Sgt. Norman W. Goodman
Sgt. Norman W. Goodman was born on May 24, 1917. He was the son of Lionel
& Ada Goodman and grew up at 19 North Fifth Avenue in Maywood,
Illinois with his sister. He graduated from Proviso Township High
School and went to work as a lathe operator at a ball bearing company. Norm joined the Illinois National Guard when he was in his
twenties and working as a lathe operator. In the fall of 1940, the tank company was called to
Federal service as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
Norm trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for almost a year. Then in the fall of 1941, the tank battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was informed they were being sent overseas.
Sailing from Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, the battalion arrived in the Philippine Islands on November 20, 1941. Eighteen days later, Norm and the rest of the battalion lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
Norm and the other members of B Company fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, General King surrendered his troops to the Japanese. One reason for this is that he did not want to see them slaughtered.
The night before, Norm was one of the members of the tank crews that decided that they would attempt to escape to Corregidor. Traveling along the eastern coast of Bataan, the tankers found a cave. In the cave, was a boat that could not be started. The tankers managed to get the boat started, and by the point of a gun convinced the captain to take them to Corregidor.
As they approached the island, they signaled he island with a flashlight. Finally, they received a response that told them how to get through the mine field. Once on the island, Norm were assigned to fight with the U. S. Marines.
On May 6, 1942, Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese. Norm was held on the island for several weeks. When the Japanese began to evacuated the island, the Prisoners of War were taken off the coast of Bataan and told to swim to shore. Once on shore they were used as labor to rebuild a dock.
When the POWs were done rebuilding the dock, they were ordered to march to Manila. At first, they thought they too would experience a death march, but to their surprise, they were treated quite well. They spent several days at Bilibid Prison before being sent to Cabanatuan.
As a POW at Cabanatuan, Norm learned that he could get extra rations is he hunted snakes. The Japanese enjoyed cobra meat and allowed the POWs to hunt for cobras. Those POWs who were lucky enough to capture a snake would receive extra rice.
When it became apparent to the Japanese that it was just a matter of time before the Americans would be invading the Filipinos, the Japanese began sending POWs to Japan or other occupied countries.
Norm with the other POWs was put into the holds of a freighter. They were packed in the hold so tightly that they could not sit down. Since there was no washroom and it was impossible to move, men went to the washroom where they stood.
Food was sent down to the prisoners once a day on a ropes. After the food was taken off the ropes, the bodies of the dead were pulled out of the ship's holds on the same rope and then dumped overboard.
In Japan, Norm was held as a POW at Fukuoka #3. The POWs in the camp worked in the Yawata Steel Mill on the Island of Kyushu. Each shift lasted from twelve to fifteen hours. As the war went on and since Japan was losing the war, food was becoming scarce. To supplement their diets, the POWs in the camp would hunt rats at night for meat.
While a prisoner in Japan, Norm was hit over the head with a bamboo clubs by a guard. After the war, a steel plate was put in his head where the guard had hit him.
One morning the POWs noticed that the attitude of the guards toward them had changed. This was the first time that the prisoners suspected that the war may be over. A day or two later most of the guards disappeared. Later that day, a B-29 appeared over the camp and dropped leaflets telling them to paint the letters "POW" on the roof of a building.
The planes returned and began dropping food and clothes to the POWs. For the first time in three years the men had more food than they could have imagined. They ate so much many became ill. When Norm was liberated, he weighed only 85 pounds. He had lost 115 pounds as a POW.
Norm was returned to Manila, where he was fattened up before returning to the United States. Once back in the U. S., he was sent to a VA Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. When he finally returned home to Maywood, he weighed over 200 pounds. He was discharged, from the army, on May 17, 1946.
Norman W. Goodman married and was the father of a daughter and son. With his wife, Ruth, he lived in Melrose Park, Illinois. He also became a police officer in River Forest, Illinois, until 1969 when he retired. He passed away in August 28, 1976.