T/4 Andrew Hepburn was born July 25, 1918, in Northern Ireland to
Samuel and Mary Hepburn. With his two brothers, Jack & Sam, he was raised at 2411 West Oakton Street
in Park Ridge, Illinois. He graduated from Oakton Elementary School and Maine Township High School in
Park Ridge, Illinois, in 1936, at the age of fifteen. After high school, he worked in a department
store as a stock boy.
Andrew joined the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Tank Company with his high school
Jim Bashleben and
Willard Von Bergen. In September 1940, the draft act had been signed into law
and all three men wanted to fulfill their one year of military service and get on with their lives. He and
his friends decided that joining the tank company was a good idea because riding in a tank sounded better than
In November of 1940, the tank company was federalized as Company B,
192nd Tank Battalion, and Andy went with the company to Fort Knox, Kentucky to train on November 28th. He
qualified as a member of a tank crew and was assigned to a tank as the assistant tank driver and machine
The 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers in the fall of
1941. At one point, the red army, that the battalion was part of, broke through and were about to
overrun the headquarters of General George Patton, the commander of the blue army, when the maneuvers were
canceled. But instead of returning to Ft. Knox, the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk.
None of the soldiers had any idea why they were being held there.
On the side of a hill, they were informed that they being sent
overseas. 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. It was at this time that Andy was given leave home and
Andy returned to Camp Polk.
His company was given new tanks and other equipment that had been used by the 753rd Tank
Battalion. After the companies were brought up to strength, with replacements for the men released from
federal service, the battalion over different rail routes traveled to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, and
were ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.
On the island, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals from the battalion's medical
detachment, and those who had minor medical issues were held back 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 from San Francisco on Monday, October 27, for Hawaii. For
many, it would be the last time that they would ever see the United States. The battalion arrived at
Honolulu on Sunday, November 2. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the
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, because during the night, while they slept, the ships had
crossed the International Dateline. 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 Colonel Edward P. King, who apologized 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.
On the morning of December 8, 1941, the members of B Company were
informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His tank and the others were sent to the perimeter of the
airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. About 12:45 in the afternoon as the tankers were eating
lunch, planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the soldiers thought the planes were
American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were
The tank battalion received orders on December 21 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
On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge they
were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of
river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully
crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
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.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and
December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. While there, the bridge over the
Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which
was mined and about to be blown. The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap
frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that
were not designed for jungle warfare. 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. The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting
At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the
river. When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing
white t-shirts. The Japanese almost broke through, but when morning came, the tankers had held. It
was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked. Among the
dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes. The tankers were able to hold
up the Japanese for several weeks.
The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that
the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south. They repeated this action
over and over.
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
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.
What made this job so hard was that the Japanese dug "spider holes" among the
roots the trees. Because of this situation, the Americans could not get a good shot at the Japanese.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets. But
before this was done, one C Company tank which had gone beyond the American perimeter was disabled and the tank
just sat there. When the sun came up the next day, the tank was still sitting there. During the
night, its crew was buried alive, inside the tank, by the Japanese. When the Japanese had been wiped out,
the tank was turned upside down to remove the dirt and recover the bodies of the crew. The tank was put
back into use.
At the same time the company took part in the Battle of the Points on the west
coast of Bataan. The Japanese landed troops but ended up trapped. One was the Lapay-Longoskawayan
points from January 23 to 29, the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from January 22 to February 8, and the Sililam-Anyasan
points from January 27 to February 13. The defenders successfully eliminated the points by driving their
tanks along the Japanese defensive line and firing their machine guns. The 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts
followed the tanks eliminating any resistance and driving the Japanese Marines over the edge of the cliffs where
they hid in caves. The tanks fired into the caves killing or forcing them out of them into the sea.
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 day.
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.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except
the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut
in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched a attack supported by artillery and
aircraft. 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. On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore
the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked
out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew. C Company, 194th, was attached to the 192nd and had only
seven tanks left.
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 night of April 8, 1942, the tankers received the order
Within a hour, they circled their tanks to make it easier to destroy them. Each tank fired an
armor piecing shell into the engine of the tank in front of it. They also opened the gasoline cocks inside
the tank compartments and dropped hand grenades into the tanks. Most of the company waited in their bivouac
for the Japanese to make contact, while others attempted to reach Corregidor which had not surrendered.
