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Martella, Pvt. Walter V.

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Pvt. Walter Victor Martella
Born: 5 July 1920 – Monterey County, California
Parents: Domenico Martella & Piarina Moro-Martella
Siblings: 1 sister
Hometown: Stockton, California
– 210 Lincoln Avenue – Salinas, California
– living with sister and brother-in-law
Enlisted: California National Guard
Inducted:
– U.S. Army
– 10 February 1941 – Salinas Army Airfield
Unit:
– C Company, 194th Tank Battalion
Training:
– Fort Lewis, Washington
– described as constantly raining during the winter
– many men ended up in the camp hospital with colds
– Typical Day – after they arrived at Ft. Lewis
– 6:00 A.M. – first call
– 6:30 A.M. – Breakfast
– During this time the soldiers made their cots, policed the grounds around the barracks, swept the floors of their barracks, and performed other duties.
– 7:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. – drill
– 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. – mess
– 1:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. – drill
– 5:00 P.M. – retreat
– 5:30 P.M. – mess
– men were free after this
– a canteen was located near their barracks and was visited often
– the movie theater on the base that they visited.
– The theater where the tanks were kept was not finished, but when it was, the tankers only had to cross the road to their tanks.
– Saturdays the men had off, and many rode a bus 15 miles northeast to Tacoma which was the largest town nearest to the base
– Sundays, many of the men went to church and services were held at different times for the different denominations
– later the members of the battalion received specific training
– many went to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for training in tank maintenance, radio operation, and other specific jobs
Note: The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky – 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 a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds 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.
Overseas Duty:
– rode the train to Ft. Mason, San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 6 September 1941
– ferried on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island
– given physicals and inoculated by battalion’s medical detachment
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – same day
– escorted by the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer
– smoke was seen on the horizon several times
– cruiser intercepted ships
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembark ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
– maintenance section with 17th ordnance remained behind to unload the tanks and attached turrets
– 27 September 1941 – job completed at 9:00 A.M.
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– Clark Field – watched attack from inside his tank
– 15 December 1941
– C Company holding Tagaytay Bridge – South Luzon
– spent most of the time chasing down Fifth Columnists
– 25 December 1941
– sent to assist in operations around Lucena, Pagbilao, and Lucban
– 5 January 1942
– rejoined rest of 194th at Guagua
– took a position on the road between Sexmoan and Lubao with five SPMs
– ambushed a Japanese force of 750 to 800 attempting to cut the highway
– Japanese lost half their force
– Labao was burning when tanks left the area
– 6 January 1942
– Night battle near Remedios
– Wounded: half-track took a direct hit by enemy fire
– report on tank group stated Martella was wounded shielding Capt. Fred Moffit from shrapnel
– William Hennessy also hit by a shell and lost his foot
– Battle of Bataan
– 7 January 1942 – 9 January 1942
– wounded – date not known
– hospitalized: Limay Hospital #2
Died:
– Limay Hospital #2 – Bataan, Philippine Islands
– Friday – 9 January 1942 – gaseous gangrene
Buried:
– American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands
– Plot D Row 5 Grave 38
Post-humorously awarded the Silver Star

 

Martella

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