Only 43 would return from the War.
They had arrived in Philippine Islands on November 20, 1941 — Thanksgiving Day—and were stationed at Clark Field on Luzon, 60 miles to the north of Manila. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and Clark Field in the Philippines.
At Clark Field, Robert Brooks, of D Company became the first American “tanker” killed in WWII. He is likely also the first African-American killed in the War. Brooks Field at Fort Knox, Kentucky is named in his honor.
The 192nd Tank Battalion fought for four desperate months against the invading Japanese. Exhausted, sick, starving, and lacking ammunition, they were surrendered on April 9, 1942. On the infamous 65-mile Bataan Death March, the soldiers of Maywood made up the largest number of POWs from a single American town.
As POWs of Japan, the Maywood men endured indescribable deprivation, abuse, and degradation. Many became slave laborers for prominent Japanese companies. One that used American POW slave labor was Nippon Sharyo, which manufactured the engines for the Thai-Burma Death Railway. The company still manufactures rolling stock on the same site that it did during the War. Nippon Sharyo passenger cars now cast daily shadows on the Maywood Veterans Memorial Park. A METRA (Chicago area) commuter rail track runs on one edge of the Park. METRA is a major client of Nippon Sharyo. American tax incentives and METRA contracts were used to encourage Nippon Sharyo to build manufacturing facilities in Illinois. The company is planning to benefit from upcoming high-speed rail contracts.
Nippon Sharyo has never acknowledged nor apologized to the POWs it used as slave labor.
Click here for more information on the memorial events and celebration.
Col. Richard A. McMahon, Jr. (USA, Ret.), President
Phone: (708) 366-8761
Website URL: http://mbdo.org