|Pvt. Norman A. Paul
Pvt. Norman A. Paul was born on April 15, 1913, in
Valders, Wisconsin, to Robert Paul & Mary
Bremer-Paul. He had two sisters and five
brothers. Norman left school after the eighth
grade to go to work on the family farm, and he also
worked as a truck driver.
Norman was inducted into the U.S. Army on April 7, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his training, he learned to operate the equipment of a tank battalion.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on January 13th, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat followed by dinner at 5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in until 10:00 when Taps was played.
In late August, Paul was sent to Louisiana and assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. During the maneuvers the battalion did not participate. After the maneuvers, National Guardsmen were released from federal service and replacements came from the 753rd. One of the replacements who was assigned to A Company was Paul.
The battalion traveled by different trains to San Francisco, California, were they taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they received inoculations and physicals, and those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island. They were scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, at 9:00 P.M. 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 on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Tuesday, November 5th, 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 S.S. Calvin Coolidge. On Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they woke up the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th, since the ships had crossed the International Date Line during the night. It was during this part of the voyage, on Saturday, November 15th, 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 took off in the direction of the smoke, which turned out to be from a ship from a friendly country.
The next day, Sunday, November 16th, they arrived at Guam, where the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing the next day for Manila. At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they 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 20th, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., the soldiers disembarked and most were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. The truck drivers drove their trucks to the fort while the maintenance section remained behind to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20th 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. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance and prepared to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members, or half-track crew members, remained with each vehicle at all times and received their meals from food trucks. The reason this was done was the tankers were suppose to use their cannons as anti-aircraft guns.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese, and the tank crews were put on alert full alert around the airfield. Many of the men thought that this was the start of the maneuvers. At 8:30 A.M., American took off to intercept any Japanese planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and were lined up near the mess hall. The pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45. Many of the tankers counted 54 planes as the planes approached the airfield. As they watched, what was described as "raindrops" began falling from the planes. It was when the bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew they were Japanese.
The members of A Company lived through the bombing of Clark Field. During the attack, they could do little since their guns were not made to use against planes. For some reason, not known to the tankers, the Japanese did not attack the tanks. The few planes that did had their bombs explode between the tanks.
That night, the tankers lived through several more air raids. Most slept under their tanks since it was safer then sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and one half years.
Since another attack was expected, vehicles were dispersed and camouflaged. The tanks remained around the perimeter of Clark Field to prevent a paratroop assault. The soldiers had no idea if an invasion would soon follow.
On December 12th, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad and protect them from sabotage. They remained there until they were ordered north to rejoin the other companies of the battalion.
On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but successfully crossed the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held
the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to
Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th held the line on
the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks
were asked to hold the position for six hours; they
held the position until 5:30 in the morning on
After this, the company was sent, in support of the
194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was
there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt.
William Read. The company returned to the
command of the 192nd on January 8, 1942.