Nank, Pvt. Robert J.

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Pvt. Robert J. Nank
Born: 1918 – Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Parents: Carl Nank and Bertha Wenzel-Nank
Siblings: 2 brothers, 3 sisters
– grew up at 1426 East 116th Street – Cleveland, Ohio
Home: 648 East 82nd Street – Cleveland, Ohio
– living with sister and brother-in-law – 1940
Occupation: automobile manufacturing
Inducted:
– U. S. Army
– 27 March 1941 – Cleveland
Training:
– Fort Knox, Kentucky
– Basic Training
– the training was done with First Armored Division
– soldiers rushed through basic training
– medics were required to complete basic training
– it appears his basic training may have been as short as four weeks so he could start medical training
Typical Day
– 6:15 with reveille
– most of the soldiers were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress.
– 7:00 to 8:00 – breakfast
– 8:00 to 8:30 – calisthenics
– Afterward, the tankers went to various schools within the company.
– training in using and maintaining 30 and 50 caliber machine guns and pistols
– training in map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
– 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess – – Noon to 1:00 P.M. – lunch
– Afterward, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to schools, such as mechanics, tank driving, radio operating
– medics received training from the battalion’s doctors since the Army believed in hands-on training 
– a limited number of classes were available to the medics
– 4:30 – the soldiers called it a day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms
– 5:00 – retreat
– 5:30 – dinner
– After dinner, they were off duty
– 9:00 P.M. – lights were out
– soldiers but did not have to turn in
– 10:00 P.M. – Taps was played
– Louisiana Maneuvers – September 1, 1941 – September 30, 1941
– ordered to Camp Polk after the maneuvers
– Camp Polk, Louisiana
Overseas Duty:
– 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, with a flag, in the water.
– He came upon more flagged buoys that lined up – in a straight line – for 30 miles
   to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundreds of miles away.
– The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.
– When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
– The next day – when planes were sent to the area – the buoys had been picked up and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore.
– the buoys were on the boat’s deck covered by a tarp
– communication between the planes and the Navy was poor
– nothing was done to intercept the boat
– the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines
Deployment:
– ferried to island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– received physicals from medical detachment – 25 October 1941 to 26 October 1941
– men with minor health issues held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date
– other men simply replaced
– Ft. McDowell, Angel Island
U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott
– Boarded: San Francisco – Monday – 27 October 1941
– Sailed: same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunday – 2 November 1941
– soldiers were given shore leave to see the sights
– Sailed: Tuesday – Wednesday – 5 November 1941
– joined by U.S.S. Louisville and S.S. President Calvin Coolidge
– smoke was seen on the horizon
– Louisville revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it intercepted the ship which was from a neutral country
– two other intercepted ships were Japanese freighters carrying scrap metal to Japan.
– Sunday – 9 November 1941 – crossed International Dateline
– soldiers woke up on Tuesday – 11 November 1941
– at about this time the convoy stopped at Wake Island and dropped off B-17 ground crews
– Arrived: Guam – Sunday 16 November 1941
– the ship loaded with water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables
– Sailed: next day
– passed Japanese held island in total blackout
– Arrived: Thursday – 20 November 1941 – Manila Bay – 7:00 A.M.
– soldiers disembark ship three hours after arrival
– boarded buses for Ft. Stotsenburg
– maintenance section remained behind to unload tanks from ship
Stationed:
– Ft. Stotsenburg
– General Edward P. King met the soldiers when they arrived
– apologized to soldiers about living conditions
– lived in tents along the main road between fort and Clark Airfield
– made sure they all had Thanksgiving Dinner before he had his dinner
– the dinner was a stew thrown into their mess kits
– The members of the battalion pitched the ragged World War I 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.
– The area was near the end of a runway used by B-17s for takeoffs.
– The planes flew over the tents at about 100 feet blowing dirt everywhere and the noise was unbelievable.
– At night, they heard the sounds of planes flying over the airfield which turned out to be Japanese reconnaissance planes.
– In addition, the khaki uniforms they had been issued also turned out to be a heavy material which made them uncomfortable to wear in the tropical heat. 
Work Day:
– 5:15 A. M. – reveille
– washing – the lucky man washed by a faucet with running water
– 6:00 A.M. – breakfast
– 7:00 to 11:30 A.M. 
– Noon – lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 P.M. – worked
– the shorter afternoon work period was based on the belief that the climate made it too hot to work
– the tankers worked until 4:30 P.M.
– the term “recreation in the motor pool,” from the 194th Tank Battalion – was used for this work time
Tank Crews:
– during this time, the tank crews learned about the M3A1 tanks
– tank commanders read manuals on tanks and taught crews about the tanks
– learned about the 30-caliber and 50 caliber machineguns
– spent three hours of each day taking the guns apart and putting them back together
– did it until they could disassemble and assemble the guns blindfolded
– could not fire guns since they were not given ammunition which had been
requested by Gen. King but not released by Gen. MacArthur
– the medics attended classes taught by the battalion’s two medical officers
– 5:10 – dinner
– after dinner, the soldiers were free to do what they wanted to do
Uniforms:
– the battalion wore fatigues to do the work on the tanks
– the soldiers were reprimanded for not wearing dress uniforms 
– they continued to wear fatigues in their barracks area to do their work
– if the soldiers left the battalion’s area, they were expected to wear dress uniforms
– this included going to the PX
Recreation:
– the soldiers spent their free time bowling, going to the movies,
– they also played horseshoes, softball, badminton, or threw a football around
– men were allowed to go to Manila in small groups
– 1 December 1941
– tanks ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field
– 194th guarded north end of the airfield with 192nd guarded the south end
– two crew members of each tank and half-track remained with the vehicles at all times
– meals served by food trucks
– those not assigned to a tank or half-track remained at the command post
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– 8 December 1941
– lived through the attack on Clark Field
– took cover since the medical detachment had no weapons to fight planes
– 14 December 1941
– the medical detachment left Clark Field
– set up an aid station in a dried river bed
– 21 December 1941
– medical detachment moved north toward Lingayen Gulf with rest of battalion
– it was at this time that Robert and Pvt. Robert Ryan went missing
– they had taken cover and separated from the column
– other medics attempted to find them but the area was under heavy fire
Guerrilla:
– escaped into the jungle and joined guerrillas
– fought as a guerrilla in the Province of Zambales
Captured:
– June 1944
– taken to Santo Thomas
– a woman and old man were dropped off there
– Robert, 1st Sgt. James Beebee, and Sgt. Edgar Stevens were taken to Fort Santiago
   Dungeon, Intramuros
POW Camp:
– Fort Santiago
– POWs tortured for information
– Bilibid Prison
– put on trial
– found guilty
– Far East University
– POWs were drained of as much blood as possible
– POWs were taken to the Chinese Cemetery
– shot or beheaded
Executed by Japanese:
– Monday – 17 July 1944 – Chinese Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands
– Memorial:
– Tablets of the Missing – American Military Cemetery – Manila, Philippine Islands 
Declared Dead: 1 February 1946

 

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