Sgt. Ivan O. Wilmer

    Sgt. Ivan O. Wilmer was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, on December 5, 1901, to Clara Hubbard and Rudolph Webner.  After Rudolph's death, Clara married Forrest Dexter a newspaper man from Des Moines, Iowa.  This resulted in Ivan being raised at Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago.

    Returning to Wisconsin, Ivan would marry and divorced.  He was the father of three sons; Arthur, Billy and Charles.  He resided at 935 Fourth Street in Beloit, Wisconsin, and worked  doing road maintenance with the Public Works Program.  

    When the 32nd Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard was called to federal duty in November of 1940, Ivan found himself training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as a member of A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  In January 1941, Ivan was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed from members of the four letter companies of the 192nd.

    On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent overseas.  They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  Ivan was given this opportunity but chose to remain with the tank company.  The men were  given leaves home to say goodbye to family and friends.
    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 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.

    Ivan survived the attack on Clark Field on December 8, 1941, and spent the next two months in military engagements with the Japanese.  In early 1942, Ivan was involved in the attempt to dislodge Japanese Marines who had been landed behind the main line of defense on the Bataan Peninsula.  This action became known as "The Battle of the Pockets." 

    One day during the battle, Ivan found himself in the middle of a low-level Japanese air attack near Bambang, Limay, at km144.  To get out of the attack, he attempted to escape by running to his tank.  While he was running, he was struck by shrapnel and badly wounded.  He was taken to a field hospital where he died on Tuesday, February 3, 1942.  His family learned of his death on February 17, 1942.

    After the war, the remains of Sgt. Ivan O. Wilmer were returned to the United States.  He was buried on October 16, 1948, at the Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois, in Plot D, Grave 27.


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