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. Twoof his brothers died as
children. His mother died in the
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 Calvin Coolidge 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 November 5th, 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 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 the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of A Company were informed of the Japanese attack on Clark Field. His tank and the others were sent to 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. 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.
The 192nd remained at Clark field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad. For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line.
At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easily seen since they were wearing white t-shirts. It was there that the tankers found that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked. Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes. The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
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 9.
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. Mile 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.