| Pfc. Thomas
Franklin Brooks was born on October 13, 1919, in
Edmonson County, Kentucky to Charles Smith Brooks &
Frances Isabel Brooks. He was the fourth of
the couple's twelve children. He crew up at
Rural Route 2 near Monmouth Cave, Kentucky.
He was known as "Frank" to his family and friends.
Thomas was inducted into the U. S. Army on
January 20, 1941 in Louisville, Kentucky.
He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was
assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. During his training, he became
friends with Pvt. Patrick Boone and Pfc. James
From September 1st through
30th, the battalion took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana. After taking part in maneuvers
in Louisiana, the battalion was ordered to Camp
Polk, Louisiana, and remained there for about
two weeks before being informed it was being
sent overseas. The soldiers were given
furloughs home to say goodbye to their
families. After returning to Camp Polk,
Louisiana, the soldiers cosmolined anything that
could rust while at sea and loaded their new
tanks - M3 "Stuart" Tanks that came from the
753rd Tank Battalion.
The reason for this move was an event that took
place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of
American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf
when one of the pilots noticed something
odd. He took his plane down and identified
a buoy in the water. He came upon more
buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30
miles to the northwest, in the direction of an
Japanese occupied island, with a large radio
transmitter, hundred of miles away. The
squadron continued its flight plane and flew
south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark
Field. When the planes landed, it was too
late to do anything that day, so the next day -
when a Navy ship was sent to the area - the
buoys had been picked up. It was at that
time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
different train routes, the companies were sent
to San Francisco, California, where they were
ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M.
Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel
Island. On the island, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment
and men found with minor medical conditions were
held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the
battalion at a later date. Other men were
The 192nd was boarded onto
the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and
sailed on Monday, October 27th. During
this part of the trip, many tankers had
seasickness, but once they recovered they spent
much of the time training in breaking down
machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing
KP. They arrived at Honolulu,
Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two
day layover, so the soldiers were given shore
leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th,
the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly
route away from the main shipping lanes.
It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy
cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the
transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to
bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11th. During the night,
while they slept, the ships had crossed the
International Date Line. On Saturday,
November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was
seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved
up its engines, its bow came out of the water,
and it shot off in the direction of the
smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a
ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on
Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water,
bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing
for Manila the next day. At one point, the
ships passed an island at night and did so in
total blackout. This for many of the
soldiers was a sign that they were being sent
into harm's way. The ships entered Manila
Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th,
and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.
At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by
bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove
trucks drove them to the fort, while the
maintenance section remained behind at the pier
to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were
met by Colonel Edward P. King, who welcomed them
and made sure that they had what they
needed. He also was apologetic that there
were no barracks for the tankers and that they
had to live in tents. The fact was he had
not learned of their arrival until days before
they arrived. He made sure that they had
Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his
The members of the battalion
pitched the tents in an open field halfway
between the Clark Field Administration Building
and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set
up in two rows and five men were assigned to
each tent. There were two supply tents and
meals were provided by food trucks stationed at
the end of the rows of tents.
For the next seventeen days
the tankers spent much of their time removing
cosmoline from their weapons. They also
spent a large amount of time loading ammunition
belts. The plan was for them, with the
194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
After arriving in the
Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D
Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had
left for the Philippines minus one
company. B Company of the battalion was
sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of
the battalion, were sent to the
Philippines. The medical clerk for
the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be
handed over to the 194th.
On December 1st, the tank
battalions were ordered to the perimeter of
Clark Field to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company,
was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two
members of each tank and half-track crew
remained with their vehicles at all times and
received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8,
1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor, the company was brought up to full
strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.
All morning long, the sky was filled with
American planes. At noon, the planes
landed to be refueled and the pilots went to
lunch. The planes were parked in a
straight line outside the pilots' mess hall.
At 12:45, two formations,
totaling 54 planes, approached the airfield from
the north. When bombs began exploding on
the runways, the tankers knew that planes were
Japanese. Being that their tanks could not
fight planes, they watched as the Japanese
destroyed the Army Air Corps.
When the Japanese were
finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The soldiers watched as the
dead, the dying, and the wounded were hauled to
the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
else, that could carry the wounded, was in
use. When the hospital filled, they
watched the medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms
and legs missing.
That night, most men slept
under their tanks since it was safer than
sleeping in their tents. They had no idea
that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the
attack was that the transfer of D Company, to
the 194th, was never completed. The
company retained its designation of being part
of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and
the Battle of Bataan.
The 194th, with D Company,
was moved, the night of the 12th, to an area
south of San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge
arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December
13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from
Clark Field to do reconnaissance and to guard
beaches. On the 15th, the battalion
received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some
over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine
Scouts. These were used to test the ground
to see if it could support tanks.
The tank battalions were sent
to the area around the Lingayen Gulf. The
company was near a mountain, so many of the
tankers climber to the top. On the
mountain, they found troops, ammunition, guns
but were just sitting there watching the
Japanese ships in the gulf. They had
received orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down
the mountain and waited. They received
orders to drop back from the mountain and let
the Japanese occupy it. They watched as
the Japanese brought their equipment to the top
of the mountain. The Americans finally
received orders to launch a counterattack which
On December 22nd, the
companies were operating north of the Agno River
and after the main bridge was bombed, on
December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of
the river and not be trapped by the
Japanese. The tanks held the south bank of
the river from west of Carmen to the
Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with the 192nd
holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug
(northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers
spent in the night in a coconut grove. As
it turned out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942,
both day and night, all the tanks did was cover
retreats of different infantry units. The
tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and
The tanks formed a new
defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo
Tomas- San Jose line on December 26th.
