Sgt. William Arthur Kindell

     Sgt. William A. Kindell was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on December 20, 1916, to Irwin Lee Kindell and Cecelia Danz-Kindell.  He was the youngest of three boys and a member of an extended family that lived in both Maywood and Oak Park.  He also had a half-sister.  Bill grew up at 1235 South 20th Avenue in Maywood and was a graduate of Proviso Township High School.  

    Before enlisting in the Illinois National Guard, Bill worked as a machine operator with Chicago Metal Hose.  On September 24, 1940, he joined the Maywood Tank Company.  His reasons for doing this were that he could not get a good job, and the draft act requiring males to serve one year in the military had been passed into law.  It was Bill's hope to complete his one year of military duty and get on with his life.

    On November 25, 1940, Pvt. William A. Kindell and the other members of the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard were called to federal duty as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.  At Fort Knox, Kentucky, the members of the company received training in the operation and maintenance of all the equipment used by the company.  It was also while on duty there that Bill was assigned to duty in the supply detachment as supply sergeant.

    In 1941, after completing training at Ft. Knox, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent on maneuvers to Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, they were ordered to remain at Camp Polk. 
None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.

    The first week of December, 1941, the tankers were ordered to Clark Field to assigned locations.  At all times, two members of each tank crew or half-track crew had to remain with their tank or half-track.   
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The returned to their tanks at the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

    As a supply sergeant, Bill was in charge of mess.  Bill watched as the ammunition and food slowly ran out.  Meals for the men in the field were rice boiled or steamed.  At the time of surrender, there was nothing left to feed the men.  He also had to deal with the problem of finding the tanks since they were constantly on the move.

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tankplatoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.  The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. 

    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff. 
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    As supply sergeant, Bill had to get ammunition and gasoline to the tanks during all these engagements.  This often meant that the trucks were sent out to a location where that tanks had been the day before.  At times, while doing this, the trucks would end up behind Japanese lines and had to race there way back to American lines.  At some point, he was wounded while doing his job and awarded the Purple Heart.

    On April 9, 1942, Bill became a Prisoner of War.  He took part in the death march and witnessed beatings and killings.  As a POW, Bill was first imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell.  The conditions in the camp were extremely bad.  He felt that they were treated fairly, but the situation was bad because of the lack of medicine and one water faucet.  From Camp O'Donnell, Bill was sent out on a work detail to build bridges.  This detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.

    When this detail ended, Bill was next imprisoned at Cabanatuan #3.  He was selected again for a work detail and was sent to Las Pinas.  The POWs on the detail built runways at Nichols Field with picks and shovels.  He did not remain there long and was sent back to Cabanatuan. 

    At 2:00 AM in the morning on October 5th, Bill and other POWs were awakened and transported to Pier 7 in Manila.  Once there, they were housed in a warehouse on the pier.  They remained there for two days.  On October 7, 1942, Bill boarded a Tottori Maru.

    The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed.  Many POWs died during the trip.

    The ship sailed at 10:00 A.M. on October 8th, the Tottori Maru sailed passing Corregidor at noon.  The next day it came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine which fired two torpedoes at it.  The captain of the ship maneuvered the ship and successfully avoided the torpedoes.  The ship also avoided a mine that had been laid by a American submarine.

    The Tottori Maru continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa on October 11th.  The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing on October 16th at 7:30 A.M.  It returned to Takao the same day dropping anchor at 10:30 P.M.   It sailed again on October 18th for the Pescadores Islands, arriving the same day. It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao.  The next day, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.

    The ship sailed again on October 30th to Makou, Pescadores Islands dropping anchor at 5:00 P.M.  On October 31st, the ship sailed as part of a seven ship convoy for Pusan, Korea.  During this trip, the ship was caught in a typhoon which took five days to ride out.  After the typhoon, the ships were attacked by an American submarine which sunk one ship.  The other ships scattered during the attack.

    After 31 days on the ship, the Tottori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea, on November 7th.  1300 POW's got off the ship on November 8th and were issued new clothes and fur-lined overcoats.  They were marched to the train station and took a two day train trip north to Mukden, Manchuria.  There, they worked in a sawmill or a manufacturing plant.

    From Korea, Bill was sent to Mukden, Manchuria.  The POWs in this camp were used as slave labor in a machine shop or wood shop.  In Bill's case, he worked in the M. K. K. Factory.  There he worked as a machine helper for the rest of the war.  The prisoners worked eight hour shifts five days a week. 
    To prevent themselves from contributing to the Japanese war effort, the POWs committed acts of sabotage.  One act was to put sand into the oil holes on the machines.  The POWs got away with this because the Japanese guards believed the Chinese civilians were the ones doing it. 
    Meals for the POWs consisted of a soy bean soup.  To supplement their meals, the POWs made snares to catch the wild dogs that roamed into the camp.  They did this until a detachment of POWs witnessed a dog eating a body of a dead Chinese civilian.
    One day, four POWs escaped from the camp and made their way to the Russian border.  They were turned in to the Japanese by Chinese peasants and returned to the POW camp.  Once in camp, they were put in cells and remained in them until they were taken to a cemetery and shot.

