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 eighteen.
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.
The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese
paratroopers on December 1st. At all times, two tank members had to remain with each tank. That
morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When they
looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots
went to lunch.
Around 12:45 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
On December 23 and 24, 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 25, 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 27.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and
December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. While there, the bridge over the
Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered
Japanese troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Raymon's tank comapy won the first tank victory
of World War II against enemy tanks.
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
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
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
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
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 Japanese soldier.
Howard's tank company was next sent to the Barrio of Porac to aid the Filipino Army which
was having trouble with Japanese artillery fire. From a Filipino lieutenant, they learned where the guns
were located and attacked. Before the Japanese withdrew, the tanks had knocked out three of the
After this, the tanks withdrew to the Hermosa Bridge and held it on the north side until
all the troops were across. The tanks then crossed to the south and destroyed the bridge which held the
Japanese up for a few days. This was the beginning of the Battle of 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 28, 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
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line on
Bataan. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land reinforcements, they were landed in
the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known as the Battle of the Points.
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A.
Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks from
the Provisional Tank Group.
On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where the
Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick reconnaissance of the
area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of
the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a
Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out
that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time. The decision
was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left side
of the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so they
would not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver. Coordinating
the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so that the tanks
and infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each
tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so that
the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to where they
were needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for the night.
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to the
cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks were
released to returned to the 192nd.
During the Battle of the Pockets 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 first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with
sacks of hand grenades. When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the
soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out
of three hand grenades would explode.
The second method was simple. The tank was parked with one track across the
foxhole. The driver spun the tank on one track. The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese
soldiers were dead. During all these engagements, Ralph worked to keep the tanks running. Often this
meant scavenging parts from tanks that no longer were operable.
During the Battle of the Pockets 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
The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with
sacks of hand grenades. When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the
soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of
three hand grenades would explode.
The second method was simple. The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole,
and the driver spun the tank on other track. The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were
dead. According to members of the battalion, the tankers slept upwind from the tanks.
Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major
offensive on April 3. The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance. On the
6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked out from
anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew.
On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on
Bataan. C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line. They were ordered
to reinforce the eastern portion of the line. Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the
eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and
American forces. On April 8, the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
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 be
Tank battalion commanders received this order
: "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy
within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat
vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
About 6:45 in the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order
so they destroyed their tanks and waited for the Japanese to make contact with them. When they did,
the Americans officially became Prisoners of War. They made their way, as a company, to Mariveles at the
southern tip of Bataan. There, they started what they simply referred to as "the march."
From Mariveles, the POWs made their way north to San Fernando. They received
little food and almost no water. At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into a bull pin. In one corner
was a slit trench that was used as a washroom. The surface moved from the maggots that covered it.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men. They were marched to
the train station and put into small wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars could hold
forty men or eight horses and were known as
, "Forty or Eights."
The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living
left the cars at Capas. From there, they walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese
pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated
any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs and if a man
was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next several days,
gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to
eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the
next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This situation
improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when
it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp
and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing
since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the
POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he
was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese
commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies the
camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were placed
in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave a
list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs needed to
work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The death rate
among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.
According to medical records kept by the medical staff, Pvt.
Howard R. Gasaway died on Sunday, May 24, 1942, at Camp O'Donnell from dysentery. He
was buried in the camp cemetery in Section I, Row 6, Grave 7.
After the war in October 1948, at the request of his family, the remains of Pvt. Howard
R. Gasaway were returned to Ohio. He was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Martin's Ferry, Ohio.
His family also received his Purple Heart Medal.
It should be mentioned that the burial records from the military have his year of birth
as 1918. His burial records, which were confirmed by his father, have 1920 crossed outand 1918
written on them.