Andy was one of men who attempted to reach Corrigedor. The tankers found a boat
that was getting ready
to Corregidor, but they were told there was no room for them on the boat, Zenon Bardowski,
another member of B Company, re-positioned his Tommy-gun to make it understood that they intended to make the
It is not known what duty Andy was given on Corregidor, but it is known that he became a
Prisoner of War on May 6, 1942, when the island surrendered after the Japanese lunched a major offensive against
it. He and the other men remained on the island for two weeks in what was designated the Corregidor POW
Camp. This camp was on the beach of the island.
When the Japanese did move the POWs, they were taken by barge to an area off Bataan
where they were made to jump into the water and swim to shore. Once on shore, the POWs spent time repairing
a nearby pier that had been damaged by shells during the Battle of Bataan.
After the repairs were finished, the POW were ordered to form ranks. They were
told to march. Having heard about the march from Bataan form men who had escaped it, they feared they were
going to receive the same treatment. To their surprise, they were marched at a reasonable pace and given
breaks. The POWs were marched up Dewey Boulevard in Manila to Bilibid Prison where they were held until
transferred to Cabanatuan.
Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army
Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian. The camp was actually three camps. Camp One was
opened for the POWs who were captured on Bataan. Camp Two was two miles from Camp One and was closed
because it did not have an adequate water supply. It was later reopened and house Naval POWs. Camp
Three, which was six miles from Camp Two, was were the POWs from Corregidor, and those men captured on Bataan,
who had been in the hospital, were sent. Camps One and Three later were consolidated into one camp.
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 camp. The Japanese also had instituted the "Blood Brother" rule, which meant the five men
to the left and right of an escaped POW would be executed.
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. Other POWs worked in rice paddies. Each morning, 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. If a prisoner was late or missed a
detail, that POW was made to kneel on a ladder with a pole placed behind the knees to cut circulation.
The prisoner stayed like this until he fell over. 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 made up of 30 wards. Zero ward had been missed when the
wards were being counted so it was given the name of "Zero Ward." The ward became the place
were POWs who were going to die were sent. The Japanese were so terrified by it, that they put a fence up
around it and would not go near the building. Inside the wards were two tiers of wooden bunks. Each POW
had a six foot long, two foot wide space to lie in. Those who were sickest were on the bottom bunk which
had holes cut into it so that they could relieve themselves without leaving the bunk.
At some point, during 1943, Andy went out on a work detail known as the Cabcaban
Detail which also was referred to as the Bachrach Garage Detail. The POWs on the detail repaired trucks
and other equipment for the Japanese.
It was while he was on this detail that he became ill. It was reported he was
developed a high fever, a cough, vomiting, and had chest pains. On October 10, he was sent to U.S. Naval
Hospital Unit at Bilibid Prison suffering from pneumonia and malaria and also running a fever of 103.4
The medical staff determined he was suffering from malaria, bronchial
pneumonia, and malnutrition. According to medical records, he was admitted on October 14, 1943, to
the hospital. On Monday, October 18, 1943, Andy died from what was officially reported as pulmonary
tuberculosis at 9:00 AM. Other records state he died from bronchial pneumonia. It is known that he
was buried in Row 4, Grave 13 in the POW cemetery at Bilibid.
According to records, Andy's personal possessions were given to Captain N. Nogi
the Japanese commanding officer of Bilibid Prison. Among his possessions were two photos, a wallet,
two notebooks, a wedding ring, and a New Testament.
During Christmas 1943, Andy's parents received a Christmas card from him. It
"Dear Mother, Dad and Fam.,
I hope this finds all of you in best of health. I am doing fine and am in good
health. Give my love to Jean (his girlfriend)
and family. Regards to relatives and friends Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Reading this card, his parents had no idea that their son had died in a Japanese POW
Camp. He had written it a year before they had received it.
In 1949, his family requested that Andy's remains be returned to
the United States from the Philippine Islands. A wake for Andy was held in Park Ridge on April 22, 1949,
and a funeral service the next day. A honor guard was provided by the Park Ridge V.F.W. Post, and he was
reburied at the Town of Maine Cemetery in Park Ridge, Illinois, on April 23, 1949.
Jim Bashleben, the only one of the three friends to survive the war, attended the