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Motosko, Pvt. Thomas P.

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MotoskoT

Pvt. Thomas Peter Motosko

Born: 8 March 1919 – Youngstown, Ohio 
Parents: George & Barbara Miklosko
Siblings: 2 sisters, 4 brothers 
Nickname: “Tom” 
Graduated: Woodrow Wilson High School 
– Class of 1940 
Occupation: 
-operated a pool hall and custard stand 
Inducted:
– U. S. Army 
– 25 March 1941 – Cleveland, Ohio 
Training: 
– Fort Knox, Kentucky 
– Assigned to Headquarters Company 
– Louisiana Maneuvers – 1 September – 30 September 1941 
– HQ Company supplied letter companies 
– Camp Polk, Louisiana 
Note: The decision for this move – which had been made in August 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:
– battalion travels by train, over four different train routes to San Francisco, California
– taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay by ferry – U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– October 25th & 26th – physicals given
– some men released
– others held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– replacements fill these positions
– Boarded: U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– arrived in the morning
– soldiers receive leave
– Sailed: Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– took southerly route away from main shipping lanes
– joined by the heavy cruiser – U.S.S. Louisville and S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – soldiers went to sleep
– ships cross International Dateline
– awoke on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– Saturday – 15 November 1941
– smoke seen on horizon
– Lousiville revved its engines, its bow came out of water, and it shot off in the direction of
   the smoke
– smoke was from a ship considered friendly
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday – 16 November 1941
– ship loaded vegetables, bananas, water, coconuts
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Manila, Philippine Islands – 20 November 1941
– entered Manila Bay – 8:00 A.M.
– disembarked in the afternoon
– battalion rode train to Fort Stotsenburg
– tanks unloaded by 17th Ordnance
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– lived through attack on Clark Field
– HQ Company remained in battalion bivouac
– members took cover in dry latrine
– lived through two more heavy attacks on December 10 and 13
– 15 December 1941
– each battalion received 15 Bren Gun Carriers
– used to see if ground could support tanks
– 21 December 1941
– 192nd ordered to support 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts at Lingayen Gulf
– Japanese landing troops
– HQ Company went north to support tank companies wherever they were
– 22 December 1941 – first tank battle
– tanks make run to Damortis
– tanks supported 26th Cavalry
– 26th Cavalry did not want tank support
– 71st Division Commander said that they would clutter up their action
– 23/24 December 1941
– operated north of the Agno River
– main bridge at Carmen blown
– tank battalions made end runs to get south of Agno River
– 24 December 1941
– tank battalions held line along south bank of Agno River
– 192nd held left side of line from west of Carmen (on Route 3)
– critical points – held position for 24 hours
– 25/26 December 1941 – tank battalions organized tank defenses
– 192nd held line from Carmen (Route 3) to Tayug – northeast of San Quentin
– critical points held by tanks
– some tanks only in radio contact with each other
– ordered to hold position until 5:00 A.M. – 27 December 1941
– 26/27 December 1941
– 192nd tanks ordered to form new defensive line from Carmen to Umigan
– destroyed most of 44,000 gallons of 100-octane gas
– 27 December 1941 – withdrew from line that night
– formed new line: Santa Ignacia – Gerona – Santo Tomas – San Jose
– 27/28 December 1941 – withdrew
– formed new line: Tarlac – Cabanatuan
– 28/29 December 1941
– dropped back and formed: Bamban Gapan Line
– 29/30 December 1941
– new line behind Bamban River
– ordered to hold until they received further orders
– 31 December 1941/1 January 1942
– tanks covering area north of Calumpit
– 2 January 1942 – tanks ordered to Lyac Junction to covering position
– cover withdrawal toward Bataan
– 192nd covered northwest flanks
– 194th withdrew covered by 192nd
– 6 January 1942
– tank battalions held line between Culis and Hermosa
– 6/7 January 1942
– 192nd covered withdrawal of 194th
– 192nd last American unit to enter Bataan
– bridge blown after it crossed
