Cpl. Edward V. Trisler was the son of William H. Trisler & Ella Trisler and was born on September 15,
1921. He was raised on a farm, with his five siblings, and worked as a farmer outside of Harrodsburg,
Edward joined the Kentucky National Guard in Harrodsburg and was called to federal duty
on November 28, 1940 as a member of D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky,
and took part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1st, through 30th, 1941.
After the maneuvers, the battalion members were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead
of returning to Ft. Knox as was expected. At the fort, they learned that their battalion was being sent
overseas as part of Operation PLUM. The soldiers received furloughs home to say their goodbyes before
they returned to Camp Polk.
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 noticed something odd.
He took his plane down and identified a buoy, with a flag, in the water. He came upon more flagged 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. When the planes landed, it was too late to
do anything that day, so the next day - when a when planes were sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up
and a fishing boat was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between the planes and Navy
was poor, nothing was done to intercept the boat. 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. Over
different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where 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
tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine
guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP. They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd 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, the transport,
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, the tankers were met by Gen. Edward P. King, who welcomed them and made
sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers
and that they had to live in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before
they arrived. He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
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 spent much of their time removing cosmoline
from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was
for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
After arriving in the Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D Company to the
194th Tank Battalion, which had left for the Philippines minus one company. B Company of the battalion
was sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of the battalion, were sent to the Philippines. The
medical clerk for the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be handed over to the 194th.
On December 1, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to
guard against Japanese paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the
airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained
with their vehicles at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
the company was brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field. All morning long, the sky
was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to
lunch. The planes were parked in a straight line outside the pilots' mess hall.
At 12:45, two formations, totaling 54 planes, approached the airfield from the
north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew that planes were Japanese. Being
that their tanks could not fight planes, they watched as the Japanese destroyed the Army Air Corps.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The
soldiers watched as the dead, the dying, and the wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and
anything else, 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, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their
tents. They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the attack was that the transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was
never completed. The company retained its designation of being part of the 192nd for both the Battle of
Luzon and the Battle of Bataan.
The 194th, with D Company, was moved, the night of the 12th, to an area south of San
Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M. On December 13, the tankers were moved 80
kilometers from Clark Field to do reconnaissance and to guard beaches. On the 15th, the battalion
received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts. These were
used to test the ground to see if it could support tanks.
The tank battalions were sent to the area around the Lingayen Gulf. The company was
near a mountain, so many of the tankers climber to the top. On the mountain, they found troops,
ammunition, guns but were just sitting there watching the Japanese ships in the gulf. They had received
orders not to fire.
The tankers walked down the mountain and waited. They received orders to
drop back from the mountain and let the Japanese occupy it. They watched as the Japanese brought their
equipment to the top of the mountain. The Americans finally received orders to launch a counterattack
On December 22, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the
main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the
Japanese. The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista
Road with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the tankers spent in the night in a coconut grove. As it turned
out, the coconuts were all they had to eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942, both day and night, all
the tanks did was cover retreats of different infantry units. The tanks were constantly bombed, shelled,
The tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose
line on December 26. When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which
provided cover, as the other platoons from the area. One tank went across the line receiving fire and
firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank. It was at this time that D
Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been
destroyed. The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks,
and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that had not
abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27, and at San Isidro
south of Cabanatuan on December 28 and 29. On January 1, conflicting orders were received by the
defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5. Doing this would allow the
Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they
came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces
defending the bridges over the Pampanga River. Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st
Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted. From January
2 to 4, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5/6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and
using smoke as cover. This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the
Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6/7 the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding
its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the
192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M. It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to
three tanks each. This was done to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews still without tanks were
used as replacements,
At Gumain River, on January 5, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given the job to
hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw. The tank companies formed a defensive
line along the 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 tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the
Culis Creek and entered Bataan. This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan. At this time, the
food rations were cut in half.
General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this
"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further
delay will jeopardize withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach
of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the
salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with
accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
A composite tank company was created on January 8 under the command of Capt.
Donald Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa. Its job was to
keep the north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been
formed. The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed. The tanks
withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda
Road. While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month. The tanks,
which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance. It was also at this time that
tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon. This was done so that D
Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces,
which were trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out
by landmines planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission
was abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st
Infantry's command post. On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support
infantry, but again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January
26th with four self-propelled mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the
battalion that a large Japanese force was coming down the road. When they appeared the tanks opened up on
them. At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men. This action prevented the new line of
defense from being breached.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that
the Japanese couldn't land troops. The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban.
During the day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At bight they were pulled out onto the
beaches. The battalion's half-tracks had the job of patrolling the roads. At all times, the tanks
were in contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols.
For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been
fought to a standstill. On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were
working to free them. While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area. Lt. Colonel
Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range. He also ran from tank to
tank directing the crew's fire. The Japanese were wiped out. On March 21, the last major battle
was fought by the tanks.
