Cpl. Laprade Dayton Brown

    Corporal Laprade D. Brown was born in Frankfort Heights, Illinois, on July 24, 1919.  He was the son of Laprade D. & Leona Brown.  His father died the same month that Leprade was born.  After his father’s death, the family lived with his mother’s relative.  His mother married Thomas Dugger and the family moved to Chicago where his step-father and mother went to work at a state mental hospital.

    Laprade graduated from Steinmetz High School in Chicago and went to work at Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois.  It was while he was working at the hospital that he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Tank Company in July 1940.  He did this because the draft act had been passed and he knew it was simply a matter of time until he would be drafted into the Army.

    In September 1940, the tank company was designated B Company, 192nd Tank Company.  It was officially inducted into the U.S. Army on November 25, 1941.   The members of the company traveled by train to Fort Knox, Kentucky.   During his time at the fort, he attended radio school and qualified as a radioman.

   The company trained for nearly a year at Ft. Knox when they were selected to make part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941.  After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the tankers learned they were going overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service.   This move was given the name “PLUM.”  Within hours most of the soldiers figured out they were going to the Philippines.

   New tanks were issued to the tank battalion and loaded onto flatcars.  On October 21st, over four different train routes, the battalion traveled to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers received physicals and inoculated.  Anyone with a physical ailment was held back and scheduled to join the battalion. At a later date, in the Philippines.  This never happened.

   The battalion was boarded onto the  U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott for transport to the Philippines.  The ship sailed on Monday, October 27th as part as a three ship convoy.  It arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd and remained for two days.  It sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th arriving at Guam where it took on vegetables, water, bananas, and coconuts.  The ship sailed the same day for Manila and arrived there on Thursday, November 20th.   

    The soldiers were driven to Ft. Stotsenburg by bus.  Once there, they were taken to their housing which were tents on the main road between the fort and airfield.  General King made sure that they had their Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own.

    Over the next seventeen days, the soldiers worked to remove the Cosmo line from their equipment.  The equipment had been Cosmo lined to so that it would be protected from the sea water. 

    The morning of December 8th, the tankers were ordered to the southern perimeter of Clark Airfield.  That morning, the officers heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Being the company clerk, it is not known if he remained at the battalion’s bivouac or with the tanks.  The tank positons had been selected just days before.  Their job was to protect the airfield from Japanese paratroopers. 

    That morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the pilots landed their planes and went to lunch.  The tankers were eating lunch when they spotted a formation of 54 planes approaching the airfield.  At first, they believed the planes were American.  Then, they saw what was described as raindrops falling from the planes.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.  Almost the entire Army Air Corp had been wiped out. 

    The 192nd remained at Clark Field for several days before it moved out from the airfield.  They were sent north, toward the Lingayen Gulf, where the Japanese had landed troops.  It was a platoon of B Company tanks that fought the first tank battle of World War II involving American tanks.

    For the next four months, the tankers fought to slow Japan’s conquest of the Philippines.  On April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order “crash.”  Upon hearing this order, they circled their tanks.  Each tank fired an armor piecing shell into the tank in front of it to destroy the engines.  The crews also opened the gasoline cocks in the tanks and dropped grenades in each tank.
    Laprade became weak in February 1942, and was reported to be weak, running a fever, and having a cough.  In March, 1942, he was sent to the General Hospital #1 on Bataan where it was found he had tuberculosis.  It appears he was discharged and returned to B Company.
    On April 9, 1942, Laprade became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
Upon making contact with the Japanese, the tankers made their way to Mariveles.  They were now Prisoners of War.  There, they were searched and made to sit in a school yard.  When they were ordered to move, none of them knew they had stated what is now known as “The Bataan Death March.”

    Laprade made his way north toward San Fernando.  At one point, the POWs had run past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor.  The  POWs lived little food and water.  How long it took Lo Laprade to complete the march is not known.  It is known that at San Fernando the POWs were put into a bull pen.  In the corner was a trench that the POWs used as a washroom.  The surface of the trench crawled with maggots. 

    The POWs were ordered to form ranks and were marched to the train station.  At the station, they were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each car.  There was no room to move so those who died remained standing until the living left the boxcars at Capas.  After the POWs left the boxcars, they walked the last miles to Camp O’Donnell.

    Camp O’Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Base that the Japanese out into use as a POW camps.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  POWs actually died waiting for a drink.  The death rate at its worse was fifty POWs a day.  The burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead.  The situation got so bad that POWs tried to get out of the camp by going out on work details.

    Laprade went out on a detail that became known as Calumpit Bridge Detail on May 29, 1942.  The POWs took three days to reach the work site.  The POWs were severely mistreated by the guards.  It is not known how long he remained on the detail.   Laprade’s health deteriorated so he was sent to Bilibid Prison in October 1942 and assigned to Ward 8.  The POWs from the detail were called “the living dead” by the doctors at the hospital. 

    When he arrived at the U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at Bilibid is not known, but it is known that the TB had spread to his right lung and his intestinal track.  It was recorded that he was spitting up blood. He became so ill that he dictated a letter to Chaplain Perry Wilcox for his mother and sister.  He asked that it be sent to them if he died. 

    On Monday, March 29, 1943, at approximately 11:30 A.M.,  Cpl, Laprade D. Brown died from tuberculosis while a POW at Bilibid Prison, Building 18, outside of Manila.  According to Chaplain Wilcox, his burial was attended by a large group of POWs.  He was buried in Row 3, Grave 44, in the Bilibid Prison cemetery.

    After the war, his mother requested that Laprade’s remains be returned home.  He was buried at Acacia Cemetery in Chicago.




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