Pfc. Curtis Massey joined the 192nd Tank Battalion at Fort Knox,
He was born on May 20, 1918, to Joseph M. & Lydia Massey in Clay County, Kentucky, and had two brothers
and five sisters. His family's farm, where he worked, was on the Manchester-Burning Springs
When he was inducted into the army, he was living in Hamilton
County, Ohio. After joining the battalion he was assigned to the Medical Detachment of the 192nd to train
as a medic. He was assigned to B Company as a medic and lived in the company's barracks. While the
company trained with their tanks and reconnaissance cars, the medics learned first aid from the battalion's
It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they had expected. On the side of a hill, the battalion learned it
was being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, the tankers had figured out that PLUM
stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those men 29 years old, or older, were allowed to resign to from
federal service and were replaced by men of the 753rd Tank Battalion, and the battalion received the tanks of
the 753rd. The decision to send the battalion to the Philippines was made on August 15, 1941.
On August 15, 1941, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the 194th received orders for duty in the
Philippine Islands because of an event that happened during the summer. 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. By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, by the time another squadron was sent to the area the next day, 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.
The company traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and was taken by
ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the ferry the
U.S.A.T General Frank M. Coxe. At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated for
overseas duty. 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 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 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 Date Line. 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 P. King, who apologized they had to live in
tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they had what they
needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20
was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the
Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men
were assigned to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed
at the end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons
which had been greased to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did
tank maintenance., and prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against Japanese paratroopers. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles
at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers learned about the attack. That morning, they were ordered to the
perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against paratroopers. The medics remained behind in the
bivouac. At 12:45 P.M., the Japanese attacked the airfield. During the attack, the medics took
cover since they had no weapons. After the attack he and the other members of the medical detachment
provided aid to the wounded and dying.
During the battle for the Philippines, Curtis would travel with various companies of the
192nd as they fought the Japanese and withdrew into the Bataan Peninsula. During this time, the Filipino
and American troops were bombed and shelled constantly.
On February 5, 1942, during an air raid, Curtis was hit by a piece a shrapnel from a
Japanese bomb. The shrapnel cut his spinal cord leaving him permanently paralyzed. He was taken to
a Field Hospital #2 where the medical staff did what they could without adequate medical supplies.
Curtis was visited by Capt. Alvin Poweleit the chief medical officer of the 192nd Tank
Battalion on February 7, 1942. Poweleit determined that it would be just a matter of time before Curtis
would die from his wounds.
According to U. S. Army records, Pfc. Curtis Massey died on Monday, March 2, 1942, from
his wounds. Since his final resting place is unknown, his name appears on
The Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.