Pvt. Alton Kenneth Goff
Pvt. Alton K. Goff. What is known is that he was
born on February 27, 1909, to Henry C. Goff and Cassa
E. Hurley-Goff in Bardwell, Wisconsin. He had
six brothers and two sisters in Delavan,
Wisconsin. When his mother died, he was sent to
live with his Uncle William. Alton attended school in Delavan and
worked on a farm. On September 16, 1940, he
enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard.
On October 25, 1940, Alton and his tank company were called to federal duty as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He and the other men trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky and then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was at Camp Polk, Louisiana, that the soldiers learned they were being sent overseas. Being over thirty years old, Alton was given the opportunity to resign from federal service. He chose to remain with A Company and go to the Philippine Islands.
The battalion traveled over four different train routes to San Francisco. By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals. Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island. On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam. At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables. The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th. They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King. The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
The 192nd Tank Battalion arrived left for the Philippine Islands on October 26, 1941, arriving there on November 20th. Alton and the other soldiers spent the next two weeks preparing their tanks for maneuvers.
Alton lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field on December 8th, December 7th in the United States. A week earlier, they had been given assigned positions around the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers. Two tank crew members remained with the tanks at all times. At 8:30 A.M., the American planes took off and filled the sky. They landed at noon and lined up, in a staight line, near the mess hall.
The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the airfield from the north. The tankers believed the planes were American. As they watched, raindrops fell from the planes. When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad. From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position.
On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta. It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed. The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings. They also took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.
He fought the Japanese for four months before becoming a Prisoner of War on April 9, 1942. He took part in the death march and was held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell. After a new camp was opened at Cabanatuan, Alton was sent there.
According to U. S. Army records, Pvt. Alton K. Goff was admitted to the camp hospital on August 30, 1942, suffering from dysentery and malaria. According to records kept by the medical staff at the hospital, he died from dysentery and malaria on November 9, 1942. According to his headstone, he died on Thursday, July 9, 1943, at Cabanatuan POW Camp, Philippine Islands. It is known that his family received word of his death until July 17, 1943. The fact that there was "lag time" of a half a year in receiving information on POW's death, the earlier date seems more likely.
Pvt. Alton K. Goff was buried in the Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Plot 3, Row 3, Grave 286. After the war, he was post humorously promoted to corporal. Alton's family requested that his remains be returned to Wisconsin. In October 1949, after a funeral service at the Baptist Brick Church, Cpl. Alton K. Goff was reburied at Spring Grove Cemetery in Delavan, Wisconsin.