Thomas L. Wetherington

NAME
Thomas Lynwood Wetherington
NICKNAME
“Willie”
SERVICE NUMBER
266778
HOME OF RECORD
932 12th Street, San Diego, CA
NEXT OF KIN
Mother, Mrs. Lucille Nadine Page
DATE OF BIRTH
unknown
ENTERED SERVICE
July 27, 1938
DATE OF LOSS
December 10, 1941
REGION
Philippines
CAMPAIGN / AREA
Cavite Navy Yard
CASUALTY TYPE
KIA
UNIT
A/1st Separate Marine Bn.
DUTY
CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
PFC Thomas L. Wetherington was stationed at Cavite Navy Yard in December, 1941 as part of the First Separate Marine Battalion.

On 10 December 1941, Wetherington was directing traffic at the Yard when a Japanese air raid appeared overhead. The bombers devastated the facility, causing a great deal of damage and several casualties. PFC Wetherington was not at his post when the raid ended, and his whereabouts were temporarily unknown. Several days later, his charred remains were found – making Wetherington the first Marine killed in the defense of the Philippines.

While Wetherington was likely buried in a mass grave near the Navy Yard, the exact location was not recorded, and his remains were never recovered after the war.

INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS
Reported buried in Cavite Navy Yard.
MEMORIALS
Manila American Cemetery

Biography:
Temporarily removed for editing and updating. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.

The Jap squadrons came in at noon to wipe us out. They destroyed the Cavite Navy Yard, killing about 90 percent of the people working there, including a detachment of Marines who were on their way back to the States, after having served a two-year hitch in Shanghai, China.
[Wetherington] was at his post just inside the front gate of the yard, standing on top of a car directing traffic out of the Navy Yard. It was his first and last post of World War II. After the enemy had dropped their ordnance and retreated back into the Pacific, the Captain of the Yard blocked off the gate and would not allow anyone inside to look for their buddies.
About a week after the raid personnel was scarce and I was promoted to driver for the Yard Captain. Having thus gained access to the yard, I searched for over an hour around the gate and finally found [Wetherington] about fifty feet to the east of the gate where he had been thrown by a direct hit. For a positive identification I had to remove one of his shoes to read his name printed inside the shoe. His body, shredded by the blast, had been riddled with fifty-caliber machine gun fire and his corpse having endured the tropical sun for over a week had been burned, and if he had not had his shoes on, I never would have been able to identify him.
J. Howard Newman, “Survival of an American Soldier.”

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