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– 8 January 1942 – composite tank company created
– held East Coast Road open
– under constant enemy fire
– tank battalions bivouac just south of Pilar-Bagac Road
– tank companies reduced to 10 tanks
– HQ Company and 17th Ordnance do needed maintenance on tanks
– 13 January 1942 – tanks dropped back to battalion bivouac
– 20 January 1942 – withdrawal from Abucay-Hacienda Line
– 192nd covered East Coast Road
– 25 January 1942 – Balanga-the Cadre Road-Bani Bani Road
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.”
– 25/26 January 1942
– Balanga – bridge battalion was to use destroyed by artillery fire
– battalion had to use alternate roads west of Balanga
– 28 January 1942 – beach duty
– 192nd from Pandan Point to Limay
– also was suppose to support sub-sectors A and B
– during day tanks remained under jungle canopy
– at night the tanks were moved onto beaches
– 31 January 1942
– half-tracks patrolled roads
– 1 February 1942
– tanks and half-tracks take on protecting three airfields
– Battle of the Pockets
– Japanese attacked and were pushed back creating two pockets behind the main defensive line
– tanks sent in to wipe out pockets
– tanks would enter pocket one at a time
– another tank would not enter until tank that was relieved left the pocket
– first method used against Japanese
– three Filipinos soldiers rode on back of tanks
– as tank passed over Japanese foxhole, Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into foxhole
– one of the three hand grenades usually exploded
– second method used against Japanese
– tank would park with one track over foxhole
– tank driver gave power to other track causing the tank to go in a circle
– tank ground its way into ground
– March 1942
– Japanese had been fought to a standstill
– suffered from same illnesses affecting Americans
– 3 April 1942
– fresh troops brought in from Singapore
– lunch major offense
– 6 April 1942
– tanks sent to various areas in attempt to plug holes in defensive line
– 8 April 1942
– Gen. Edward P. King
– determined only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight
– would last one more day
– feared that the 6,000 troops who were hospitalized and 40,000 Filipino civilians would be
   slaughtered
– 10:30 P.M. – sent staff officers to meet with Japanese and negotiate surrender terms
Note: Tank battalion commanders received this order: “You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word ‘CRASH’, all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished.”
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps blown up
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– Prisoner of War
– remained in bivouac for two days
– 11 April 1942
– Japanese enter bivouac
– ordered out on main road that ran in front of bivouac
– knelt on both sides of road
– Japanese troops passing them took whatever they wanted from POWs
– drove trucks to outside of Mariveles
– herded into field
– Japanese soldiers formed a firing squad
– POWs sat and waited to see what was going to happen
– Japanese Naval officer pulls up in car
– gets out and talks to Japanese sergeant in charge of firing squad
– Naval Officer got back in car and drove off
– sergeant orders Japanese soldiers to lower their guns
– POWs ordered to move
– no idea that they had started the march
– Death March
– POWs started march at the southern tip of Bataan
– POWs ran past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor
– American artillery on Corregidor returned fire – shells landed among the POWs
– marched through Cabcaben, Orani, Layac, and Guagua
– San Fernando
– herded into a bullpen
– organized into detachments of 100 men
– marched to train station
– POWs put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane
– During train ride between San Fernando and Capas, Motosko recalled that those POWs who
   died couldn’t fall because the POWs were packed in the small wooden boxcars,
   “They couldn’t fall. They’d use to be standing there, next to you, dead.”
– Capas – POWs left boxcars – the dead POWs fell to the floor
– POWs walked the 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 entire camp
– POWs waited 2½ hours to 8 hours to get a drink
– water frequently turned off by Japanese guards and next man in line waited as long as
   4 hours for 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
– 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 camp hospital lay on 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
– ground under hospital was scrapped and covered with lime to clean it
