Sgt. Emerson P. Smith was born in 1919 the younger son of Samuel & Nellie
Smith. With his brother, he resided on State Route 260 in Ludlow Township, Washington County, Ohio.
He was inducted into the U. S. Army on January 21, 1941 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. From Ft. Hayes,
he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he joined the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The reason Emerson was assigned to C Company was because the company had originated as an
Ohio National Guard Tank Company. To fill out the company's roster, the army attempted to fill the roster
with men from the home state the company.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers
were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed
by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the
company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal
equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
At 11:30 the soldiers stopped what they were doing and cleaned up for mess which was
from noon to 1:00 P.M. Afterwards, they attended the various schools which they had been assigned to on
January 13, such as: mechanics, tank driving, radio operating. At 4:30, the soldiers called it a
day and returned to their barracks and put on dress uniforms and at five held retreat and followed by dinner at
5:30. After dinner, they were off duty and lights were out at 9:00 P.M., but they did not have to turn in
until 10:00 when Taps was played.
In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Louisiana to
take part in maneuvers from September 1 through 30. HQ Company supplied the tanks and half-tracks with
supplies and fuel. They also did maintenance work on the vehicles but did not actively take part in the
After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. On the
side of a hill, the soldiers learned they were being sent overseas. Men who were married or 29 years old,
or older, were allowed to resign from federal service. Most of the remaining soldiers were given leaves
home to say their goodbyes.
The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A
squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf 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 that a large radio transmitter. The island
was hundred of miles away. The squadron continued its flight plan and flew south to Mariveles before
returning to Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next day, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had been
picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air
Corps and Navy was poor, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
After the companies were brought up to strength with replacements, the battalion was
equipped with new tanks and half-tracks with came from the 753rd Tank Battalion. The battalion traveled
over different train routes to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, where they were taken by the ferry, the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Angel Island. At Ft. McDowell, on the island, they
received physicals and inoculations. Men found with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled
to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. 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 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. 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 King. The general apologized that the
men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they all
received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. Ironically, November 20th was the date that
the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.
The tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field on
December 1. Two members of each tank crew remained with their tanks at all times. On December 8,
1941, Emerson and the rest of C Company heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The
tankers were sent to the perimeter of the airfield to prevent the use of paratroopers by the Japanese.
While having lunch, the tankers noticed planes approaching Clark
Field. At first, the thought they were American, but when the bombs began to explode around them, they
knew the planes were Japanese.
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 Cavalry.
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 27th.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, 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.
At Cebu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.
The main Japanese line was south of Santa Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the
The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they
were there. While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was
seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was
hidden in, that the tanks were discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the
Japanese. They then fell back to Cabanatuan.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese
troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II
against enemy tanks.
After this battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found
the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the
equipment as it could before proceeding south.
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.
By the afternoon, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in a rice field on
the north end of the barrio. 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
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
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
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 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.
In early February, the Japanese attempted to land troops behind the main battle line on
Bataan on a small peninsula. The troops were quickly cut off and when they attempted to land
reinforcements, they were landed in the wrong place. The fight to wipe out these two pockets became known
as the Battle of the Points.
The Japanese had been stopped, but the decision was made by Brigadier General Clinton A.
Pierce that tanks were needed to support the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts. He requested the tanks from
the Provisional Tank Group.
It was at the Battle of Anyasan Point that the tanks of three of the letter companies of
the 192nd were assigned the duty of helping the Filipino army wipe-out the Japanese Marines who had landed
behind the main line of defense on Bataan.
C 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
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
During some of the actions against the Japanese, the Japanese sent soldiers - carrying
gasoline cans - against the tanks who attempted to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into the vents on the back
of the tanks and set them on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun them before they got to the tanks,
the crew of another tank would shoot them as they stood on the tanks. The tankers did not like to do this
because of what it did to the crews inside the tanks.
Since the tanks were riveted, when the turrets were hit by machine gun fire, the rivets
would pop and ricochet inside the tanks. The rivets sparked when when they hit the sides of the crew
compartment. This situation was made worse by the loud sound of bullets from machine guns hitting the
tank. The biggest danger from the rivets was the possibility that one could hit one of the tankers in
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets, but before they
did Emerson's tank went beyond the perimeter of the area cleared. In an attempt to stop the tanks, the
Japanese planted disk shaped land mines. The mines had little to no effect on the most of the tanks and
they returned to their respective bases safely. Emerson's tank hit a mine which caused it to throw a
disabled the tank.
Pvt. Robert Young,
Pvt. Vernor Deck,
Pvt. Sydney Rattner and Emerson were trapped inside the tank, and several attempts to
rescue the crew failed. The next morning the tank was still sitting where it hit the mine.
There are two stories as to what happened next. In the first story, the
crew members, realizing that the tank could not be moved, attempted to evacuate the tank. As they were
climbing out of the tank, the Japanese threw grenades into the tank killing them.
The second story is that even though their tank was disabled, the crew members refused
to surrender. The Japanese decided to use the tank as a bunker and began digging the earth out from
underneath it. As they dug, the Japanese began filling the tank with dirt by pouring it into the viewing
slits and vents as they were dug the dirt out from under the tank. The four tank crew members suffocated in
The tank was later recovered and turned over to empty the dirt out of it. Upon
doing this, the bodies of the tank crew members were recovered and buried.
Sgt. Emerson P. Smith died when he suffocated inside his tank on Monday, February 2,
1942, near Agaloma. After the war, his remains were reburied at the American Military Cemetery outside of