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Oral Histories of Bataan Veterans
Clifford Martinez


Clifford Martinez was interviewed in his home by Christopher Schurtz in Las Cruces, NM, November 30, 2000.

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Schurtz: We'll go where you want to go on this. I've got a bunch of questions. Maybe we can start of by getting some general stuff -- your birthday, where you were born and if you have any brothers and...
Martinez: Well I don't know nothing about my family.

Really?
Yes. Well, I have five half sisters but I only know one of them and she contacts me. The others...well that's history.

Okay.
Yeah, but anyway, I enlisted September the 7th 1940 7th Cavalry at Fort Bliss. Me and about let's see three or four of us, one guy from here, a buddy of mine Bobby Compton, we enlisted here and got in Troop C 7th Cavalry Ft. Bliss. We was issued everything except the horse. We got up one morning and checked the bulletin board and it had volunteers for overseas duty. It had Alaska, which we thought was gonna be too damn cold, they had Panama, that was too close to home, Hawaii we didn't like the sound of it, Puerto Rico, didn't like it and the Philippines. So we figured that was pretty far away. At this time the war was getting pretty strong in Europe. We said, "Well hell, we'll go to the Philippines nothing going [on there]."

So we signed up for it -- Bobby, Professor Lee, Shorty Jordan and...I'm stuck I can't remember his first name...we signed up for it. So we shipped out of Ft. Bliss. We got aboard the Sunset Limited to San Francisco. In San Francisco...we was taken out to what they call Angel Island, that's the depot for overseas and was there about a week, we uh... or a week and a half. Had to go through a bunch of tests and shots, this that and the other thing. Finally, they said we were gonna ship out so, I forgot exactly when, I think sometime in the latter part of September, I think. Anyway, they took us down to the port area in San Francisco, Pier 7... got aboard the US AT Grant Troup Transport...

Do you remember when this was?
It was some time in the latter part of September...

Okay, so this was really quick from the time that you joined...

Yeah, well see they were hungry for overseas duty. And that... I was still...well things were starting to improve from the Depression. Anyway, got aboard the U.S. AT Grant and they made me an MP aboard ship going over. I was stationed in the non-commission officers quarters and we...let's see we pulled into Pearl Harbor and I think we had a weekend deal there.

Was this the first time you were on a ship?

Yeah.

What did you think about that?

To me, I'd never seen...the biggest thing I'd ever seen was a rowboat. But getting on that thing was something else.

So you guys got to Pearl Harbor...

We got to Pearl Harbor and I had to stay aboard most of the guys got off or half of the guys. I think there was about maybe four I think maybe about 400 on the ship going to P.I. And the others were going to other spots. Anyway, I got my pass the next day, made the rounds with the old pineapple factory... I checked in there, got sick on pineapple juice and... they made a little, something like a little restaurant, like a bar and grill called the Squeeze Inn and went into there and looked at all kinds of stuff on the menu and spotted octopus and I said "What the hell's an octopus." So I asked for it. It tasted good but the damn thing, you had to chew, chew chew, you know? But I had made arrangements with Bobby that... if you try to bring a bottle of liquor aboard the damn MP's, you know, bang you with clubs to make sure you didn't get aboard with it if you had it hid. So, he got a barracks bag and a rope, I brought three bottles...come up there on the starboard side and he dropped the line over and he put the bottles in there and he hauled them up. I went back aboard and told 'em, said "Well I'm clean" they said "Well you sure?". I still had my MP band on- they said "Are you sure?" "Yeah" Pow pow. No bottles. So we went aboard.

We sailed outta there ...see I can't remember these days and the dates. I can approximate, but I think we were there three days, I'm not sure. But we shipped out and headed toward Guam I think it was. Anyway, we had to cross the international dateline. And the officers had a big to-do about it you know, big party and pollywogs what have you. And we crossed it, of course you lose a day when you cross that thing. So we hit Guam, they had us stand out, anchor out of bay. I think they dropped off a bunch of people there. Then we went on into some other islands... this is quite a...I think it took us a couple of weeks, I'm not sure. But anyway we hit the Philippines in Manila in October, about the middle part of October I think. And we had to stay quarantine out in Manila Harbor, in the bay for 24 hours. Then they brought us into Pier 9 and Manila Bay, harbor and unloaded there and then they put us onboard some small inter-island vessels into Corregidor.

