Ortez, PFC Manuel F.

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PFC Manuel Frank Ortez
Born: 8 October 1918 – Huntington Park, California
Mother: Bertha Galavis-Ortez
Home: 1000 Leffingingwell Road, Norwalk, California
Employment: Harold Osborne Studebaker Dealer
Selective Service Registration: 16 October 1940
Contact Person: Bertha Ortez – mother
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 2 April 1941 – Los Angeles, California
Training:
– 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. – mess
– 1:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. – drill
– 5:00 P.M. – retreat
– 5:30 P.M. – mess
– 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
– later the members of the battalion received specific training
– many went to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for training in tank maintenance, radio operation, and other specific jobs
Unit:
– 194th Tank Battalion
– 15 August 1941 – the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 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
– the buoys lined up with a Japanese occupied island hundreds of miles away
– the island had a large radio transmitter
– the squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field
– the planes landed, but it was too late to do anything that day
– The next day – planes were sent to the area
– the buoys had been picked up
– a fishing boat was seen making with a tarp on its deck was seen making its way toward shore.
– communication between the planes and the Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
Overseas Duty:
– 4 September 1941
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 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
– Ship: U.S.A.T. 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, and, the U.S.S. Guadalupe, a replenishment oiler
– heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
– ships belonged to friendly countries
– Tuesday, 16 September 1941 – ships crossed International Dateline
– became Thursday, 18 September 1941
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– lived in tents upon arriving
– received their meals from food trucks
– 15 November 1941 – moved into barracks
– the barracks were open three feet from the bottom of the exterior walls
– above that, the walls were woven bamboo that allowed the air to pass through
Work Day:
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– washing – the lucky man washed by a faucet with running water
– 6:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M. 
– Noon – lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that the climate made it too hot to work
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the term “recreation in the motor pool” was used for this work time
– during this time, the tank crews learned about the M3A1 tanks
– tank commanders read manuals on tanks and taught crews about the tanks
– studied the 30-caliber and 50 caliber machineguns
– spent three hours of each day taking the guns apart and putting them back together
– did it until they could disassemble and assemble the guns blindfolded
– could not fire guns since they were not given ammunition
– the base commander was waiting for General MacArthur to release the ammunition
– 5:10 – dinner
– after dinner, the soldiers were free to do what they wanted to do
Uniforms:
– the battalion wore fatigues to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms 
– 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
– this included going to the PX
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 canoeing at Pagsanjan Falls in their swimsuits
– the country was described as being beautiful
Alert:
– 1 December 1941
– tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– two tank crew members had to stay with the tanks at all time
– 194th guarded the north end of the airfield and the 192nd Tank Battalion guarded the south end
– meals served to men at the tanks by food trucks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– During this time HQ Company supplied the tank companies as they fought to cover the withdrawal toward Bataan
– 8 December 1941
– lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
– planes did not go after tanks
– after the attack 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
– 12 December 1941
– moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
– arrived at 6:00 A.M.
– 15 December 1941
– received 15 Bren gun carriers
– turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
– 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
– 24/25 December 1941
– tank battalions make an end run to get south of Agno River
– 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
– 192nd held from Carmen to Route 3 to Tayug to the northeast of San Quintin
– 26/27 December 1941
– ordered to withdraw
– 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
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
– 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
– 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
– 6/7 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
– 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 the night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
– tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
– tanks also needed overdue maintenance
– 17th Ordnance
– all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
– three per tank platoon
– 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
– 12 January 1942
– 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
– Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
– tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
– tanks knock out the gun
– cleared roadblock with support of infantry
– 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 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
– 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
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.”
– February 1942
– tank battalions on their own guarded airfields
– battalions also guarded beaches to prevent the Japanese from landing troops
– 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
– 3 April 1942
– Japanese launched a new offensive
– tank sent in to attempt to stop the advance
– 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 was made to send a white flag across the battle line
– 11:40 P.M. – ammunition dumps were blown up
– Midnight – A Company and B and D Companies, 192nd, received orders to stand down
– the companies had been ordered to make a suicide attack the morning of April 9 in an attempt to stop the Japanese advance
– 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
– 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.” 
– 6:45 A.M. – the order “CRASH” was sent for equipment to be destroyed
– King found no choice but to accept him at his word
Prisoner of War:
– 9 April 1942
– received the 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
– 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 separated from enlisted men
– 4:00 P.M put on trucks
– officers arrived at Balanga
– Japanese find a handgun in the field bag of an officer
– he was clubbed and bayoneted
– because of this, they were not fed
– Dusk – officers ordered to form ranks and marched
– marched through Abucay and Samal
– 12 April 1942
– 3:00 A.M. – 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
– Noon – fed rice and salt
– first meal
– Afternoon – enlisted men rejoin officers
– 6:30 P.M. – ordered to 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 the march easier
– 13 April 1942
– 2:00 A.M. – 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
– 4:30 P.M. – reached 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
– 14 April 1942
– 4:00 A.M. – POWs awakened
– formed detachments of 100 men and marched to 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
– 9:00 A.M. – Capas – dead fell to the floor 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:
– 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 washing 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
– Japanese turned the water off when they wanted more water
– the POWs could turn the water on without the guards knowing it
– slit trenches overflowed since many of the POWs had dysentery
– flies were everywhere including in camp kitchens and food
Food
– three meals a day
– breakfast – a half cup of soupy rice and occasionally some type of coffee
– lunch – a half of a mess kit of steamed rice and a half cup of sweet potato soup
– dinner – the same as lunch
– all meals were served outside regardless of the weather
– food had improved a little with the issuing of a little wheat flour, some native beans, and a small issue of coconut oil by May 1
– about once every ten days, 3 or 4 small calves were brought into the camp
Barracks
– not enough housing for the POWs
– most slept under buildings or on the ground
– the barracks were designed for 40 men
– those who did sleep in one slept in one with as many 80 to 120 men
– there was no netting to protect the men from malaria-carrying mosquitos 
– many men soon became ill with malaria. 
Hospital
– 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 the Philippine Red Cross was taken by the Japanese for their own use
– a second truck sent by the Red Cross was turned away at the gate
– 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
– to stop the spread of disease, the bodies were moved to one area and 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
– the dead were usually not buried for two or three days
– at one point there were 80 bodies under the hospital waiting to be buried
– work details: if a POW could walk, he was sent out on a work detail
– POWs on burial detail often had dysentery and malaria
– POWs volunteer to go out on work details to get out of camp
– he volunteered to go out on a work detail
– selected for the Bachrach Garage Detail which was part of the Caloocan Work Detail
– POWs on this detail were held at the Bachrach Motor Garage on an island off Manila
– 150 other POWs on the Caloocan Detail collected disabled vehicles at different places on Luzon
– the POWs attempted to get the vehicles running
– those that did not run were tied together with rope and to an operating vehicle
– a POW sat in each vehicle as they were pulled by the operating vehicle to Caloocan or San Fernando
– at either barrio, POWs attempted to get the vehicles running
– those they got running were sent to the Bachrach Garage for further repairs
– captured tanks that the Japanese believed could be repaired were also sent there
– POW made sure they would break down after they left the garage
– the vehicles that could not be fixed were stripped of usable parts
– sent to Japan as scrap
– the Caloocan Detail was down to 50 POWs in 1943
– most of the disabled vehicles had been savaged
– the POWs working at the garage remained there to repair vehicles
– 21 September 1944 – American planes bomb Clark Field
– the Japanese ended the detail
– sent the POW to Bilibid Prison
– some POWs believed this would prevent the Japanese from sending them to Japan
– October 7 – names posted of POWs being sent to Japan
– 10 October 1944 – marched to Pier 7
Hell Ship:
– Boarded: Arisan Maru – 10 October 1944
– the POWs put into one of the ship’s hold
– five POWs died in the first 24 hours
– Sailed: Manila -11 October 1944
– Arrived: Palawan Island – 11 October 1944
– ship hid in a cove to avoid American planes that were attacking Manila
– 8 steel drums served as toilets