– the dead were moved to this area and the section where they had laid was scrapped
   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 new POW camp to lower death rate
– 1 June 1942 – POWs formed detachments of 100 men
– POWs marched out 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
– train stopped at Calumpit and switched onto the line to Cabanatuan
– POWs disembark train at 6:00 P.M. and put into a schoolyard
– fed rice and onion soup
– 4 June 1942 – transfer of POWs completed
– only sick POWs remained at Camp O’Donnell
– Cabanatuan
– original name – Camp Pangatian
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– put into use by Japanese as a POW camp
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there in 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 lined up
– 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 treatment of POWs
– spoke little English
– to get POWs to work faster said, “speedo”
– Little Speedo
– also used “speedo” when he wanted POWs to work faster
– fair in treatment of POWs
– 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 their heads driving the man’s face 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 cemetery at a time in litter
– 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 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 bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6 foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given 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 – 24 August 1942 – malaria & dysentery
– discharged – no date given
– most likely went out on daily work details that farmed, cut lumber, and did other work
Hell Ship:
Coral Maru
– also known as the Taga Maru
– Departed: Manila – 20 September 1943
Note: Ship stopped Takao, Formosa
– Arrived: Moji – 5 October 1943
POW Camp:
– Japan:
Hirohata #12-B
– Camp:
– less than two acres in area
– 200′ by 400′ in area
– surrounded by a 12′ high wooden fence that was topped with bamboo pointed bamboo spears and barbwire
– Housing:
– POWs housed in two 50′ by 100′ barracks with were not insulated and numerous windows
– slept on straw mattresses on wooden platforms
– the lower platform was 16′ above the floor
– 240 POWs lived in each barracks
– Latrines
– two 25′ by 50′ latrines in the camp
– Meals:
– prepared in a 20′ by 40′ building
– ten men assigned to the kitchen
– cooked food in 13 cauldrons
– rice and watery soup main meal
– POWs ate in barracks on tables in the aisles
– Red Cross food never issued to POWs
– Hospital:
– An American doctor in charge of the hospital but his diagnosis were overruled by a
   Japanese corpsman
– corpsman ordered POWs with fevers to work
– Red Cross medical supplies seldom issued to POWs
– Clothing:
– Red Cross clothing and shoes were misappropriated by Japanese
– Work:
– 30 POWs worked at the camp doing camp maintenance
– 400 POWs worked at the Japan Iron Works Company
– marched to and from iron works
– POWs shoveled coal, fired furnaces, unloaded coke, loaded pig iron onto trains and ships,
   unloaded iron ore from trains and ships
– POW worked from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
– Punishment:
– Japanese POWs for slightest reasons
– POWs beaten with belts, rope, clubs, fists
– hit in faces with belts
– had water thrown on them and made to stand in sub-zero temperatures
– faces pushed underwater in troughs and hit in the back of the head with clubs when they
   attempted to pull face out of the water
– for stealing rice, 16 POWs were lined up and beaten in their faces with a wide, doubled
   over belt
– another 40 POWs were made to kneel for 8 hours
– every POW in the camp was made to kneel for 5 hours because a rule was violated
Liberated: 9 September 1945
– 12 September 1945 – boarded ship to be returned to the Philippines
– 22 September 1945 – arrived in the Philippines
Transport:
Simon Bolivar
– Sailed: Manila
– Arrived: San Francisco, California – 21 October 1945
Married: Sophie Medvec
– she died nine months later of rheumatic heart disease
Married: Mary D’Amato – 1949
Children: 2 daughters, 3 sons
Residence: Youngstown, Ohio
Occupation: sold home improvement products
Died:
– 23 February 2013 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Buried: Youngstown, Ohio
Note 1: Tom’s younger brother, Paul, was killed in action liberating the Philippines
– 2 February 1945.
– buried at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.
Note 2: Thomas Motosko was the last surviving member of Headquarters Company

 

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