Tec 4 Chester S. DeCant
T/4 Chester DeCant was born on March 26, 1917, in
Lucas County, Ohio, to Virginia Cutcher-DeCant &
Richard W. DeCant. With his six brothers and
sister, he grew up at 99 Jerusalem Road, Jerusalem
Township, Lucas County, Ohio. He left school after
the eighth grade and worked as a laborer in a
quarry. At some point, Chester joined the Ohio
National Guard in Port Clinton.
In September 1940, his tank company was designated as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company members reported to Port Clinton on November 25th and left for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 29th. For the next nine months the members of the tank battalion trained and attended schools at Ft. Knox. In Chester's case, he graduated from cook's school.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. During the maneuvers, the Red Army, which the 192nd was part of, broke through the lines of the Blue Army. As they approached the headquarters of the Blue Army, which was under the command of General George Patton, the maneuvers were suddenly canceled. The 192nd was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox. None of the members had any idea why this order was given.
On the side of a hill at Camp Polk, the tankers learned 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 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. Replacements for the men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion which had been sent to Camp Polk from Ft. Benning, Georgia. The 192nd also received the battalion's tanks and half-tracks.
Over different train routes, the battalion was sent to San Francisco. Once there, they were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. At the fort, they received physicals and inoculated against tropical diseases. Those men with minor health issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion in the Philippines.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T.
Hugh L. Scott
for Hawaii as
part of a
at Honolulu on
2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the
one point, the
an island at
did so in
This for many
soldiers was a
sign that they
ships took on
same day for
and docked at
was the date
were taken by
bus to Ft.
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.
Chester, as a company cook, was serving lunch to