Pvt. Melvin Rojas Madero
Melvin R. Madero was born in San Antonio, Texas, on August 5, 1920.
A few months later his family moved to Salinas, California. Melvin
attended local schools and was a 1939 graduate of Salinas High School.
After high school, he worked as a repairman for the local telephone
Melvin enlisted in the California National Guard on October 10, 1940, and was inducted into federal service on February 10, 1941, as a member of C Company, 194th Tank Battalion. He trained at Fort Lewis, Washington and was sent to San Francisco for inoculations for overseas duty.
Arriving in the Philippine Islands, Melvin and his battalion prepared for maneuvers. The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. Around 12:45 in the afternoon, Melvin lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
For the next four months, Melvin fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
Melvin took part in the death march and was held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell. To get out of the camp, Melvin volunteered to go out on the bridge building detail. The detail's job was to rebuild the bridges that the retreating Filipino and American forces had destroyed as they fell back into Bataan. He remained on this detail until August when the detail ended. He was then sent to a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
At some point, Melvin was sent to Bilibid Prison. He was held there until he was selected for shipment to Japan. On July 16, 1944, Melvin, with 159 other POWs, was taken to the Port Area of Manila. The POWs were boarded onto the Nissyo Maru. The ship sailed on July 17, 1944. After a stop at Takao, Formosa, the ship arrived at Moji, Japan on August 3, 1944.
In Japan he was sent to Fukuoka #23 arriving in the camp on August 5th. The POWs in the camp were used as slave labor in a coal mine. He remained in the camp until he was liberated. He was discharged, from the army, on May 25, 1946.
Melvin returned to Salinas and married Gloria C. Romero. He was the father of a son. Melvin R. Madero passed away on May 12, 1992, in San Diego. He was buried in Section I, Site C-554d, at Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.