Brokaw

 

Sgt. Glenn Dale Brokaw


    Sgt. Glenn Dale Brokaw was born on April 4, 1921, in Lebanon, South Dakota, and was the son of Clarence D. Brokaw & Ethel M. Barrett-Brokaw.  At this time, it is not known when he came to California.  It is known that the family settled in San Buenaventura, California, sometime after 1924.  He joined the California National Guard in Salinas in 1939.

    On February 10, 1941, Glenn's tank company was called to federal service as C Company, 194th Tank Battalion.  The company traveled by train to Fort Lewis, Washington for training.  At Ft. Lewis, Glenn was made a tank commander.  He married Mary Lou Rochester on June 17, 1941.  His residence was 109 Monterey Street, Salinas, California.
    In the late summer of 1941, the 194th received orders for duty in the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, whose plane was at a lower altitude, noticed something odd in the water.  He took his plane down and identified a falgged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island  hundred of miles away with a large radio transmitter.  The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.  By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. 
    The next day another squadron was sent to the area but the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way to shore.  Since radio cumunication between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat escaped.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.   

    In September, the battalion traveled to San Francisco, California, by train, for deployment in the Philippine Islands.  The battalion arrived at Ft. Mason, California on September 5th about 7:30 in the morning.  Most of the battalion took the ferry, the U.S.A.T. Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island, where they received inoculations and physicals from the battalion's medical detachment.  The maintenance section of the Bataan remained behind with the tanks to remove the turrets with the help of 17th Ordnance. 

    The soldiers were given physicals and inoculations.  Those who found to have medical conditions were replaced.  At 3:00 P.M. on Monday, September 13th, the tankers boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge for transport to the Philippine Islands.  The ship sailed at 9:00 P.M. and arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday, September 13th at 7:00 A.M.  The soldiers were allowed ashore but had to back on ship before it sailed at 5:00 P.M.

    After leaving Hawaii, the ship took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time that it was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria, a heavy cruiser, and an uknown destroyer that were its escorts.  During this part of the trip, on several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon, and the Astoria took off in the direction of the smoke.  Each time it was found that the smoke was from a ship belonging to a friendly country.
    The ships crossed the International Dateline on Tuesday, September 16, and the date changed to Thursday, September 18.  They entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M., on September 26, and reached Manila several hours later.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were driven on buses to Clark Field.  The maintenance section of the battalion and members of 17th Ordnance remained at the dock to unload the battalion's tanks and reattach the turrets.

    Upon arrival at Ft. Stotsenburg, Gen. Edward P. King greeted the battalion and made sure they were fed.  He also apologized that they would have to live in tents since their barracks had not be completed.  They remained in the tents until November 15.
    On December 8, 1941, Glenn lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Air Field. That morning, the soldiers were told about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  A little over two weeks later, he would see action against the Japanese.

   The tanks of the, 194th were ordered to Mabalacat.  They remained there until December 12, when A Company was sent north to the Agno River area.  It was at this time that C Company was ordered to support forces in southern Luzon.  The company proceeded through Manila.  Since they had no air cover, most of their movements were at night.  As they moved, they noticed lights blinking or flares being shot into the air.  They arrived at the Tagaytay Ridge and spent time their attempting to catch 5th columnists.
    They remained in the area until December 24, when they moved over the Taal Road to San Tomas and bivouacked near San Paolo and assisted in operations in the Pagbilao-Lucban Area supporting the Philippine Army.  One of the most dangerous things the tanks did was cross bridges with a ten ton weight limit.  Each tank weight 14 tons, so they crossed the bridges one tank at a time. 

    On December 25, the four tanks of the 2nd, under the command of 2nd Lt. Robert Needham, were sent to an area on the east coast of Luzon near Lucban.  The Japanese had troops in the area, and the American Command wanted to see what the strength of the enemy was in the area.  

    The tanks were ordered by a major to proceed, without reconnaissance, down a narrow trail. Since the area was mountainous, the tanks had a hard time maneuvering.  As they went down the trail, the tanks attempted to keep their spacing so that the driver of each tank could each see the tank in front of him.  At one point in the trail, the tanks found that the trail made a sharp turn.  Glenn's tank was the third tank to make the turn.   

