Keeling

 

Tec 4 Birchell Keeling


Born: 9 May 1923 - Washington County, Kentucky

Parents: Cecil J. Keeling & Rose L. Fowler-Keeling

Siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother

Cousin: Earl Fowler 

Hometown: Burgin, Kentucky

Enlisted: Kentucky National Guard

Inducted:

    - U. S. Army

        - 25 November 1940 - Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Training:

    - Fort Knox, Kentucky
        - Arrived: 28 November 1940
        - January 1941 - attended specific tank school

    - Louisiana maneuvers - 1 September 1941 - 30 September 1941
        - sent to Camp Polk after maneuvers
    - Camp Polk, Louisiana
        - received orders for overseas duty as part of Operation PLUM
            - PLUM acronym for Philippines, Luzon, Manila
        - men 29 years old or older replaced
        - replacements came from 753rd Tank Battalion
        - received tanks M3 "Stuart" tanks of 753rd
Note: The reason for this move was an event that took place in 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, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, and the next day - when a Navy ship was sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
    - Fort McDowell, Angel Island, California
        - ferried to island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
        - received physicals from medical detachment
            - men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin battalion at later date
            - other men simply replaced

Overseas Duty:
        - Boarded: U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott
        - Sailed: San Francisco - Monday - 27 October 1941
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday - 2 November 1941
            - remained in Hawaii until other ships in convoy arrived
        - Sailed: Wednesday - 5 November 1941
            - took southern route away from main shipping lanes
            - joined by the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
                - smoke seen on horizon
                - Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of water, and it intercepted the ship
                    - ship was from a neutral country
         - Sunday - 9 November 1941 - crossed International Dateline
             - soldiers woke up on Tuesday - 11 November 1941
        - Arrived: Guam - Sunday 16 November 1941
            - ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
        - Sailed: next day
            - passed Japanese held island in total blackout
        -Arrived: Thursday - 20 November 1941 - Manila Bay - 7:00 A.M.
            - soldiers disembark ship three hours after arrival
            - boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
            - maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
    - Ft. Stotsenburg - Philippine Islands
        - D Company was attached to 194th Tank Battalion
        - company remained under command of 192nd Tank Battalion 
            - company listed on Presidential Unit Citations of the 192nd

Engagements: 

