Corporal Laprade D.
Brown was born in Frankfort Heights, Illinois, on
July 24, 1919.
He was the son of Laprade D. Brown &
His father died the same month that Leprade
was born, so the family lived with his mother’s
mother married a second time and her second husband
died. She next married Thomas Dugger and the
family moved to Chicago where his step-father and
mother went to work at a state mental hospital.
Laprade graduated from
Steinmetz High School in Chicago and went to work at
Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines,
was while he was working at the hospital that he
enlisted in the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd
Tank Company in July 1940. He did
this because the draft act had been passed and he
knew it was simply a matter of time until he would
be drafted into the Army.
In September 1940, the
tank company was designated B Company, 192nd
Tank Company. It
was officially inducted into the U.S. Army on
November 25, 1941.
The members of the company traveled by train
to Fort Knox, Kentucky. During his
time at the fort, he attended radio school and
qualified as a radioman.
The company trained for
nearly a year at Ft. Knox when they were selected to
make part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late
summer of 1941.
After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill,
the tankers learned they were going overseas. Those 29
years old or older were given the chance to resign
from federal service. This
move was given the name “PLUM.” Within
hours most of the soldiers figured out they were
going to the Philippines.
The decision for this move
- which had been made on August 15, 1941 - was
the result of an event that took place in the summer
of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was
flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when
one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower
altitude, noticed something odd. He took his
plane down and identified a flagged 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 which was hundred of
miles away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its flight
plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it
was too late to do anything that day. The next
day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the
buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a
tarp on its deck - which was seen making its way to
shore. Since communication between the
Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat
escaped. It was at that time the decision was
made to build up the American military presence in
traveled west by train to Ft. Mason in San
Francisco, California. Arriving there, they
were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. Frank M. Coxe,
to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. At Ft.
McDowell, they were given physicals and inoculated
by the battalion's medical detachment.
Those men found to have a minor medical condition
were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion
at a later date. Some men were simply
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T.
Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October
27. During this part of the trip, many tankers
had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent
much of the time training in breaking down machine
guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.
The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday,
November 2 and had a two day layover, so the
soldiers were given shore leave so they could see
On Wednesday, November 5, the
ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away
from the main shipping lanes. It was at this
time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S.
Louisville and, another transport, the S.S.
Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November
9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the
next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.
During the night, while they slept, the ships had
crossed the International Date Line. On
Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship
was seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved
up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and
it shot off in the direction of the smoke. It
turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged
to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on
Sunday, November 16, the ships took on water,
bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for
Manila the next day. At one point, the ships
passed an island at night and did so in total
blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a
sign that they were being sent into harm's
way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00
A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7
later that morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the
soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while
the maintenance section remained behind at the pier
to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen.
Edward P. King, who apologized they had to live in
tents along the main road between the fort and Clark
Airfield. He made sure that they had what they
needed and received Thanksgiving Dinner before he
went to have his own dinner. Ironically,
November 20 was the date that the National Guard
members of the battalion had expected to be released
from federal service.
The members of the battalion
pitched the tents in an open field halfway between
the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort
Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows
and five men were assigned to each tent. There
were two supply tents and meals were provided by
food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of
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 as
they prepared to take part in maneuvers with the
194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the
perimeter of Clark Field to guard against
paratroopers. Two crew members had to be
with their tank at all times. The
morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were
ordered to the perimeter of Clark
Airfield. They had received word of the
Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. As
they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they
watched as American planes filled the
sky. At noon, the planes landed and the
pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the
tankers watched as planes approached the
airfield from the north. When bombs
began exploding on the runways, they knew the
planes were Japanese.
