Byars

Pfc. Frank Adelbert Byars


     Pfc. Frank A. Byars was born on November 27, 1921, in Forest Park, Illinois, to Ida Sarwood-Byars and Emmett Byars.  His name on his birth certificate is Francis Adelbert Byars.  He grew up at 1334 Circle Avenue in Forest Park, Illinois, and attended the Field-Stevenson School and Proviso Township High School.  At Proviso, he was interested in music, basketball, and ice skating.  He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and the Presbyterian Church.  Before joining the Illinois National Guard, he worked as a mechanic for the Continental Can Company in Chicago. 
     In 1940, at the age of 19, Frank joined the Illinois National Guard's Maywood Tank Company.  He went with the company first to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then to Camp Polk, Louisiana, for training. 
    In the late summer of 1941, the battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk.  None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there.  On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands. 
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on ber Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King 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 love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    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.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.

     As a motorcycle messenger, Frank s job was to run messages between B Company HQ, and Headquarters Company.  He also ran messages between these two commands and B Company tanks.  

    According to the notebook kept by 2nd Lt. Jacques Merrifield, Frank was killed on December 28, 1941,  but according to U.S. Army records, his date of death was Friday, January 9, 1942, at Porac, Philippine Islands.  The discrepancy indicates that Frank may have been wounded and died from his wounds days later.  U.S. Army records show that Frank was taken to Hospital #1 at Limay, where he died.  What is known is that Frank was killed in action while attempting to deliver a dispatch.   He was 20 years old.
    After he died, Frank was buried at St. Petia Hospital Cemetery at Limay.  During the war, the Japanese removed the crosses on the American graves.  His remains were recovered but since there was no way to positively identify the remains, he was buried as an "unknown" at the new American Military Cemetery at Manila opened.

    Since Pfc. Frank A. Byars final resting place is unknown, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.  This memorial is dedicated to those men whose bodies lie in unknown graves. 

    Frank Byars was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.  It is very likely that his remains were recovered and buried as an Unknown at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.  This was done since the recovery team wanted three ways to confirm identification of the remains. 


 

 


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