Sgt. Oscar Dean

    Sgt. Oscar Dean was born  on June 23, 1919, in Mercer County, Kentucky, to Granville Elmer Dean and Glaydis Crossfield-Dean.  He was known as "Billy" to his family and friends.  With his nine sisters and three brothers, he grew up on the family farm on Oregon Road in Mercer County.   He left high school after completing his third year and went to work on the family farm.
    Billy joined the Kentucky National Guard, at some point, in Harrodsburg.  The company met above a store in the town.  In September 1940, the company was federalized and designated D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  After the notification, recruits were sought to fill-out the company's roster. 
    On November 25, 1940, the company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for one year of active military duty.   At the base, he attended reconnaissance school and learned to ride a motorcycle. 
The unit trained at the base for nearly a year before being sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers.  At the end of the maneuvers, the tankers were ordered to Camp Polk without being given a reason.  They had expected to return to Ft. Knox.
     On the side of a hill at Camp Polk, the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many of the soldiers had figured out that PLUM was an acronym for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. 
    It was at this time, men 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Those who did were replaced with men from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  This battalion had been sent to the fort, but it had not taken part in the maneuvers.  The M3 "Stuart" tanks from the battalion were also given to the 192nd. 
    Traveling west over different train routes, the battalion arrived in San Francisco and ferried to Angel Island.  On the island, the tankers were immunized and given physicals.  Men found to have treatable medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

    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 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.
    After arriving in the Philippines the paperwork began to be processed to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion.  Doing this meant that both battalions would have three letter companies.  With the start of the war, the transfer never was completed. 
    The morning of December 8th, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The tank companies were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against paratroopers.
    All morning long, American planes filled the sky.  At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went to lunch.   The three tank crew members were sent to the food trucks to get their lunches while one man remained with the tank.  At 12:45, 54 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American until what they described as "raindrops" appeared to fall from the planes.  When bombs began exploding around them, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. 
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.
Christmas Day, the tankers spent 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.
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company with C Company of the 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts which reflected the moon light.  The tankers were able to stop the Japanese and caused them to drop back to regroup.
The tankers were next assigned to guarding the Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields.  They also guarded against beach landings and paratroopers.  They would continue this duty until April 7th.  On April 8th, the tankers were sent Trail 10 and Mount Samat.  The lines had broken and there was general chaos, but D Company with A Company, 194th, held their position.  An attempt was made to send a company of the 192nd to reinforce them, but the fuel dump containing its fuel had been abandoned, and by the time the tanks reached it, the gas had been used by Self-Propelled Mounts vehicles or SPMs, so the company's orders were revoked.  The two tank companies fought at Cabcaban until receiving the news of the surrender. 
    After destroying their tanks the tankers could wait in their bivouac until the Japanese made contact with them. 
Twenty members of the company made the decision that they would escape to Corregidor.  It is not known if Billy was one of these men or if he took part in the march from Bataan.
    It is known that Oscar was held at Cabanatuan as a Prisoner of War and assigned to Barracks 7, Company 2, Group 1.  According to records kept by the camp medical staff, Sgt. Oscar Dean was admitted to the camp hospital on October 1, 1942, suffering from dysentery.  He remained in the hospital until October 20, 1942, when he died from dysentery at approximately 11:15 A.M.  He was buried in the camp cemetery.
    After the war, Sgt. Oscar Dean's remains and those three other men who died on the same date could not be positively identified.  At the request of the families, the remains were returned to the United States and reburied at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery on February 16, 1950, in Section 1, Site 67.



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