Slicer

2nd Lt. William Henry Slicer Jr. 


    2nd Lt. William H. Slicer Jr. was born on January 22, 1918, to William H. Slicer Sr. and Alfhild Bie-Slicer in Chicago.  With his three sisters, he grew up at 503 South 52nd Avenue in Bellwood, Illinois.  He attended Proviso Township High School in Maywood and was a member of the Class of 1937.
    While in high school, William was involved in dramatics.  His fellow classmates remembered him as a serious, courteous person, willing to help someone at any time.  William was married to Dorothy, and the father of two children.  They resided at 148 South Kedzie Avenue in Chicago.  He worked as a clerk in a factory office.
    William joined the Illinois National Guard on November 12, 1935, as a private.  During his time in the National Guard, he rose in rank to sergeant to staff sergeant.  On November 19, 1940, he resigned from the National Guard as an enlisted man and reenlisted on November 25, 1940, as a 2nd Lieutenant.  On the same date, the company was federalized as B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  By train, the company went for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 
    During his time at Ft. Knox, William took a course in tank maintenance.  It was also at this time that he became the company's mess officer. 
     In the late summer of 1941, William took part in the Louisiana maneuvers.  In October of 1941, he left the United States with Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion for the Philippine Islands.

    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.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 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.
    It was during the voyage that William awoke one morning to find that he had been transferred to Headquarters Company and now the Liaison Officer. The battalion arrived in the Philippines just two weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
    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 tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.  Two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks at all times.  The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the 19nd received word of the attack.  As they sat in their tanks, they saw American planes fill the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the airfield was bombed by the Japanese wiping out the Army Air Corps.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.

    William was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on December 24th.  His leg was broken when a chain broke while the maintenance crew was attempting to pull a truck.  He had been warned he was standing too close to the chain.  He was sent to Melbourne, Australia, on the last hospital ship allowed to leave the Philippines by the Japanese. 
     After recuperating in Australia, William remained in Australia as a member of General MacArthur's staff.  He was promoted to first lieutenant in February, 1942.  The reason this was done was because he was the only American officer who knew about the tactics the Japanese used against tanks.
    Later, on December 19, 1942, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and saw more action against the Japanese on New Guinea.  While on New Guinea in September of 1944, he was given two options.  The first was that he was granted leave to return to Chicago to see his wife, Dorothy, and his children, Carol and Billy. 
    The second option William was given was to return with General Douglas  MacArthur to the Philippine Islands.  He had no time to waste and made his decision immediately.  In a letter to his wife, he told her that he longed to see her and his children, but he also knew that the Philippines were about to be invaded by American Forces.  In the letter, he said that he wanted to be there when Gen. MacArthur returned to the Philippine Islands. 
    When the invasion of the Philippine Islands came, William was with the American Forces as they landed on Luzon.  He returned to the Philippine Islands as the commander of a transport unit of 1000 men. 
    William was discharged from the army on March 30, 1946.  He returned to Maywood and his wife and children.  He would later become the father of twin sons.  He took a job with the Chicago & North Western Railroad.  He also returned to the Illinois National Guard and became the commanding officer of the 33rd Division's Heavy Tank Company which was headquartered in the same armory B Company called home.  The men under his command viewed him as being very goal oriented.
    In 1958, William moved to Washburn, Wisconsin, where his family had land.  He lived there until his death on September 24, 1999.  He was buried at Washburn Cemetery in Block 12,  Lot  36, Site  1.
    It should be noted that William fathered another son, Pierre, while he was stationed in Australia.  In 2001, his children became aware of their half-brother and have since developed strong ties with him.

 


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