack, the 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
– from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolos Road
– HQ Company could be found near any location the tanks were at
– 12 December 1941
– moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
– arrived at 6:00 A.M.
– 14 December 1941
– A Co. & D Co., 192nd moved to just north of Muntinlupa
– 15 December 1941
– received 15 Bren gun carriers
– turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
– Bren gun carriers used to test ground to see if it could support tanks
– 22 December 1941
– sent to Rosario
– west and north of the barrio
– ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
– said they would hinder the cavalry’s operation
– 22/23 December 1941
– operating north of Agno River
– main bridge at Carmen bombed
– 24 December 1941
– operating in the Hacienda Road area
– 24/25 December 1941
– sent to Carmen Area on Agno River – arrived 7:00 P.M.
– 5th Columnists sent up flares
– ran into Japanese resistance but successfully crossed the river
– 25/26 December 1941
– held the south bank of Agno River from west of Carmen to Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road
– 1 platoon of D Co., 192nd held are west of Highway 13
– 192nd held from Carmen to Route 3 to Tayug northeast of San Quintin
– 26/27 December 1941
– ordered to withdraw
– learned from 1st Lt. Harold Costigan that they were behind enemy lines
– 1 platoon forced its way through Carmen
– lost two tanks
– one tank belonged to company commander – Captain Edward Burke
– believed dead, but was actually captured
– one tank crew rescued
– new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
– rest of the battalion made a dash out
– lost one tank at Bayambang
– another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
– 2nd Lt. Weeden Petree’s platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
– D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
– the tank commander found a crossing
– Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
– 28 December 1941
– Tarlac Line
– most of the battalion withdrew from the line that night
– 29/30 December 1941
– new line at Bamban River established
– tank battalions held the line until ordered to withdraw
– 30/31 December 1941
– tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
– covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
– 1 January 1942 
– the tank company crossed the Calumpit Bridge which was billing held open by the tank battalions 
– after C Company crossed, the bridge was blown up
– 2 January 1942
– both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
– 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
– 5 January 1942
– C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-Porac Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and Lubao
– 1:50 A.M. – Japanese attempted to infiltrate
– bright moonlight made them easy to see
– tanks opened fire
– Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
– 3:00 A.M. – Japanese broke off the engagement
– suffered 50% casualties
– Remedios – established a new line along a dried creek bed
– 6 January 1942
– Remedios new defensive line established along a dry creek bed
– 1:50 A.M. – Japanese attempted to infiltrate the line
– bright moon made them easy to see
– tanks opened up on them
– 6/7 January 1942
– 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
– both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
– rations cut in half
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– January 1942
– tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
– 7 January 1942
– at Culo River guarding left flank of Lyac Bridge
– withdrew into Bataan covered by 192nd
– the bridge was blown up after 192nd crossed
– 8 January 1942
– composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect East Coast Road north of Hermosa
– their job was to keep the East Road open north of Hermosa and prevent the Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been
  formed
– the remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
– tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
– Abucay Battle Line
– tankers got a rest after 30 days of non-stop fighting
– tanks also needed overdue maintenance done by 17th Ordnance
– tanks were well past their 400-hour scheduled maintenance
– all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
– three per tank platoon
– this gave D Company, 192nd tanks
– the company lost all its tanks but one at the Agno River when the bridge they were supposed to use was blown up before they crossed it
– sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda’s forces could withdraw
– tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
– two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
– mission abandoned
– Gen. Segunda’s troops escaped using the beach but lost their heavy equipment
Note: 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.”
– C company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
– a forward position with little alert time
– 13 January 1942
– mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
– returned to the battalion
– 16 January 1942
– C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
– the highway had been cut by Japanese
– three tanks from the company were sent to reopen the road
– at the Moron Highway and Junction of Trail 162
– the lead tank at point-blank range was fired on by an anti-tank gun
– the shell went over the tank’s turret and the tank returned fire destroying the gun
– tanks knock out the gun
– cleared roadblock with support of infantry
– two of the tanks hit landmines and were disabled
– the tanks were recovered and used as spare parts
– 20 January 1942
– Bani Bani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
– 24 January 1942
– tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
– landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching the road
– 26 January 1942
– the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
– four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
– 9:45 A.M. – warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
– when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
– 10:30 A.M. – Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
– prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
– the Japanese responded with a large artillery barrage
– 28 January 1942
– 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
– guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
– half-tracks patrolled roads
– maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols
– 8 February 1942
– beach defense
– half-tracks patrolled roads
– March 1942
– two tanks were bogged down in mud
– the tankers were working to get them out
