Sgt. Emerson P. Smith
Sgt. Emerson P. Smith was born in 1919 the younger son of Samuel & Nellie Smith. With his brother, he resided on State Route 260 in Ludlow Township, Washington County, Ohio. He was inducted into the U. S. Army on January 21, 1941 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. From Ft. Hayes, he was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where he joined the 192nd Tank Battalion.
The reason Emerson was assigned to C Company was because the company had originated as an Ohio National Guard Tank Company. To fill out the company's roster, the army attempted to fill the roster with men from the home state the company.
In October of 1941, the battalion members were informed they were being sent overseas. Most of the men received ten day leaves to say goodbye to their families and friends.
After taking a train to San Francisco, the battalion sailed from Angel Island for the Philippine Islands. It was in California that he was promoted to sergeant. Emerson arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. He and C Company spent the next two weeks preparing their tanks for use.
On December 8, 1941, Emerson 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.
As a tank commander, Emerson was involved in numerous engagements against the Japanese. During one engagement, C Company successfully destroyed a platoon of Japanese tanks.
It was at the Battle of Toul Pocket, the tanks of three of the letter companies of the 192nd were assigned the duty of helping the Filipino army wipeout the Japanese Marines who had landed behind the main line of defense on Bataan.
During this engagement Emerson's tank was disabled when it hit a landmine causing the tank to throw a track. Pvt. Robert Young, Pvt. Vernor Deck, Pvt. Sydney Rattner and Emerson were trapped inside their tank. A number of attempts to rescue the crew failed.
There are two stories as to what happened next. In the first story, the crew members, realizing that the tank could not be moved, attempted to evacuate the tank. As they were climbing out of the tank, the Japanese threw grenades into the tank killing them.
The real story is that even though their tank was disabled, the crew members refused to surrender. The Japanese decided to use the tank as a bunker and began digging the earth out from underneath it. As they dug, the Japanese began filling the tank with dirt by pouring it into the viewing slits as they were digging out from under the tank. The four tank crew members suffocated in the tank.
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.
Sgt. Emerson P. Smith died when he suffocated inside his tank on February 2, 1942, near Agaloma. After the war, his remains were reburied at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.