Cloyd, Robert Vernon “Bobby” (P2, C1, L21)
Private First Class Robert Vernon “Bobby” Cloyd, 22, of Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky, was lost at sea on 24 October 1944 when an American submarine attacked the unmarked Japanese prisoner transport ship he was being held aboard enroute to Formosa as a prisoner of war on federal active duty.
Cloyd enlisted in Harrodsburg's 38th Tank Company in May 1940 and reported his occupations truck driver and mechanic. The 38th Tank Company was the first Kentucky unit ordered to active duty in Kentucky on 25 November 1940 and was redesignated as Company D, 192nd Light Tank Battalion at Fort Knox. Cloyd was assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion in January 1941.
Moving under secret orders, Company D arrived in the Philippines by Thanksgiving Day, 1941. War came to them when the Japanese attacked Clark Field just a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Harrodsburg Tankers along with the allied forces fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements or resupply until they were ordered to surrender in April 1942. They had delayed the Japanese Army's timetable from 50 days to four months, giving the allies vital time to protect Australia and recover from the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cloyd was taken prisoner on 11 April 1942 and trucked to Mariveles where he began the 90 mile Death March eventually ending up at Camp O’Donnell and was later held at Cabanatuan. From December, 1942 until April 1944, Cloyd was assigned a work detail for Las Pinas where he worked to build runways with a pick and shovel. He was returned to Cabanatuan until he was again assigned to build runways at Nichols Airfield where he and the other prisoners removed an entire mountain by hand. In October 1944 Cloyd was sent to Manila and boarded the hell ship Arisan Maru bound for Formosa. On 24 October 1944, around 5:00 pm, near Shoonan off the coast of China two torpedoes from an American submarine struck amidships. The Japanese guards cut the rope ladders to the holds and closed the hatch covers before abandoning ship leaving the POWs. Some of the POWs managed to climb out of the holds and lowered rope ladders. Most of the POWs survived the attack but died because the Japanese refused to rescue them from the water. The ship eventually broke in two and sank during the night. Of the 1,803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking. Since he was lost at sea, Cloyd’s name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.