– Japanese Regiment entered the area
– Lt. Col. Ernest Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point-blank range
– Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
– wiped out Japanese regiment
– food rations cut again
Hospitalized:
– at some point, Joseph was hospitalized at Hospital #2, Cabcaben
– it is not known if he had been wounded or suffering from malaria or dysentery
– it is not known when he was released and returned to his company
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launched a new offensive
– tanks sent into various sectors to stop the Japanese advance
– 6 April 1942
– four tanks sent to support 45th Philippine Infantry and 75th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
– one tank knocked out by the anti-tank fire at the junction of Trails 8 & 6
– other tanks covered withdraw
– 3rd Platoon sent up the west coast road
– near Mt. Samat ran into heavy Japanese force
– the tanks withdrew to Marivales
– 8 April 1942
– Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight
– he estimated they would last one more day
– In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred
– His troops were on one-quarter rations, and even at that ration, he had two days of food left.
– 6:30 P.M. – order goes out to be prepared to destroy all equipment of use to the Japanese
– 10:30 P.M. – the decision made to send white flag across the battle line
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– At 2:oo A.M. April 9, Gen. King sent a jeep under a white flag carrying Colonel Everett C. Williams, Col. James V. Collier, and Major Marshall Hurt to meet
   with the Japanese commander about terms of surrender.
 – The white flag was bedding from A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion
– the driver was from the Provisional Tank Group
– Shortly after daylight Collier and Hunt returned with word of the appointment
– the tankers received this message over their radios at 6:45 A.M. – 9 April 1942
– circled tanks and fired an armor-piercing shell into each tank’s engine
– opened gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the crew compartment
– Gen. King with his two aides, Maj. Cothran and Captain Achille C. Tisdelle Jr. got into a jeep carrying a large white flag
– They were followed by another jeep – also flying another large white flag – with Col. Collier and Maj. Hurt in it
– As the jeeps made their way north they were strafed and small bombs were dropped by a Japanese plane
– The drivers of both jeeps and the jeeps were provided by the tank group and both men managed to avoid the bullets
– The strafing ended when a Japanese reconnaissance plane ordered the fighter pilot to stop strafing
– About 10:00 A.M. the jeeps reached Lamao where they were received by a Japanese Major General who informed King that he reported his coming to
   negotiate a surrender and that an officer from the Japanese command would arrive to do the negotiations
– The Japanese officer also told him that his troops would no attack for thirty minutes while King decided what he would do
– After a half-hour, no Japanese officer had arrived from their headquarters and the Japanese attack had resumed. King sent Col. Collier and Maj. Hunt back
   to his command with instructions that any unit inline with the Japanese advance should fly white flags
– Shortly after this was done a Japanese colonel and interpreter arrived. King was told the officer was Homma’s Chief of Staff and he had come to discuss
   King’s surrender
– King attempted to get insurances from the Japanese that his men would be treated as prisoners of war, but the Japanese officer – through his interpreter
– he was accused of declining to surrender unconditionally
– At one point King stated he had enough trucks and gasoline to carry his troops out of Bataan
– He was told that the Japanese would handle the movement of the prisoners
– The two men talked back and forth until the colonel said through the interpreter, “The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians.” 
– King found no choice but to accept him at his word
– 6:45 A.M. – the order “CRASH” was sent for equipment to be destroyed
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– received order to destroy equipment and report to kilometer marker 168.2.
– Provisional Tank Group Headquarters
– Japanese officers told Col. Ernest Miller to keep them there until ordered to move
– 10 April 1942
– 7:00 P.M. – started the march from Provisional Tank Group headquarters
– 3:00 A.M. – halted and rested for an hour
– 4:00 A.M. – resume march
– at times slipped on remains of the dead who had been killed by Japanese shelling
– 11 April 1942
– 8:00 A.M. -reached Lamao
– allowed to forage for food
– 9:00 A.M. – resumed march
– Noon – reached Limay and the main road
– officers, majors and up, separated from lower-ranking officers and enlisted men
– lower-ranking officers and enlisted men joined the main march
– Death March
– marched through Abucay and Samal
– reached Orani
– herded into a fenced-in area and ordered to lie down
– in the morning found they had been lying in human waste
– latrine in one corner was crawling with maggots
– form 100 men detachments
– POWs marched at a faster pace
– fewer breaks
– when given break, the POWs sat on the road
– North of Hermosa the POWs reached pavement
– made march easier
– POWs were given an hour rest on the road
– those who attempt to lay down are jabbed with bayonets
– POWs march through Layac and Lubao
– rains – POWs drank as much as they could
– San Fernando
– POWs put in groups of 200 to be fed
– one POW sent to get a box of rice for each group
– pottery jars of water given out the same way
– POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– 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
– as POWs formed ranks, Filipinos threw sugarcane to POWs
– also gave them water
– POWs walked the last 8 kilometers 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 the 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 medics 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 the hospital was scraped and covered with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to the cleaned area and the area where they had lain was scraped and covered with lime
– usually the dead were 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
– to bury the dead, the POWs held the body down with a pole while it was covered with dirt
– the next day when they returned, the bodies often were sitting up in the graves or had been dug up by wild dogs
– Japanese opened a new POW camp to lower the 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 the cars 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
– In May or early June 1942, his parents received a message from the War Department:

