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.S. 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. Calvin Coolidge. During 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.
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
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