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.  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.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  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.  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.

      A month after arriving in the Philippine Islands, the men of the 192nd Tank Battalion found themselves involved in some of the first major tank to tank engagements.  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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