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. 
    Documents from the time show that during his time at Ft. Knox, Robert attended radio operator's school and qualified as a radio operator.  In letters that he sent home he stated that he had become very good at driving tanks. He also was familiar with guns and had the job of showing those men who did not know how to hold a pistol how to stand to fire it.
    In July, 1941, Robert was one of a detachment of soldiers sent to Detroit to pick up trucks and motorcycles.  He commented that by the time they got back  to Ft. Knox, some of the trucks and motorcycles had been damaged.

     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 extended.  They were sent to Camp Polk arriving there on September 30th.  On October 14th, the company received M3
    The battalion left Camp Polk at 8:30 A.M. on October 20th, and traveled by train, along the southern route, to San Francisco, California.  From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases.  Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. 
The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  It
was during the battalion's trip to the Philippines that Robert celebrated his 19th birthday.  As the convoy approached the International Date Line, Robert realized that, with the change of date, he would miss his birthday entirely.  To solve the problem, the convoy went without November 10th.
    When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  It sailed the same day for Manila.  The ship entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  It docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.

    On December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all times.

    The morning of December 8th, December 7th in the United States, the 192nd was told of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  They returned to their positions around Clark Field.  A week earlier, they had been given assigned positions around the airfield to guard against enemy paratroopers.  At 8:30, the American planes took off and filled the sky.  They landed at noon and lined up, in a straight line, near the mess hall.   The pilots went to lunch. 
    The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the airfield from the north.  The tankers believed the planes were American. As they watched, raindrops fell from the planes.  When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.    
    After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau, on December 12th, so it could guard a highway and railroad from sabotage.  From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the battalion, with A Company, 194th held the position so other units could withdraw.

    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed. 
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.The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  They also took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.

   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.

    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 air.       
   At Capas, the prisoners disembarked and walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.  This former Filipino Army Camp was pressed into service by the Japanese without prior preparation.  Arriving at the camp, they were told by the camp's commandant that they were not Prisoners of War but captives of Japan, and would be treated as such.
As a POW Robert was held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan.  Cabanatuan was opened to lower the death rate among the POWs.  After arriving in the camp, he was assigned to Barracks #14.  During his time in the camp, Robert came down with dysentery and put into the camp hospital on July 16, 1942.  He was discharged from the hospital on September 6th. 

On Tuesday, September 9, 1942, he was readmitted 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, 1949.  


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