Pfc. Vernon M. Pendley was born on August 5, 1921,
in Provo, Kentucky, to Pearl C. Pendley &
Laura Ann Pendley. He was raised on Provo
Road, Provo County, Kentucky, with his four
sisters and three brothers. It is known that
he completed high school.
Vernon was inducted into the U.S. Army on June 20, 1940, in Oxford, Mississippi, and was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his training, he was assigned to HQ Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers. After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the battalion learned they were being sent overseas. According to members of the battalion, General George Patton told them the news. Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Many of the members of the battalion were given leave so that they could say goodbye to family and friends. They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train 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 replaced because of health issues, while others were held back 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, and the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam. When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables, before sailing, the next day, for Manila. The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7. After three hours, most of the soldiers were taken, by bus, to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King. King 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 dinner.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance. It was during this time that Vernon was reassigned to the Provisional Tank Group. What his duties were is not known.
At six in the morning, the officers of the two tank battalions were called to the radio room at the fort. They were ordered to return to their platoons at the perimeter of Clark Airfield. The 192nd had been assigned to the southern portion of the airfield while the 194th Tank Battalion protected the northern portion of the airfield. The tankers watched that morning as the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the tankers watched as 54 planes approached the airfield. As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes. When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
As a member of the Provisional Tank Group, Vernon remained in the bivouac of the the tank group. After the attack the tankers saw the carnage done by the Japanese planes. The Japanese had effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps. The tankers would spend the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
Vernon most likely took part in the Battle of the Points from January 27, 1942, until February 13, 1942. The Japanese had been landed on two points and been cut off. The tankers were sent in to wipe out these positions. According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, the tanks did a great deal of damage.
At the same time, there was another battle taking place known as the Battle of the Pockets which lasted from January 23rd until February 17, 1942. Japanese troops had been caught off behind the battle line. Tanks from B and C Companies were sent in to wipe out the Japanese in the Big Pocket. According to members of the battalion, two methods were used to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to have three Filipinos sit on the back of the tank with bags of hand grenades. As the tank passed over a Japanese foxhole, each man dropped a hand grenade into the foxhole. The reason this was done was the grenades were from World War I, and one out of three exploded.
It was April 8th, when the news of a possible surrender began to spread among the soldiers. Vernon, like many others, took the news to mean that he would be free from the constant shelling and air raids. At the time, the Provisional Tank Group's Headquarters was near Limay. The troops on Corregidor had no idea that the barrio was still in American hands and were shelling the area.
About midnight. the tankers were informed an order would be given for them to destroy their equipment. The Americans began blowing up the ammunition dumps so that the ordnance could not be used by the Japanese. The soldiers heard a loud thud and flames shot into the sky. At 6:45 A.M. on April 9th, the order "crash" was given and the tankers destroyed their equipment.
The morning, April 10th, the soldiers were awakened by the sound of grunts. The Japanese had arrived and ordered the men out onto a gravel trail. Walking on the road was difficult and the soldiers saw their first experience of "Japanese Discipline." If a prisoner fell, he was kicked in his stomach and hit in the head with a rifle butt. If he still did not get up, the Japanese guard determined the man was exhausted and let him lay on the ground until a truck came along and took hi north.
When the trail the POWs were on reached the main road, the first thing the Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men. The Prisoners of War were ordered to sit and left in the sun for the rest of the day. That night they were ordered to move north. The march was difficult in the dark since they could not see where they were walking. Whenever they slipped, they knew they had stepped on the remains of a dead soldier.
The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese troops who were moving south. At Limay on April 11th, they were put into a school yard and told that the officers would be driven to the POW camp. At 4:00 AM, the officers were put into trucks for an unknown destination. The enlisted men continued to walk and late in the day they arrived in Orani.
At 6:30 that evening, the POWs resumed the march, but this part of the march was different. The POWs were marched at a faster pace. The guards also seemed to be nervous about something. This time the guards made the POWs make their way to Hormosa. There, the road went from gravel to concrete. The POWs found that this change of surface made the march easier. When the POWs were allowed to sit down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
station, the POWs were put into a small wooden boxcars
and taken to Capas. The cars could hold
forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese
packed 100 men into each car. Those who
died remained standing until the living climbed
out of the cars at Capas. From Capas, the
POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino
training base that the Japanese pressed into
service as a Prisoner of War camp. It
turned out to be a death trap with as many
as fifty POWs dying each day. There
was only one working water faucet for the
entire camp. To get a drink, men stood
in line for days, and many died while
waiting for a drink. The death rate
among the POWs was as high as 55 men a day.