Capt. Donald LeRoy Hanes


    Capt. Donald L. Hanes was born on August 10, 1903, in Hoopeston, Illinois, to Charles K. Hanes & Opha D. Kincade-Hanes.  His given name was Marion Donald LeRoy Hanes, but he was known as "Don" to his family.  His family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania.  While living there, he graduated from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.
    Donald married, Gertrude Mielke, in Wheaton, Illinois, on September 12, 1924.  The couple made their home in Downers Grove, Bellwood, and later at 406 Oak Street in Maywood.  They were the parents of a son, Charles.   Donald worked as a machinist at a diesel motor manufacturer.
    When he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard, he used Donald as his first name on his military records.  He became a member of the regular army when the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard, from Maywood, was called to federal duty in the fall of 1940.  With his company, now Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion, he trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 
    As a lieutenant Donald became commanding officer of Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion when Headquarters Company was formed in January, 1941.  At some point, he was promoted to captain.  The reason for this was that Capt. Ted Wickord became commanding officer of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
    Donald took part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  When the maneuvers were completed, the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion were told that their time in federal service had been extended from one to six years.  After those soldiers and officers deemed to be "too old" to go overseas were released from federal duty, the battalion members received passes home to take care of unfinished business.
    In October of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to the Philippine Islands.  The battalion arrived in the Philippines two weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  With the other members of his company, Donald lived through the bombing of Clark Field on December 8, 1941. 
    Being the commanding officer of B Company, Donald was ordered to take his company to Dau, a barrio to the east of Clark Field.  The barrio had excellent roads and a rail line which could be used to move troops.
    During the Battle of Bataan,  a detachment of his company was sent sent to rescue the 26th U. S. Cavalry who were engaged with the Japanese.  The Japanese had trapped the cavalry in a morass of rice fields.  This was the first time in World War II that American tanks engaged the enemy.  During the rescue, his tanks fought on terrain they were not designed to fight on.
    During one engagement, Capt. Hanes's tank was hit from behind by a 75 mm shell.  The shell's concussion knocked the crew out for an indefinite period of time.  When they came to their senses, the tank was still moving but in the opposite direction.
    The theory on how this had happened was that the impact from the 75 mm shell had lifted the tank and spun it around.  When the tank landed, it was headed toward home.  Unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, this theory was the one that the tank crew accepted.
    The battle continued through the night with the crews of the tanks fighting blind.  The only thing lighting the darkness was the flashes of the cannons.  After one such flash, a Japanese tank loomed up out of the darkness.  Capt. Hanes's tank crew fired at the tank with everything they had.  They saw a streak of fire come out of the darkness.  The fire grew until it was a torch outlining the riddle hulk of a Japanese tank.
    A single burning Japanese soldier jumped from the tank.  He quickly fell to the ground dead.  None of the men remembered having any feelings about the incident.   The reason was that seeing men die had become a daily occurrence and had left them numb.
    At dawn, Capt. Hanes's company withdrew having accomplished their mission.  Reaching a flat valley, the tanks stopped, and his men dropped off to sleep in the hot tanks.  This rest did not last long because his tanks were called upon to stop the Japanese once again.  The Japanese were two miles away attempting to split an American infantry regiment.  Capt. Hanes' tanks engaged the Japanese, fought all day and stopped their advance.  This allowed the regiment to withdraw before the tanks withdrew themselves.
    It was sometime in early 1942, that Capt. Hanes was transferred to Headquarters Company.  With this transfer, he gave up his command of B Company.
    When the Philippine Islands were surrendered to the Japanese, Capt. Donald Hanes became a Prisoner of War.  He was first held at Camp O'Donnell.  While a prisoner there, Capt. Hanes was selected for a work detail to rebuild bridges commanded by Lt. Col. Ted Wickord.  
    While on the detail, Hanes was assigned to the POW detachment sent to a saw mill to cut wood to be used in the bridges.  The Japanese officer in charge warned the POWs that if anyone escaped, those left behind would be executed.   Six POWs escaped leaving behind four others.  The Japanese came into the POW barracks, tied up the four men, and took them outside.
    The Japanese made the POWs kneel.  As they knelt, the Japanese hit them with sticks.  They hoped to detach the muscles in the legs.  When this detail was over, Capt. Hanes was sent to Cabanatuan Camp #1.  The Japanese later took the men away and shot them.  After the execution, Hanes showed the grave to Col. Ted Wickord, of the 192nd, who was the commanding American officer on the detail.
    In the fall of 1944, Hanes was sent to Bilibid Prison to await shipment to Japan on the Oryoku Maru.  The ship left Manila and was strafed and bombed by American planes off the coast of Luzon, Philippine Islands.  It was only when the pilots saw the large number of men jumping into the water that they realized that the Oryoku Maru was a POW ship.  The reason that the pilots did not know the ship was carrying prisoners was that the Japanese refused to mark the ship with "Red Crosses."
    The Brazil Maru sailed for Japan from Takao on January 14, 1945.  On the ship were the survivors of the Oryoku Maru and the Enoura Maru.  After a sixteen day trip, the Brazil Maru arrived at Moji on January 30th.  In Japan, Hanes was held as a POW at Fukuoka POW Camp #1.  This camp was known by the name, "The Pine Tree Camp."  But, by the time Hanes arrived in Japan, he was extremely ill.  Capt. Donald Hanes died on February 5, 1945, of dysentery at Fukuoka Camp #1 in Japan.  On the camp report, his cause of death was listed as "debility" or physical exhaustion.  His remains were cremated and given to the camp commandant.
    According to Ted Wickord, the son of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, the Hanes family rented the apartment in the two flat that his family owned in Maywood.  He had been told by his mother that he should intercept any telegram sent to Mrs. Hanes.  Somehow, Mrs. Hanes received the telegram telling of her husband's death.  Ted, his mother, and brother did not know this until they heard the sound of Mrs. Hanes falling to the floor after reading the telegram. Ironically, two days later a postcard from Capt. Hanes arrived stating that he was in good health.
    After the war, on September 27, 1949, the remains of Capt. Donald L. Hanes were buried in Section 82, Site 1B-1D, at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.  Since at that time there was no way to accurately identify his remains, Capt. Donald Hanes was buried in a mass grave with other American POWs who died at Fukuoka Camp #1.  He shares his grave with 2nd Lts. Marshall Kennady, Harry Black, and Everett Preston of the 192nd.
    The photo below shows Capt Donald Hanes' name listed on the headstone of the mass grave.

  


 

 

 

Return to B Company

 

 

 

Next