Smith_Emerson

 


Sgt. Emerson P. Smith


    Sgt. Emerson P. Smith was born in 1919 the younger son of Samuel & Nellie Smith.  With his brother, he resided on State Route 260 in Ludlow Township, Washington County, Ohio.  He was inducted into the U. S. Army on January 21, 1941 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.  From Ft. Hayes, he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he joined the 192nd Tank Battalion.  

    The reason Emerson was assigned to C Company was because the company had originated as an Ohio National Guard Tank Company. To fill out the company's roster, the army attempted to fill the roster with men from the home state the company.

    In October of 1941, the battalion members were informed they were being sent overseas.  Most of the men received ten day leaves to say goodbye to their families and friends.

    Over different train routes that companies of the battalion made their way to San Francisco, California.  Also arriving with them were their "new" M3 Tanks.  Once in San Francisco, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island.  There they received physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands. 
    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.  After several hours the soldiers disembarked and most and the were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  The maintenance crews remained behind to unload the tanks from the ship.
    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.

    On December 8, 1941, Emerson and the rest of C Company heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The tankers were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to prevent the use of paratroopers by the Japanese.

    While having lunch, the tankers noticed planes approaching Clark Field.  At first, the thought they were American, but when the bombs began to explode around them, they knew the planes were Japanese.

    As a tank commander, Emerson was involved in numerous engagements against the Japanese.  During one engagement, C Company successfully destroyed a platoon of Japanese tanks. 

    It was at the Battle of Anyasan Point that the tanks of three of the letter companies of the 192nd were assigned the duty of helping the Filipino army wipe-out the Japanese Marines who had landed behind the main line of defense on Bataan.

    During this engagement Emerson's tank was disabled when it hit a landmine causing the tank to throw a track.  Pvt. Robert Young, Pvt. Vernor Deck, Pvt. Sydney Rattner and Emerson were trapped inside their tank.  A number of attempts to rescue the crew failed.  

    There are two stories as to what happened next.  In the first story, the crew members, realizing that the tank could not be moved, attempted to evacuate the tank.  As they were climbing out of the tank, the Japanese threw grenades into the tank killing them.

    The real story is that even though their tank was disabled, the crew members refused to surrender.  The Japanese decided to use the tank as a bunker and began digging the earth out from underneath it.  As they dug, the Japanese began filling the tank with dirt by pouring it into the viewing slits as they were digging out from under the tank.  The four tank crew members suffocated in the tank.

    The tank was later recovered and turned over to empty the dirt out of it.  Upon doing this, the bodies of the tank crew members were recovered and buried.

    Sgt. Emerson P. Smith died when he suffocated inside his tank on Monday, February 2, 1942, near Agaloma.  After the war, his remains were reburied at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 

 

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