Sgt. Edward Lyle Kolb
Lyle Kolb was the son of William J. Kolb and Lily
Minnie Gertrude Whiting-Kolb and was born on
February 5, 1920, in Maywood, Illinois. With his
two brothers and two sisters, he lived at 510
South 7th Avenue in Maywood. He was called
"Lyle" by his family. Lyle
attended Emerson Grade School and Proviso
Township High School. After
high school, his family moved to 5716 West Lake
Street in Chicago.
Lyle went to Florida to work with his brothers, as a truck driver, in the citrus business. After returning to Illinois, he joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Maywood. Like so many young men at the time, he knew that he would soon be drafted into the army and wanted to fulfill his military obligation.
The tank company was called to federal service in November 1940. The soldiers reported for duty, on November 25th, prepared their equipment for transport, and left for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28th, by train.
The battalion lived in tents when they arrived at the fort because their barracks were not finished. In January 1941, Lyle was transferred to HQ Company after the company was created with men from the letter companies. It is not known what his exact duties with the company were.
In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. HQ Company supplied the tanks and half-tracks with supplies and fuel. They also did maintenance work on the vehicles.
After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. On the side of a hill, the soldiers learned they were being sent overseas. Men who were married or 29 years old, or older, were allowed to resign from federal service. Most of the remaining soldiers were given leaves home to say their goodbyes.
He trained first at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then took part in the maneuvers of 1941 in Louisiana.
After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion traveled over different train routes to San Francisco, California, where they were taken by ferry to Angel Island. At Ft. MacDowell, on the island, they received physicals and inoculations. Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco, on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy. For many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States. The battalion arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd, and the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship, was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing for Manila. At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships sailed the next day for Manila and entered Manila Bay at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7 later that day. At 3:00 P.M. the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those assigned to trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the battalion's tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and that they received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
They spent the next seventeen days preparing their equipment for use in the maneuvers they expected to take part in with the 194th Tank Battalion. They removed cosmoline from their guns, which had been greased to prevent them from rusting at sea, and loaded ammunition belts.
On Monday, December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard it against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the northern half of the airfield while the 192nd protected the southern half. At all times, two crew members had two remain with their tank or half-track and received their meals from food trucks. HQ Company made sure that the companies had what they needed.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were ordered the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. All morning long as they sat on their tanks, they watched as American planes filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed.
As the tankers were having lunch, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. Since they had few weapons that could be used against Japanese, they could do is watch.
On December 21st, the 192nd was sent to Lingayen Gulf in an attempt to stop the Japanese from landing troops. Lyle, along with the other members of HQ Company worked to keep the tank companies supplied and fueled.
During this time, Lyle's parents received a letter from him. In it, he told them that and the other men were fine as as they kept clean. His parents had one clue about when the letter was written. In it he stated that it was a week before his birthday.
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans. They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
Lyle and his company finally boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. At some point, outside of Mariveles, they were ordered by the Japanese out of their trucks. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were order to move to a schoolyard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum which had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs who could do little to protect themselves since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
Once at San Fernando, the POWs were put into a bull pen and ordered to sit. They had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down. Two were still alive and when one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, the Japanese hit him in the head with a shovel and buried him.
The POWs were ordered to form 100 men detachments. Once this was done, they were marched to the train station in San Fernando and put into a small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing - since they could not fall to the floor - until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas. From Capas, they walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese pressed into service as a Prisoner of War camp. It turned out to be a death trap with as many as fifty POWs dying each day. There was only one working water faucet for the entire camp. To get a drink, men stood in line for days and many died while waiting for a drink.
He then was sent to Cabanatuan. On Thursday, June 18, 1942, Lyle was admitted into the camp hospital, and assigned to Barracks 22, after coming down with with malaria. On July 16, 1942, Lyle died of malaria at approximately 11:30 PM. He was buried in the camp cemetery. His parents did not learn of his death until July 1945.
After the war, in 1949, the remains of Sgt. Edward L. Kolb were returned to the United States and buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.