Sgt. William Arthur Kindell
Sgt. William A. Kindell was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on December 20,
1916, to Irwin Lee Kindell and Cecelia Danz-Kindell. He was the youngest of
three boys and a member of an extended family that lived in both Maywood
and Oak Park. He also had a half-sister. Bill grew up at 1235 South 20th Avenue in
Maywood and was a graduate of Proviso Township High School.
Before enlisting in the Illinois National Guard, Bill worked as a machine operator with Chicago Metal Hose. On September 24, 1940, he joined the Maywood Tank Company. His reasons for doing this were that he could not get a good job, and the draft act requiring males to serve one year in the military had been passed into law. It was Bill's hope to complete his one year of military duty and get on with his life.
On November 25, 1940, Pvt. William A. Kindell and the other members of the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard were called to federal duty as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. At Fort Knox, Kentucky, the members of the company received training in the operation and maintenance of all the equipment used by the company. It was also while on duty there that Bill was assigned to duty in the supply detachment as supply sergeant.
In 1941, after completing training at Ft. Knox, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent on maneuvers to Louisiana. The battalion was unaware that it had been selected by General George S. Patton for overseas duty. The battalion was next sent to Camp Polk, where it was equipped with new M-3 Tanks and halftracks.
From Camp Polk, the unit was sent to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. It was from there that the 192nd left for the Philippine Islands. After a stopover in Hawaii, the battalion arrived in Manila on November 20, 1941, which was Thanksgiving Day.
In the Philippine Islands, the 192nd was assigned for duty at Fort Stotsenburg. Just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that the members of the 192nd witnessed and lived through the Japanese bombing of Clark Field. The battalion was hastily trained for combat in the jungle and engaged the Japanese for the first time on December 22, 1941. This was the first military engagement in World War II of an American armored unit.
As a member of the supply detachment Bill was in charge of mess. Bill watched as the ammunition and food slowly ran out. Meals for the men in the field were rice boiled or steamed. At the time of surrender, there was nothing left to feed the men.
On April 8, 1942, Bill became a Prisoner of War. He took part in the death march and witnessed beatings and killings. As a POW, Bill was first imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell. The conditions in the camp were extremely bad. He felt that they were treated fairly, but the situation was bad because of the lack of medicine and one water faucet. From Camp O'Donnell, Bill was sent out on a work detail to build bridges. This detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.
When this detail ended, Bill was next imprisoned at Cabanatuan #3. He was selected again for a work detail and was sent to Las Pinas. The POWs on the detail built runways at Nichols Field with picks and shovels. He did not remain there long and was sent back to Cabanatuan.
At 2:00 AM in the morning on October 5th, Bill and other POWs were awakened and transported to Pier 7 in Manila. Once there, they were housed in a warehouse on the pier. They remained there for two days. On October 7, 1942, Bill boarded a Tottori Maru.
The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck. The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck. This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed. Many POWs died during the trip.
Shortly after leaving Manila, on October 8th, the Tottori Maru came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine. The captain of the ship maneuvered it to avoid torpedoes. The ship also avoided a mine that had been laid by a American submarine.
The ship continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa on October 12th. The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing. It returned to Takao the same day and sailed again on October 18th. When it reached the Pescadores Islands, it dropped anchor. It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao. During this stay, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.
The ship sailed again on October 30th. On October 31st, the ship stopped at Makou, Pescadores Islands before continuing its trip to Pusan, Korea. During this trip, the ship was caught in a typhoon which took five days to ride out.
After 31 days on the ship, the Tottori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea on November 7th. 1300 POW's got off the ship and sent on a four day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria. There, they worked in a sawmill or a manufacturing plant.
From Mukden, Bill was sent to Shenyang POW Camp. The POWs in this camp were used as slave labor in a machine shop or woodshop. In Bill's case, he worked in the M. K. K. Factory. There he worked as a machine helper for the rest of the war. The prisoners worked eight hour shifts five days a week. The only news on the war that the prisoners had were rumors passed between each other. He developed the attitude that he was not going to survive his time as a POW.
During his years as a prisoner, Bill at times suffered from beriberi, jaundice, kidney stones, pneumonia, which developed into tuberculosis, diphtheria, tropical ulcers, scurvy, skin rashes and malnutrition. Medical treatment consisted of advice since there was little or no medicine. The lack of medical supplies at Mukden resulted in the deaths of 204 American POWs by June 6, 1943.
On August 20, 1945, a B-24 flew over the camp, circled and dipped its wrings to the POWs. It was also on this date that six parachutists were dropped into the camp. As it turned out, these men had been sent to negotiate the surrender of the camp.
Later the same day, the POWs at Mukden were liberated by the Russians and told that they were free. The Russians had the POWs watch as they had the Japanese go through an official surrender ceremony. In the ceremony, the Japanese guards were paraded past the POWs and made to lay down their arms. The Japanese officers were made to lay down their swords.
The former prisoners remained in Russian hands for one month until they were released to American relief workers in Darien, China. On September 23, 1945, Bill sailed on the S. S. Howeye for the United States arriving in San Francisco on October 13, 1945.
From San Francisco, Bill was sent to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was next sent to Wood Veterans Administration Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for further treatment. The reason he was sent there was that while he was a POW, his family had moved from Maywood to Summit Lake, Wisconsin, due to his father's health problems.
Bill was almost discharged on several occasions, but because of health issues, he continued to remain in the army. When he was finally discharged, it was with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He also left the hospital minus six ribs and a collapsed lung. Bill found it ironic that his hope of getting his one year of military service over by joining the Illinois National Guard took him over eleven years to complete.
After he was discharged, he studied medical photography and worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Bill married Delores Sanhuber, a Veterans Adminsitration nurse, and became a father of two daughters and a son.
Bill was awarded the Two Oak Leaf Cluster on Distinguished Service Unit Badge, Purple Heart, Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Clasp, World War II Victory Medal, and Philippine Defense Ribbon with Bronze Star.
William A. Kindell passed away on December 26, 1994, in Fresno, California. His remains were cremated and interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.