Pvt. Harry J. Noworul
Harry J. Noworul was born in Chicago on June 20, 1917. He was the son
of Walter Noworul & Veronica Kaczmarczyk-Noworul and the brother of Adolph and Florence. He grew up above the grocery store his parents
owned at 2250 South Albany Avenue. While growing up
in Chicago, he attended Farragut High School and then Harrison High
School. In 1940, he enlisted in the United States Army because he
wanted to do something with his life.
Sometime during 1941, he was assigned to Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. At this time, the army was still attempting to fill openings in National Guard units called to federal service with men from the same states. Harry most likely joined the company while it was training at Fort Knox in 1941.
In late summer 1941, the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. After these maneuvers, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk to receive new equipment and prepare for duty overseas. The battalion was then sent west to San Francisco over three different train routes.
Harry lived through the bombing of Clark Field just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Harry like the other members of the battalion attempted to shoot down the Japanese planes as they bombed and strafed the air field.
In the Philippines, Harry fought the Japanese in the slow withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula. With the other members of Company B, he fought a gallant battle against a better supplied enemy force. On April 9, 1942, Harry became a Prisoner of War when Filipino and American Forces were surrendered to the Japanese. To him, the worst thing was the sight of hundreds of Japanese troops surrounding the men in his detachment.
In one of the strangest twists of fate, the Japanese assembled members of Harry's company and asked those who could drive an American car to step forward. When all the members present stepped forward, the Japanese became angry. Through an interpreter, the POWs were able to explain that almost everyone in the United States could drive a car. This was a fact the Japanese found hard to believe.
Harry was selected by the Japanese to drive a car along the route of what would become known as "The Bataan Death March." While driving the Japanese officers, Harry saw his neighborhood friend from Chicago, Anthony Czerwin, from the 17th Pursuit Squadron.
After Harry had completed his car driving duty, he too took part in the death march with his friend from B Company Pvt. Andy Aquila. While Harry was on the march, he came close to being bayoneted by a Japanese guard because he was caught bartering with a Filipino civilian for food.
As a POW, Harry was held at Camp O'Donnell. While there, he came down with malaria. He was extremely ill and was close to death when Tony Czerwin gave Mike Wepsiec quinine pills that Tony had gotten by bartering with a Filipino civilian. These pills saved Harry's life.
While at Camp O'Donnell, Harry was among 100 POWs selected to go out on a work detail to Bataan to retrieve American vehicles that had been destroyed by the army before it was surrendered. It was while he was on this detail that Harry and Sgt. Ray Vandenbroucke would bury Cpl. William Burns, Pvt. Charles Peterson and Pvt. Edwin Singletary. All three men were members of Company B.
Harry was also held as a prisoner at Bilibid Prison and did dock work in Manila before he was sent to Japan on a hell ship. In Japan, he was held at Kawasaki #2B POW Camp.
Harry was liberated by American Occupation Forces and returned to Chicago. He married his girlfriend, Dorothy, who had waited for him to return home not knowing if he was alive or dead. Together they would raise a son and a daughter.
After he returned home, Harry helped the families of William Burns and Charles Peterson bring the remains of their sons home by drawing a map to show where they had been buried. This map also allowed the army to rebury the remains of Edwin Singletary at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
Harry was discharged, from the army, on May 10, 1947. The effects of the war did not end with Harry's return home. Harry's son recalled the first time he ever saw his father cry was on the day that his mother died. Harry's wife had provided the support he needed to start his life over again. Harry J. Norowul passed away on October 18, 1989.
The picture at the top of the page was taken of Harry, by the Japanese, while he was a prisoner. The number 487 is written on it. This was Harry's POW identification number. Harry's son, Walter, received the photo at his father's wake. A man came up to him and said that he thought Walter might want the picture. Right after the man handed Walter the photo, Walter was temporary distracted by someone else, when he turned back to talk to the man, the man was gone. Walter never learned who the man was and how the man came to have his father's POW photo.