When they dropped back from the line, all the
platoons withdrew, except one which provided
cover, as the other platoons from the
area. One tank went across the line
receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's
platoon lost a tank. It was at this time
that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks,
except one, because the bridge they were suppose
to cross had been destroyed. The company
commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring
himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the
Japanese repaired them and used them on
Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that
had not abandoned, found a place to ford the
river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo
Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at
San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th
and 29th. On January 1st, conflicting
orders were received by the defenders who were
attempting to stop the Japanese advance down
Route 5. Doing this would allow the
Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward
Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of
the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's
chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there
was confusion among the Filipinos and American
forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga
River. Due to the efforts of the Self
Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and
a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2nd
to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San
Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces
At 2:30 A.M., the night of
January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus
in force and using smoke as cover. This
attack was an attempt to destroy the tank
battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6th/7th
the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the
192nd holding its position so that the 194th
Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross
the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw
over the bridge. The 192nd was the last
American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
It was at this time that the tank companies were
reduced to three tanks each. This was done
to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews
still without tanks were used as replacements,
At Gumain River, on January
5th, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given
the job to hold the south riverbank so that the
other units could withdraw. The tank
companies formed a defensive line along the bank
of the river. When the Japanese attacked
the position at night, they were easy to see
since they were wearing white t-shirts.
The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the
194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge
over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.
This was the beginning of the Battle of
Bataan. At this time, the food rations
were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued
the following orders to the tank battalions
around this time. "Tanks
will execute maximum delay, staying in
position and firing at visible enemy until
further delay will jeopardize
withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized,
it will be fought until the close approach
of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew
previously taking positions outside and
continuing to fight with the salvaged and
personal weapons. Considerations of personal
safety and expediency will not interfere
with accomplishing the greatest possible
A composite tank
company was created on January 8th under the
command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company,
192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road
north of Hermosa. Its job was to keep the
north road open and prevent the Japanese from
driving down the road before a new battle line
had been formed. The Japanese never
lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to
be formed. The tanks withdrew after they
began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks
were ordered to bivouac south of the
Aubucay-Hacienda Road. While there, the
tank crews had their first break from action in
nearly a month. The tanks, which were long
overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th
Ordnance. It was also at this time that
tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with
three tanks in each platoon. This was done
so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen
the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces,
which were trapped behind enemy lines, could
withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks
were knocked out by landmines planted by
ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese
anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission
was abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's
forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw
was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve
the 31st Infantry's command post. On the
24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda
Road to support infantry, but again could not
accomplish their mission because of landmines
planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a
position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac
Road on January 26th with four self-propelled
mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down
the road and warned the battalion that a large
Japanese force was coming down the road.
When they appeared the tanks opened up on them.
At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500
of 1200 men. This action prevented the new
line of defense from being breached.
On January 28th, the tank
battalions were given the job of guarding the
beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land
troops. The 194th guarded the coastline
from Limay to Cabcaban. During the day,
the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At
bight they were pulled out onto the
beaches. The battalion's half-tracks had
the job of patrolling the roads. At all times,
the tanks were in contact with on-shore and
For most of March, the
situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the
Japanese had been fought to a standstill.
On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in
the mud, and the crews were working to free
them. While they were doing this, a
Japanese regiment entered the area. Lt.
Colonel Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire
on the Japanese at point blank range. He
also ran from tank to tank directing the crew's
fire. The Japanese were wiped out.
On March 21st, the last major battle was fought
by the tanks.
At some point Tom was hospitalized at Hospital
#2 at Cabcaben, Bataan, and was still in the
hospital when Bataan surrendered on April 9,
1942. Tom is listed as part of
the Cabcaben POW Camp on May 19, 1942.
It appears to be a roster of POWs being
transferred from the Hospital #2 to Bilibid
Prison. How long he stayed at Bilibid
is not known.
What is known is that in late 1942, Thomas
developed beriberi. According to U. S.
Army records, Pfc. Thomas Franklin Brooks died
of beriberi at Cabanatuan POW Camp on Thursday,
December 10, 1942, at approximately 5:20 PM, and
was buried in the camp cemetery in Grave: 917,
Row: 0, Plot: 9.
After the war, on November 25, 1947, the remains
of Pvt. Thomas F. Brooks, and of other POWs
buried in Grave 917, were exhumed from the
grave. The remains believed to be those of
Thomas were given the number C-641, later
X-1683, and finally X-4483. In 1949, it
was determined that his remains and the remains
of three other POWs could not be
Thomas' remains were buried
at the new American
Military Cemetery at Manila. Records
seem to indicate that he was buried in Plot:
3, Row: 4, Grave: 425 as an unknown.
Since his remains could not be identified, his
name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at
the center of the cemetery.
It should be noted that on
the Tablets, it shows that Tom was a member of
the 194th Tank Battalion. Although D
Company was attached to the 194th, it was never
officially transferred to the battalion and
remained a part of the 192nd Tank Battalion
throughout the Battle of Bataan.