T/4 Kenneth R. Hatlevig was the son of Sever & Anna Hatlevig and was
born on March 12, 1918. He was raised and attended school in Evansville, Wisconsin, and worked for the
Baker Manufacturing Company, in Evansville, in the shipping department.
Kenneth joined the 32nd Tank Company, of the Wisconsin National Guard,
which was headquartered in an armory in Janesville. On November 28, 1940, the company was called to
federal service as A Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He trained for almost a year at Fort Knox, Kentucky,
with the company, but his specific training he received is not known.
A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were
already up so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly. Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which
was followed buy calisthenics from 8 to 8:30. After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and
.50 caliber machine guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in
At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they
went back to work by attending the various schools. At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at
5:00 P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30. The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not
have to be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.
From September 1 through 30, the battalion took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana. Kenneth did not take part in the maneuvers because he had not finished his schooling at Ft.
Knox. After the maneuvers, he was sent to Camp Polk , Louisiana, where the other members of the battalion
had been sent instead of returning to Ft. Knox. None of the men had any idea why they were being kept
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were being sent
overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours most knew that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon,
Manila. Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to
resign from federal service and the replacements came from 753rd Tank Battalion.
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 the Philippines.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto
flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.
At 8:30 A.M. on October 20, over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco,
California. A Company took the southern route through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to Ft, Mason in San
Francisco. When they arrived, they were ferried, by the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on
the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. During this part of the trip, many
of the tankers suffered from seasickness. Once they recovered, they spent their time 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 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. President Calvin Coolidge. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they
awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had
crossed the International Dateline.
During this part of the voyage, 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. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser
that was escorting the two transports revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in
the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from 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 that they had to
live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. 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 tents.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their
weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank
maintenance and prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against Japanese paratroopers. From this time on, two tank crew members remained with each tank at all
times and received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, December 7 in the United States, the 192nd
was ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field and told of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Captain Walter Write.
Most thought it was the result of the expected maneuvers. 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 noon,to be refueled, and were lined up near the mess hall while the
pilots used this time for lunch.
The tankers were eating lunch when a formation of 54 planes was spotted approaching the
airfield from the north. The tankers believed the planes were American, until they watched, raindrops fall
from the planes. When bombs exploded on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. Since
the battalion's bivouac was near the main road between the fort and airfield, the soldiers watched as the
dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks and trucks. 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 legs missing.
That night the soldiers had slept their last night in a bed. For protection, they
slept under their tanks or in them.
After the attack, on December 12, the company was sent to the Barrio
of Dau to guard a highway and railroad against sabotage. From there, the company was sent to join
the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River. The battalion had been ordered north to
Lingayen Gulf to relieve the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.
On December 23 and 24, the company was in the area of Urdaneta, where, the tankers
lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write. After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get
south of Agno River. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening but
successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south
of the Agno River. There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th, held the position. On December 25th,
the 192nd 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
The 192nd and part of the 194th fell back to form a new defensive line the night of
December 27 and 28. From there they fell back to the south bank of the BanBan River which they were
suppose to hold for as long as possible. The tanks were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 28 and
29 serving as a rear guard against the Japanese.
A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga. It was
there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Read. That night, on a road east of Zaragoza,
on December 30th, the company was bivouacked for the night and posted sentries. The sentries heard a
noise on the road and woke the other tankers who grabbed Tommy-guns and manned the tanks' machine
guns. As they watched, a Japanese bicycle battalion rode into their bivouac. When the last bicycle
passed the tanks, the tankers opened up on them. When they stopped firing, they had completely wiped out
the bicycle battalion. To leave the area, the tankers drove their tanks over the bodies.
As the Filipino and American forces fell back toward Bataan, A Company took up a position
near the south bank of the Gumain River the night of December 31 and January 1. It was that night that
the Japanese lunched an attack to cross the river.
As the Japanese attempted to advance they were cut down by the tankers. The tankers created gaping
holes in their ranks. To lower their losses, the Japanese tried to cover their advance with a smoke
screen. Since the wind was blowing against them, the smoke blew into the Japanese line. When the
Japanese broke off the attack, they had lost about half their men.
From January 2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so
the southern forces could escape. It was also in January 1942, that the food ration was cut in
half. It was not too long after this was done that malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever began hitting the
soldiers. January that the food rations were cut in half. Not long after this, malaria, dysentery, and
dengue fever soon spread among the soldiers.
While still attached to the 194th, on January 5, Lt. Kenneth Bloomfield, A
Company's commanding officer, received orders to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese on a tail
picked by Provisional Tank Group command. Bloomfield, while attempting to attack, radioed the tank group
that the trail did not exist.
It was evening and the tankers believed they were in a relatively safe place near
Lubao along a dried up creek bed. Bloomfield told his men to get some sleep. Their sleep was
interrupted by the sound of a gun shot at about 1:50 A.M. The tankers had no idea that they were about to
engage the Japanese who had lunched a major offensive across an open field wearing white shirts which made them
easy targets. There was a great deal of confusion and the battle lasted until 3:00 A.M., when the
Japanese broke off the attack. Within days of this action, the company returned to the command of the
A Company, was sent in support of the 194th, to an area east of
Pampanga. At Guagua, A Company with the 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, attempted to make
a counterattack against the Japanese. Somehow, the Filipinos mistook the tanks as Japanese and accurately
used mortars on them knocking out three tanks. A Company rejoined the 194th east of Guagua.tan ks were
often the last units to disengage from the enemy and form a new defensive line as American and Filipino units
withdrew toward Bataan.
The night of January 7, A Company was awaiting orders to cross the last bridge into
Bataan over the Culis Creek. The engineers were ready to blow up the bridge, but the battalion's
commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ted Wickord, ordered the engineers to wait until he had looked to see if they were
anywhere in sight. He found the company, asleep in their tanks, because they had not received the order
to withdraw across the bridge. After they had crossed, the bridge was destroyed.
