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Biography of Miller Payne "Boots" Warren, Jr.

Midlothian, Texas

Miller Warren was a major in the United States Army, and graduated United States Military Academy, West Point, New York in the Class of 1933. He entered the service of his country from Midlothian, Texas. 

In 1940 Captain Warren was transferred to Fort McKinley near Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, which stands on the eastern shore of Manila Bay on the island of Luzon. At the time Captain Warren was assigned to Fort McKinley, his dependents, wife, Hazel, and their two children, Jans and Jon, were allowed to join him. Captain Warren served in the 57th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts. 

In the summer of 1941 many viewed war in the Pacific, and the Philippines as eminent. And so Hazel and the children were moved back to the states. And in August of 1941 Miller was promoted to major, and assigned to the 21st Philippine Army Division. His duties were to serve as a senior instructor, and prepare the division for the approaching war with Japan. 

The primary concern for the Japanese in the Philippines was General MacArthur’s Far Eastern Air Force. The Japanese had few fighter planes available to protect its invasion forces, and so, it was paramount that they destroy MacArthur’s air force. And so, shortly after daybreak on December 8, despite the weather, 14 Japanese heavy bombers took off from Formosa to strike military installations at Baguio, which is inland and east of Lingayen Gulf. And at about the same time, 18 twin-engine light bombers rose into the fog blanketing Formosa to strike Tugugarao Airfield in north central Luzon. At 10:15 a.m. the fog had lifted on Formosa, and 192 Japanese naval planes of the 11th Air Fleet took off to strike Clark and other Army airfields in the area of Manila. The first day of air strikes by the Japanese destroyed one-third of the Army’s fighter strength and one-half of its bomber strength, and many of the surviving planes were damaged. Other Japanese air strikes took place on subsequent days, and the Far Eastern Air Force was rendered incapable of supporting MacArthur's troops or being a factor in defending the Philippines. 

On December 17, there were 17 Flying Fortresses left in the Philippines, and within the next three days all were dispatched to Batchelor Field near Darwin, Australia.  

The main Japanese landing force sailed from Formosa with one infantry division and a great many special units in 76 transports for the landing at Lingayen Gulf. The convoy arrived in the Gulf at about midnight on December 21, and at daybreak the main Japanese landing began at Lingayen Gulf. 

General Wainwright’s North Luzon Force, which included the 11th and 21st Infantry Divisions, engaged the Japanese comprising the main landing force, which included the Japanese 48th Infantry Division. And two days later the Japanese 16th Infantry Division landed at Lamon Bay on the East Coast of Luzon, across the island from Manila. 

With two powerful Japanese forces moving toward Manila from two different directions, and without naval or air support, MacArthur evacuated Manila on December 27, declaring it an open city in the hope that the Japanese would abide by international law, and spare the buildings and people of Manila. He then ordered his army, which included General Wainwright’s command with Major Miller Warren into the ultimate defense area, which was Bataan. 

The defense of the Philippines ended for Major Warren when he became a captive of the Japanese on April 9, 1942 following the surrender of troops at Bataan. He survived the Bataan Death March, the Japanese POW camps of Cabanatuan north of Manila, Davao on the southeast coast of Mindanao, and Bilibid in Manila. He was embarked aboard the Japanese prison ship Oryoku Maru in Manila Bay on Wednesday, December 13, 1944. It sailed from Manila on Thursday with 1,619 American POWs packed in the cargo compartments of the ship, and after steaming from Manila; it was attacked by carrier planes from the USS Hornet, and it sank the following day. 

Two hundred and eighty-six of the American POWs were killed during the attack or shot in the water by the Japanese while trying to escape. The survivors were loaded aboard the Enoura Maru and the Brazil Maru. Major Warren was embarked in the Enoura Maru, and on January 9, 1945 the merchant ship took a direct bomb hit from a U.S. Navy carrier plane, which killed over one-half of the 500 POWs embarked in the ship. Major Miller Warren was one of those killed.  

U.S. Army records show Major Warren’s final status as, “Missing in action or buried at sea.” However, an eyewitness account stated that Major Warren was buried on a beach in Takao Harbor, Formosa. 

Miller Payne “Boots” Warren, Jr. was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Miller Payne Warren of Midlothian, and the spouse of Hazel Pratt Warren. 

Major Warren was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery on Luzon, and the Ellis County Veterans Memorial. 

After Major Warren’s death, the survivors from the Enoura Maru were taken aboard the Brazil Maru, and arrived in Moji, Japan on January 29, 1945. Approximately 432 of the original 1,619 arrived in Japan alive, and of that number 271 survived the Japanese work camp, and were liberated in August of 1945. 

The bio information is courtesy of Stuart Pryor, Grandview, Texas, who is a nephew of Major Warren.

*For additional information on the Oryoku Maru, read "The Oryoku Maru Story" compiled by four survivors.

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