Pfc. William Anthony Hauser
| Pfc. William A. Hauser was
born on December 3, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, to
Frank J. Hauser & Carrie Martern-Hauser and
was the youngest of the couple's five
children. With his two sisters and two
brothers, he was raised at 30 South Thurlow Street
in Hinsdale, Illinois, and attended Hinsdale High
School. He worked at International
Harvester, as a mechanic, in the manufacturing of
Bill joined the Illinois National Guard in September of 1940, and was called up to active duty on November 25, 1940. At Fort Knox, Bill trained with the other members of B Company until he was transferred into the newly formed Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion in January 1941. During his time at the fort, he trained as a motorcycle messenger.
In the Summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent on maneuvers in Louisiana. Bill believed that these maneuvers helped to prepare the battalion for the Philippines because the soldiers learned to get on the road and move out within the time limit given to them.
After the maneuvers the battalion members
expected to return to Ft. Knox, but received
orders to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana.
It was on the side of a hill the battalion
learned that they had been selected by General
George S. Patton to go overseas. Bill and
the other members of the battalion were given
leaves home to say their goodbyes. They
returned to Camp Polk and prepared for duty
overseas. They were given M3A1 tanks to
replace their M2A2 tanks and half-tracks to
replace their reconnaissance cars.
On December 8, 1941, Bill and the other members
of Headquarters Company had just finished eating
and returned to loading their machine gun belts
with ammunition. The soldiers were well
aware of the attack on Pearl Harbor and took
note of the planes that had appeared above
them. Bill's commanding officer gave the
signal that the planes were Japanese, and his
platoon was on the go within seconds.
After three days of guarding the airfield, Bill's half-track was ordered to "high ground" located north of the Ban Ban River. This was done so that these soldiers could provide an early warning to the American troops of attacking Japanese planes. Performing this duty, of reconnoitering the enemy, resulted in Bill's half-track being reassigned almost daily to the different tank platoons of the 192nd.
As a reconnaissance half-track driver with Headquarters Company, Bill's duty called for him to scout Japanese positions. This duty brought him and his crew under enemy strafing and bombing. It was on such duty that Bill's half-track came into contact with the Japanese for the first time on Christmas Day, 1941.
While assigned to duty with Lt. William Gentry's C Company platoon, Bill's half-track came under Japanese fire while attempting to find a possible river ford. His crew was ordered to retire and tanks were sent in to meet the enemy. The tanks had gone less than a mile when they ran into a Japanese ambush. Bill recalled that his half-track was fired upon by Japanese mortars. Later in another battle, Bill watched as seven or eight Japanese tanks were destroyed in a tank battle just east of Cabanatuan.
Despite suffering from dysentery and fever, he
continued to fight until Bataan was surrendered
to the Japanese. One morning, after
post-guard duty, Bill and the other soldiers
returned to their base and learned of the
surrender. Not too long afterwards, his
platoon was strafed by low flying Japanese
As a Prisoner of War, Bill started the "Death March" on April 10, 1942, and was subjected to enemy brutality and inhumane treatment. On the march, Bill was threatened and hit, but he never came close to being bayoneted or shot. At one point, he also helped Robert Parr who was having difficulty keeping up with his group.
Bill saw the dead bodies of hundreds of POWs lying along the road. He also witnessed 30 soldiers executed by the Japanese. Bill recalled that the lack of food and water were two of worse things that the POWs who were still alive dealt with on the march. What little water the POWs received often had animal feces floating in it. He recalled that at one point he and the other POWs were were held in an open field and left to bake in the sun.
At San Fernando, the POWs boarded small wooden box cars used to haul sugarcane. The cars could hold forty men, but they were packed into the cars so tightly that they could hardly breath. Disembarking at Capas, the men walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Bill arrived at the camp on April 19th. He
recalled that the lack of food, water and
medicine for the sick were the things that made
Camp O'Donnell a death camp. Bill knew
that he had to get out of the camp, so he
volunteered to go out on a work detail on May
12th. Bill was sent to San Fernando to
retrieve destroyed American equipment as scrap
metal for the Japanese.
After the scrap metal detail ended on September
20th, Bill was imprisoned at Cabanatuan.
There, he spent three months digging graves in
the morning and burying the dead in the
One day while working, Bill's fingers on one hand were crushed when a 55 gallon drum was dropped on his hand. The Japanese insisted that the POWs wear gloves on their hands. In Bill's words taking the glove off his hand was worse than the drum falling on it. The Japanese doctor who treated Bill, removed part of his ring finger resulting in the finger being the same length as his little finger.
The POWs also became very good at sabotaging Japanese munitions. They had lookouts who would warn them if the Japanese were coming. The Americans in the ship's holds would open a box of hand grenades; open the grenade up; dump the gunpowder down the ship's bilge; and reassemble the grenades. If they had been caught, they would have been executed.
Bill remained on this detail until February 1, 1944. On that day, Bill was sent to Bilibid Prison where he remained until April 15th, when he was returned to Cabanatuan. His time in the camp was short, and he was returned to Bilibid on June 29th in preparation of being sent to Japan.
On July 16th the POWs were boarded onto the Nissyo
Maru for transport to Japan and moved and
dropped anchor at the breakwater in the harbor.
The ship remained there until July 23rd when it
moved and dropped anchor off Corregidor at 2:00
P.M. It remained there overnight and sailed
the next day as part of a convoy. On July
26th one of the ships in the convoy was sunk at
3:00 A.M. At 8:00 A.M., on July 28th, the
ships reached Takao, Formosa, and sailed at 8:00
P.M. the same day, for Moji, Japan. From
July 30th to August 2nd, the ships sailed
through a storm, which kept submarines away, and
arrived in Japan on August 4th at midnight.
Upon arriving in Japan, Bill was then sent to Omine Machi, and worked as a slave laborer in a coal mine. In Bill's opinion, the POWs were worked as they were slowly being starved to death. Bill believed that had the atomic bomb not been dropped, the prisoners would have been killed by the Japanese or would not have been able to survive another winter. When news of the surrendered reached the POWs, they remained in Omine Machi for a month living off supplies being dropped by the B-29's.
Bill was officially liberated in September 15,
1945. He and the other POWs were taken to
Wakayama, Japan, where they were boarded onto
the U.S.S. Consolation. Records from the
ship show that Bill was in good health but was
On September 28th, Bill arrived in Manila to be fattened up by the army. He remained at Manila until he sailed for home on the U.S.S. Marine Shark, which arrived in Seattle, Washington, on November 1, 1945. It was a little over four years earlier that Bill had sailed for the Philippines from San Francisco. Bill was sent to Vaughn General Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, and remained at the hospital for several months. He was discharged on April 2, 1946.
After he was released from the hospital, Bill returned to Hinsdale. When he returned home, his father met him at the train station in Hinsdale. There, his father informed Bill that his mother had died while he was a POW. According to his dad, she had died from the stress caused by her worrying about Bill. His father explained to Bill that they did not know if he was alive or dead and that on several occasions, the government approached them offering them his GI insurance check. His dad said they had refused the money because they believed Bill was coming home. Bill told his dad that had he learned that his mother had died, he would have died in the camps because he would have lost hope.
Bill married Catherine Walsh, who was the girl next door. Together they raised three children. William A. Hauser passed away on March 31, 1983, and was buried at Clarendon Hills Cemetery in Darin, Illinois.
Honors given to Pfc. William A. Hauser include
the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Prisoner
of War Medal, the American Defense Service
Ribbon, the Philippine Defense Medal, Philippine
Liberation Medal, and the Philippine Victory