Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Glenn Stuart Oliver

Glenn Stuart Oliver was born in Brainerd, Minnesota on April 29, 1919. As a member of the Brainerd Minnesota National Guard, he was called to active duty on February 10, 1941 as Company A, 194th Tank Battalion. He had married his high school sweetheart, Esther Marie Brown, just three days before; they would have two daughters. Oliver was a radio operator, training at Fort Knox, Kentucky before going to Fort Lewis, Washington for training with his battalion. On September 26, 1941, Oliver and the rest of the 194th Tank Battalion were sent to Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines.

Two and a half months later, on December 8, 1941, the Japanese, fresh from attacking Pearl Harbor, began their assault on the Philippine Islands. They bombed Clark Air Field as Oliver and the other men were deployed around the runway to guard against Japanese paratroopers. Oliver survived the attack, and on December 26, his tank was near Carmen; due to the advancing Japanese, the platoon forged ahead through Carmen to avoid being trapped. The tank was destroyed by a thermite mine placed outside the tank and above an ammunition tray.

On January 6, 1942, Oliver was wounded and received the Purple Heart. In April, when Oliver received word that Bataan was going to surrender, he destroyed his tank and pistol. On April 10, Oliver began the Death March to Camp O'Donnell; he was also interned at Cabanatuan I and spent 21 months on a work detail at Nichols Air Field before being transferred to Bilibid.

On October 10, 1944, Oliver was put on a list of POWs to be taken to Japan. The men on the list were marched to the Port Area of Manila and loaded onto the ill-fated Arisan Maru. A total of 1,879 POWs were in the two forward holds, including Oliver. The Arisan headed south and anchored off of Palawan Island for ten days before returning to Manila on October 20 to join Convoy MATA-30. The Arisan then left with the convoy the next day. On October 23, nine United States submarines began attacking the convoy, and at around five-thirty p.m. on the 24th, the U.S.S. Snook (Note: some accounts name the U.S.S. Shark as the submarine which sank the Arisan) fired three torpedoes into the Arisan, causing it to split in half but remain temporarily afloat.

Only nine men survived the sinking. Five of the survivors sailed a lifeboat to China and the United States, while the remaining four, among them Oliver, were picked up by another Japanese convoy headed to Takao, Formosa, on October 28, 1944. Before being picked up, Oliver and another survivor, Philip Brodsky, stayed on a makeshift float for four days; Oliver had held on to wreckage when the Arisan split in half. Oliver ended up in a prison camp with 200 other men at Maibara, Japan, and after the war ended he was in Madigan Army Hospital for nine months.

He was discharged as a staff sergeant at Fort Lewis, Washington on November 11, 1946, and he went on to work for ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company) for thirty-six years. He retired as a senior locomotive engineer in 1982.