Beard_J

 

S/Sgt. Joseph W. Beard
     Sgt. Joseph W. Beard was born on August 25, 1921, in Boston, Massachusetts.  He was one of the seven children born to Joseph E. Beard & Mary Ann Hepp-Beard.  He grew up in Boston and later resided with his grandparents in Port Clinton, Ohio.  He was a high school graduate and worked as a hotel bookkeeper.  He also joined the Ohio National Guard's tank company in Port Clinton in 1938.
    In September 1940, the tank company was designated as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  On November 25th, the company members reported for duty before leaving for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 29th.  Upon arriving on the at Ft. Knox, the tankers found themselves housed in tents since their barracks had not been finished.
    During their time at Ft. Knox, the tankers attended various schools and trained on the battalion's equipment.  The soldiers also pulled most of their tanks from the junkyard at the fort, and rebuilt the engines, so that they had enough tanks to train with for the next year.
    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  The maneuvers were suddenly canceled when the Red Army, which the 192nd was a part of, broke through the Blue Army's lines and were about to capture General George Patton's headquarters.
    The tankers expected to receive orders to return to Ft. Knox, instead they were ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the men had any idea why this had been done. 
    It was on the side of a hill that the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas as part of operation "PLUM."  Within hours many men had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  Those men who were 29 years old or older were given six hours to resign from federal service.  Those men who did were replaced by men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
   

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7.  November 20th was the date that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be released from federal service.  The soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.

    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  

    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, the soldiers noticed planes approaching the airfield.  When bombs began exploding around them, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Besides their .50 caliber machine guns, they had few weapons to use against the planes.  Most took cover and waited out the attack.  After it ended, they saw the destruction done by the tanks.
    The 192nd remained at Clark field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 
    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.
   
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.

  On April 9, 1942, Joseph became a Prisoner of War.  From Mariveles, he started the death march to San Fernando.  The POWs were given little food and almost no water.  As they made their way north out of Bataan, they walked past artesian wells with water flowing from them.  Anyone attempting to get a drink was shot or bayoneted.

    According to records kept by officers of the battalion, Joseph was reported missing between Mariveles and San Fernando.  It is believed that he was selected, by the Japanese, for a work detail to back to Fort Stostenburg.
    While on the detail, he became ill with dysentery and died on June 14, 1942.  It is believed he was buried at the camp's cemetery.  Since his remains have never been identified, S/Sgt. Joseph W. Beard's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


 

 

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