Long, PFC Winton J.

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PFC Winton Jean Long was born on August 11, 1920, in Washington State to Harrison A. Long and Ethel E. Wood-Long and was the oldest of two sons. In the 1920s his father passed away and his mother married Karl Kotzen in 1929, and the family resided in Chelan, Washington. Sometime after graduating from high school he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was stationed at Chanute Airfield, Rantoul, Illinois, in 1940. He was assigned to the 93rd Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group (Heavy), which was assigned to Hickham Field in Hawaii in early 1941 with B-17s. Later in 1941, the decision was made to move the 19th to the Philippine Islands. It is known that the planes were flown to the Philippines following a predetermined flight plan. It is not known if he was a member of a B-17 crew and flew to the Philippines or if he was sent by ship as a member of a ground crew.

After arriving in the Philippines, half the B-17s were sent to Del Monte Airfield with the rest remaining at Clark Field. Winton was in the group that remained at Clark Field. Ten days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the reconnaissance pilots reported that Japanese transports were milling around in a large circle in the South China Sea. The morning of December 8, 1941, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines. The commanding officer of the 19th had the B-17s loaded with bombs and ready on the tarmacs to fly to Formosa and bomb the airfields. He could not get permission to do so, and the best he could do was get permission to fly there but not bomb.

At 8:30, the planes of the Army Air Corps filled the sky in every direction. The planes landed at noon to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, while the soldiers were having lunch, planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north. They had enough time to count 54 planes in formation. As they watched, what appeared to be “raindrops” fell from the planes, but when they began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese. When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. Only one B-17 was left and that was because it was airborne during the attack. 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. That night, most men slept under their outside because it was safer than sleeping in their tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed. Every noise from a truck or other vehicle sounded like an airplane to them. 

The remaining B-17s flew several missions against the Japanese before they were transferred to Darwin, Australia. The former flight crews and ground personnel at Clark Field remained behind and were issued weapons to fight as infantry. It is believed that it was at this time that Winton joined the 192nd Tank Battalion and was assigned as a driver of a Bren Gun carrier. These had arrived on a British ship that was delivering them to Singapore but was diverted to Manila when the city fell to the Japanese.

According to one account, Winton was driving in his Bren Gun carrier – with Sgt. Jack Merrifield of the 192d – crossing a bridge, while another account states they were in a truck towing the carrier. According to both stories, a shell landed near the vehicle as they crossed the bridge causing him to lose control. The vehicle went off the side of the bridge into the Pampanga River with the two men in it. Merrifield and Winton were pulled from the water and medics worked on them for 45 minutes before Merrifield was revived. The medics continued to work on Winton for over an hour but they could not revive him. Merrifield was sent back to the hospital for treatment while Winton’s body was sent back for burial. 

At this time, there is no available information on where Winton was buried and if his remains were recovered after the war. His family did not receive word of his death until May 1942.  After the war, his name was included on the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion written by 1st Lt. Jacques Merrifield the same man who had been in the Bren Gun carrier with him when he died. Since his final burial place is not known, PFC Winton J. Long’s name appears on the Walls of the Missing, American Military Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands

 

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