Cpl. Laprade Dayton Brown

    Corporal Laprade D. Brown was born in Frankfort Heights, Illinois, on July 24, 1919.  He was the son of Laprade D. Brown & Leona Thompson-Brown.  His father died the same month that Leprade was born, so the family lived with his mother’s relative.  His mother married a second time and her second husband died.  She next married Thomas Dugger and the family moved to Chicago where his step-father and mother went to work at a state mental hospital.

    Laprade graduated from Steinmetz High School in Chicago and went to work at Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois.  It was while he was working at the hospital that he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Tank Company in July 1940.  He did this because the draft act had been passed and he knew it was simply a matter of time until he would be drafted into the Army.

    In September 1940, the tank company was designated B Company, 192nd Tank Company.  It was officially inducted into the U.S. Army on November 25, 1941.   The members of the company traveled by train to Fort Knox, Kentucky.   During his time at the fort, he attended radio school and qualified as a radioman.

   The company trained for nearly a year at Ft. Knox when they were selected to make part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the late summer of 1941.  After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the tankers learned they were going overseas.  Those 29 years old or older were given the chance to resign from federal service.   This move was given the name “PLUM.”  Within hours most of the soldiers figured out they were going to the Philippines.

   New tanks were issued to the tank battalion and loaded onto flatcars.  On October 21st, over four different train routes, the battalion traveled to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers received physicals and inoculated.  Anyone with a physical ailment was held back and scheduled to join the battalion. At a later date, in the Philippines.  This never happened.

   The battalion was boarded onto the  U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott for transport to the Philippines.  The ship sailed on Monday, October 27th as part as a three ship convoy.  It arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd and remained for two days.  It sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th arriving at Guam where it took on vegetables, water, bananas, and coconuts.  The ship sailed the same day for Manila and arrived there on Thursday, November 20th.   

    The soldiers were driven to Ft. Stotsenburg by bus.  Once there, they were taken to their housing which were tents on the main road between the fort and airfield.  General King made sure that they had their Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own.

    Over the next seventeen days, the soldiers worked to remove the Cosmo line from their equipment.  The equipment had been Cosmo lined to so that it would be protected from the sea water. 

    On December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times.  The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.  They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.

    At 12:45 in the afternoon on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elkoney lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.  That morning, they had been awakened to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor just hours earlier.  He and the other tankers were eating lunch when planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, they thought the planes were American.  They then saw what looked like rain drops falling from the planes.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  The company remained at Clark Field for the next two weeks.
    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st 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 tankplatoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, 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 25th, 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 at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, 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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.

    During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.

    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 28th, 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.

    B 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 exploded.
    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.
Laprade became weak in February, 1942, and was reported to be weak, running a fever, and having a cough.  In March, 1942, he was sent to the General Hospital #1 on Bataan where it was found he had tuberculosis.  It appears he was discharged and returned to B Company.

    On April 9, 1942, the tankers received the order “crash.”  Upon hearing this order, they circled their tanks.  Each tank fired an armor piecing shell into the tank in front of it to destroy the engines.  The crews also opened the gasoline cocks in the tanks and dropped grenades in each tank.
    On April 9, 1942, Laprade became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
Upon making contact with the Japanese, the tankers made their way to Mariveles.  They were now Prisoners of War.  There, they were searched and made to sit in a school yard.  When they were ordered to move, none of them knew they had stated what is now known as “The Bataan Death March.”

    Laprade made his way north toward San Fernando.  At one point, the POWs had run past Japanese artillery firing at Corregidor.  The  POWs lived little food and water.  How long it took Lo Laprade to complete the march is not known.  It is known that at San Fernando the POWs were put into a bull pen.  In the corner was a trench that the POWs used as a washroom.  The surface of the trench crawled with maggots. 

    The POWs were ordered to form ranks and were marched to the train station.  At the station, they were put into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese put 100 POWs into each car.  There was no room to move so those who died remained standing until the living left the boxcars at Capas.  After the POWs left the boxcars, they walked the last miles to Camp O’Donnell.

    Camp O’Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Base that the Japanese out into use as a POW camps.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp.  POWs actually died waiting for a drink.  The death rate at its worse was fifty POWs a day.  The burial detail worked day and night to bury the dead.  The situation got so bad that POWs tried to get out of the camp by going out on work details.

    Laprade went out on a detail that became known as Calumpit Bridge Detail on May 29, 1942.  The POWs took three days to reach the work site.  The POWs were severely mistreated by the guards.  It is not known how long he remained on the detail.   Laprade’s health deteriorated so he was sent to Bilibid Prison in October 1942 and assigned to Ward 8.  The POWs from the detail were called “the living dead” by the doctors at the hospital. 

    When he arrived at the U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at Bilibid is not known, but it is known that the TB had spread to his right lung and his intestinal track.  It was recorded that he was spitting up blood. He became so ill that he dictated a letter to Chaplain Perry Wilcox for his mother and sister.  He asked that it be sent to them if he died. 

    On Monday, March 29, 1943, at approximately 11:30 A.M.,  Cpl, Laprade D. Brown died from tuberculosis while a POW at Bilibid Prison, Building 18, outside of Manila.  According to Chaplain Wilcox, his burial was attended by a large group of POWs.  He was buried in Row 3, Section Y, Grave 44, in the Bilibid Prison Cemetery.

    After the war, his mother requested that Laprade’s remains be returned home.  After a memorial service, Cpl. Laprade D. Brown was buried at Acacia Cemetery in Chicago on October 23, 1948.




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