Pvt. Charles Herbert Looney
Pvt. Charles H. Looney was born on May 23, 1923, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the son of Frazier Edmondson Looney and Alice Irene Pritchard-Looney. It is known he had a sister, Laura, and that he lived at 1516 Grimes Street. Charles was married and lived in Memphis with his wife.
Charles enlisted in the U. S. Army on September 6, 1940, at Montgomery, Alabama, when he was seventeen. Before entering the army, he worked as a clerk. Charles trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. His battalion was then sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, but it did not take part in the maneuvers that were taking place while they were there.
When replacements were sought to fill vacancies in the 192nd Tank Battalion, Charles volunteered to transfer to the battalion. He was assigned to C Company. With his new company, he traveled west to San Francisco. By ferry, he was taken to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. It was there he was given a physical and inoculations for transport to the Philippine Islands.
Arriving in the Philippines, Charles was sent to Fort Ft. Stotsenburg. He and the other soldiers were housed in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. This was done because their barracks were not finished.
The morning of December 8th, the members of C Company were informed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They were order to take their tanks to the perimeter of Clark Field and guard it against Japanese paratroopers. Just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Charles watched as Japanese planes destroyed the U.S. Army Air Corps.
For four months Charles fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. The morning of April 9, 1942, he and the other tankers received the order "crash". The tankers circled their tanks. They opened the gasoline cocks and dropped grenades into the turrets and an armor piercing shell into the motors.
Charles was now a Prisoner of War. With his company, he made his way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. It was from there that he started the death march. He made his way to San Fernando, where the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that could hold forty men or eight horses. One hundred men were put into each car.
At Capas, Charles left the car and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell. This unfinished Filipino Army Base was pressed into service by the Japanese as a prison camp. Conditions were so bad that 40 to 50 men died each day.
When the Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan was opened, Charles was sent there. After arriving at the camp, Charles became ill. He died at approximately 10:00 in the morning, of dysentery, on July 10, 1942, at Cabanatuan POW Camp, Philippine Islands. He was nineteen years old. Charles Looney was buried in Grace 319, Row 0, Plot 3, at the camp cemetery.
In 1949, the remains of Charles H. Looney were returned home. He was buried in Section C at Forest Hill Cemetery Midtown in Memphis, Tennessee.
His headstone indicates Charles was born in 1923, but on the request for the headstone, the year of birth was changed to 1922 by his father.