Heuel

 


Pvt. Charles Arthur Heuel


   Pvt. Charles A. Heuel was born on October 14, 1921, to Christian Heuel and Frances Smolik-Heuel.  He was the youngest of ten children.  He grew up in Chicago at 4516 North Christiana Avenue.  While he was a teenager, his father passed away, so he was sent to live with his sister, Marie, and her husband at 4606 North Marmora Avenue.  He graduated from Washington High School in Chicago in 1940.

    On April 7, 1941, Charles joined the U. S. Army.  In January 1941, the newly created Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion took men from all the letter companies of the battalion, because he was from Illinois, Charles was assigned to B Company.  The reason this was done was that the army filled the vacated positions in the battalion with men from the home states of each of the tank companies.  Since B Company was originally an Illinois National Guard Company, Charles was assigned to the company.  During his training, Charles qualified as a tank driver.

    After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Charles took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  Upon completion of the maneuvers, Charles learned with his battalion that they were going to be sent overseas.  After going home on furlough, Charles left from Camp Polk, Louisiana, for Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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 Tuesday, November 4th, 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.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  As the tankers sat in their tanks, the sky above them was filled with American planes.  At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went  to lunch. 
    Food trucks were sent to the area and members of the tank crews went to get lunch for the members of their crews.  As they stood in line, they spotted planes approaching the airfield from the north.  They had enough time to count 53 planes in the formation.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese. 
    B Company remained at Clark Field until it was ordered to move toward the Lingayen Gulf were the Japanese were landing troops.  From then on, the tankers fought a slow withdrawing action toward Bataan.

    During the Battle of Bataan, B Company was assigned to guard the east coast of Bataan against a possible Japanese invasion.  On this duty, the tanks would hide under the jungle's canopy during the day and come out onto the beaches at night.  While on this duty, Charles was involved in firefights between the tanks and Japanese gunboats in Manila Bay.

    The morning of February 3, 1942, after being up all night guarding the east coast of Bataan, Charles and the other members of B Company were attempting to get some sleep.  At this time, a Japanese reconnaissance plane appeared overhead attempting to locate the American tanks.  Sgt. Walter Cigoi, who was tired of this daily event, attempted to shoot down the plane but failed.  As a result of his attempt, he revealed their position under the jungle canopy.  About twenty minutes later, Japanese dive bombers appeared over B Company's position and bombed them. 

    Since the tree canopy was extremely thick, the Japanese bombs exploded in the treetops above the tanks.  After the attack, T/4 Frank Goldstein found Charles halfway under the front of a tank.  When Goldstein pulled Charles from under the tank, he was badly torn up, with at least ten wounds, from shrapnel.  It appeared that he had been hit and had been attempting to crawl under the tank to escape the exploding bombs. 

    Pvt. Charles A. Heuel was Killed in Action on Tuesday, February 3, 1942.  He was 19 years old.  Goldstein felt guilt over the death of Charles, because he had promised Charles's sister, Marie, that he would watch out for him.  His family received word of his death on February 10, 1942.

    Since Pvt. Charles A. Heuel's final resting place is unknown, his name appears on Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.  It is very likely that after the war that the remains of Charles could not be identified, and that he was buried in a grave marked unknown.


 


 

Return to Company B

Next