| Pvt. Harry V.
Sibert Jr. was born in October 25, 1920, in Los
Angeles, California, to Harry V. Sibert Sr. &
Agusta G. McWilliams-Sibert. With his sister
and a brother, he grew up in Glendale and Van
Nuys, Cailfornia. To distinguish himself
from his father, he used Virgil as his first
According to his enlistment
records, Harry later resided in Multnomah County,
Oregon. It is believed that he lived in
Portland. Before he left California, he had
enlisted in the California National Guard.
He joined the regular army on September 16, 1940,
and was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. At
some point, he was assigned to C Company, 194th
Tank Battalion. The company had been a
California National Guard Tank Company from
Salinas. He was assigned to the tank
crew of Sgt. Glen Borkaw.
On August 15, 1941, at 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
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.
In September 1941, the 194th,
minus B Company, was ordered to San Francisco,
California, for transport to the Philippine
Islands. Arriving, by train, at Ft. Mason
in San Francisco, they were taken by the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island where they received physicals and
inoculations from the battalion's medical
detachment. Those men found with medical
conditions were replaced.
The tankers boarded the S.S.
President Calvin Coolidge on September 8th
at 3:00 P.M. and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the
Philippine Islands. To get the tanks to
fit in the ship's holds, the turrets had serial
numbers spray painted on them and were removed
from the tanks. They arrived at Honolulu,
Hawaii, on Saturday, September 13th at 7:00
A.M., and most of the soldiers were allowed off
ship to see the island but had to be back on
board before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
After leaving Hawaii, the
ship took a southerly route away from the main
shipping lanes. It was at this time that
it was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria, a
heavy cruiser, that was its escort. During
this part of the trip, on several occasions,
smoke was seen on the horizon, and the Astoria
took off in the direction of the smoke.
Each time it was found that the smoke was from a
ship belonging to a friendly country.
The Coolidge entered Manila
Bay at 7:00 A.M., on September 26th, and reached
Manila several hours later. The soldiers
disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were driven on
buses to Clark Field. The maintenance
section of the battalion and members of 17th
Ordnance remained at the dock to unload the
battalion's tanks and reattach the turrets.
The battalion rode buses to
Fort Stotsenburg and taken to an area between
the fort and Clark Field, where they were housed
in tents since the barracks for them had not
been completed. They were met by
General Edward P. King, commanding officer of
the fort who made sure they had what they
needed. On November 15th, they moved into
On December 1st, the 194th
was ordered to its position at Clark
Field. Their job was to protect the
northern half of the airfield from
paratroopers. The 192nd Tank Battalion,
which had arrived in November guarded the
southern half. Two crew men remained with
the tanks at all times and received their meals
from food trucks.
The morning of December 8,
1941, the battalion was brought up to full
strength at the perimeter of Clark Field to
guard against Japanese paratroopers. Just
hours early, the Japanese had bombed Pearl
Harbor. As the tankers guarded the
airfield, they watched American planes flying in
every direction. At noon the planes
landed, to be refueled, and the pilots went to
lunch. It was 12:45, and as the tankers
watched, a formation of 54 planes approached the
airfield from the north. When bombs began
exploding on the runways, the tankers knew the
planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were
finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The soldiers watched as the
dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the
hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
that could carry the wounded was in use.
When the hospital filled, they watched the
medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms
and legs missing.
The night of the 12th/13th,
the battalion was ordered to bivouac south of
San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge.
Attempting to move the battalion at night was a
nightmare, and they finally arrived at their new
bivouac at 6:00 A.M. on December 13th.
It was at this time that C
Company was ordered to support forces in
southern Luzon. The company proceeded
through Manila. Since they had no air
cover, most of their movements were at
night. As they moved, they noticed lights
blinking or flares being shot into the
air. They arrived at the Tagaytay Ridge
and spent time their attempting to catch 5th
The tanks were ordered by a major to
proceed, without reconnaissance, down a
narrow trail. Since the area was
mountainous, the tanks had a hard time
maneuvering. As they went down the
trail, the tanks attempted to keep their spacing
so that the driver of each tank could each see
the tank in front of him. At
one point in the trail, the tankers found
that the trail made a sharp turn. Harry's tank
was one of the last three tanks to make the
As Needham's tank made the turn, it was hit by a
shell fired by a Japanese anti-tank gun.
The shell killed Lt. Needham
and Pvt. Bales
instantly. The tank went off the road and
into a ditch. When the surviving crew
members attempted to leave the tank, they were
Sgt. Emil Morello's
tank was the second tank in the column. As
it came around the corner, his driver realized
he could not see the lead tank. He sped up
in an attempt to find the tank which resulted in
the Japanese gun missing it when it fired on the
Harry's tank and the fourth tank were also hit
by enemy fire before the gun was knocked out by
Sgt. Emil Morello's tank. Harry and Brokaw were wounded
when their tank was hit while Pvt. Jim McLeod was killed.
It is believed that the crew of the third tank
rescued Brokaw, Morello and Harry.
The tank crew took the two wounded men to a
hospital in Manila. It is known that the
hospital in Manila where Morello had been left
was captured by the Japanese and that Morello
became a Prisoner of War. It is unknown if
Harry was also captured by the Japanese on the
What is known is that Pvt. Harry V. Sibert died
on Thursday, January 22, 1942. According
to U. S. Army records, he was Killed in Action
and was reported as Missing in Action. At
this time, the whereabouts of Pvt. Harry V.
Siebert's remains are unknown. His appears
on the Tablets of the Missing at the American
Military Cemetery at Manila.