Pvt. James Addison Hicks
| Pvt. James A. Hicks was born on
October 26, 1920, in Salinas, California, to
Albert J. Hicks and Mattie Barlow-Hicks. He
was known as "Jamey" to his family. With his
three brothers and three sisters, he was raised at
217 Alameda Avenue in Salinas, California and
worked at a lumberyard. At some point, his
parents divorced. To fulfill their military
obligation, James, and his brother, Thomas, joined the
California National Guard's 40th Divisional Tank
Company in Salinas, California.
On February 10, 1941, at Salinas Army Air Base, Jim's tank company was called to federal duty as C Company, 194th Tank Battalion. The battalion trained at Fort Lewis, Washington for nearly seven months. During this time, Jim qualified as a half-track driver.
On August 15, 1941, at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 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 noticed something odd. He
took his plane down and identified a buoy in the
water. 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, with a large radio transmitter,
hundred of miles away. The squadron
continued its flight plane and flew south to
Mariveles and then returned to Clark
Field. By the time the planes landed, it
was too late to do anything that day.
Jim and the other members of the battalion spent their time in the Philippines by training and readying their equipment for use in maneuvers. James was in the tank crew of 2nd Lt. Robert F. Needham.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor ten hours earlier. The tank company was ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At 12:30, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
Around 12:45, the tankers were having lunch when
planes were seen approaching the airfield from
the north. As the tankers watched the
planes, they believed that the planes were
American. When bombs began exploding on
the airfield, they knew that the planes were
Japanese. Enormous explosions filled the
ears of the tankers while smoke seemed to be
everywhere. Being that their weapons were not
meant to fight planes, the tankers could do
little more than watch.
the attack, the 194th was ordered to Mabalacat a
few miles from Clark Field. The battalion
remained in the area until December 12th, when
they were ordered to Fort McKinley. From
there, C Company was ordered to southern Luzon
to support the South Luzon Force south of
As a member of Sgt. Keith Lewis' half-track the crew was given the job of escorting Brigadier General Albert Jones on a reconnaissance mission on December 25th. During the mission, the soldiers ran into a Japanese patrol and were ambushed. The members of the half-track fought off the Japanese and returned the general safely to American lines. Each man was awarded the Silver Star.
Later the same day, Lt. Needham's platoon of
tanks received orders to proceed to Lucban
because the Japanese troops were in the
area. Jim volunteered to drive Sgt.
Glenn Brokaw's tank on the mission since
Brokaw's driver had taken ill. He is
remembered as saying,
"I'll go, I want another crack at those damn
When the tankers got to the Lucban area, an American officer ordered the tanks up Route 3 to see how strong the Japanese forces were in the area. This road was in reality a jungle trail. Part of the reason for the tanks being called to do reconnaissance was that the American command wanted to impress the Filipino troops. Lt. Needham protested this move since no reconnaissance had been made of the area, and he believed that the tankers could be entering a trap. In spite of his protests, he was ordered to proceed up the road.
Needham's tank was the first tank in the column. As they went down the trail, they reached a point where the trail made a sharp turn. His tank made the turn and was hit by a shell from a Japanese .47 millimeter antitank gun. The shell came through the front hatch and killed Jim immediately and blew off Needham's legs. After being hit, the tank swerved off the road into a ditch. The explosion caused the front hatches of the tank to be blown off. This left the surviving crew members exposed to enemy fire. As the surviving tank crew members attempted to escape the tank, they were machine gunned by the Japanese.
The third tank, Sgt Glenn Brokaw's tank, was
also hit by fire from the .47 millimeter
gun. The shell hit the tank and knocked it
out. The driver was killed, as was Pvt.
Jim McLeod. Brokaw was wounded when he
attempted to climb out of the turret. The
surviving tank crew member, Pvt. Harry Siebert,
killed the Japanese and got Brokaw to a village
in the jungle. Siebert was also wounded
but made his way back to American lines.
He later died of his wounds.
Pvt. James A. Hicks was Killed in Action outside of Lucban, Philippine Islands, on Friday, December 26, 1941. Since his final resting place is unknown, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.
After the war, a United States Recovery Team was sent to the Barrio of Piis in the Philippine Islands to recover remains. Local residents claimed that the remains of two Americans were still inside an American tank which had been destroyed during a tank battle in December of 1941. One man was found in the tank driver's side of the tank and the other was found in the assistant tank driver's position. The residents did not bury the soldiers but filled the tank with dirt. When the bodies were removed, remains of both men were found in each position. They were buried at Batangas as Unknowns X-7 and X-8.
The remains of one soldier were exhumed from Plot: 1, Row: 11, Grave: 323 and reburied in Plot: 4, Row: 8, Grave: 999, as Unknown X-3677 at Manila #2 on August 13, 1947. He was designated as Unknown X-4702 when the remains were moved to the new American Cemetery at Manila.
Pvt. James A. Hicks was also awarded Silver Star and Purple Heart.