Cpl. Gilbert A. Ryman was born in 1914 in Greenwood
Township, Vernon County, Wisconsin, to Ralph C. Ryman &
Minnie Graham-Ryman. With his three sisters and
step-brother, he was raised at 412 North Terrace
Street, Janesville, Wisconsin. He worked as a
weaver in the Rock River Woolen Mills and joined the
Wisconsin National Guard.
In November, 1940, the tank company was sent to Fort Knox for training as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. It was there that Gilbert learned the necessary skills of a company clerk and became one of the clerks for A Company. It was his job to distribute the company's mail each day. While training at Ft, he became engaged to Devota Buggs sister of Wayne Buggs, of A Company.
Almost a year after arriving in Kentucky, his battalion, the 192nd Tank Battalion, was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. 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.
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 Colonel Edward King, who apologized 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. They remained there off and on for several days. 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 planes took off to intercept any Japanese planes. Sometime before noon, the alert was canceled and the planes landed and were lined up, in a straight line, near the pilots' mess hall. The 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. When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.
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
against planes. For some reason,
not known to the tankers, the Japanese did not attack
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.
occasion the company was
in bivouac on two sides
of a road. They
posted sentries and most
of the tankers attempted
to get some sleep.
The sentries heard noise
down the road and woke
the company. Every
man grabbed a
weapon. As they
watched, a Japanese
bicycle battalion rode
tankers opened fire with
had. When they
stopped firing, they had
completely wiped out the