Pvt. Miles Elmer Weech
| Pvt. Miles E.
Weech was born on July 5, 1915, in Hagerman,
Idaho, to Joseph W. Weech & Hester J.
Miller-Weech. He had five brothers and two
sisters, but two of his brothers died as children,
and bis mother died during the 1930s.
Miles was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 19, 1941, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his training he was sent tank school and qualified to be a tank crew member. His specific job is not known.
After basic training, Miles was sent to Louisiana, and assigned to A Company, 753rd Tank Battalion. The 753rd had been sent to Camp Polk from Fort Benning, Georgia, but did not take part in the maneuvers which were taking place in Louisiana.
After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of being returning to Ft. Knox. The members of the battalion had no idea why they were being kept at the base. It was on the side of a hill that the battalion members were informed that the battalion was being sent overseas. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal duty. Replacements were taken from the 753rd Tank Battalion, and one of those replacements was Miles. It is not known if he volunteered to join the battalion or if his name was pulled from a hat. He was assigned to A Company.
The reason for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another 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 which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes. Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment. Those with minor health issues were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Some men were simply released and replaced.
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.
During the attack, the only weapons the tankers had that could be used against the planes were the .50 caliber machine guns on the tanks' turrets. What amazed the tankers is that most of the planes did not attack them. The few that did dropped their bombs between the tanks.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where 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 25, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches. The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese troops who had been trapped behind the main defensive line. The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket. Another tank did not enter the pocket until the tank, which had been relieved, had left the pocket.
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used. The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank. As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole. It was for their performance during this battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
According to Able Ortega, a member of Miles' tank crew, on February 3, 1942, during the Battle of Anyasan Point, their tank had been disabled by enemy fire. The tank crew was abandoning the tank. Miles had just climbed out of the tank when he was shot in the stomach by a sniper. Neil McCage - another member of the tank crew and a good friend of Miles - crabbed a Tommy-gun, aimed it at a tree, and fired at the trunk. As he fired, he moved up the truck until he hit the tree's canopy. The sniper fell and hung from the tree by the rope tied to his leg.
Miles was taken by his tank crew to Hospital #1 at Little Baguio. According to U.S. Army records, Pvt. Miles E. Weech died from his wounds on February 6, 1942, at Hospital #1, Little Baguio. He was buried at Cabcaben Army Air Field, Cabcaban, Philippine Islands, in Plot B, Row 1, Grave 10.
In the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion prepared by 1st Lt Jacques Merrifield of the 192nd. Miles Weech's date of death is given as February 5, 1942, which was confirmed by the journal kept by Captain Fred Bruni of the 192nd. His family learned of his death on February 24, 1942.
After the war, the U.S. Army Remains Recovery team exhumed Miles' remains from the grave in 1946. For whatever reason, the team stated the remains could not be positively identified. Miles Weech was buried as an "Unknown" most likely at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii. His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila. His family had a headstone placed at the Hagerman Cemetery in Hagerman, Idaho.