Pvt. Eduardo R. Aguero
| Pvt. Eduardo R.
Aguero was born in Texas in 1914. What is
known is that he was living with his mother's
parents, Francisco and Ygnes Flores in DeWitt
County, Texas, 1920. Like many of the time,
he never completed grade school. He married
Margarita Jimenez in Stinton, Texas, and was the
father of a son. To support his family, he
worked as a butcher.
Eduardo was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 20, 1941, at Fort Sam Huston, Texas. He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for basic training. What armor school he attended is not known. After basic training, he was sent to Camp Polk. Louisiana, and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion had been sent to the fort but did not take part in the maneuvers that were going on there.
After the maneuvers had ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk. The battalion was informed it was being sent overseas. National Guardsmen 29 years old or older, or men who were married, were allowed to resign from federal service. Eduardo volunteered, or had his name drawn, to replace one of these Guardsmen and was assigned to D Company. The 192nd was also given the 753rd's M3 tanks to replace their M2 tanks.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up - in a straight line - for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, so the next day - when a when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between the planes and Navy was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion was sent west, over four different train routes to San Francisco, California. Arriving in San Francisco, the battalion was ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals and inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment. Some men were held back at the island, for minor medical reasons, and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to live in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived. He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
After arriving in the Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had left for the Philippines minus one company. B Company of the battalion was sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of the battalion, were sent to the Philippines. The medical clerk for the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be handed over to the 194th.
On December 1st, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the tank crews were aware that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. They were ordered to the airfield. This time it was not a maneuver. Eduardo and the other soldiers sat on their tanks and watched the sky which was filled with American planes. At some point three of the four tank crew members from each tank were allowed to go to a food truck to get meals. While they were at the trucks, the men still sitting on their tanks saw planes approaching. No one was alarmed by this since they did not believe that the Japanese would attack. 54 planes were counted by the tankers. It was only when bombs began exploding that they realized they were wrong.
After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on the Delores Road. They remained there until December 10th. They were next sent to Klumpit to look for paratroopers. While there, they guarded a huge bridge from saboteurs.
On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken. When they passed through Manila, they saw the damage done to the city by Japanese planes.
Christmas Day for Eduardo and the other tankers
spent the day in a coconut grove. As it
turned out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January
15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks
did was cover retreats of different infantry
units. The tanks were constantly
bombed, shelled and strafed.
The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by
the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the Culis
Creek and entered Bataan. This was the
beginning of the Battle of Bataan. At this
time, the food rations were cut in half.