Pvt. Wesley James Kerrigan
Born: 12 January 1918 - Fort Dodge, Iowa
Parents: William A. Kerrigan & Abbie Winterand-Kerrigan
Siblings: 1 sister, 2 brothers
Home: 1305 Mill Avenue - Brainerd, Minnesota
    - brother, Vern, and Wesley were living with their maternal grandparents
Nickname: Jim
Education: grammar school
Occupation: construction worker
Enlisted:
    - U.S. Army
        - 10 February 1941 - Brainerd, Minnesota
Training:
    - Fort Lewis, Washington
Units:
    - 194th Tank Battalion
        - accidentally shot himself while home on leave - 22 July 1941
            - slipped and finger stuck on trigger - shot himself in shoulder
            - spent part of leave in St. Joseph Hospital
Note: In the late summer of 1941, the 194th received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, whose plane was lower than the rest, noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another one 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, hundreds of miles to the northwest, which had a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before returning to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
    The next day, another squadron of planes were sent to the area, but the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore.  Since radio communication between the Army Air Corps and Navy was poor the fishing boat was escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
Overseas Duty:

    - Ship: U.S.S. President Coolidge
        - Boarded: Monday - 8 September 1941 - 3:00 P.M.
        - Sailed: 9:00 P.M. - same day
        - Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii - Saturday - 13 September 1941 - 7:00 A.M.
        - Sailed: 5:00 P.M. - same day
            - sailed south away from main shipping lanes
            - escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
                - smoke seen on horizon several times
                -  cruiser intercepted ships
                - ships from friendly countries
        - Arrived: Manila - Friday - 26 September 1941
            - disembark ship - 3:00 P.M.
            - taken by bus to Fort Stostenburg
    - Philippines
        - lived in tents until barracks completed - 15 November 1941 
Engagements:
    - Battle of Luzon
        - 8 December 1941 - 26 December 1941
            - 8 December 1941
               - Recalling the attack on Clark Field: 
"I was seated on a tank reading a movie magazine , when the first Jap bomb dropped on the field.  The attack was a complete surprise and I was almost jarred from the top of the tank by the explosion.  The Japs attacked with a flight of 74 bombers (actually 54) protected by about 80 fighters."
           - 12 December 1941 - wounded - Clark Field -air raid
           - wounded again, several times, while being transported to Manila when train
             was strafed by a Japanese plane
                 - hands also were burned but could not remember how it happened
                 - Recalled: "The train was set afire by the strafing."           
               - parents learned he was wounded - 20 December 1941
Wounded:
    - 26 December 1941
Evacuated:
    - 31 December 1941
        - wounded and injured brought aboard
            - once cabins were filled men were placed on mattresses on the deck
            - those patients on deck could hear and see the ammunition and gasoline dumps being destroyed 
     - ship sailed 10:00 P.M
         - zig-zagged to avoid mines in harbor
      - Corregidor loomed into view and faded into the darkness

                    -

          - for the first time the men knew they were being sent to Australia
                - headed south in Japanese controlled water
                    - expected to be sunk by a torpedo
                - 7 January 1942
                    - Arrived: Makassar, East Dutch Indies
                        - Dutch pilot came aboard and guided ship to dock
                        - plane spotted
                            - turned out the plane was from a friendly country
                            - patients later learned had the plane been Japanese, the dock was mined and would have been destroyed with the ship
                              docked
                        - medical staff attempted to get medical supplies but none were available
            - 11 January 1942
                - Sailed
                    - took southerly route
                    - fresh water is shut off
                        - food and water is rationed
            - 13 January 1942
                - Arrived: Darwin, Australia
                    - food and other supplies were being rationed and none could be spared
            - 14 January 193
                - Sailed
                    - whistles and alarms began blowing
                        - issued life jackets
                        - later learned the waters they were in were filled with sharks
                    - fire occurred in ship's engine room
                        - ship's crew put on fire
                        - one crewman was badly burned
            - 16 January 1942
                - ship rides out typhoon
            - 18 January 1942
                - ship intercepts Japanese radio message saying the S.S. Mactan had bee sunk with all on board lost
            - 20 January 1942
                - Arrived: Townsville, Australia
                    - seven bags of cement were brought on board and used to waterproof the ship's hull
            - 21 January 1942
                - food, water, clean linens, and medicine brought aboard
            - 23 January 1942
                - Sailed
            - 24 January 1942
                - Arrived: Brisbane, Australia
                        - sick received fresh milk and fed
            - 25 January 1942
                - Sailed
            - 27 January 1942
                - Arrived: Sydney, Australia
                    - wounded and sick transferred to 113th Australian General Hospital  
        - Remembering the trip, he said, "I don't ever want to experience another like it."
        - Ship docked at Darwin, Australia
            - wounded taken to Brisbane  
            - wounded taken to 113th Australian General Hospital in Sidney
            - of his time in Australia, he said, "You never saw better hospitality than was 
              shown us Americans by the Australian people."
United States:
    Sailed: 19 August 1942
   Arrived: September 1942
        - 30 September 1942 - Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, California
Discharged:
    - 20 January 1943
        - wounds considered too serious to stay in military
        - wanted to serve in some capacity
Died:
    - 2 June 1958 - Brainerd, Minnesota
        - car accident
Buried:
    - Fort Snelling National Cemetery - Saint Paul, Minnesota
        - Section:  C-19   Site: 12195     


 

 

 


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