Pvt. Charles A. Heuel was born on October 14, 1921, to Christian Heuel and Frances
Smolik-Heuel. He was the youngest of ten children. He grew up in Chicago at 4516 North Christiana
Avenue. While he was a teenager, his father passed away, so he was sent to live with his sister, Marie, and
her husband at 4606 North Marmora Avenue. He graduated from Washington High School in Chicago in
On April 7, 1941, Charles joined the U. S. Army. In January 1941,
the newly created Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion took men from all the letter companies of the
battalion, because he was from Illinois, Charles was assigned to B Company. The reason this was done was
that the army filled the vacated positions in the battalion with men from the home states of each of the tank
companies. Since B Company was originally an Illinois National Guard Company, Charles was assigned to the
company. During his training, Charles qualified as a tank driver.
After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Charles took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana from September 1 through 30. Upon completion of the maneuvers, at Camp Polk, Louisiana, the members
of the battalion that they were going to be sent overseas. Many of the members of the battalion received
leave home to say their goodbyes.
The decision for this move too build up American forces in the Philippines was made at Ft.
Knox, Kentucky, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters
was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd. He took his plane down and
identified a buoy in the water. 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, hundred of miles away, with a large radio transmitter
on it. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark
Field. By the time the planes landed that evening, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been
picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between and Air
Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted. It was at that time the decision was made to build up
the American military presence in the Philippines.
Over different train routes, the companies of the battalion traveled
west by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, california. Arriving there, they were taken by the ferry,
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. There,
they were given physicals and inoculated for overseas duty by the battalion's medical detachment.
Those men found to have a minor medical condition were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a
later date, while 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. The ship 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, another transport, the
S.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9th, 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, which was a stew thrown into
their mess kits, before he went to have his
Ironically, November 20 was the date that
the National Guard members of the battalion had
expected to be released from federal service.
The first week of December, 1941, the tankers were
ordered to Clark Field to assigned locations. At all times, two members of each tank
crew or half-track crew had to remain with their tank or half-track.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were told of the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor. Those crew members not with their tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark
Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. As the tankers sat in their tanks, the sky above them was
filled with American planes. At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went to lunch.
Food trucks were sent to the area and members of the tank crews went to get lunch for the
members of their crews. As they stood in line, they spotted planes approaching the airfield from the
north. They had enough time to count 53 planes in the formation. When bombs began exploding on the
runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
B Company remained at Clark Field until it was ordered, on December 21st, to move toward
the Lingayen Gulf were the Japanese were landing troops. From then on, the tankers fought a slow withdrawing
action toward Bataan.
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 27, 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.
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 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 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
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three
Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos
dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually
The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over
the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding
its way down into the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
The morning of February 3, 1942, after being up all night guarding the
east coast of Bataan, Charles and the other members of B Company were attempting to get some sleep. At this
time, a Japanese reconnaissance plane appeared overhead attempting to locate the American tanks. Sgt.
Walter Cigoi, who was tired of this daily event, attempted to shoot down the plane but failed. As a result
of his attempt, he revealed their position under the jungle canopy. About twenty minutes later, Japanese
dive bombers appeared over B Company's position and bombed them.
Since the tree canopy was extremely thick, the Japanese bombs exploded
in the treetops above the tanks. After the attack,
T/4 Frank Goldstein found Charles halfway under the front of a tank. When
Goldstein pulled Charles from under the tank, he was badly torn up, with at least ten wounds, from
shrapnel. It appeared that he had been hit while attempting to crawl under the tank to escape the exploding
Pvt. Charles A. Heuel was Killed in Action on Tuesday, February 3, 1942. He was 19
Goldstein felt guilt over the death of Charles, because he had promised Charles's sister,
Marie, that he would watch out for him.
His family received word of his death on February 10, 1942.
Since Pvt. Charles A. Heuel's final resting place is unknown, his
name appears on Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila. It is very
likely that after the war that the remains of Charles could not be identified, and that he was buried in a grave