At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just
ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elkoney
lived through the Japanese attack on Clark
Airfield. That morning, they had been awakened
to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl
Harbor just hours earlier. He and the other
tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the
airfield from the north. At first, they
thought the planes were American. They then
saw what looked like rain drops falling from the
planes. It was only when bombs began exploding
on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were
When the Japanese were finished,
there was not much left of the airfield. The
soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded
were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks,
and anything that could carry the wounded was in
use. When the hospital filled, they watched
the medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms and
That night, most men slept under
their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in
their tents. They had no idea that they had
slept their last night in a bed. They lived
through two more attacks on December 10 and 13.
The tank battalion received
orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north
to Lingayen Gulf. Because of logistics
problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on
gas. When they reached Rosario, there was only
enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to
proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23 and 24, the
battalion was in the area of Urdaneta and found the
bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno
River was destroyed. The tankers made an end
run to get south of river and ran into Japanese
resistance early in the evening, but they
successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang
Province. Later on the 24th, the battalions
formed a defensive line along the southern bank of
the Agno River with the 192nd on the right and 194th
on the left.
On December 25, 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 27 and withdrew,
following the Philippine Army, to the
Tarlec-Cabanatuan Line and was near Santo Tomas and
Cabanatuan on the 28 and 29.
The tank battalions next covered
the withdrawal of the Philippine Army at the
Pampanga River. The battalion's tanks were on
both sides of the on December 31 at the Calumpit
On January 1st, conflicting
orders, about who was in command, were received by
the defenders who were attempting to stop the
Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing the
Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward
Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the
orders, since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief
Because of the orders, there was
confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridge over the Pampanga River about
withdrawing from the bridge with half of the
defenders withdrawing. Due to the efforts of
the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery,
and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2 to 4,
the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to
Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., on January 6, the
Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke
which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the
tank battalions. That night the tanks withdrew into
the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so
that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past
it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's
withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the
last American unit to enter Bataan.
The night of January 7th, the
tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all
troops around Hermosa. Around 6:00 A.M.,
before the bridge had been destroyed by the
engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
The next day, the battalion was
between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to
enter Bataan on which was worse than having no
road. The half-tracks kept throwing their
rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned
to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous
situations. After daylight, Japanese artillery
fire was landing all around the tanks.
The next day, a composite tank
company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald
Haines, B Co., 192nd. Its job was to protect
the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to
stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun
the next defensive line that was forming. While in
this position, the tanks were under constant enemy
artillery fire. The rest of the tanks were
ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda
When word came that a bridge was
going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of
the area, which included the composite
company. This could have resulted in a
catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage
of the situation.
The tanks bivouacked south of the
Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the
East Coast Road. It had almost been one month
since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had
maintenance work done on them by 17th
Ordnance. It was also on this day that the
tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank
platoon. The men rested and the tanks received
the required maintenance. Most of the tank
tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial
engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
It was at this time the tank
battalions received these orders which came from
Gen. Weaver, "Tanks will
execute maximum delay, staying in position and
firing at visible enemy until further delay will
jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is
immobilized, it will be fought until the close
approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew
previously taking positions outside and
continuing to fight with the salvaged and
personal weapons. Considerations of personal
safety and expediency will not interfere with
accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
The battalions were sent to cover
the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with
the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.
While holding the position, the 45th Infantry,
Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at
3:00 A.M. One platoon was sent to the front of
the the column of trucks which were loading the
troops. The tanks provided heavy fire so that
the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy
losses on the Japanese.
Later on January 25, both the
192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the
Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was
completed at midnight. They held the position
until the night of January 26/27, when they dropped
back to a new defensive line roughly along the
Pilar-Bagac Roads. When ordered to withdraw to
the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at
Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been
destroyed by enemy fire. To withdraw, they had
to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and
tanks were still straggling in at noon.
The tank battalions, on January
28, 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,
while the battalion's half-tracks were used to
patrol the roads. The Japanese later admitted
that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them
from attempting landings.
B Company also took part in the
Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers
who had been trapped behind the main defensive
line. The tanks would enter the pocket one at
a time to replace a tank in the pocket.
Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank
exited the pocket.
