Kentucky Historical Society
Planning Underway for Harrodsburg Tankers Bataan Memorial Day
All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.
Frankfort, KY - The Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Historical Society, The City of Harrodsburg, Mercer County and the Harrodsburg Historical Society will join with the community on Saturday, April 26, 2008 to remember and pay tribute to their own home town heroes - the Harrodsburg Tankers.
The day's events will begin with a Bataan Tankers 5K Run / Walk and a Boy Scouts Bataan Tankers 10 Mile March. Sign in for the Run / Walk and Boy Scout March will begin at 7 a.m. at Fort Harrod State Park in Harrodsburg. Both events will begin at 8 a.m.
- The 5K Run / Walk will cost $12 for those who pre- register and registration the day of the event will cost $15. The registration fee for those 18 years of age and under is $5. For more information on the Run / Walk contact: CPT John Holmes - 502-607-6120 or by email.
- For more information about the Boy Scouts 10 Mile March for patch qualification contact: MAJ Todd Ewing at 502-607-1200 or by email.
The opening ceremony for the day's events will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Fort Harrod State Park. Jerry Sampson, Executive Director, Harrodsburg Historical Society will be the master of ceremonies with remarks scheduled by Lonnie Campbell, Mayor of Harrodsburg and John Trisler, Mercer County Judge Executive. The ceremony will conclude with the reading of the names of the Kentuckians that served with the 192nd Tank Battalion.
At 1:00 p.m. the public is invited to join in a Historians Roundtable at the James Harrod Conference Center in Harrodsburg for a panel discussion of the history of the Harrodsburg Tankers. Members of the audience will be encouraged to ask questions and share their own stories about the Harrodsburg tankers.
The moderator will be Jim Opolony, Coordinator of the Proviso East Bataan Commemorative Project. Opolony is a teacher at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois and he along with two other teachers started the Provisio East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project Web site during the 1999 -2000 school year. The Web site, still an ongoing project, has become one of the most respected resources available about the men of Harrodsburg and all those who served in the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The panel members for the Roundtable are:
- Russell Harris, Senior Associate Editor of Publications and The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Harris has done extensive research about the Harrodsburg Tankers and has published one of the key works on the subject in The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. For articles on World War II, he has received both state and national awards. He is the editor or author of some eighty articles and essays, as well as a prize-winning documentary and George Rogers Clark and His Men: Military Records, 1778-1784 (1981);
- Dr. Rich Holl, Professor of History at Lees College Campus of Hazard Community College and Technical School, is the author of From the Boardroom to the War Room: America's Corporate Liberals and FDR's Preparedness Program (2005), the co-editor of a Kentucky history textbook, and the author of an award- winning article on POW camps in Kentucky during World War II. He is working on a history of the Kentucky home front during the Second World War;
- COL (R) Arthur L. Kelly has interviewed some one hundred Kentucky veterans of World War II (including several of the Harrodsburg Tankers). These and many other tapes comprise the Arthur L. Kelly Veterans of World War II Oral History Collection at the University of Kentucky. He is also the author of Battlefire!: Combat Stories of World War II (1997), which included a chapter profiling the experiences of Harrodsburg Tanker Field M. "Jack" Reed;
- Christopher L. Kolakowski, Executive Director of the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association, has also worked for the National Park Service and the Civil War Preservation Trust. Author of numerous articles, including a profile of Harrodsburg Tanker William Gentry in Kentucky Humanities (2007), his career has been devoted to interpreting and preserving American military history. He currently offers a talk about the Tankers through the Kentucky Humanities Council's Speakers Bureau.
- For more information contact John Trowbridge at 502- 607-6301 or by email.
The final event of the day will be held at 6 p.m. at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College in Danville. A reception will be held with music provided by a Quartet of the 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard.
The highlight of the day's activities will be the world premiere of a Kentucky National Guard documentary about the Harrodsburg Tankers. The event will begin at 6:45 p.m. with brief remarks by Maj Gen Edward W. Tonini, the Adjutant General.
The documentary BATAAN "The Harrodsburg Tankers: A Time For Courage...A Time For Heroes" will begin at 7:00 p.m.
ABOUT THE HARRODSBURG TANKERS
The Harrodsburg Tankers, then known as the 38th Tank Company, were a Kentucky Army National Guard unit stationed in Harrodsburg who were called to active duty prior to World War II. When the entered federal active duty they were redesignated as Company D, 192nd Light Tank Battalion. On Thanksgiving Day, 20 November 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion landed in the Philippines. On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Only ten hours later Japan launched an aerial attack on the Philippines.
The Harrodsburg Tankers, along with the Allied forces, fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements and without being re-supplied. Disease, malnutrition, fatigue, and a lack of basic supplies took their toll. On 9 April 1942 they were ordered to surrender Bataan. They had delayed the Japanese Army's timetable from 50 days to four months, giving the Allies vital time to protect Australia. Members of the unit either escaped to Corregidor or were in the infamous "Bataan Death March." When Corregidor fell, the remaining Harrodsburg Tankers and many Allies became prisoners of war. Only 37 of the original 66 Kentucky Guard Members from Harrodsburg who served in the Philippines survived Japanese captivity.
Things did not improve for those who survived the Death March. They were held at Prisoner of War camps in the Philippine Islands in horrible and overcrowded conditions. Many were later transferred aboard packed "Hell Ships" to work in camps in Japan, Korea and China. Many died along the way and many were killed when the unmarked ships were sunk during.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RESOURCES ABOUT THE HARRODSBURG TANKERS
Kentucky National Guard eMuseum
Event Information and historical resources
Provisio East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present, and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million- dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Web site.