Pvt. Wando Amos Hart
| Pvt. Wando A.
Hart was born on November 15, 1913, Chaires,
Florida, to Wayne & Virginia Hart. He
was the second oldest of the couples' five
children and grew up in unincorporated Chires,
Florida. He left school after his first year
of high school, and in 1940, Wando was living in
On September 11, 1940, Wando enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. He did his basic training at the fort and was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana. Maneuvers were going on at Camp Polk, but the 753rd did not take part in them.
The 192nd Tank Battalion, which did take part in the maneuvers, performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where they had trained, the battalion remained at Camp Polk. None of the members had any idea why they were being kept there.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas. They were told that this decision had been made by General George S. Patton. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service. It was at that time that Wando joined the 192nd and was assigned to A Company. He was known as "Curly" to the other members of the battalion.
Over different train routes, the battalion traveled to San Francisco, California, where they were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those members who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S. A. T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th. Once they recovered they spent their time breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the S. S. Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly countr
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they all received what they needed and that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
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.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. The tankers returned to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. At 8:30 that morning, American planes took off and filled the sky. The planes landed at noon, to be refueled, and were parked, in a straight line, in front of the mess hall.
At about 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
A Company, on December 12th, was ordered to the Barrio of Dau to protect a road and railroad from sabotage. They remained there until they received orders, on December 21st, to join the other companies of the battalion which were on their way to the Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese were landing troops.
On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where 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 but 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.
The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line the night of December 27th and 28th. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BamBan River which they were suppose to hold for as long as possible. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
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 Read. On a road east of Zaragoza, on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River the night of December 31st and January 1st. Believing that the Filipino Army was in front of them allowed the tankers to get some sleep. It was that night that the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river.
As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers. The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks. To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen. Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line. When the Japanese broke off the attack, they had lost about half their men.
A Company was next sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. At Guagua, A Company, with units from the 11th Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the tanks were mistaken by the Filipinos to be Japanese, and the 11th Division accurately used mortars on them. The result was the loss of three tanks. The company rejoined the 194th west of Guagua and was returned to the 192nd in early January 1942.
From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape. It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in half. It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the soldiers.
The tanks were often the last units to disengage from an enemy and form a new defensive line as American and Filipino forces withdrew from Bataan. The night of January 7th, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the bridge over the Culis Creek into Bataan. The engineers were waiting to blow the bridge, but the 192nd's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered them to wait until he had a chance to see if the company was anywhere in sight. He crossed the bridge and found the tankers asleep in their tanks. He woke the tank crews and ordered them across the bridge. For some reason, they had never received the order to cross. As soon as they crossed, the bridge was destroyed.