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
Cook County, Georgia.
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 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.
The battalion traveled by train 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, who apologized that they 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.
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.
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 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.
The 192nd remained at Clark Field before A Company, on December 12th, was ordered to the Barrio of Dau to protect a road and railroad from sabotage. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
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.
It was during the Battle of the Points that Wando was wounded. According to Zoeth Skinner of the 194th Tank Battalion, a thermite bomb was planted on the breech of the assistant drivers gun exploding and severely burning Hart's left leg. At the U.S. General Hospital #1, Little Baguio, Bataan, it was determined that his leg needed to be amputated. It was reported that his left leg was removed at Hospital #2 at Limay, Bataan. He was still in the hospital when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese and was transported by truck to Bilibid Prison.
According to records kept at the U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at Bilibid Prison, Wando was admitted on June 19, 1942. Being that he was unfit to work, he remained at the prison, his name was still on the roster at the hospital in October 1942, showing he was assigned to Ward 9.
Zoeth Skinner, 194th Tank Battalion, stated that Wando developed a tooth abscess. Skinner stated that Wando was a fighter and lived in spite of the fact the doctors believed he should have died. The tooth, Number 32, was removed on January 11, 1944. He received sulfathiazole, but because of a drop in white blood cells the treatment was stopped. The doctors at the prison gave him three blood transfusions in an attempt to save his life. Wando showed signs of improvement from February 10th to February 21st.
On February 22nd, Wando was reported to have a fever of 105º and was given another blood transfusion. The next day his fever rose to 107º and he became mentally confused. The medical staff reported that Wando developed jaundice. It also was recorded that he became weaker and mentally confused.
Zoeth Skinner recorded that Pvt. Wando A. Hart died from blood poisoning on March 4, 1944, at approximately 8:15 P.M. He was buried at the Bilibid Hospital Burial Plot in Row 4, Grave 20.
After the war, Wando's remains were positively identified. At the request of his parents, the remains of Pvt. Wando Hart were reburied at Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, Georgia. He was buried in Section A, Site 13854.