Wasson

 

Tec 5 DeWayne ElRoy Wasson


    T/5 DeWayne E. Wasson was the son of Harry A. Wasson & Gertrude Cutts-Wasson.  He was born on April 4, 1919, and grew up at 539 North Terrace Street in Janesville, Wisconsin.  He attended Janesville schools and was a member of the Janesville High School graduating class of 1937.  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, DeWayne traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for one year of military service.
    During the training at Ft. Knox, Wayne attended cooks and bakers 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.  After the maneuvers, the battalion gathered at Camp Polk and learned that  were being sent overseas not released from federal service.
    Sailing from Angel Island, the battalion arrived in Manila on Thanksgiving Day, 1941.  Since their barracks were unfinished, the battalion was assigned to tents between Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Air Field.
    Having been informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the tanks of the 192nd were guarding the perimeter of Clark Field.  Around noon, Wayne was in a mess truck carrying meals to the tank crews when planes appeared above the airfield.  Within minutes, bombs began exploding.
    Sometime in January 1942, Wayne was wounded.  Since the American had no real air force, it was probably while being strafed by Japanese planes that were chasing his truck.  He remained in the hospital for the next two months.
 After being released from the hospital, Wayne's job was to feed 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.  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.   He was 23 years old.
    Since T/5 DeWayne E. Wasson's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.  What is known is that Dewayne's remains could not be identified after the war.  So his remains lie in a mass grave at the cemetery marked as "unknowns".

 

 

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