Weech

 


Pvt. Miles Elmer Weech


    Pvt. Miles E. Weech was born on July 5, 1915, in Hagerman, Idaho, to Joaeph W. Weech  & Hester J. Miller-Weech.  He had five brothers and two sisters.  Two of his brothers died as children and bis mother died during the 1930s. 
    Miles was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 19, 1941, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.  What is known is that he qualified to be a tank crew member.
    After basic training, Miles was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion.  The 753rd had been sent to Camp Polk from Fort Benning, Georgia.  The tank battalion had been transferred there, but it did not take part in the maneuvers that were going on at the time.
    After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was held at Camp Polk instead of being sent back to Ft. Knox.  The members of the battalion had no idea why they were being kept at the base.  They were finally informed that General George Patton had selected them for overseas duty.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal duty.  Replacements were taken from the 753rd Tank Battalion.  One of those replacements was Miles.  He was assigned to A Company.
    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  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 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. 
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel 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 tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times.
    On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  The tankers manned their tanks around the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. They had enough time to count the that the two "V" formations totaled 54 planes.  At first, the soldiers thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they 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.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank had left the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. Driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    On another occasion the company was in bivouac on two sides of a road.  They posted sentries and most of the tankers attempted to get some sleep.  The sentries heard noise down the road and woke the company.  Every man grabbed a weapon.  As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac.  The tankers opened fire with everything they had.  When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out the bicycle battalion.

    According to Able Ortega, a member of Miles' tank crew, on February 3, 1942, during the Battle of Anyasan Point, their tank had been disabled by enemy fire.  The tank crew was abandoning the tank.  Miles had just climbed out of the tank when he was shot in the stomach by a sniper.  Neil McCage - another member of the tank crew and a good friend of Miles - crabbed a Tommy-gun, aimed it at a tree, and fired at the trunk.  As he fired, he moved up the truck until he hit the tree's canopy.  The sniper fell and hung from the tree by the rope tied to his leg. 
    Miles was taken by his tank crew to Hospital #1 at Little Baguio.  According to U.S. Army records,  Pvt. Miles E. Weech died from his wounds on February 6, 1942, at Hospital #1, Little Baguio.  He was buried at Cabcaben Army Air Field, Cabcaban, Philippine Islands, in Plot B, Row 1, Grave 10.  
   
In the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion prepared by 1st Lt Jacques Merrifield of the 192nd.  Miles Weech's date of death is given as February 5, 1942.  This date is also confirmed by the journal kept by Captain Fred Bruni of the 192nd.
    After the war, the U.S. Army Remains Recovery team exhumed Miles' remains from the grave in 1946.  For whatever reason, the team stated the remains could not be positively identified.  Miles Weech was buried as an "Unknown" most likely at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.  His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.  His family had a headstone placed at the Hagerman Cemetery in Hagerman, Idaho.


 

 





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