1st Lt. Kenneth Bryant Bloomfield
1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield was born on January 12, 1920, in Flint, Michigan. He was
the son of R. D. & Lydia Bloomfield. His father was an executive with General Motors and was
transferred to Janesville, Wisconsin. In 1935, when he was fifteen, his family moved to 1223 East Blaine
Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin. He had three brothers and a sister. Kenneth attended Janesville High
School and graduated in 1939.
After graduation, Kenneth was employed by the the General Motors plant located in Janesville. On April 9, 1939, Kenneth joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Tank Company in Janesville. By July, he had risen in rank to sergeant.
On September 28, 1940, Kenneth married Velma Bartlett. They set up their home at 618 Cornelia Street in Janesville. The couple became the parents of Judith Ann Bloomfield during the fall of 1941.
On November 25, 1940, Kenneth went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, when the Janesville tank company was federalized. There the company was designated A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. It was while training at Ft. Knox, that Kenneth received the rating of expert in machine guns.
In January, 1941, Kenneth was promoted to second lieutenant to fill a vacancy created when Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion was created with soldiers of the four letter companies of the battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, Kenneth took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana. Upon completion of the maneuvers, Kenneth and the rest of the 192nd learned that they were not
being released from federal service. Instead, they were being sent overseas.
They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton. Those members of
the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal
service. Men were given leaves home to say goodbye to family and friends.
Seventeen days after arriving in the Philippines, Kenneth lived through the Japanese attack
on Clark Field.
The morning of December 8, December 7 in the United States, the 192nd was guarding the perimeter of
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 11:30
and lined up near the mess hall.
After the attack on December 12, the company was sent to the Barrio of
Dau so it could protect 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 on December 22. There, the battalion,
with A Company, 194th, held the position.
During the Battle of Bataan, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main Filipino and American defensive lines. Kenneth's tank platoon was ordered into the "pocket" to wipe out the enemy troops. Before the attack, the ranking American officer ordered the Japanese to surrender. In very plain English, a Japanese soldier responded with, "Nuts to you, Joe."
Kenneth's tanks rolled into the pocket with sirens blaring. The tanks ran into and knocked down trees with Japanese snipers in them. They wiped out numerous machine gun nests and chased many Japanese soldiers from their foxholes.
With the help of B Company tanks, the tankers destroyed a .37 millimeter gun. As the tanks rolled over the battlefield, soldiers riding on their backs dropped hand grenades into enemy foxholes. Those Japanese who attempted to flee were shot. In one trench, Kenneth counted the bodies of 37 Japanese soldiers.
In an attempt to stop the tanks, the Japanese planted disk shaped land mines. The mines had little to no effect on the tanks and all returned to their respective bases safely.
At one point during the Battle of Bataan, Kenneth's company was ordered to attack the Japanese at a certain point. According to his orders, the tanks were suppose to go up a specific road shown on military maps. It is known that while attempting to accomplish his mission, he radioed military command that he could not reach his objective because the road drawn on the map did not exist.
On April 9, 1942, Kenneth and the rest of A Company received the news of the surrender. After destroying their equipment, the company made its way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. From thereon April 1th, Kenneth would begin the death march.
It was at Cacaben, on April 13, the members of A Company witnessed an artillery battle between Japanese guns and American guns on Corrigedor. The Japanese guns were setup along the road the POWs were using to make their way out of Bataan. The Japanese intentionally used the POWs as human shields against the American guns.
The A Company men found an American truck which had been abandoned by the Japanese because it would not start. One A Company member hot-wired the truck and got it to start. Other members of the company climbed into the back and they drove passed the guns as shells fell around them.
According to Abel Ortega, after the truck was full, the remaining members of the company who could not fit on the truck ran behind the truck. They did this so that they would not be separated from the rest of the company. One of the soldiers who ran behind the truck was Kenneth Bloomfield. After the truck was out of artillery range, the truck stopped and the POWs climbed out.
It was at this point that 1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield was reported to have died from exhaustion near the Barrio of Cabcaban. According to the story, Kenneth collapsed upon reaching the truck. Some members of the company say it was while Kenneth was running across the field that his heart gave out.
According to the surviving members of A Company, they put Kenneth on the back of the truck, but the Japanese believing he was dead removed him from the truck. 2nd Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield died not too long after this. His date of death was Monday, April 13, 1942. He was 21 years old.
Two members of A Company grabbed two shovels that were on the back of the truck and dug a grave for
Bloomfield along the side of the road about three quarters of a kilometer south of Orion. Maps created by the
POWs show that Bloomfield and another POW, Lt. Ray Bradford, 194th Tank Battalion were buried next to each other.
1st Lt. Kenneth B. Bloomfield's final resting place is unknown, so his name appears on
The Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila. After the war he was
awarded the Silver Star post-posthumously.