Pfc. Robert L. Young was born on November 30,
1914, to Thomas L. & Helen Young and grew up
in Reading, Ohio, and on East South Street in
Somerset, Ohio. After high school, he
attended Findley College for three years and
played basketball. He went to work with the
Civilian Conservation Corps and Caterpillar
In February 5,
1941, Robert was inducted into the U. S. Army in
Cleveland, Ohio. He was sent to Fort Knox,
Kentucky, where he joined C Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion to bring the company up to full
strength. At the time, the army attempted to
use men from the home states of each
company. Since C Company originated as a
Ohio National Guard Tank Company, men from Ohio
were put into it.
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.
It was at this time that he
qualified as a tank driver. From September 1
through 30, the battalion took part in maneuvers
in Louisiana. After these maneuvers that the
battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
instead of returning to Ft. Knox as they had
expected. On the side of a hill, the
battalion learned it was being sent overseas as
part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, the
tankers had figured out that PLUM stood for
Philippines, Luzon, Manila. Those men 29
years old, or older, were allowed to resign to
from federal service and were replaced by men of
the 753rd Tank Battalion, and the battalion
received the tanks of the 753rd.
The decision for this move
- which had been made in August 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
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 traveled west by
train to San Francisco, California, and was taken
by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island on the
ferry the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe.
At Ft. McDowell, they were given physicals and
inoculated for overseas duty. Those
men found to have a minor medical condition were
held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at
a later date, while other men were simply
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, who apologized that they had to
live in tents along the main road between the fort
and Clark Airfield. 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
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
The tanks were
ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to
guard against Japanese paratroopers on December
1st to guard against paratroopers. Two
members of each tank remained with their tank at
all times. On December 8, 1941, Robert 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.
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.
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 27.
The tankers were fell back
toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27,
and December were at San Isidro south of
Cabanatuan on December 28t and 29. While
there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was
destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the
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 battle. 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
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
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
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
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 behind.
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 waiting.
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.
It was at this
time the tank battalions received these orders
which came from Gen. Weaver,
"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."
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 landings.
It was at the
Battle of Anyasan Point, 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. The Japanese had launched
an attack while the Filipinos and Americans were
forming a new defensive line. The defenders
were able to stop them resulting with troops being
cutoff, in pockets, behind the American lines.
The tanks were used because the Japanese had dug in
extremely well and could not be dislodged. Two
methods were used to dislodge the Japanese.
One method had a tank carrying three soldiers on its
back. Each soldier had a sack of hand
grenades. As the tank went over a Japanese
foxhole, the soldiers each dropped a hand grenade into
the foxholes. Since the hand grenades were from
World War I, one out of three usually exploded.
The second method used to wipe out the Japanese was to
have a tank park over a foxhole with one track
directly over the foxhole. The driver would spin
the tank in a circle, on one track, causing the tank
to grind itself into the ground. At night, the
tankers slept up wind from the tanks so they did not
smell the rotting flesh in the tracks.
engagement Robert's tank was disabled when it hit
a landmine causing the tank to throw a
Emerson Smith, Pvt.
Sidney Rattner, Pvt.
Vernon Deck and Robert were trapped inside
their tank. A number of attempts to rescue
the crew failed. According to Capt.
Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, if the
tank track was intact, they would have been able
There are two
stories as to what happened next. In the
first, the realizing that the tank could not be
moved, the four crew members attempted to evacuate
the tank. As they were climbing out of their
tank, the Japanese threw grenades into the tank
killing the crew.
story is that after the tank was disabled, the
crew refused to surrender, so the Japanese began
filling the tank with dirt they were digging out
from under the tank to make foxholes. The
Japanese planned to use the tank as cover.
The three soldiers suffocated in the tank as it
was filled with dirt.
This is the story
that appears to be true. 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.
Pfc. Robert L.
Young died when he suffocated inside his tank on
Monday, February 2, 1942, near Agaloma. This
date of death is given on the final report on the
192nd Tank Battalion. Robert's headstone
shows that he died on February 8th.
After the war, Robert's remains
were returned to Somerset, Ohio, on October 12,
1948. He was buried on October 17,
1948, at Somerset Methodist Cemetery in Somerset.