Cpl. Robert M. Harrie
Cpl. Robert M. Harrie was the
son of Charles F. Harrie & Bessie
Gordon-Harrie. He was born on November 9,
1922, in Whitestown, Wisconsin. His mother
died and his father remarried. Robert moved
to Janesville, Wisconsin, with his family, where
he attended elementary school and high
school. It is known that he had two
sisters, two half-brothers, and three half
sisters. After high school, he worked
for the Janesville Gazette.
While he was in high school, Robert joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company headquartered in the armory in Janesville. Since he was sixteen, he was discharged. In 1940, he reenlisted in the National Guard.
While he was still in high school, the tank
company was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. Robert left high school in
November, 1940 and traveled to Ft. Knox,
Kentucky, for nine months of training.
During his time at Ft. Knox, Robert attended
radio operator's school and qualified as a radio
In the late summer of 1941, Robert as a member
of the 192nd took part in the Louisiana
maneuvers of 1941. After the maneuvers he
and the other members of the battalion learned
that their time in the military had been
The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were told of the attack on Pearl Harbor just hours earlier. Capt. Walter Write ordered the tankers to the perimeter of Clark Field. Their duty was to prevent the use of paratroopers. As they sat in the tankers sat in their tanks, they watched as American planes flew overhead all morning. Around noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, planes appeared overhead. Like the other men, Robert believed they were American until they felt and heard bombs exploding. During the attack, Bob and the rest of his tank crew fired at the planes, but could do little damage since they did not have the proper weapons.
As the Filipino and American forces entered Bataan, A Company took up a position near the south bank of the Gumain River. Knowing that the Filipino Army was in front of them allowed the tankers to get some sleep. It was that night that the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river. Robert climbed out of his tank to see what was going on and had the steel helmet he was wearing shot off his head. He got back into the tank.
As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers. The tankers created gaping holes in their ranks. To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke screen. Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line.
Robert spent the next four months fighting the Japanese. On April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. He and the other members of A Company made their way to Mariveles where they began the death march.
Robert, and the other POWs, marched for days
without food or water. At San Fernando, he
and the other POWs were packed into wooden
boxcars used for hauling sugarcane. The
POWs were packed in so tightly, that men
suffocated from lack of
When Cabanatuan was opened, Robert was transferred there with most of the other prisoners. Sometime during his imprisonment there, Robert developed dysentery. On Tuesday, September 9, 1942, he was admitted to the camp hospital. Cpl. Robert M. Harrie died from dysentery on Saturday, November 21, 1942, at 10:30 PM. He was 20 years old. His parents learned of his death in August 1943.
After the war, his
family asked that Robert's remains be returned
to Janesville. He was reburied at Milton
Lawn Cemetery in Janesville on July 23,