– Anton Cichy said, “For the first few days there were 1,800 of us together in one hold. I don’t know how big the hold was but we had to take turns to sit down. We were just kind of stuck together.”

– Calvin Graef said about the conditions in the hold, “We were packed in so tight most men couldn’t get near the cans. And, of course, it was a physical impossibility for the sick in the back of the hold, the men suffering the tortures of diarrhea and dysentery. We waded in fecal matter.”

– POWs hot-wired ventilation system into the lighting system
– Japanese had removed lights but did not turn off the power
– had fresh air for two days
– when the Japanese discovered what had been done, they turned power off
– heat in hold rises and the POWs developed heat blisters
– Japanese acknowledged they had to do something or the POWs would die
– transfer POWs into the second hold
– Sailed: 20 October 1944 to Manila
– Arrived: Manila – 20 October 1944
– Sailed: 21 October 1944
– Sunk: Tuesday – 24 October 1944

– Cichy said, “The Japs told us that they’d be in Formosa the next day to pick up some cargo. They had to make room on deck so they tossed a whole bunch of life preservers down into the hold. I held onto one but didn’t think anything about it.”

– 5:00 P.M. – American submarines spotted in the Bashi Channel of South China Sea
– about 5:40 P.M.
– POWs on deck prepared dinner for POWs in holds
– about half of the POWs had been fed
– POWs on deck hear bells and sirens
– watched as Japanese ran to the bow of the ship
– the torpedo passed in front of the ship
– Japanese ran to the stern
– a torpedo passed behind the ship
– the ship hit by two torpedoes amidships

– Cichy recalled, “When the torpedo hit everybody in the hold hollered ‘Hit her again!’ We wanted to get it over with.”

– although hold was empty some POWs killed
– the ship came to a dead stop
– the POWs cheered wildly until they realized they were facing death

– Lt. Robert S. Overbeck said of the incident: “The third torpedo struck squarely amidships and buckled the vessel but it didn’t break in two.”

– Overbeck also commented on the reaction of the POWs in the holds. “For about five seconds there was panic among us, but there were five or six chaplains who prayed fervently and quieted the men.”

