Charles Wilson was a California National Guardsman called to federal service as a member of C Company, 194th Tank Battalion. He was stationed in the Philippine Islands when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Ten hours later, he lived through the bombing of Clark Airfield. For four months, he fought, with the other soldiers on Bataan, to slow Japan’s conquest of the Philippines. Without food, without adequate supplies, and no hope of being relieved, he became a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942, when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
He took part in the death march from Mariveles to Capas. There, 100 POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that could hold 40 men or 8 horses. At San Fernando, the living left the boxcars and those who had died fell to the floor. The POWs walked the final miles to Camp O’Donnell.
As a POW, he was held at Camp O’Donnell and Cabanatuan in the Philippines. He was later transported to Korea and taken by train to Manchuria. He died from disease at the camp. His body was stored in a warehouse until the Spring and then buried. After the war, his remains were returned to the United States at the request of his family.
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