    During his years as a prisoner, Bill at times suffered from beriberi, jaundice, kidney stones, pneumonia, which developed into tuberculosis, diphtheria, tropical ulcers, scurvy,  skin rashes and malnutrition.  Medical treatment consisted of advice since there was little or no medicine.    The lack of medical supplies at Mukden resulted in the deaths of 204 American POWs by June 6, 1943.
    The only news on the war that the prisoners had were rumors passed between each other.  He developed the attitude that he was not going to survive his time as a POW.   
    Bill was selected to send a radio message home by shortwave radio.  A radio message from Bill was received by shortwave radio operators in late 1944.  In the broadcast he said:

    "Dear Mother and Dad:

          We are allowed another opportunity to send a radiogram to you.  (Unintelligent)  It has always been my biggest - worry and I certainly hate - and- I want to tell you how glad I was to receive the package and letters.  I miss all the folks but all of us will be together again soon and then - all of you again.

                                                                                        "Your loving son,
                                                                                                            Bill "

    On August 20, 1945, a B-24 flew over the camp, circled and dipped its wrings to the POWs.  It was also on this date that six parachutists were dropped into the camp.  As it turned out, these men had been sent to negotiate the surrender of the camp. 

    Later the same day, the POWs at Mukden were liberated by the Russians and told that they were free. The Russians had the POWs watch as they had the Japanese go through an official surrender ceremony.  In the ceremony, the Japanese guards were paraded past the POWs and made to lay down their arms. The Japanese officers were made to lay down their swords.  Bill wrote to his parents about the events.

"Dear Mom & Dad:

    At last time has come that I can write you once again as a free man and now that I can, I don't know what to say. 
    On August 16, six Americans dropped by chutes (I saw them but thought they were Japs practicing.) and made their way to this camp to bring the news, but the Jap commander would not believe them and we couldn't talk to them until late the next day.  They were only here to tell us the good news and to radio our needs out.  On August 20th a B-24 flew over, oh what a sight and thrill!  It circled around the camp and flipped its wings to us.  Later in the day some Russians came into the camp and made a speech saying 'from this day on we were free men.'  The men went wild.  The Russians than paraded all the Japanese personnel onto the parade ground and the enlisted men laid down their arms and the officers their swords and then present our own guards each with a rifle and shook their hands and since then we have the camp to ourselves.  Nobody is allowed to go to Mukden because we don't have any decent clothing and it is a dangerous town.  The Chinese are looting and killing the Japs.  The Russians gave them three days to do what they want to.
    Ever since the first six men came in we have been touch with the outside.  The generals are suppose to be flying out in three or four days and then so on down the line.  We have no idea how long did it take to get out, but they do tell us we will go from here to Chungking and from there nobody knows what.
    The end was very quiet.  We had been on air raid alert but their was no bombing. 
    Now, I suppose you would like to hear about me, here goes.  I am well, I have been working outside since January and haven't felt any better since I have been a P.O.W., although I only weigh  about 130 pounds.  I still have my glasses but they are in a hell of a shape.  I also have all  my teeth plus four wisdom teeth.
                                                                                                                August 25th
    Was able to go to town yesterday, so I didn't get to finish this.  We don't know when we will leave here as of yet but it is almost for sure that we will fly out, to where I don't know but they tell us it will only be about three weeks until we are out of here.  If I don't get home for several months.  I want you to start making plans for the biggest and best Christmas that we ever had, of course that is if everybody is all right.  Sherm etc.  That is all for now.  

                                                                                                            All my Love,

    The former prisoners remained in Russian hands for one month until they were released to American relief workers in Darien, China.  On September 23, 1945, Bill sailed on the U. S. S. Howze for the United States arriving in San Francisco on October 13, 1945.

    From San Francisco, Bill was sent to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.  He was next sent Vaughan VA Hospital outside Chicago, and arrived there on October 21st.  He was next sent to Wood Veterans Administration Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for further treatment.  The reason he was sent there was that while he was a POW, his parents had moved from Maywood to Summit Lake, Wisconsin, due to his father's health problems.

    Bill was almost discharged on several occasions, but because of health issues, he continued to remain in the army.  When he was finally discharged, it was with the rank of Staff Sergeant.   He also left the hospital minus six ribs and a collapsed lung.  Bill found it ironic that his hope of getting his one year of military service over by joining the Illinois National Guard took him over eleven years to complete.

    After he was discharged, he studied medical photography and worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.  Bill married Delores Sanhuber, a Veterans Administration nurse, and became a father of two daughters and a son.

    Bill was awarded the Two Oak Leaf Cluster on Distinguished Service Unit Badge,  Purple Heart, Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Clasp, World War II Victory Medal, and Philippine Defense Ribbon with Bronze Star.

    William A. Kindell passed away on December 26, 1994, in Fresno, California.  His remains were cremated and interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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