Poulin, Lawrence, WT3c

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Last Rank
Petty Officer Third Class
Last Primary NEC
WT-0000-Water Tender
Last Rating/NEC Group
Water Tender
Primary Unit
1945-1945, WT-0000, USS Cleveland (CL-55)
Service Years
1937 - 1945
WT-Water Tender
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 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Poulin, Lawrence (Larry), WT3c.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Cheboygan, Mich.
Last Address
Traverse City, Michigan.

Date of Passing
Apr 25, 2015
Location of Interment
Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens - Traverse City, Michigan
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin Honorable Discharge Emblem (WWII)

 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Dragon Blue Star

 Military Association Memberships
Post 7731, Little Finger PostPost 114Northeastern Michigan ChapterChapter 38
  1946, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 7731, Little Finger Post (Executive Secretary) (Lake Leelanau, Michigan) - Chap. Page
  1946, American Veterans (AMVETS), Post 114 (Recorder) (Elk Rapids, Michigan) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  1946, American Ex-POW Association, Northeastern Michigan Chapter (Supply Officer) (Spruce, Michigan) - Chap. Page
  1946, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Chapter 38 (Membership Director) (Traverse City, Michigan) [Verified] - Chap. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1939, Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL)
 Duty Stations
Army National Guard (ARNG)School Assignments - StaffUSS Canopus (AS-9)US Navy
Prisoner of WarUSS Missouri (BB-63)USS Cleveland (CL-55)
  1937-1939, Army National Guard (ARNG)
  1939-1939, WT-0000, (FA) Fireman Apprenticeship School
  1939-1942, WT-0000, USS Canopus (AS-9)
  1942-1942, MTB Squadrons, Philippine Sea Frontier, Commander, Philippine Sea Frontier (COMPHILSEAFRON)
  1942-1945, WT-0000, Prisoner of War
  1945-1945, WT-0000, USS Missouri (BB-63)
  1945-1945, WT-0000, USS Cleveland (CL-55)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)
  1942-1942 Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)/Battle of Bataan
 Reflections on Service
Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy.
Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?
Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?
From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.
What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?
Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?
Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?
What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?
In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Navy?
In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor6
  General Photos3
  Lawrence Everett Poulin - Prisoner of War Record
  Apr 09, 1942, The Bataan Death March
  Nov 12, 2003, Vet: 'No one gives a damn' about us1
  Apr 25, 2015, Lawrence Everett Poulin 1921-2015
  Apr 25, 2015, Obituary for Lawrence Everett Poulin
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

WT 3/c Lawrence Everett Poulin
September 3, 1921 - April 25, 2015

In addition to the Purple Heart and the POW medals,
Poulin was among the first to receive the Bronze Star.
He received his Bronze Star in person from President Harry Truman.


At the age of 16, Poulin joined the National Guard and when he turned 18, after graduating from high school, he joined the Navy.

"I figured based on the Navy having limited combat action in WWI that would be the case in WWII. Boy, was I wrong," said Poulin. "We'd had more than 30 vessels sunk by the Japanese and so many of us in the Navy were moved to the front lines, myself included." He had been serving on the USS Canopus AS-9 as a Water-Tender (machinist). The ship was scuttled in Mariveles Bay, Bataan. 

That frontline duty ended up leading to his eventual capture by the Japanese.

Poulin found himself fighting on the front lines on various Pacific Islands in 1942. Eventually he was captured and became part of the infamous Bataan Death March that took place on April 9, 1942 as 76,000 Allied POWs (American and Filipino) were forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water toward a new POW camp. It resulted in nearly half the American POWs dying.

"It was the worst day of my life," said Poulin. "If you were too sick or too weak to walk they just killed you on the spot and left you there. I watched hundreds of my fellow soldiers murdered right in front of me. Some were shot to death; others were beheaded."

Poulin was transferred to the mainland in Japan where he worked in Shinagawa, a POW slave camp. Poulin spent the next three and half years in a Japanese POW camp near a remote harbor where he unloaded supplies from freight trains.

We were just far away enough from Tokyo that we avoided the bombing raids," said Poulin. 'So I survived three and half years working everyday, sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day. I weighed 145 pounds when I went into the military and the day I returned stateside I weighed 82 pounds."

So how did Poulin survive as a POW? "It wasn't easy because if you got sick and couldn't work they just killed you," said Poulin. "I was sick all the time as were others but we just toughed our way through it."

"We were only served three bowls of rice a day, along with some hot tea," said Poulin.

"But we outsmarted them, we learned to steal from them, and on occasion we would get something more substantial to eat, but after having had my fingers and hands broken while I was POW I was struggling."

Poulin remained a POW until August 1945 and the surrender of Japanese in September. Lawrence was imprisoned for at least 1,227 days, one of the war's longest durations of captivity recorded.

"I was given the opportunity to come right back, but I chose to stay and was aboard the Battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945 when General MacArthur signed the paperwork accepting the Japanese surrender," said Poulin. "That was the happiest day of my life."

Captured with the rank of Fireman First Class. With time in grade, as a prisoner for 3 1/2 years, he is listed here as a Petty Officer 3/c, WT3/c. However, some sources show Lawrence Poulin was discharged with the rank of Petty Officer First Class, WT1/c, Water Tender (a machinist rating). 

A watertender is a crewman aboard a steam-powered ship who is responsible for tending to the fires and boilers in the ship's engine room. Alternative terms include fireman and stoker. In the United States Navy, "watertender" (abbreviated WT) was a petty officer rating which existed from 1884 to 1948. Watertenders held a paygrade equivalent to today's petty officer first class. A chief watertender (CWT) paygrade was established in 1903. In 1921, the lower paygrade was split into watertender first class (WT1 or WT1c) and watertender second class (WT2 or WT2c). Another lower paygrade, watertender third class (WT3 or WT3c), was established in 1943. The watertender and boilermaker ratings were merged into a new "boilerman" rating in 1948, which merged into "machinist's mate" in 1996.

Larry was a member of AMVETS, VFW and the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, Inc., who's members include units of force of the Asitic Fleet, Philippine Archipelago, Wake Island, Marianna Islands, Midway Island and Dutch East Indies.

Other Comments:
Prisoner of War Medal
Awarded for actions during the World War II

Fireman First Class Lawrence Everett Poulin (NSN: 3113926), United States Navy, was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Corregidor, Philippine Islands, on 6 May 1942, and was held as a Prisoner of War until returned to U.S. Military control at the end of hostilities in August 1945.

General Orders: NARA Database: Records of World War II Prisoners of War, created, 1942 - 1947
Action Date: May 6, 1942 - August 1945
Service: Navy
Rank: Fireman First Class
Division: Prisoner of War (Philippine Islands & Japan)

approximately half of all POW's taken by the Imperial Japanese forces were killed or died in captivity. 

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