Pvt. Erwin Albert Glasenapp
Pvt. Erwin A. Glasenapp was born on January 16,
1916, to Gustave Glasenapp and Hulga
Schmidt-Glasenapp in Douglas County,
Minnesota. He grew up, with his six brothers
and seven sisters, on the family farm fifteen
miles north of Rochester, Minnesota, in Kolmar
Township, Olmsted County, and attended school in a
one room wooden school house. During
the 1920s, his mother passed away.
After graduating grade school, Erwin went to live with his sister Ella's family at 1018 North Twelfth Avenue in Melrose Park, Illinois. It was while living there that he attended Proviso Township High School, in Maywood, Illinois, and was a member of the graduating Class of 1936. After high school, he worked in a restaurant.
Like most young men his age, Erwin knew that the recently passed draft act would result in his serving in the military. To have a say in his military service, he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard's Maywood Tank Company in September of 1940. Erwin also knew that the company was scheduled to be called to federal service and that this duty would fulfill his military obligation.
In the autumn of 1940, the 33rd Tank Company left Maywood for Fort Knox, Kentucky, and became Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. At Fort Knox, the men were trained to perform the various jobs of a tank crew. In Erwin's case, he was trained as a radio operator.
The battalion was next sent to Louisiana and
took part in maneuvers in the late summer of
1941. Unbeknownst to them, they had
already been selected for duty in the Philippine
Islands. They learned of this assignment
while sitting on the side of a hill at Camp
The battalion traveled west by train
to San Francisco. Arriving
there, they were taken by ferry to
Angel Island in San Francisco
Bay. At Ft. McDowell, they
were given physicals and
inoculated. Those men
found to have a minor medical
condition were held back and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion at
a later date.
After receiving new equipment, the battalion was sent to Angel Island, where it left the United States for the Philippines. After a stop in Hawaii, the ship sailed under strict blackout conditions. This reinforced the belief in Erwin's and the other members of the 192nd that the United States would soon be at war.
members of B
His tank and
were sent to
About 12:45 in
as the tankers
At first, the
It was only
that they knew
At 7:00 in the morning on April 9, 1942, Erwin became a Prisoner of War. He took part in the death march and believed that the worst part of the march was the 100 degree temperatures and the lack of food, the lack of water, and the lack of rest. He recalled watching American prisoners being beaten, shot and bayoneted by the Japanese guards because they could not keep up with the column.
For Erwin, the march took six days and nights to complete before he arrived at Camp O'Donnell. This camp was terribly inadequate for the number of men being held there. If a man wanted a drink, he had to stand in line at the water faucet for hours to get one. There was only one faucet for the entire camp.
As a POW, Erwin was next sent to Cabanatuan in
May 1942. It is not known if he went out
on any work details. Camp medical records
indicate that he was hospitalized on March 23,
1943. The reason why he was hospitalized
and the date he was discharged were not
At this camp, Erwin worked in a coal mine shoveling coal into mine cars. The work was extremely hard and done with very little food. The coal was then transported to the Seitetsu Steel Mills. What made the situation even worse were the beatings by the guards and the sickness of the prisoners.
Erwin and the other POWs had no idea of how the war was going until the guards disappeared, and American planes dropped supplies to them. On September 9, 1945, Erwin was liberated by American Forces which contacted his sister and informed her of his liberation.
Erwin returned to the United States on the U.S.S. General R. L. Howze, at San Francisco, on October 16, 1945, and was discharged, from the army, on March 18, 1946. He moved back to Minnesota, and married Betty Sue Keeton, on June 15, 1947, in Pope County, Arkansas. The couple ran a resort in Rochester, Minnesota, and became the parents of a daughter and two sons.
Erwin Glasenapp passed away on June 28, 1999, just hours before his family received the medals he had earned in World War II. Erwin's medals include the Bronze Star, the American Defender of the Philippines Service Medal and the Prisoner of War Medal. He was buried, next to his wife, at Grandview Cemetery, Rochester, Minnesota.
The photo at the top of the page was taken by the Japanese while Erwin was a POW. The photo below, was taken six months after he had been liberated from Hirohata and returned to the United States.