|Former cook Pfc. Henry Deckert crewed a M3 Stuart like the one in this photo.|
Henry John Deckert never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on December 11, 1917 in Illinois. His parents Adam and Maria were both born in Russia. His father worked as a laborer. Henry had an older brother and a younger brother and sister. By 1940 Henry was still living at home, had completed one year of high school, and was working as a sander.
Henry joined the 33rd Divisional Tank Company in the Illinois National Guard in November 1940. His unit was federalized in September 1941. At that time Henry was trained and working as an army cook, but wanted to work in a tank crew. Within weeks Henry's unit got orders to steam for the Philippines. He became a private first class in Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion. This unit was equipped with M3 Stuart light tanks. Pfc. Deckert arrived in Manila on November 20, 1941. Shortly after this, Pfc. Deckert transferred from cook to join a tank crew. He and his tank were guarding Clark Field when the Japanese planes attacked on December 8, 1941.
Two weeks later his unit got orders to move north to Lingayen Gulf. While engaged with the enemy on December 22, 1941, Pfc. Deckert's tank was hit by an armor piercing shell and Deckert was instantly killed. He was the first American tank crew member killed in tank-to-tank action in World War 2.
Both his brothers served in the US Marines during the war and returned safely home.
His grave is at Oakridge Glen Oak Cemetery in Hillsdale, Illinois.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100