Winger

2nd Lt. Edward Garfield Winger


     2nd Lt. Edward G. Winger was born February 4, 1921, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Bernhardt Winger & Grace Wilber-Winger.  It is known that his mother married Roy Perry and his mother, Ed, and his brother, Richard, moved to 119 South 6th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois.  He was the half-brother of Esther and Marshall Perry.  He graduated from Proviso Township High School on May 26, 1939.  

     In 1937, while he was still in high school, Ed joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company.  After high school, he worked as a clerk for the Northern Illinois Public Service Company.  In October 1940, he re-enlisted in the tank company as it prepared for federal duty.   

    Upon arrival at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the name of the company was changed to Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.  At Fort Knox, Ed was trained as a tank driver.  It was while the company was at Ft. Knox that Ed wrote a series of articles for The Maywood Herald about the training.  These articles were very popular in Maywood.  In the late summer of 1941, Ed took part in more training in Louisiana in the form of maneuvers.  After these maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion learned that they had been selected for duty overseas. 
    The battalion traveled west by train to San Francisco.  Arriving there, they were taken by ferry to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated.   Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin 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 Gen. Edward King, who general 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 tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field.  Two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks at all times.  On December 8th, the tankers had received word of the Japanese Pearl Harbor.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. They lined the planes up in a straight line in front of the mess hall.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  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.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
     
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions, on January 28th, 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.  
    
B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers 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 exited the pocket.

    In the area north of Trails #5 and #7, in the Gayaegayan Region on the West Coast Sector of Bataan,  Ed led his tanks against the Japanese on terrain not favorable for tanks.  During this attack on what was known as the Tuol Pocket, his tanks knocked out several enemy machine guns and enabled friendly infantry to advance.  

    It was during this battle, that the Japanese used flamethrowers on Ed's tanks.  This was the first time the Japanese used flamethrowers in World War II.  Ed's crew was temporarily blinded and his tank ended up wedged between two trees.  Ed and his crew managed to escape.  His tank would later be recovered by B Company. 

    Making his way toward Filipino-American lines, Ed was shot by a Filipino Scout in his stomach and legs.  The Scout mistook him as a German military advisor.  At that time, a rumor was circulating, among the Filipino troops, that the Germans were providing the Japanese with observers.  The Filipino Scout assumed that the soldier approaching him was German because he had blond hair.

    After Ed was shot, Cpl. John Massimino carried Edward for three days in an attempt to get him to an aid station.  By the time Ed reached the aid station, gangrene had developed in his wounds.  

    As Ed lay on the operating table, he asked Dr. Alvin Poweleit not to amputate his legs.  He also asked the doctor to give his possessions to his girlfriend if he died.  Edward died during surgery at the aid station.  According to Dr. Poweleit, 2nd Lt. Edward G. Winger died on February 5, 1942, one day after his 21st birthday.  His date of death is officially listed as February 9, 1942.

    For his courage while under enemy fire and for leading his tanks against enemy flamethrowers, 2nd Lt. Edward G. Winger was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action in the area north of trails 5 and 7 along the west coast of Bataan during the period of 4 to 6 February, 1942.

    After the war, 2nd Lt. Edward Garfield Winger was buried in Plot D, Row 6, Grave 190, at the American Military Cemetery, outside of Manila in the Philippine Islands.  His mother's family also had his name put on the family headstone at Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.



 


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