Tec 5 Eber L. Boden
T/5 Eber L. Boden was born on December 26, 1917, in Oakwood, Oklahoma.
He was the son of Charles H. and Marguerite Lamar-Boden. With his
six brothers and one sister, he grew up on the family farm about four
miles from Oakwood. Eber was known as "Eb" to his family
and friends. He attended Bell School and Oakwood High School
from which he graduated in 1935. He
was popular in high school and known for his love of learning. One
of the things he really enjoyed was writing poetry.
On March 24, 1941, Eber was drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He remained at the army base for one week before he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky. At Ft. Knox, he attended tank mechanics' school. Upon completion of this training in July 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana were he assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.
In September 1941, maneuvers took place in Louisiana. One of the tank battalions involved in the maneuvers was the 192nd. This battalion was made up mainly of National Guardsmen from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. It was after the maneuvers that the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk. It was on the side of a hill that the members of the battalion learned that instead of being released from federal service, that they were being sent overseas. Any soldier 29 years old or older or who was married was given the opportunity to resign from federal service. After this was done, replacements for these men were sought among the members of the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Eber volunteered to join the 192nd and was assigned to D Company. He and the rest of his company rode a train west to San Francisco. They next were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay for physicals and inoculations.
Eber's company was boarded onto a transport and sailed for Hawaii. After a stay short over at Hawaii, the ship sailed to Guam and arrived at Manila on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. The soldiers were taken to Ft. Stotsenburg where they were housed in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.
The morning of December 8, 1941 the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers. Just ten hours earlier, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. All morning the tankers had watched as American planes filled the sky. At 12:30 in the afternoon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45, the tankers were eating lunch when they saw a formation of planes approaching the airfield from the north. Many of the tankers commented how beautiful the planes looked. It was only when they heard the sound of the bombs whining, as they fell from the planes, that they knew the planes were Japanese.
Eber and the other men could do little more than seek cover, during the raid, since their weapons were not designed to fight planes. After the attack, they were amazed at the damage that the bombing had done. Most of the American planes which had filled the sky just hours before had been destroyed.
For the next four months, Eber fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. It was during this time that D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion but remained under the command of the 192nd. It is known that D Company was sent to an area south of Manila on December 12th. For the next few weeks, they dropped back toward the Bataan Peninsula.
On April 9, 1942, Eber became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. He took part in the death march and made his way to San Fernando. There, he and the other POWs were packed into wooden boxcars that could hold eight horses or forty men. Each car held 100 POWs. Those who died during the trip remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas. From Capas, he walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military base. There was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs. Men literally died for a drink. The conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty POWs died each day. The Japanese, realizing that if they didn't do something that disease would kill most of the POWs, opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
Eber was sent to the new camp at Cabanatuan. He remained there until October 1942 when he was sent to Bilibid Prison. Being that the Japanese wanted to use POWs as forced labor to help in their war effort, they began to use Bilibid as a processing center.
At Bilibid, the POWs were given a simple physical and it was determined if the men were healthy enough to be sent to another part of the Japanese Empire. Since Eber remained behind at Bilibid, it must have been determined that he was too sick to survive the trip by ship.
According to Ople Jaggers, who was a POW at Bilibid with Eber, at about 9:00 pm, Eber woke up with a fever and asked him for some water. Since Jaggers had to walk about half a mile to get the water, by the time he got back with the water, Eber was pretty sick. Jaggers gave Eber a drink and then tore his own shirt into strips to use as towels that toweled Eber's head with. About 1:00 in the morning, seeing that Eber's condition was not getting any better, Jaggers woke up a doctor. The doctor seeing that Eber was in bad shape moved him to the hospital. Jaggers stayed with Eber until the doctor told him to get some sleep. At 9:00 the next morning, the doctor woke Jaggers and told him that Eber had died. Eber Boden died on November 22, 1942 of pneumonia. He was 24 years old.
T/5 Eber L. Boden was buried in the camp cemetery at Bilibid Prison. After the war, Eber's parents requested that his remains be returned to the United States. On October 17, 1948, Eber was reburied at Oakwood Memorial Cemetery in Oakwood, Oklahoma.
The photo below is of T/5 Eber L. Boden's grave in Oakwood Memorial Cemetery.