Oct. 25th 1917 – Feb. 26th 1996
Joseph Mann entered into active duty May 24th, 1941, serving in the Philippines as a Corporal with the 803rd Engineer Aviation Battalion. Mann worked as a motorcyclist delivering messages from company headquarters to other companies. As an engineer, he was also capable of making necessary repairs on vehicles. Mann was captured, forced on the Bataan Death March, and held as a prisoner of war from April 9th, 1942 until September 4th, 1945.
As a POW, Mann was forced to mine a minimum of 15 tons of iron a day in Northern Honshu to earn his meager meals consisting of three rice balls a day. The amount of rice in one ball was roughly equivalent to one coffee cup. While working one morning, Mann entered the mine only to be caught in a dynamite blast.
“It was a delayed blast in the mine. We went back in and the dynamite went off. It mangled my leg. That was eight in the morning. I laid there until half past twelve, when the Jap doctor, whose name was Onata, came into the shack.”
He was forced to undergo leg amputation and two different instances of bone removal, all without the use of anesthesia. He changed and cleaned his own bandages and packed the wound with snow he found on the eaves of the building to stave off gangrene.
When he returned to the States after being rescued in 1945, Mann filed for the government’s consolation plan of $1-a-day for every day spent as a POW and received $1,290 - $10 under the maximum limit of $1,300.
Mann was honorably discharged April 6th, 1946. He received eleven ribbons while in the service: Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal (with one bronze battle star), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two bronze battle stars), World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Defense Medal (with one bronze battle star), Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Philippine Independence Ribbon, Army Presidential Unit Citation (with one bronze leaf cluster), and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
He worked as a tool and die maker for IBM, Endicott after leaving the service. He passed away February 26th, 1996.
Written by Cameron Maxwell, West Virginia University