Wasson

 

Tec 5 DeWayne ElRoy Wasson


    T/5 DeWayne E. Wasson was the son of Harry A. Wasson & Gertrude Cutts-Wasson, and born on April 4, 1919,  He grew up at 539 North Terrace Street in Janesville, Wisconsin, and attended Janesville schools and attended Janesville High School.  After high school, he worked as a waiter at a restaurant.  He was called Wayne by his family and friends.
    In August, 1939, Wayne joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company which was headquartered in an armory in Janesville.  When the company was called to federal service in the fall of 1940, as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, Wayne traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28, 1940, for one year of military service.

    A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress.  Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30.  Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company.  The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
    At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M.  Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13th, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating.   At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at 5:30.  After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played.   
    On January 13th, the men were assigned to the various schools at the fort.  In Wayne's case, he was sent to cooks and baker school.  It was because of his training that he assumed the position of first cook for A Company.
    In September, Wayne with the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1sst through 30th.  After the maneuvers, the battalion gathered at Camp Polk and learned that  were being sent overseas instead of returning to Ft. Knox.

    The battalion traveled, over different train routes, to San Francisco, California.  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.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th, at 9:00 P.M.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover.  The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. 
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam
but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  After leaving Pearl Harbor, it was joined by the U.S.S. Louisville and the S.S. President Calvin CoolidgeDuring this part of the voyage, on Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam the next day, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila on Monday, November 17th.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.  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.  At all times, two crew members remained with the tanks. 

    Ten hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, on December 8th in the Philippines, Wayne lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  As tankers sat at their tanks, the sky above them was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and two crew members were allowed to go to a food truck to get lunch.
    The tankers who manning their tanks watched as two formations of planes approached the airfield from the north.  They counted the formations were made up of 54 planes.  Many believed the planes were American until they saw what looked like raindrops falling from the planes.  When the raindrops began exploding on the runways, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.

    Sometime after the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position. 
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.

     December 27th, Wayne was wounded and was taken to a field hospital.  He remained in the hospital for the next two months.  After being released from the hospital, Wayne's returned to his job of feeding the tank crews.  As food grew scarce, this became more difficult.

    On April 9, 1942, Wayne became a Prisoner Of War when the Filipino and American defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.  The tankers made their way north toward San Fernanado.  At one point, they had to run past Japanese artillery that was firing on Corregidor, while the Americans on the island returned fire.
    At San Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pin.  The concrete floor was covered with human waste.  In one corner was a trench that the POWs were to use as a latrine.  Its surface moved from the maggots on it.
    The Japanese ordered the POWs to form columns of 100 POWs.  They were marched to the train station and packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights."  The name referred to the fact that each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and shut the doors.

    With the Filipino sun beating down on the roofs of the boxcars, the journey by train was unbearable.  The prisoners were packed in so tightly that when a man died, he could not fall down.  There were no provisions for water or toilets, so the floors of the boxcars became a sea of diarrhea, vomit and urine.  The prisoners disembarked from the train at Capas.  When they exited the cars, the dead fell to the floors.  They marched the final few miles to Camp O'Donnell.and was first held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base pressed  into service as a POW camp.  There was only one water spigot for the entire camp.  Men literally died for a drink while standing in line.  Disease ran wild in the camp since thre was little medicine to treat the ill.  The burial detail had a difficult time keeping up the job of burying the dead.  Wayne was put into the camp hospital on June 11th and remained there until July 4th.  When he was released, he was sent to Cabanatuan.
    The Japanese opened a new camp near Cabanatuan in an attempt to lower the death rate among the POWs.  Since the meals given to the prisoners were not adequate and there was no medicine, the POWs suffered from various diseases.  It is known that in shortly after arriving in the camp, Wayne was admitted to the camp hospital suffering from dysentery and inanition.  The hospital was known as "Zero Ward" since most of the sick who entered it did not leave alive.  He was assigned to Barracks 2.
    T/5 DeWayne E. Wasson died on Thursday, July 9, 1942, of dysentery, malaria, and inanition at 7:00 in the morning and was buried in the camp cemetery in grave 318 with 21 other POWs.  He was 23 years old. 
    After the war, the Remains Recovery Team did not positively identify the remains of T/5 Dewayne E. Wasson, so they were buried in a grave as an unknown with the other men who died on July 8th and 9th in 1942 and not identified in Section 324.


 

 

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