Corregidor is about approximately a mile high and, I forget how big around, it's pretty good size. So we landed Bottomside...put us on some street cars and took us all...well they stopped at what they call Middleside, left a bunch off there and took us on up to Topside and unloaded us there. And they start calling out names. Going to different outfits and my foster brother Bobby they sent him to Ft. Drum. I though we could be together, but me and Gutchalk a guy by the name of Martinez, a whole bunch of us, went to Battery A, 59th Coast Artillery Seacoast Defense. So we went into there. Coming up on the streetcar I remember these guys "Sucker! Sucker!" And they were all Doby citizens. See anytime you spent more than one hitch in P.I. you were a Doby citizen.

P.I.?

P.I. Philippines, we called it P.I. Well like Honolulu, we didn't call it Honolulu, we called it Oahu.

So what were you guys doing there what was your M.O.S. or your...

Yeah I'm getting to that. We got assigned to our outfits, issued...they took all our clothes off...see I still had cavalry boots and braces and gear you know. Took everything away except an o.v. shirt and issued us new clothes khakis. And so first we went through boot training. I was lined up in front of the barracks for roll call and they ask, "Any of you recruits PS men. Previous service men?" And one guy raised up his hand, friend of mine Gutchalk "Oh, I am" "What branch was it?" "Oh I was in cavalry in New Mexico National Guard" and they laughed at him. 'Cause, see at that time National Guard and regular army didn't get along too good. Anyway we had to go through boot training. First it was rifle drills, foot drills and then marching Inventory training, but there wasn't much to it not like it is now. See our main outfit was big gun, 12 inch Barbet so we got in on it. It's a hell of a big gun. It had a .75 caliber mounted on the top. So when they went through gun drill they go through like they're firing the big gun but the fire the one on top.

But anyway they got us up there us new recruits they had us lined up to watch what was going on. And they wasn't going to fire the75 they were just going to hypothetical, so they brought out a great big cart had the projectile on it, 1500 pound projectile and course it was a dummy. Then they brought out dummy Polly charges put the shell in "Home ram!" And got it in there then they put the powder "Home ram!" and the corporal Alvord he was the firing chief, he'd say "Ready. Load. Lock" Get their report and then you say "Fire". I shoved up my damn hands to my ears waiting for the thing to go off, you know and one of the recruits said "What the hell you doing?" I said "Well hell I'm waiting for the damn thing to go off" he says, "That's a dummy charge, you stupid ass."

So things went on, we'd have maneuvers you know with a big gun like we was actually in combat. Sometimes they'd have a tugboat pulling a target look about the size of a ship and you had to fire at it with the big gun. We were number one in tote-target.

Was this the gun that you were using, was it a new one they made or...?

Oh no, this was from World War I. Hell the ammunition we had, everything we had dated back to World War I. The powder had to be kept at a certain temperature, and of course we had our own ammunition tunnel and everything. Then we had another battery called Battery Way. This battery here was Battery Harm. And the other battery, Battery Way, had I believe it was four 12- inch mortars and that was close up firing like they had to fire on Marveles across the bay. And we'd go through training with that too.

How much practice did you get on this stuff, I mean it was old ammo and old....

Yeah...

So did you feel like you got enough practice on it, enough training...?

Yeah, we got pretty good training on it. Anyway, like we'd be on maneuvers there with Battery Harm, planes fly over and they drop powder bags and if you got any powder on you, you were hit and if it hit the gun emplacement, you was docked out. They never did hit the gun emplacement, so we lucked out pretty good there. And then after boot training things got down to normal. I think our hardest job was cutting paths, what they call Koegen grass with a sickle. That was the hardest job. We had to, well you took about three showers a day. You changed your uniforms three times a day...

Because you were sweating so much...
Yeah. Humidity was very bad there. We had the big water bags and then they had these things with salt pills. Now they tell you not to eat salt but over there you gobble salt. Anyway, we had our gun drills, every Saturday there was inspection and a big parade. And if you were lucky you got a pass to go to Manila. Well after we passed boot training, we all got a pass to go to Manila. And we had...I had a little old 120 camera, box camera, I took pictures with it and we went to some park there, I think it was Dewey Park, I'm not sure. They had a couple big elephants.

