Clay L Rosenvall was born 26 July 1920 in Gunnison Utah to Lenno Garland Rosenvall (1898-1980) and Lauretta Jeppson (1899-1952). His father was an auto mechanic at a private garage. Both of Clay’s parents were born near Gunnison, Utah where he graduated from Gunnison Valley High School and worked as a mechanic’s helper.
Private First Class Clay Lenno Rosenvall enlisted 9 November 1940 and was in the Army Air Corp, 5th Air Base Group, HQ Squadron. His group was assigned to the Philippine Islands early in the war as a deterrent to Japanese aggression. That deterrent failed and the group was shattered in Japanese attacks. Clay’s family was notified that he was missing in action 7th of May 1942. Little Rock Air Force Base published a description of the challenges faces by the soldiers that were not evacuated.
“Most of the men fought as ground troops in the defense of Bataan. They were maintainers, quartermasters, cooks, medics and administrators; they learned to fight as infantry and artillery. The survivors surrendered under orders, and underwent the torture of the Bataan Death March, and the subsequent years of brutal captivity.
Further south, on the island of Mindanao, a detachment of the group maintained a hidden airstrip on a pineapple plantation. These Airmen laid down their arms at the same time the defenders of Bataan did, and became prisoners of war. They labored on work details, and fought disease, cruelty, and despair through the long years of the war.
In late August 1944, after more than two years of captivity on Mindanao, 750 prisoners of war were loaded on board an old freighter, one of the infamous "Hell Ships" for transport to Manila. The ship was not marked as carrying POWs. During its northward voyage, on Sept. 7, 1944, an American submarine sunk the Japanese freighter off Sindangan Point, Mindanao. The Shinyo Maru sank quickly and 668 prisoners of war died that day. 83 others escaped the cargo hold and swam to shore, where they were sheltered by Filipino civilians and eventually evacuated."
PFC Clay L Rosenvall died on September 7, 1944 on the Shinyo Maru after being held at a POW camp in Mindanao, Philippines. His family waited until the 14th of February 1945 for a declaration of his death. He is memorialized at the Tablets of the Missing, Manila and Memory Grove Memorial in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was survived by his parents, two brothers and two sisters.
Sources include honorstates.org, familysearch.org, 1930/1940 US Census, and littlerock.af.mil.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart phone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen's name and read his/her story.