    - Battle of Luzon

        - 8 December 1941 - 6 January 1942

            - 8 December 1941
                - lived Japanese attack on Clark Field
                - planes did not go after tanks
                - after attack 194th sent to a bivouac three kilometers north of Clark Field
                    - from there they were sent to Barrio of San Joaquin on the Malolus Road
            - 12 December 1941
                - moved to new bivouac south to San Fernando near Calumpit Bridge
                    - arrived 6:00 A.M.
            - 15 December 1941
                - received 15 Bren gun carriers
                - turned some over to 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts
            - 22 December 1941
                - sent to Rosario
                    - west and north of the of barrio
                    - ordered out of the 71st Division Commander
                        - said they would hinder the cavalry's operation
            - 22/23 December 1941
                - operating north of Agno River
                - main bridge at Carmen bombed
            - 24/25 December 1941
                - tank battalions make end run to get south of Agno River
                    - ran into Japanese resistance but successfully crossed river
            - 25/26 December 1941
                - held south bank of Agno River from west of Carmen to Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista
                  Road
                - 192nd held from Carmen to (Route 3) to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin)
            - 26/27 December 1941
                - ordered to withdraw
                    - 1 platoon forced its way through way through Carmen
                        - lost two tanks
                            - one tank belonged to company commander - Captain Edward Burke
                                - believed dead, but was actually captured
                            - one tank crew rescued
                - new line Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas-San Jose
                - rest of battalion made a dash out
                    - lost one tank at Bayambang
                    - another tank went across front receiving fire and firing on Japanese
                - Lt. Petree's platoon fought its way out and across Agno River
                - D Company, 192nd, lost all its tanks except one
                    - the tank commander found a crossing
                    - Japanese would use tanks later on Bataan
            - 29/30 December 1941
                - new line at Bamban River established
                - tank battalions held line until ordered to withdraw
            - 30/31 December 1941
                    - tank battalions held Calumpit Bridge
                    - covering withdraw of Philippine Divisions south on Rt. 3, San Fernando
            - 2 January 1942
                - both tank battalions ordered to withdrawal to Lyac Junction
                - 194th withdrew there on Highway 7
            - 5 January 1942
                - C Company and A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, withdrew from Guagua-
                   Poraline Line and moved into position between Sexmoan and Lubao
                - 1:50 A.M. - Japanese attempted to infiltrate
                    - bright moonlight made them easy to see
                    - tanks opened fire
                    - Japanese lay down smoke which blew back into them
                - 3:00 A.M. - Japanese broke off engagement
                    - suffered 50% casualties
                - Remedios - established new line along dried creek bed
            - 6/7 January 1942
                - 194th, covered by 192nd, crosses Culis Creek into Bataan
                - both battalions bivouacked south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                - rations cut in half
    - Battle of Bataan
        - 7 January 1942 - 9 April 1942
           - January 1942
                - tank companies reduced to three tanks per platoon
It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver:
  "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
           - 8 January 1942
                - composite tank company made up of tanks from the 192nd and 194th sent to protect
                  East Coast Road north of Hermosa
                    - their job was to keep the East Road open  north of Hermosa and prevent the
                      Japanese from driving into Bataan before the main battle line had been formed
                - remainder of tanks ordered to bivouac for night south of Aubucay-Hacienda Road
                    - tankers had been fighting for a month without a rest
                    - tanks also needed overdue maintenance
                    - 17th Ordnance
                - all tank companies reduced to ten tanks
                - three per tank platoon
                - sent to reopen Moron Road so General Segunda's forces could withdraw
                - tanks knock out an anti-tank gun
                - two tanks disabled by landmines but recovered
                - mission abandoned
                - Gen. Segunda's troops escaped using beach but lost their heavy equipment
        - 12 January 1942
                - C Company, with D Company, 192nd, sent to Cadre Road
                    - forward position with little alert time
        - 13 January 1942
                - mines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching Cadre Road
                - returned to battalion
        - 16 January 1942
                -  C Company sent to Bagac to reopen Moron Highway
                    - highway had been cut by Japanese
                    - Moron Highway, and Junction of Trail 162
                        - tank platoon fired on by antitank gun
                            - tanks knock out gun
                            - cleared roadblock with support of infantry
        - 20 January 1942
                - Banibani Road -tanks sent in to save 31st Infantry command post
        - 24 January 1942
                - tanks order to Hacienda Road in support of troops
                     - landmines planted by ordnance prevented them from reaching road
        - 26 January 1942
            - the battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road
                - four self-propelled mounts with the battalion
            - 9:45 A.M. - warned by Filipino a large Japanese force was coming
                - when the enemy appeared they opened up with all the battalion had
                - 10:30 A.M. - Japanese withdrew after losing 500 of 1200 men
                - prevented new defensive line being formed from being breached
        - 28 January 1942
                - 194th tanks given beach duty protecting southern beaches
                - guarded coast from Limay to Cabcaben
                - half-tracks patrolled roads
                    - maintained radio contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols

            - hospitalized - April 1942
                - reason not known
        - March 1942
                - two tanks were bogged down in mud
                - the tankers were working to get them out
                - Japanese Regiment entered the area
                - Lt. Col. Miller ordered tanks and artillery to fire at point blank range
                    - Miller ran from tank to tank directing fire
                - wiped out Japanese regiment

Prisoner of War:

    - April 9, 1942

        - Cabcaben Hospital
            - hospitalized when surrendered took place

POW Camps: 

    - Philippine Islands:
        - Cabcaben POW Camp
            - POWs from hospital used as shield to protect Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor
            - sent to Bilibid Prison
        Bilibid Prison
            - sent to Cabanatuan

        - Cabanatuan
            - hospitalized - Sunday - 14 June 1942 - dysentery

Died:

    - Wednesday - 1 July 1942 - dysentery

        - Approximate time of death - 3:00 AM

Buried:

    - Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery

        - after the war his remains could not be positively identified

        - buried as an "Unknown" at the new American cemertery 

Memorial:

    - Tablets of the Missing - American Military Cemetery - Manila, Philippine Islands
Note:  It should be noted that on the Tablets, it shows that Birchell was a member of the 194th Tank Battalion.  Although D Company was attached to the 194th, it was never officially transferred to the battalion and remained a part of the 192nd Tank Battalion throughout the Battle of Bataan.


 


 

Return to D Company

Next