Pfc. Philip B. Tripp
Philip P. Tripp was born in Minneapolis on November 9, 1915. He
resided at 3857 Garfield Avenue in Minneapolis. Philip was
inducted into the army and assigned to HQ Company, 194th Tank Battalion
at Fort Lewis, Washington, as a radio operator. This was
done to fill out the ranks of the company which had been created at Ft.
his training, he was sent to radio school at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where
he qualified as a radio operator, which indicates that he was assigned
to one of three tanks assigned to HQ Company.
In September 1941, the 194th was sent to San Francisco for transport to the Philippine Islands. Arriving in the Philippines the battalion was housed in tents since their barracks were unfinished.
On December 8, 1941, Philip lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. For the next four months he saw action in various engagements against the Japanese. On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
In Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan Philip began what became known as the death march. Philip believed that he would have never survived the march had he known how brutal the 65 miles were going to be. He watched as men were shot and beaten. He felt that the Japanese purposely starved the POWs.
At San Fernando, he and the other POWs were crammed into small wooden boxcars for transport to Capas. The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars. Philip and the other POWs made their way to Camp O'Donnell.
The conditions in Camp O'Donnell were so bad that as many as fifty POWs died each day. The burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead. Since there were was only one water spigot for the entire camp, men stood in line for days for a drink. Many died while they waited. The Japanese realizing that something about the conditions in the camp had to done opened a new camp at Cabanatuan. Philip went this camp when it opened. It is not known if Philip remained at Cabanatuan or went out on a work detail.
It is known that in August 1944, Philip was selected to be sent to Japan. He was boarded onto the Noto Maru which sailed for Japan on August 27, 1944. The ship stopped at Takao and Keeling, Formosa before sailing for Moji, Japan. It arrived at Moji on September 9, 1944.
In Japan, Philip was taken to Hanawa Camp which was also known as Sendai #6. The POWs in the camp worked in a copper mine owned by Mitsubishi. Each morning the POWs were marched up the side of a mountain and down into the mine. When the POWs reached the bottom of the mine, they noticed the guards were already waiting for them. Sometime later, the POWs realized that while they had been forced to climb the mountain, the guard entered the mine through an entrance which had been cut through the side of the mountain.
At some point, Philip violated a camp rule. This resulted with him being beaten in the head with an axe handle. Because of the beating, he suffered from headaches the rest of his life.
In August of 1945, the POWs lined up to go to work as usual. This time they were sent back to their quarters. The same thing happened repeatedly over the next few days. The POWs knew something had happened, but no one wanted to think that the war was over. Finally, a Japanese officer stood on a box and announced the Japanese Empire and the United States were no longer enemies. He also told them that the camp was theirs. This was the first time the POWs received news on how the war was going.
Not too long after this, B-29s appeared and dropped food to the prisoners. The Japanese townspeople helped the POWs carry the food to the camp. Since material for clothing was scarce, they were interested more in the silk from the parachutes for clothing than the food in the drums.
One day, a jeep with American soldiers appeared and the soldiers told the former POWs to sit tight until the railroad line had been repaired. After it was repaired, the prisoners took the train and then an LST to Yokohama. Philip then took a destroyer back to the Philippines. The reason for this was that the former POWs were in such poor physical shape that the American Military Command did not want them to be seen back home in this condition. In Philip's case, he had gone from 165 pounds down to 87 pounds.
After being "fattened up" Philip was allowed to return home. He was discharged on April 17, 1946.Philip married and was the father of a son and daughter. He worked as an electrical contractor and was known for his love of food and sense of humor.
Philip B. Tripp passed away on March 25, 1992, in Minneapolis. He was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis in Section 15, Site 2479.