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 tractor.
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
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 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.
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 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, 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 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 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.
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
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 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 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 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 behind.
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 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
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.
On February 2, a platoon of C Company tanks was ordered to Quinan Point where the
Japanese had landed troops. The tanks arrived about 5:15 P.M. He did a quick reconnaissance of the
area, and after meeting with the commanding infantry officer, made the decision to drive tanks into the edge of
the Japanese position and spray the area with machine-gun fire. The progress was slow but steady until a
Japanese .37 milometer gun was spotted in front of the lead tank, and the tanks withdrew. It turned out
that the gun had been disabled by mortar fire, but the tanks did not know this at the time. The decision
was made to resume the attack the next morning, so 45th Infantry dug in for the night.
The next day, the tank platoon did reconnaissance before pulling into the front
line. They repeated the maneuver and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. As they moved forward,
members of the 45th Infantry followed the tanks. The troops made progress all day long along the left side
of the line. The major problem the tanks had to deal with was tree stumps which they had to avoid so they
would not get hung up on them. The stumps also made it hard for the tanks to maneuver. Coordinating
the attack with the infantry was difficult, so the decision was made by to bring in a radio car so that the tanks
and infantry could talk with each other.
On February 4, at 8:30 A.M. five tanks and the radio car arrived. The tanks were
assigned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, so each tank commander knew which tank was receiving an order. Each
tank also received a walkie-talkie, as well as the radio car and infantry commanders. This was done so that
the crews could coordinate the attack with the infantry and send so that the tanks could be ordered to where they
were needed. The Japanese were pushed back almost to the cliffs when the attack was halted for the night.
The attack resumed the next morning the next morning and the Japanese were pushed to the
cliff line where they hid below the edge of the cliff out of view. It was at that time that the tanks were
released to returned to the 192nd.
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. Doing
this was so stressful that the tank companies were pulled out and replaced by one that was being held in reserve.
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 engagements with the Japanese that the Japanese sent soldiers against
the tanks carrying cans of gasoline. The Japanese would attempt to jump onto the tanks, pour gasoline into
the vents on the back of the tanks, and attempt to set them on fire. If the tankers could not machine gun
them before they got to the tanks, they 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.
The tankers, from A, B, and C Companies, were able to clear the pockets,
but before they did Robert'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 tanks and
all returned to their respective bases safely. Emerson's tank hit a mine which caused it to throw a
track and disabled the tank. Resulting in
Sgt. Emerson Smith,
Pvt. Sidney Rattner,
Pvt. Vernon Deck and Robert being trapped inside their tank. A number of
attempts to rescue the crew failed. The next morning, the tank was still sitting where it had been
disabled. According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, if the tank track was intact,
they would have been able to escape.
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.
The second 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.