Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Frank Gyovai

Photo of Frank GyovaiFrank Gyovai was born in Sovereign, West Virginia on February 15, 1920. He joined the U.S. Army on January 8, 1941 and trained as a mechanic at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was assigned to the 17th Armored Ordnance Company, which was attached to the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions. He was sent to the Philippines and stationed at Fort Stotsenburg on September 28, 1941. His unit helped the Philippine Provisional Tank Group when the Japanese invaded in December 1941, and he worked at repairing and returning tanks to the front lines.

When Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, Gyovai and five other men from his unit decided to escape the Death March and head to the mountains. They suffered from malaria and dysentery, but the Filipinos helped them. Gyovai met H. Clay Conner, an Army Air Corps lieutenant, and the two men befriended local Negritos, organizing and forming United States Army Forces in the Far East guerillas Force 155. This improvisational unit took charge of interdiction operations against the Japanese, as well as the recovery of pilots shot down by the enemy and providing intelligence to repatriating troops.

Gyovai won a battlefield commission as a lieutenant in December 1943 and was promoted to supply officer for his guerilla unit. He gathered necessary equipment and supplies for his group and for others who were fighting against the Japanese, and he performed reconnaissance activities.

On January 29, 1945 the guerilla force--a small group of Americans and almost 1000 Negritos--met MacArthur's returning forces. They were taken to General Griswold, XIV Corps Commander, and they presented him with the flag they had flown in their mountain camps. Gyovai received a battlefield promotion to captain and was hospitalized for two years before being discharged on June 20, 1947. He married and fathered four children. He passed away on December 21, 1984.

Read a short biography of Frank Gyovai written by H. Clay Conner, Jr.