|Pvt. Howard Robert Gasaway
Pvt. Howard R. Gasaway was born November 20, 1918,
Ohio, to Charles I. Gasaway and Jane
Snodgrass-Gasaway. With his three sisters and
two brothers, he lived in West Virginia and 106
South Second Street in Martins Ferry, Ohio. He
left school after completing grammar school to go to
work. His mother passed away when he was
Howard was inducted into the U.S. Army on January 23, 1941, at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. He was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training and assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion which had been a Ohio National Guard tank company from Port Clinton.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30. During the maneuvers, the Red Army, which the 192nd was part of broke through the Blue Army's defenses and were on their way to capturing the army's headquarters when the maneuvers were suddenly captured. The commanding general of the Blue Army was George Patton.
When the maneuvers ended, the 192nd Tank Battalion was given orders to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was on the side of a hill that the members of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Men, 29 years old or older, were given six hours 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 2 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 Dateline. 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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who 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.
in the afternoon, the tankers noticed planes
approaching the airfield. When bombs began
exploding around them, they knew the planes were
Japanese. Besides their .50 caliber machine
guns, they had few weapons to use against the
planes. Most took cover and waited out the
attack. After it ended, they saw the
destruction done by the bombs.
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 31, 1941, Capt. William Gentry, commanding officer of C Company, sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major John Morley, of the Provisional Tank Group, came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Gentry had told Morley that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady held his fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time C Company was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
C Company withdrew to Calumpit Bridge after receiving orders from Provisional Tank Group. When they reached the bridge, they discovered it had been blown. Finding a crossing the tankers made it to the south side of the river. Knowing that the Japanese were close behind, the Americans took their positions in a harvested rice field and aimed their guns to fire a tracer shell through the harvested rice. This would cause the rice to ignite which would light the enemy troops.
The tanks were about 100 yards apart. The
Japanese crossing the river knew that the
Americans were there because the tankers shouted
at each other to make the Japanese believe troops
were in front of them. The Japanese were
within a few yards of the tanks when the tanks
opened fire which caused the rice stacks to catch
fire. The fighting was such a rout that the
the tankers were using a .37 mm shell to kill one
Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to
wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through
the main defensive line and than trapped behind
the line after the Filipino and American troops
pushed the Japanese back. According to
members of the battalion they resorted two ways to
wipe out the Japanese.
It was at this
time that Gen. King knowing that the situation was
hopeless sent officers to negotiate the surrender
of Bataan. The reality was that only 25% of
his troops were healthy enough to fight. He
believed that they would last one more day.
In addition, 6,000 of his troops were hospitalized
from wounds or illness, and he had 40,000
civilians he was protecting whom he believed would