    As the lead tank made the turn, it was hit by a shell fired by a Japanese anti-tank gun.   The shell killed Pvt. James Hicks and mortally wounded Lt. Robert Needham.  The tank went off the road and into a ditch.  As the surviving crew member attempted to leave the tank he was machine gunned.

    Sgt. Emil Morello's tank was the second tank in the column.  As it came around the corner, his driver realized he could not see the lead tank.  He sped up in an attempt to find the tank which resulted in the Japanese gun missing it when it fired on the tank.  The tank drove over the gun.  Other guns at the roadblock were still intact.

    Glenn was the commander of the third tank.  All three tanks of the surviving tanks were hit by enemy fire before the gun was knocked out by Sgt. Emil Morello's tank.  Glenn shot five time by the Japanese as he attempted to escape the tank from the turret.  His tank crew members killed the Japanese and carried Glen to a nearby village.   Pvt. Harry Siebert was wounded at this time, and the other members of his crew may have also been wounded.  Brokaw would later state in interviews that he lost his entire tank crew.

    Glenn and Siebert were loaded into a taxi and taken to American a hospital near Lucbam by a Filipino taxicab.  It was there that he was captured by the Japanese.  A few weeks after the surrender, he was taken to Bilibid Prison in Manila, where he remained until he was sent to Cabanatuan. There, he was reunited other members of his company.
    In the camp the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule.  If one man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed.  POWs caught trying to escape were beaten.  Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  While on these details they bought or were given medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.  Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.

    On October 28, 1942, Glenn was sent to Manila for shipment to Japan.  He and the other POWs were put on the Nagato Maru on November 6.  The ship sailed on November 7th as part of a three ship convoy, for Formosa, and spent two days there.  It arrived at Moji, Japan on November 24th.

    From Moji, the POWs rode a train but had to leave it because of a train wreck at a tunnel.  In the cold, wearing flimsy tropical clothing, they had to climb a mountain at night to reach Mitsushima POW Camp which also was known as Tokyo 12-B.  When they finally arrived at the camp, they stood at attention for an hour and a half listening the camp commandant's speech threatening to kill them for any reason.
    The POWs worked 12 to 15 hour days without a day off.  At this camp, the POWs were assigned to a detail that was building a dam.  To do this the POWs carried bags of concrete on their backs a distance of over two miles to where a dam was being built.  Since the men were weak and sick, many died and were cremated.  SInce most of the work was done during the winter many of the POWs had frozen feet.
    The Japanese intentionally failed to give the POWs adequate food, and the Japanese supervisor of the POW kitchen, Tomotsu Kimura, also known as "The Punk," was known to take sacks of rice and other foods - meant for the POWs - home.  The food the POWs did receive consisted of under-cooked rice and barley, and a soup that was made from mountain greens and weeds.  The portions given to the prisoners were smaller than they should have been because Kimura skimmed food from the POWs and gave it to the guards.
    Red Cross packages which arrived at the camp were commandeered by the Japanese for themselves.  If the POWs did receive packages, it was evident that they had been gone through because canned fruits and meats, cheese, chocolate, and other items were missing.
    The camp hospital was a hospital in name only.  The POWs were given little to none medicine when they were sick, and there were no bathroom facilities for the sick.  The POWs had to sleep on soiled blankets which could not be cleaned since there were no facilities to wash them. 

    On April 16, 1944, he was transferred to Tokyo #16B which was also known as Kanose camp.  The POWs in this camp worked in a carbide plant manufacturing carbide rods.  Glenn remained in the camp until he was liberated on September 7, 1945.  He returned to the Philippines and for medical treatment before being flown to Hawaii and then to Hamilton Field north of San Francisco on September 25.

    Glenn was discharged on March 26, 1946.  He married, Mary Lou Rochester, and was the father of two daughters.  The couple remained married until Mary Lou's death in 2001.  He worked as a public account in Salinas for 30 years. 
    Glenn D. Brokaw passed away on June 2, 2005, in Palm Desert, California, and was buried at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas, California.


 

Next

 

Return to Company C