Pfc. James W. Gillespie
| Pfc. James W.
Gillespie was born on February 2, 1916, in Dayton,
Ohio, to William A. Gillespie and Estella
Beers-Gillespie. With his sister, he grew
up in various homes in Dayton. In 1940, his
family was living at 520 Peach Avenue. He
attended high school for three years before going
to work as a molder in a Bakelite factory.
He was known as "Jim" to his family and friends.
Jim was drafted into the army and inducted at Fort Thomas in Newport, Kentucky, on March 25, 1941. He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company had been an Ohio National Guard Tank Company from Port Clinton, Ohio. At Ft. Knox, he attended tank mechanics school and qualified as a tank mechanic.
After ten months of training at Ft. Knox, the battalion 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 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 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.
the war, the
was buried at
Manila in Plot
L, Row 15,