34th Tank Co History
 
  
        Company A, 194thTank Battalion


On February10,1941 Brainerd's 34th Tank Company, Minnesota National Guard, commanded by Ernest B. Miller, was Federalized and
ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington for training. At Fort Lewis, the 34th Tank Company was combined with units from St. Joseph, Missouri and Salinas, California and re-designated as the 194thTankBattalion. Major Miller was appointed the battalion commander.

The 194th Tank Battalion, less Company B, was ordered to reinforce the Philippine Islands arriving in Manila on September26,1941.
The 194th was the first Tank unit in the Far East prior to WWII.  In August 1941, Company B had been reassigned to the Alaskan Defense Command.  This was the first Armored unit sent outside the Continental United States.

The 194th Tank Battalion was stationed at Fort Stotsenburg near Clark Field on the Island of Luzon, where they trained until the outbreak of the war on December 7, 1941. After the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese, the Battalion was crucial to the beleaguered defense of Luzon and the Bataan Peninsula. The 194th held vital positions through out the Islands defense until the fall of Bataan, on April 9,1942, when ordered to surrender by
General King. For their outstanding performance of duty inaction, the 194th Tank Battalion was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations.

Following the surrender, the weakened and diseased defenders, including men of the 194th Tank Battalion, were ordered on the infamous Death March by their Japanese captors. Prisoners on the Death March began marching northward April 10, 1942 from Southern Bataan and terminated April 13,1942 at Camp O'Donnell. The 194th prisoners were marched along with other prisoners from near Mariveles to San Fernando, where they were packed into railcars and moved to Capas, ending with a march to Camp O'Donnell.
The prisoners, without food or water, with extreme cruelty and atrocities dealt by the Japanese, marched a total of 97 kilometers (or 60 miles). Nearly 10,000 troops died, both American and Filipino.

From Camp O'Donnell, where hundreds died, many prisoners were sent to other camps in the Philippines.
Designated POW's included men from the 194th, who were eventually packed into the holds of unmarked transports known as "HellShips".
The prisoners were moved to labor camps in Japan. Many of these unmarked POW "HellShips" in route to Japan were sunk unknowingly by the US Navy, killing many POW's.

Of the original 82 Officers and men of the3 4th Tank Company who left Brainerd, 64 accompanied the 194th overseas to the Philippines.
One man was wounded and evacuated, 2 to OCS, 3 were killed in action, 29 died as POW’s, and 29 survived captivity.

Of the original 64 National Guardsmen, only 32 survived to return to Brainerd after the end of WWII.

Credit: George Lackie, nephew to Warren Lackie               Back to Maps, Charts and Lists        Main Page