Pvt. Vernor Deck
| What is known about Pvt.
Vernor Deck is that he was born in 1915 to James
A. Deck & Melvina J. Pemberton-Deck.
With his five brothers and one sister he grew up
just outside of Jacksboro, Jack County, Texas, on
the family's farm.
Vernor was inducted into the army on March 21, 1941, at Dallas, Texas, after doing his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he became a member of the 753rd Tank Battalion. Vernor volunteered to join the 192nd Tank Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana. He did this knowing that his new battalion was being sent overseas. After joining the battalion, he was assigned to C Company as part of the tank crew of Sgt. Emerson P. Smith. Also assigned to his tank crew were Pvt. Sidney Rattner, and Pvt. Robert Young.
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.
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.
in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes
approaching the airfield. When bombs began
exploding around them, they 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 bombs.
It was at the Battle of Anyasan Point, the tanks of three of the letter companies of the 192nd were assigned the duty of helping the Filipino army wipe out the Japanese Marines who had landed behind the main line of defense on Bataan.
During this engagement Vernon's tank was disabled when it hit a landmine causing the tank to throw a track. Vernor and the other members of his tank crew were trapped inside their tank. A number of attempts to rescue the crew failed.
There are two stories as to what happened next. In the first story, the four crew members realized that the tank could not be moved. They attempted to evacuate the tank, but as they were climbing out of the tank the Japanese threw grenades into the tank killing them.
The second story, which appears to be the accurate story, is that after the tank was disabled the crew refused to surrender. The Japanese knowing this began filling the tank with dirt that they were digging out from under the tank to make a bunker. The three soldiers trapped in the tank suffocated.
The tank was later recovered and turned over to empty the dirt out of it. Upon doing this, the bodies of the tank crew members were recovered and buried.
Pvt. Vernor Deck died when he suffocated inside his tank on Monday, February 2, 1942, near Agaloma, Philippine Islands. After the war, his remains could not be positively identified, so he was buried as an "Unknown" at the new American cemetery. Since his final resting place is unknown, Pvt. Vernor Deck's name appears on Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.