|Tec 5 Earl Lemont
T/5 Earl L. Charles Jr., was born on July
21, 1917, to Earl L. Charles Sr. and Anna Charles. With his two
sisters he was raised in Troy, Cleveland, and later Springfield, Ohio.
He was known as "Bud" to his family and friends. He was working as
a sandblaster when he was inducted into the U.S. Army on January 27,
1941, at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. He was sent to Ft. Knox,
Kentucky, for basic training and was assigned to C Company.
After training in Kentucky for nearly a year, Earl took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after these maneuvers that Earl learned that his battalion was being sent overseas. He returned home to say his goodbyes and returned to Camp Polk, Louisana.
Traveling west by train, Earl with C Company was ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. After being inoculated, the company boarded a transport and sent to the Philippine Islands. After arriving in the Philippines, Earl readied his tank for the expected maneuvers.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His tank and the tanks were placed around the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. As they watched, 54 planes approached the airfield. It was only when bombs began to fall that he and the other men knew the planes were Japanese.
Earl spent the next four months fighting the Japanese. On April 9, 1942, he and the other tankers received the news of the surrender. He destroyed his tank and made his way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. It was from the southern tip of Bataan that Earl started what was known would be come known as the death march.
Earl and the other POWs made their way north out of Bataan to San Fernando. The POWs were given little water and even less food. Those who fell were bayoneted or shot. At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that could hold forty men or eight horses. Each car held 100 men. Those who died remained standing until the living left the boxcars. At Capas, the POWs left the cars and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Training Base. There was only one water spigot for 12,000 POWs. Men died while attempting to get a drink. The situation was so bad that Earl volunteered to go out on a work detail back to Bataan. Being that the POWs had poor diets and no medical supplies, most of the men on this detail died. Earl was one of the few to return to Cabanatuan
According to U. S. Army records, T/5 Earl L. Charles Jr. died on June 25, 1942, of dysentery and cerebral malaria at Cabanatuan Prison Camp #1, Philippine Islands. His approximate time of death was 6:00 AM. He was buried in Grave 419, Row 0, Plot 4, in the camp cemetery. During the war, both his parents died not knowing if their son was dead or alive.
After the war on September 23, 1948, his remains were disinterred by a remains recovery team. The remains of T/5 Earl L. Charles Jr. were moved to the new American Military Cemetery outside Manila, Philippine Islands.