Pvt. Walter L. Tucker
Pvt. Walter L. Tucker was born to Erie Thomas
and Jerusha Emiline Tucker on January 29, 1921, in the town of Carbon
in Eastland County, Texas. He was one of six sons born to the
couple. He grew up on farms outside of Carbon
and attended school in both Carbon and
On March 17, 1941, Walter enlisted in the United States Army. After basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was transferred to the Headquarters Company, 192nd Tank Battalion as a replacement. He joined the battalion as it was preparing for assignment in the Philippine Islands. With the 192nd in October of 1941, he was sent to Angel Island. From here, the men first traveled to Hawaii and then Guam. The battalion arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day. Two weeks later, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Walter witnessed the Japanese bombing of Clark Field.
During the battle to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands, Walter worked as a truck driver supplying the men of the 192nd Tank Battalion with ammunition and fuel. Other men that he worked with were Pvt. Alex Gorr of Company B, Pvt. Joe Trilicik and Pvt. William Peavler both of Headquarters Company. As a truck driver, Walter carried ammunition and gasoline to the tanks while dodging bombs from Japanese planes. Walter performed this duty for four months.
On April 9, 1942, Walter became a Prisoner Of War when the Filipino and American forces on Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese. Walter and the other men remained in the camp for two days before they were ordered to move out to the road that passed their encampment. As they knelt alongside the road, Japanese soldiers took whatever they wanted from Walter's and the soldier's possessions.
HQ Company boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, Walter and the other POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up to the Japanese soldiers in a car. He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Walter was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. In the school yard, they found themselves between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum. Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide. Some of the POWs were killed from incoming shells.
The POWs were ordered to move by the Japanese. Walter and the other men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march he received no water and little food. He saw soldiers, desperate for water, shot because they attempted to get water from artesian wells alongside the road. At San Fernando, he was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. The POWs were packed into the cars so tightly that those who died remained standing. He and the other POWs disembarked from the cars at Capas and walked the last few miles to Camp O' Donnell
Walter's first POW camp was Camp O' Donnell. From there, he would be returned to Bataan to drive trucks. While on this detail, he was reunited with Pvt. Alex Gorr and Pvt. Bland Moore both of the 192nd. After this detail was completed, he was then sent to Cabanatuan. In addition to Cabanatuan, he would spend time at Bilibid and Nichols Field.
As a POW, his time at Nichols Field was spent constructing a runway which was extremely painful work for him. He had no clothing but a Japanese supplied G-string and a straw hat to protect him from the sun. Daily, he and the other POWs were marched through the town of Pasay to work and from work. Walter spent 28 months on this detail.
Walter next was sent to Japan on the Nissyo Maru on July 17, 1944. The ship sailed to Japan arriving on August 3, 1944 after stopping at Formosa. In Japan he was sent to Oeyama Camp to work in a nickel mine. With a pick and shovel, he and the other POW's had to extract ore from the mine. When they loaded a car, they next had to push it to the railroad track that ran past the mine. The prisoners had to work in all types of weather. For Walter, working in snow as deep as six feet deep was the worst part of the experience. To protect the prisoners' feet from the elements, the Japanese supplied them with rubber boots. The pair Walter received had a hole in one of the toes which resulted in him having frozen feet.
Walter and the other POW's knew how the war was going because the Japanese interpreter would give them the news. One day at formation, the commanding officer announced to the POW's that the war was over. On September 9, 1945, the POWs were freed. Walter returned to the United States on October 20, 1945.
After the war, Walter remained in the military and transferred to the United States Air Force. He served in Spain and at various bases in the U. S. After twenty years in the military, he retired at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. he married and was the father of three sons. After several years in North Dakota, he moved back to Eastland, Texas.
Walter L. Tucker passed away on May 3, 2005, in Eastland, Texas.