|S/Sgt. Willard Daylis
| S/Sgt. Willard Daylis Jennings was
was born on June 29, 1919, in Billings, Montana, to
George T. Jennings & Stella Daylis-Jennings.
With his two sisters and two brothers, he would later
move to Forest Park, Illinois, where he resided at
1120 Circle Avenue. He attended the
Field-Stevenson School in Forest Park and was a member
of the Proviso Township High School Class of
1939. He worked in the shipping department
of a newspaper.
In 1937, with his parents permission and while he was
still in high school, Willard enlisted in the Illinois
National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Maywood,
Illinois. When the company was federalized as
Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion, he went to Fort Knox,
Kentucky to train. After nearly a year of
training at Fort
Knox, Willard qualified as a tank driver. He
would later become a tank commander.
In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk and had no idea why. It was on the side of hill that the men learned that the battalion was being sent overseas. Those men who were 29 years or older were given the opportunity to resign from Federal service. They were replaced by tankers from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The tank battalion was given the tanks and half-tracks of the 753rd Tank Battalion which were loaded on different trains. Over different train routes, the battalion made its way to San Francisco. From there, it was ferried to Angel Island where the soldiers received physicals and inoculations.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island. On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.
At one point, the ships passed an island at night. While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables. The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th. They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
The first week of December, 1941, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers. Two members of every tank crew were to remain with their tanks at all time.
12:45, as the tankers were eating lunch, 54 planes
approached the airfield from the north. At
first the tankers thought the planes were Americans,
until they noticed silver raindrops falling from the
planes. When bombs began exploding on the
runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
The bombing destroyed most of the planes of the Army
Air Corps. After the attack, the battalion remained
at the airfield
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
crossed over the last bridge which was mined and
about to be blown. The 192nd held its position
so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog
past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The
192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
At 6;45 the morning of April 9, 1942, the tankers
received the order "crash." They circled their
tanks. Each tank fired a armor piecing shell
into the engine of the tank in front of it.
They also opened the gasoline cocks inside the tank
compartments and dropped hand grenades into the
tanks. Most of the company waited in their
bivouac for the Japanese to make contact, while
others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not