2nd Lt. William Woodgate Read
| 2nd Lt. William
W. Read was the son of Arthur D. Read & Ethel F. Woodgate-Read of West
Monroe, Louisiana. He was born on February 8, 1920, in Albuquerque, New
Mexico, and had two
sisters and two brothers. He was known as "Bill" to his family and
When he was a child, Bill's family moved to Louisiana. There, he attended and graduated, with honors, from Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1936. He applied to the University of Idaho and was accepted. He chose to major in forestry which was the area his father worked in.
While in college, Bill was a member of Phi Eta Sigma a honorary fraternity for achieving a grade point average of 5.5, or higher, during his first year of college, and Xi Sigma Pi an honorary forestry fraternity. He was a member of the Associated Foresters and a member of the staff of the Idaho Forester. He was also a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and the ROTC program at the university.
Bill graduated college, with honors, in June 1941. After graduation, he attended ROTC Camp in Washington State during the summer of 1941. In September 1941, he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The company had a number of officer vacancies created with the release of National Guardsmen 29 years old and older. He was made a tank platoon commander.
After loading its equipment on flat cars, the battalion traveled west to San Francisco, California, by train. From there, Bill and the rest of the battalion were ferried to Angel Island. They received physicals, while on the island, and declared healthy for duty in the Philippine Islands.
Sailing from San Francisco, the battalion arrived in Hawaii and was held there until a second ship arrived. The ships sailed for Manila under complete blackout. At one point, the U.S. cruiser escorting the ship took off after a ship when it saw smoke on the horizon. The ship turned out to be from a neutral country.
Arriving in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day, 1941, the soldiers were sent to Fort Stotsenburg. The battalion spent the next two weeks preparing for maneuvers, but the expected maneuvers never took place.
On December 8, 1941, Bill lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. The attack took place just ten hours after Pearl Harbor the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
That morning, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, every plane landed and the pilots went to lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when they noticed planes approaching from the north. At first, they watched what was described as "raindrops" fall from the planes. It was only when the runways began exploding that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. Since they had no weapons to fight planes, they could do little more than watch. After the attack, they were witnesses to the carnage that had been done.
A few weeks later, east of Concepcion, Bill's tank was serving as a rear guard when it came under enemy fire. One of the enemy rounds hit his tank's track knocking the tank out. After escaping the tank, Bill was standing on the front of the tank, attempting to free his tank crew. A second round hit the tank, directly below where he was standing, mortally wounding him. The other members of his tank crew carried Bill from the tank and laid him under a bridge. Bill would not allow himself to be evacuated since their were other wounded soldiers. He insisted that these men be taken first.
Pvt. Jack Bruce went for help, but when he did not return quickly, Pvt. Eugene Greenfield went to find help in an attempt to save Bill's life. Staying with Bill was Pvt. Ray Underwood. As Bill lay dying, Underwood cradled him in his arms. Underwood would later receive a commendation for his actions while he was a Prisoner of War.
While Underwood sat with Bill, the Japanese overran the area. When Underwood was captured, he was sitting on the ground holding Bill in his arms as Bill died.
On December 30, 1941, 2nd Lt. William A. Reed Jr. died of his wounds, under a bridge, during the Battle of the Philippines. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star, for gallantry, in 1947. He also was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant.
After the war, the remains of 1st Lt. William W. Read were returned to the United States. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.