Pfc. Lewis R. Phillips
Pfc. Lewis R. Phillips was born on November 4, 1916, in Beloit, Wisconsin, to
Louis H. Phillips and Rose Lee
Thomas-Phillips. With his two sisters and
two brothers, he lived at 467 Jalena Avenue,
Janesville, Wisconsin. He left high school
after three years and worked as a waiter. At
some point, he joined the Wisconsin National
Guard's 32nd Tank Company in Janesville.
In September 1940, the National Guard unit was federalized and re-designated as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. On November 25th, the company readied itself for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The company boarded the train for Ft. Knox on November 28th.
When the tankers arrived at Ft. Knox, they learned that their barracks were not finished. The area of the fort that they were assigned to was brand new. They found themselves living in tents with stoves in them. They remained in the tents several months. When they did move into their barracks, the roads in front of them were mud since the winter was extremely wet.
Lewis, like all the other members of the battalion, learned to operate all the equipment of the battalion. It is not known what he trained to do with the company. His exact job with the company is not known.
In late August, the battalion was informed it would take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. During the maneuvers the battalion performed exceptionally well. After the maneuvers, instead of returning to Ft. Knox, 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. Some members of the battalion received leaves home to say their goodbyes.
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. 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 morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write
informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been
bombed by the Japanese. The tanks were
put on alert and took their positions around the
airfield. At 8:30 A.M., American took
off to intercept any Japanese planes. Sometime
before noon, the alert was canceled and the planes
landed and were lined up near the mess hall.
Their pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45. Many of the tankers counted 54 planes. The planes approached the airfield and watched hat was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes.
The members of A Company lived through the bombing
of Clark Field. During the attack, they could
do little since their guns were not made to use
For some reason, not known to the tankers,
the Japanese did not attack the tanks.
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.