Sgt. Vincent Russell Brown
| Sgt. Vincent R.
Brown was born in 1917 in Greene County, Ohio.
He was the son of Blaine Brown & Marie
Condon-Brown. With his two sisters, he grew up
on Route 20 in Mentor Township, Lake County,
Ohio. He was known as "Russell" to his
family. When he was inducted into the U. S.
Army on March 1, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio, he was
working in a rubber processing factory.
Vincent was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. It was at that time that he was assigned to C Company, 192nd Tank Company. The tank company had originated as an Ohio National Guard Tank Company from Port Clinton. He was nicknamed, "Brownie" by the other members of the company.
In August 1941, the 192nd took part in maneuvers
in Louisiana. It was after the maneuvers,
the battalion was ordered to Camp Plk instead of
returning to Ft. Knox. It was on the side of
a hill, at Camp Polk, that the battalion learned
it was being sent overseas. Many of the
battalion's members received leaves to say their
goodbyes to family and friends. Those too
old to go overseas were allowed to resign from
federal service and replaced.
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 the island.
On December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. At all times, two members of each tank crew remained with the tanks. The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just ten hours earlier. They were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, planes approached the airfield from the north. Vincent and the other tankers watched and counted them. They believed the planes were American until bombs began exploding. It was than that they knew the planes were Japanese.
The tank battalion received
that it was to
B and C
ran low on
enough for one
to support the
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
was mined and
about to be
The 192nd held
so that the
frog past it
and then cover
192nd was the
unit to enter
For the next for months, the tanks fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, they received word of the surrender the next day. The tankers circled their tanks and destroyed them by firing armor piecing shells into their engines, opening their gasoline cocks and dropping grenades into each tank. The next day they became Prisoners of War.
Vincent and his company made its way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. There, they started the death march. Since most of the POWs were already sick with dysentery or malaria, it was more of a trudge than a march. They received little food and water during the march.
At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small
that could hold eight horses or forty men.
Each car held 100 POWs. The POWs who died
remained standing since there was no room for them
to fall down. When the train reached Capas,
the living left the cars and the dead fell to the
floors of the boxcars.
The POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp
O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino Army
Training Base that the Japanese pressed the camp
into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942.
When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese
confiscated any extra clothing that the POWs had
and refused to return it to them. They
searched the POWs and if a man was found to have
Japanese money on them, they were taken to the
guardhouse. Over the next several days,
gunshots were heard to the southeast of the
camp. These POWs had been executed for
Vincent was selected for what became known Pasay
School Detail in August 1942. The POWs
on the detail were housed in a school at Pasay
School in eighteen rooms. Thirty POWs
were assigned to a room. The POWs were
used to extend and widen runways for the
Japanese Navy. The plans for this
expansion came from the American Army which
had drawn them up before the war. The
Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a
mile long going through hills and a swamp.
When Vincent's group of POWs arrived at the Port Area of Manila on Tuesday, October 10, 1944, they were boarded onto the Arisan Maru. They had been scheduled to be boarded onto the Hokusen Maru, but since one of the POW groups had not arrived on time to be boarded, Vincent's group was put on their ship. With him on the ship were the other members of C Company.
Vincent was one of approximately 1775 POWs who
were packed into the ship's number two hold.
Along the sides of the hold were shelves that
served as bunks. These bunks were so close
together that a man could not lift himself up
while laying down. Those standing also had
no room to lie down. The latrines for the
prisoners were eight five gallon cans. Since
the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly,
many of the POWs could not get near the
cans. The floor of the hold was covered with
In early October 1944, the POWs were marched to
the Port Area of Manila. When his POW group
arrived at the pier, the ship they where scheduled
to sail on, the Hokusen Maru, was ready to
sail, but some of the POWs in the detachment had
not arrived at the pier. Another POW
detachment, scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru,
had completely arrived, but their ship was not
ready to sail. It was at that time that the
Japanese made the decision that they switch POW
detachments so the Hokusen Maru could sail.
Sgt. Vincent R. Brown lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea. Of the 1775 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking. Eight of these men would survive the war. Since he was lost at sea, Sgt. Vincent R. Brown's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.