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3 against the defenders and broke through
the main line of defense on April 7. The tanks were a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on
trails and while hidden in the jungle where they could not fight back. The situation was so bad that
other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of
assistance in a counter-attack.
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
It was at this time that Gen. King knowing that the situation was hopeless sent
officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan. The tanks were instructed that they would hear the order
on their radios, or that it would be given to them verbally.
When the order was given, the tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor piercing
shell into the engine of the tank in front of their tank, and opened up the gasoline cocks in the crew
compartments. They dropped hand grenades into each crew compartment setting the tanks on fire.
Later in the war, the Japanese dragged the tanks out of the jungle to send to Japan as scrap metal.
When Bataan surrendered to the Japanese, the tankers became a Prisoners of War. The
POWs were ordered to the bivouac of the Provisional Tank Group. It was from there that they were marched
to join the main column of POWs on the march out of Bataan.
On April 10th, the Japanese arrived and ordered the Prisoners of War onto the
road. They quickly stripped the POWs of their watches, pens, and sun-glasses. The POWs were taken
to a trail and found that walking on the gravel trail was difficult. They immediately witnessed
"Japanese Discipline" toward their own troops. The Japanese apparently were marching for hours,
and when a man fell, he was kicked in his stomach and hit in the head with a rifle butt. If he still did
not get up, the Japanese determined that the man was exhausted and left him alone.
The trial the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road. The first
thing the Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men and counted them. The POWs were
left in the sun for the rest of the day wondering what was going to happen. That night they were ordered
north which was difficult, on the rocky road, in the dark, since they could not see where they were walking.
The POWs made their way north against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks
which were moving south. At times, they would slip on something wet and slippery which were the remains
of a man killed by Japanese artillery the day before. When dawn came, the walking became easier but as
the sun rose it became hotter and the POWs began to feel the effects of thirst. It was at this time
that the POWs saw a group of Filipinos being marched by the Japanese. Looking at them, they realized that
they had been hungry, but the Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The
Japanese had heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the
river. The air corps POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank. Many would later die from
dysentery at Camp O'Donnell.
At Limay on April 11, the officers with the rank of major or above, were put into a
school yard. The officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march. At 4:00 AM,
the officers were put into trucks for an unknown destination. It was there that the lower ranking
officers and the enlisted men joined the main column of POWs being marched out of Bataan. For the first time,
they began to witness the abuse of POWs as they walked through Balanga to Orani.
At Orani, the men were put into a bull pen where they were ordered to lay down.
In the morning, the POWs realized that they had been lying in the human waste of POWs who had already used the
bullpen. At noon, they received their first food.
When they resumed the march they were marched at a faster pace. The guards also
seemed to be nervous about something. The POWs made their way to just north of Hormosa. where the road
went from gravel to concrete, and the change of surface made the march easier. When the POWs were allowed
to sit down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
The POWs continued the march and for the first time in months it began to rain which
felt great and many men attempted to get drinks. When they arrived at San Fernando, the POWs were put
into another bull pen and remained until they were ordered to form detachments of 100 men.
At some point marched the POWs were marched to the train station, where they were
packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights." They were called this since each
car could hold forty men or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and shut the
doors. The heat in the cars was unbearable and many POWs died but could not fall to the floors since
there was no room for them to fall. The POWs rode the train to Capas were they disembarked the
cars. As they left the cars, the dead fell to the floors. The POWs walked the last eight kilometers
to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino army base that the Japanese pressed into
use as a POW camp. There was only one water faucet for the entire camp and men stood in line for days for
a drink. Conditions in the camp were so bad that as many as fifty men died each day. The burial
detail worked continuously to bury the dead. Since the water table was high, they could only dig shallow
graves which quickly filled with water. Poles were used to hold the bodies down until they were covered
with dirt. The next morning, when the burials resumed, the dead were often found to be sitting up graves
or dug up by wild dogs.
The Japanese realized that they had to do something, so they opened a new POW camp at
Cabanatuan. Trisler was sent to the camp when it opened because he was considered to be healthy by the
Japanese. He entered the camp hospital on Friday, June 12, 1942, suffering from malaria. How long
he remained in the hospital is not known since no discharge date was recorded.
According to records kept at the camp, Cpl. Edward V. Trisler was readmitted to the camp
hospital on Monday, November 30, with dysentery and malaria. He died from these illnesses on Wednesday,
December 23, 1942, at approximately 8:00 P.M. and buried at the Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Plot 2, Row 16,
Grave 2061. He was 22 years old. He was
After the war, the remains of Cpl. Edward V. Trisler were identified and buried at the
American Military Cemetery at Manila in Plot N, Row 8, Grave 96.
Note: His cross indicates that he was a member of the 194th Tank Battalion. Although D Company fought
with the 194th, the company never officially was transferred to the battalion. This resulted in some of the
members of the company being buried as members of the 194th while others were buried as members of the 192nd Tank