“Dear Mrs. R. McKusick:

        “According to War Department records, you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Sergeant Joseph C. McKusick, 20, 900, 735, who, according to the latest information available, was serving in the  Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender. 

        “I deeply regret that it is impossible for me to give you more information than is contained in this letter.  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 other islands of the Philippines.  The Japanese Government has indicated its intention of conforming to the terms of the Geneva Convention with respect 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 surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received.  It is to be hoped that the Japanese Government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date.  At that time you will be notified by this office in the event that his name is contained in the list of prisoners of war.   In the case of persons known to have been present in the Philippines and who are not reported to be prisoners of war by the Japanese Government, the War Department will continue to carry them as “missing in action” in the absence of information to the contrary, until twelve months have expired.  At the expiration of twelve months and in the absence of other information the War Department is authorized to make a final determination.

        “Recent legislation makes provision to continue the pay and allowances of persons carried in a “missing” status for a period not to exceed twelve months;  to continue, for the duration of the war, the pay and allowances of persons known to have been captured by the enemy; to continue allotments made by missing personnel for a period of twelve months and allotments or increase allotments made by persons by the enemy during the time they are so held;  to make new allotments or increase allotments to certain dependents defined in Public Law 490, 77th Congress.  The latter dependents generally include the legal wife, dependent children under twenty-one years of age and dependent mother, or such dependents as having been designated in official records.  Eligible dependents who can establish a need for financial assistance and are eligible to receive this assistance the amount allotted will be deducted from pay which would otherwise accrue to the credit of the missing individual.

                                                                                                                                                                    “Very Truly yours

                                                                                                                                                                            J. A. Ulio (signed) 
                                                                                                                                                                       Major General
                                                                                                                                                                   The Adjutant General”
  

– 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
– 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 since they didn’t like the way the POWs lined up
– Work Detail:
– 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 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
– 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
– in July his family received a second message from the War Department. The following are excerpts 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, Sergeant Joseph C. McKusick 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.”

