Pvt. Woodrow Wilson Cravens
| Pvt. Woodrow W.
Cravens was born on December 11, 1915, in
Christian County, Kentucky, to Richard Cravens and
Addie Young-Cravens. He was one of the
couple's three sons.
Woodrow was inducted into the U.S. Army on February 21, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his basic training, he was assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. It is knot known what specific training he received during his basic training.
In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana, and took part in maneuvers there. It was after the maneuvers that it was ordered to remain at the base instead of returning to Ft. Knox. The soldiers had not idea why they had been ordered to remain at the fort. About two weeks later, on the side of a hill, the soldiers were informed they were being sent overseas. Those who were married or 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust. Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day. At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King. King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers. At this time, D Company was suppose to be transferred to the 194th Tank Battalion, but the transfer was never completed, so the company remained under the command of the 192nd.
The morning of December 8, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers. During the night, word had been received about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At exactly noon the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. To get their lunch three tankers from each tank were allowed to go to the food truck that had been sent to the airfield to feed them. Most of the soldiers were in line at the truck when they saw planes approaching. No one was alarmed by this since they did not believe that the Japanese would attack. It was only when bombs began exploding that they realized they were wrong.
After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on Delores Road. They remained there until December 10. They were next sent to Klumpit to look for paratroopers. While there, they guarded a large bridge from saboteurs.
On December 13, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. They remained there until December 23, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
The tankers were next assigned to guarding the
Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields. They also
guarded against beach landings and
paratroopers. They would continue this
duty until April 7. On
April 8, the tankers were sent Trail 10
and Mount Samat. The lines had
broken. They fought there until
receiving the news of the surrender.
During his time at Cabanatuan, Woodrow was
selected to go out on a work detail in January
1943 to Lipa Batangas. The POWs on the
detail built runways with picks and shovels at
Lipa Airfield. It appears that Woodrow was
returned to Cabanatuan before the detail ended
because of illness.