Tec 5 Charles Albert Peterson
T/5 Charles A. Peterson was born in Chicago on
November 3, 1919, to Charles J. Peterson &
Ruth M. Hansen-Peterson. Until the age of
ten, he grew up at 3212 West Addison Street in
Chicago. In 1930, his family moved to 2135
North 72nd Court in Elmwood Park, Illinois, where
he attended Elmwood Park Grade School.
He then attended Leyden Township High School in
Franklin Park, Illinois and was a member of the
Class of 1939.
In early 1940, jobs were extremely hard to get. Charles found himself employed as a shipping clerk at Carson Pirie Scott & Company. Since he did not want to make this his life's work and had heard that all young men were going to be required to serve in the military for one year, he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard as a member of the 33rd Tank Company from Maywood, Illinois.
On November 25, 1940, the Maywood Tank Company
was federalized and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky,
for training. At Fort Knox the name of the
unit was changed to Company B, and it became
part of the 192nd Tank Battalion. While at
Ft. Knox, Charles trained to become a motorcycle
When war broke out, Charles rode a motorcycle
carrying messages between the company
headquarters and the battalion
headquarters. He did this throughout the
four months that Filipino and American forces
slowed the Japanese advance.
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
On April 9, 1942, Charles became a Prisoner of
War when American forces, on the Bataan
Peninsula, were surrendered to Japan. The
members of B Company made their way to Mariveles.
at the southern tip of Bataan. There, they
were searched and the Japanese took what they
wanted from the Prisoner of War.
As a POW, Charles took part in the death march and was interred at Camp O'Donnell. He was one of 100 POWs sent to Camp Olivaris on a work detail. The men on this detail would work in teams of four. Each team would drive a truck into Bataan to recover vehicles that had been destroyed by the retreating Filipino and American forces. Three vehicles were hooked together and onto the truck. Each vehicle would be driven by a man as it was towed to San Fernando. From San Fernando, the vehicles would then be driven to Manila and loaded onto ships bound for Japan.
During this time, Charles was one of five POWs on the detail hospitalized at the Pampanga Provincial Hospital in San Fernando suffering from malaria and dysentery. Charles and Cpl. William Burns, from Company B, were considered so ill that they were placed in the isolation ward. It was there that he died of dysentery and malnutrition on Wednesday, September 9, 1942, and was buried outside of San Fernando at Camp Olivias.
Charles was buried by Pvt. Harry Norowul and Sgt. Bob Peterson of B Company. He was buried next to Cpl. William Burns, another Illinois National Guardsman, and Edrow Singletary of B Company. Charles was 22 years old when he died. His family received word of his death on May 4, 1945.
After the war, Harry Norowul drew a map that helped the Peterson family locate Charles' remains. The family hired an architect who drew a detailed map of the burial site. Charles Peterson's family requested that his remains be returned to the United States. His remains were returned to Illinois, and a memorial service for Charles was held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Elmwood Park. He was reburied, with full military honors, at Mt. Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, Illinois.