– Japanese guards used guns as clubs to chase POWs on deck into holds
– cover hatches but did not tie hatch covers down
– cut rope ladders into holds
– abandoned ship

– Cichy recalled, “The Japs closed the hatches and left the ship in lifeboats. They must have forgot about the prisoners on deck who had been cooking. When the Japs were off the boat, the cooks opened the hatches and told us to come up. I was just under the deck, but there were a lot of guys down below. One of them escaped by simply walking into the water from a hole in the bulkhead. He was Lt. Robert S. Overbeck, Baltimore.”

– Some POWs climbed on deck and reattached rope ladders

– Cichy stated, “The Japs had already evacuated ship. They had a destroyer off the side, and they were saving their own.”

– On the ship’s deck an American major spoke to the POW s, “Boys, we’re in a helluva a jam – but we’ve been in jams before. Remember just one thing: We’re American soldiers. Let’s play it that way to the very end of the script.” Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them, “Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men.”

– Overbeck also stated, ” We broke into the ship’s stores to get food, cigarettes, and water — mainly water, we were so thirsty. All of us figured we were going to die anyway. The Japs ships, except for the destroyers, had disappeared. All we had were life belts which the Japanese had fortunately thrown down the hold the day before.

“But as darkness settled and our hopes for life flickered, we felt absolutely no resentment for the Allied submarine that had sent the torpedo crashing in. We knew they could not tell who was aboard the freighter, and as far as the Navy could have known the ship could have been carrying Jap troops. The men were brave and none complained.

“Some slipped off their life preservers and with a cherry ‘so long’ disappeared.” The ship sank lower into the water

– Cpl. Glenn Oliver recalled that he was on the port side
– he walked back to see the damage caused by the torpedo
– the deck was peeled back
– he could see water inside the hold washing back and forth
– when a wave went under the ship, the stern would wobble up and down
– he heard the steel tearing
– shortly after this, the stern tore off and sunk
– the rest of the ship began to take on water quickly
– many men on deck tried to find something that floated
– others sat calmly on the deck.

– Graef said, “Men without any fear at all, just stayed where they were. They sat down, got water to drink, got rice to eat…they couldn’t swim. The majority went down with the ship.”

– Oliver recalled, “I could see people still on the ship when it went down. I could see people against the skyline, just standing there.”

– POWs took to the water on anything that would float
– waves were as high as five feet because a storm had just passed
– In the water, many POWs swam to a nearby Japanese destroyer put were pushed underwater with long poles.

– Of this, Glenn Oliver said, “They weren’t picking up Americans. A lot of the prisoners were swimming for the destroyer, but the Japanese were pushing them back into the water.”

– He recalled. “I kept getting bumped by guys wearing life jackets. Nobody wanted to share my planks. I didn’t ask them.”

– three POWs found an abandoned lifeboat and managed to climb in
– they found it had no oars
– the rough seas prevent them from maneuvering the boat to help other POWs
– the survivors stated the Arisan Maru and sank sometime after dark on Tuesday, 24 October 1944

– Oliver – who was not in the boat stated he heard men using what he called “GI whistles” to contact each other “They were blowing these GI whistles in the night. This weird moaning sound. I can’t describe it.”

– only nine POWs of 1803 POWs survived the sinking
– four POWs who survived the night recaptured by the Japanese
– one of these men died in a POW camp
Died:
– Tuesday – 24 October 1944
– his parents learned of his death in 1945:

“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Ortez:

“The International Red Cross has transmitted to this government an official list obtained from the Japanese government, after long delay, of American prisoners of war who were lost while being transported northward from the Philippine islands on a Japanese ship which was sunk on Oct. 24, 1944.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you that your son was among those lost when the sinking occurred and, in the absence of any probability of survival, must be considered to have lost his life. He will be carried on records of the war department as killed in action Oct. 24, 1944. The evidence of his death was received June 16, 1945.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you that your son, PFC Manuel F. Ortez, 39, 231, 899, 194th Tank Battalion, was among those lost when that sinking occurred and, in the absence of any probability of survival, must be considered to have lost his life. He will be carried on the records of the War Department as Killed in Action 24 October 1944. The evidence of this death was received 16 June 1945, the date upon which his pay will terminate and accounts will be closed.

“The information available to the war department is that the vessel sailed from Manila on October 11, 1944, with 1775 prisoners of war aboard. On October 24 the vessel was sunk by submarine action in the south China Sea over 200 miles from the Chinese coast which was the nearest land. Five of the prisoners escaped in a small boat and reached the coast. Four others have been reported as picked up by the Japanese by whom all others aboard are reported lost. Absence of detailed information as to what happened to the other individual prisoners and known circumstances of the incident lead to a conclusion that all other prisoners listed by the Japanese as aboard the vessel perished.

“It is with deep regret that I must notify you of this unhappy culmination of the long period of anxiety and suffering you have experienced. You have my heartfelt sympathy.

“Sincerely yours,

“J. A. Ulio
“Maj. Gen., The Adjutant General of the Army”

Memorial:
– Tablets of the Missing
– American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands

Ortez M

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