Work Detail:
– 10 October 1942 – work detail to Ft. McKinley
– developed beriberi
– sent to Bilibid Prison
– Bilibid Hospital
– Admitted: 26 October 1942 – beriberi
– Discharged: 28 October 1942
– record indicated he had malaria
– sent to a Japanese hospital
– Admitted: 14 November 1942 – malaria
– the record indicated he was sent from the Japanese Hospital
– not known when he was discharged
– February 1943 – his parents learned he was a POW 
– September 1943 – his parents received a POW postcard 
“I am okay. Do not worry, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
– the postcard was written while he was at Bilibid
Cabanatuan
– spent most of his time as a POW in the camp
– February 1943 – multiple details left camp
– some details were small while others had 1255 to 1450 POWs on them
– 7 February 1943 – POWs received Christmas telegrams
– 11 February 1943 – POWs watched movies
– Japanese propaganda newsreels and the Marx Brothers movie “Room Service”
– 12 February 1943 – noted that no POW had died in 8 days
– three POWs died the next day
– also ordered all POWs to turn in illegal radios
– 22 February 1943 – Japanese issued blankets to POWs who did not have one
– 3 March 1943 – program started to stop the spread of dysentery
– POWs received two biscuits and some cigarettes for catching flies and rodents
– POWs had caught 320 rats and 12 million flies
– 6 April 1943- two POWs escaped
– had an hour headstart on guards
– other POWs punished by having movies night taken away that night
– the two men were recaptured
– both men were shot outside the POWs’ barracks
– 11 April 1943
– work schedule changed
– 5:30 A.M. – reveille
– 6:00 A.M. – 7:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 10:30 A.M. – returned to camp
– Noon – lunch
– 1:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M. – work
– 6:30 P.M. – dinner
– 7:00 P.M. – roll call
– 9:00 P.M. – lol call again – lights out
– 14 April 1943 – another POW attempted to escape
– he was on the guard detail to prevent escapes
– caught by Japanese 
– 30 June 1943 – the War Department officially listed him as a Prisoner of War
– his mother had received this news several weeks earlier
– 11 July 1943 – a POW named Conley escaped
– 11:00 PM, POWs heard a lot of noise
– the next morning the POWs saw his body in the camp morgue
– Conley’s jaw had been crushed as was the top of his skull, his teeth had all been knocked out
– his left leg had been crushed
– he had been bayoneted in the eyes and scrotum
– July 1943 – 500 names posted
– 22 July 1943 – the POWs were issued new shoes, a suit of “Philippine Blues”
– also received – 2 cans of corn beef and 3 cans of milk
– informed they would be taking a 21-day trip
– the detachment left the camp that night
– when they arrived in Manila, they were used in the Japanese propaganda film The Dawn of Freedom
– film supposedly showed how Americans mistreated the Filipinos
– August 1943
– rainy season
– September 1943
– list of POWs being transferred was posted
– Joe’s name was on the list
Hell Ship:
Coral Maru
– Note: Ship also known as Taga Maru
– Sailed: 20 September 1943 – Manila
– Arrived: 23 September 1943 – Takao, Formosa
– Sailed: 26 September 1943
– Arrived: 5 October 1943 – Moji, Japan
– Note: 70 POWs died during the trip
POW Camp:
– Japan:
Hirohata #12
– Work:
– Seitetsu Steel Mill
– Stevedores – unloaded ore from ships
Liberated: 9 September 1945
– returned to the Philippine Islands
Transport:
U.S.S. General R. L. Howze
– Sailed: 23 September 1945 – Manila, Philippine Islands
– C Company members on the ship: Cpl. Thomas Hicks, Cpl. Lawrence Rotharmel,
   Sgt. Eugene Barnes
– Arrived: 16 October 1945 – San Francisco, California
– Letterman General Hospital
– four days of checkups
Discharged: 26 April 1946
Selective Service Registration: 
– 29 April 1946 – required to register for draft
– registration indicated he had been discharged from the Army
Married: 1 June 1946
Children: 1 daughter, 1 son
Died:
– 5 February 2006 – California Valley, California
Buried:
– Santa Margarita Cemetery – Santa Margarita, California

Default Gravesite 1

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