On January 24, the tank battalions were ordered to cover all forces withdrawing to the
Pilar-Bigac Line in the Abucay Area. This withdrawal was suppose to take place the night of January
24/25. The tank battalions prevented the Japanese from overrunning the position and cutting off the
The morning of January 27, a new battle line had been formed and all units were
suppose to be beyond it. That morning, the tanks were still holding their position six hours after they
were suppose to have withdrawn. While holding the position, the tanks, with self-propelled mounts,
ambushed, at point blank range, three Japanese units causing 50 percent casualties.
On January 28, the tank battalions 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. The
Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings. They
also took part in the Battle of the Pockets and the Battle of the Points.
The company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets - from January
23 to February 17 - to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line after a
Japanese offensive was stopped and pushed pack to the original line of defense. 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. Doing this was so stressful that each tank company was rotated out and replaced by one
that was being held in reserve.
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
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.
While the tanks were doing this job, the Japanese sent soldiers, with cans of
gasoline, against the tanks. These Japanese attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the
vents on the back of the tanks, and set the tanks on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun the
Japanese before they got to a tank, the other tanks would shoot them as they stood on a tank. The tankers
did not like to do this because of what it did to the crew inside the tank. When the bullets hit the
tank, its rivets would pop and wound the men inside the tank. It was for their performance during this
battle that the 192nd Tank Battalion would receive one of its Distinguished Unit Citations.
Since the stress on the crews was tremendous, the tanks rotated into the pocket one at
a time. A tank entered the pocket and the next tank waited for the tank that had been relieved to exit
the pocket before it would enter. This was repeated until all the tanks in the pocket were relieved.
The soldiers were hungry and began to eat everything they could get their hands on to
eat. The Carabao were tough but if they were cooked long enough they could be eaten. They also
began to eat horse meat provided by the 26th U. S. Cavalry. To make things worse, the soldiers'
rations were cut in half again on March 1, 1942. This meant that they only ate two meals a
The Japanese also were dropping surrender leaflets with a scantly clad blond on
them. The Japanese would have been more successful at getting the Americans to surrender if the picture
had been hamburger, since the men were so hungry that they most likely would have surrendered for a good meal.
During the Battle of the Points, on March 2 and 3, the tanks were sent in to wipe out
Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the
Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back toward the sea and wiped them out.
The company's last bivouac area was about twelve kilometers north of Marivales and
looking out on the China Sea. By this point, the tankers knew that there was no help on the way.
Many had listened to Secretary of War Harry L. Stimson on short wave. When asked about the Philippines,
, "There are times when men must die."
The soldiers cursed in response because they knew that the Philippines had already been lost.
The Japanese launched an all out attack, supported by artillery, and aircraft on April
3. A large force of Japanese troops came over Mount Samat and descended down the south face of the
volcano. This attack wiped out two divisions of defenders and left a large area of the defensive line
open to the Japanese. The tanks were sent to different areas in attempts to reestablish a defensive line.
It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance
was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last
one more day. In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he
feared would be massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders received this order
, "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy
within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH,' all tanks and combat
vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
The morning of April 9, 1942, the members of A Company circled their tanks. Each
tank fired one armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. The tankers next opened
up the gasoline valves and dropped hand grenades into the turrets. The next morning at 7:00 A.M. they
became Prisoners of War.
The members of A Company made their way to
Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. It
was from this barrio that the tankers started what they simply called "the march."
The POWs made their way north from Mariveles toward San Fernando. The first five
miles of the march were uphill which made it more difficult since they were weak and sick. At one point,
the members of the company had to run past Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor. They received little
water and little food, and when they reached San Fernando, they were put into a bull pen. In one corner
of the bull pen was a trench the POWs were suppose to use as a washroom. The surface of the trench was
alive with maggots. How long they remained in the bull pen is not known.
The Japanese ordered the POWs to form detachments of 100 men. They were marched
to the train stationed and packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold
forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors.
Those who died remained standing since there was no place for them to fall. At Capas, the living left the
cars and the dead fell to the floors. The POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell.
The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese
pressed 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 looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two
to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and
the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing
when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the
camp and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon
overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp
including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies,
he was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were
placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave
a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs
needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The
death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day. The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to
do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to
Capas. There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At Calumpit, the train was
switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs disembarked and were taken to a
schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup. From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan
which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian.
To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the
camp. The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being
executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from
The POWs were sent out on work details to cut wood for the POW kitchens. Meals
on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or
corn. The POWs were forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the
evening. Most of the food they grew went to the Japanese not them. Other POWs worked in rice
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120
men. The POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. The result was
many became ill.
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it
wasn't uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently
kicked them in their shins with his hobnailed boots. after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed
to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the
mud and stepped on by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs 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.
The camp hospital was composed of 30 barracks. The barricks for the sickest POWs
was known as "Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were
counted. The name soon meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward
had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two
foot wide by six foot long area to lie in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms
had holes cut in them so the sick could relieve themselves without having to leave the tier.
Nearly a month after arriving in the camp, Ken came down with malaria and was admitted
into the camp's hospital on June 26, 1942, and assigned to Barracks 24. According to the medical
records kept by the camp medical staff, T/4 Kenneth R. Hatlevig died on Wednesday, July 8, 1942, at
approximately 6:15 in the morning. He was 24 years old.
After the war, the Hatlevig family requested that Kenneth's remains be returned to
Evansville. He was reburied in Maple Hill Cemetery in Evansville on October 19, 1949. The American
Legion post in Evansville was later named the McKinney/Hatlevig Post.