To exterminate the Japanese, two
methods were used. The first was to have three
Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the
tank. As the tank went over a Japanese
foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades
into the foxhole. Since the grenades were from
WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
The other method to use to kill
the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over
the foxhole. The driver gave the other track
power resulting with the tank spinning around and
grinding its way down into the foxhole. The
tankers slept upwind of their tanks.
Laprade became weak in February,
1942, and was reported to be weak, running a fever,
and having a cough. In March, 1942, he was
sent to the General Hospital #1 on Bataan where it
was found he had tuberculosis. It appears he
was discharged and returned to B
Companies A & C were ordered
to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which
was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the
southern shore of Bataan. The tankers were
awake all night and attempted to sleep under the
jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them
from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance
planes. During the night, they were kept busy
with repeated threats both on and off shore.
On one occasion, a member of the
company, who had gotten frustrated by being awakened
by the planes, had his half-track pulled out onto
the beach and took pot shots at the plane. He
missed the plane, but twenty minutes later, Japanese
planes appeared over the location and dropped bombs
that exploded in the tree tops. Three members
of the company were killed.
The tank battalions, on their
own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at
Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese
paratroopers were known to be available. The
tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle
around the airfields and different plans were in
place to be used against Japanese forces.
There was only one major alert in March when 73
Japanese planes came over.
On April 9, 1942,
Laprade became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was
surrendered to the Japanese.
Upon making contact with
the Japanese, the tankers made their way to
They were now Prisoners of War. There,
they were searched and made to sit in a school yard. When they
were ordered to move, none of them knew they had
stated what is now known as “The Bataan Death
Laprade made his way
north toward San Fernando. At one
point, the POWs had run past Japanese artillery
firing at Corregidor.
lived little food and water. How long
it took Lo Laprade to complete the march is not
is known that at San Fernando the POWs were put into
a bull pen. In
the corner was a trench that the POWs used as a
surface of the trench crawled with maggots.
The POWs were ordered to
form ranks and were marched to the train station. At the
station, they were put into small wooden boxcars
used to haul sugarcane. The cars
could hold forty men or eight horses. The
Japanese put 100 POWs into each car. There was
no room to move so those who died remained standing
until the living left the boxcars at Capas. After the
POWs left the boxcars, they walked the last miles to
Camp O’Donnell was an
unfinished Filipino Army Base that the Japanese out
into use as a POW camps. There was
one water faucet for the entire camp. POWs
actually died waiting for a drink. The death
rate at its worse was fifty POWs a day. The burial
detail worked day and night to bury the dead. The
situation got so bad that POWs tried to get out of
the camp by going out on work details.
Laprade went out on a
detail that became known as Calumpit Bridge Detail
on May 29, 1942.
The POWs took three days to reach the work
POWs were severely mistreated by the guards. It is not
known how long he remained on the detail, but Laprade’s health
deteriorated, since he still had tuberculosis, so he
was sent to Bilibid Prison in October 1942 and
assigned to Ward 8.
The POWs from the detail were called “the
living dead” by the doctors at the hospital.
When he arrived at
the U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at Bilibid is not
known, but it is known that the TB had spread to his
right lung and his intestinal track. It was
recorded that he was spitting up blood. He
became so ill that he dictated a letter
to Chaplain Perry Wilcox for his mother and sister. He asked
that it be sent to them if he died.
On Monday, March 29,
1943, at approximately 11:30 A.M., Cpl.
Laprade D. Brown died from tuberculosis while a POW
at Bilibid Prison, Building 18, outside of Manila. According
to Chaplain Wilcox, his burial was attended by a
large group of POWs.
He was buried in Row 3, Section Y, Grave 44,
in the Bilibid Prison Cemetery.
After the war, his
mother requested that Laprade’s remains be returned
a memorial service, Cpl. Laprade D. Brown was buried
at Acacia Cemetery in Chicago on October 23, 1948.