And we were sitting on a bench admiring everything, here comes a couple of things coming up here that looked like women, dressed, couldn't tell...beautiful nice long black hair. So I said let's go get a couple rounds "Oh yeah let's go Joe." Went into the bar, dance hall -we even danced with the damn things. One guy come up to us, an old timer, he said "Hey guy." He says "You know what you got there?" I says "Nah", "Those are bendy boys." He says "It's a man dressed up like a woman." "Oh, nah nah." "Alright, go ahead". So I got dancing around and put my hand up under the skirt, goddamn he was hung bigger than I was.

And that ended the period there. But when you had a pass to Manila, they had what you call prophylactic stations, about every two blocks around town was prophylactic stations and you were given a prophylactic kit you were supposed to use 'cause there was so much venereal disease going on there and I think 31st Infantry suffered more than any outfit, well they were stationed in Wall City there in Manila and they had quite a few suicides. Guys would get this- you see, at this time, if you came down with a venereal disease, they docked your pay; you had to pay for it- the time you were in the hospital to the time you got cured. When I first went in our pay when I enlisted here at Ft. Bliss was $21 a month. We got overseas it increased six percent, we got $36 a month, so you can imagine if you come down with something like that how much...so I myself kept myself pretty clean, I was kind of scared of that stuff.

How long was it before you realized that there was going to be war?

Well, we heard a few rumors. Then we noticed a hell of a lot of what we thought was fishing going on. It wasn't fisherman, we later found out it was Japs and they were digging holes in the shore burying ammunition and stuff like that. But none of us thought anything about it. So the closest thing that we got was when they bombed Pearl Harbor. I was in the hospital in Manila, I broke my leg...

How did you break your leg?

Uh...going onto the ammunition deal was a ring [inaudible] about this wide, I had my foot in there, I didn't break my leg, I twisted it. Some guy hollered something at me and I twisted around and out she came. But see, I was supposed to go home. They had to operate but they couldn't do it there and then the war broke out. In fact the day they bombed Pearl Harbor, I was in the hospital, Sturnburg hospital in Manila, army hospital and I had my leg in a cast from my hip down to the tip of my toes. And when they bombed Pearl Harbor, they hit us at high noon and they bombed the harbor down there.

First they hit the harbor, then I think they went to Clark Field, and all the airfields around us: Clark Field, Stasenburg and Manila Harbor, then they hit Corregidor. They leveled the barracks at Topside on Corregidor. See we had the longest military barracks, in rows, they were a mile long and held different units, but they leveled that. But the next thing I knew, I was getting my cast cut off and I had to use a cane and was shipped back... well I got hit, in that foot there [points to left foot] I got hit there. It blew my shoe off and almost cut my shoe in half...

What happened?

Bomb fragment, shrapnel.

And this is when you were in the hospital then?

No... yeah I was coming out of the hospital. I was going down to the port area to get aboard to go to Corregidor.

So you were about to leave when the bombing happened?

Yeah, yeah. It was a...I dived under a truckload of flour and I dove like that you know, and that's when I got hit, in my feet. I waited for the air raid to sound off and made it on down to the dock. It didn't hit the inter-island vessel. There was about 40 of us aboard that, going back to Corregidor and man, you talk about sweating it out, we was watching them skies all over. But we made it back to Corregidor and I stayed three days in a little tunnel at the hospital they doctored my foot and put me on light duty. I went on up to Topside with my outfit with our battery, and of course it was all bivouacked out there you know in the tunnel. I got shipped to Bataan as observation, sending back firing orders at Pucat Hill. I think there was about seven or eight of us on that detail.

How was your foot and leg holding up? Were you able to get around...?

Oh yeah, it hurt me hell, I had to wear what the call a go-ahead, a slipper like that but..we got to Pucat Hill set up a radio and tower and everything and I had one of those radios like this whenever we sent messages back to Corregidor. And I was there off and on, I went back and forth and wound up April 9, I think it was about nine o'clock or ten in the morning when Bataan fell. They had a bunch of guys, I'm talking about the Japs, they came up to us. Of course, we'd already messed up our rifles, of course I was carrying a sub-machine gun at the time, I just bent the barrel. They made us lay down on the ground, searched us, kicked us around got us up, tied our hands behind our backs and just my group, put us in with another group and with us was about three Filipinos, Philippine scouts. And they put us in this group and we stayed there till, yeah I think it was the next morning. There'd been troops coming through. Finally, we got in the end of it and they marched us down...I don't remember the name of the damn road, but it was the Death March...

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