Segment 1


Tenney joined the National Guard in November of 1940. He joined to get his year of service completed before the draft started up. He became a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion and his unit was mobilized into Federal Service on Thanksgiving Day of 1940. They went to Fort Knox, Kentucky. While out on maneuvers they were told that they were the best tank company there was and were sent overseas for duty. They arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day of 1941. It was not long after, that the war started, on December 8 in the Philippines.Tenney remembers not hearing much talk at the beginning about going to war with Japan. Once they were told that they were going overseas, they realized that there were problems with Japan. They were not sure they were going to fight Japan until they got to San Francisco and found out that they would be going to the Philippines. That was the first time they knew. Then when they got aboard the ship leaving Hawaii, they were told it was going to travel "blackout" because of Japanese ships and they did not want to take any chances. Tenney felt it was obvious that there was something going on.Upon arriving at the Philippines, Tenney was billeted at Fort Stotsenburg, adjacent to Clark Field, twenty miles out of Manila. He was there until the morning of December 8. At 5:30 in the morning he was told that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They were loaded into a truck and into tanks and taken out to Clark Field, where the tanks were put around the field to protect against the potential of Japanese parachuters [Annotators Note: Paratroopers]. They were on alert until the Japanese dropped the bombs at 12:35 that afternoon.Tenney remembered that the Japanese landed around Lingayen Gulf around December 21st or 22nd [Annotators Note: 1941]. His Company of Tanks was ordered there to meet the Japanese. When they went up there, they were told that there would be small arms fire and few troops. They found thirty thousand Japanese troops, flamethrowers, tank guns, armored vehicles, tanks, everything. The whole Army was up there, but they were never told that.Tenney and his Company went there with their tanks but the Post Ordnance only brought enough gasoline for five tanks and they had thirty. Therefore they only had five tanks able to go into battle. The lead tank was hit the very first day on December 23rd and had to get off the road and into a rice patty. The other tanks had to "beat ass out" as there was no way they could get in with no place to go. Not only was there no place to go, but they were against odds of antitank guns and flamethrowers. The other four tanks turned and got out. The first tank that was hit Captain Ben Mornan and all four of the other men were captured on December 23rd. That was the first tank battle of World War II.They went back to their bivouac area in Agoo and were told that they were going to make a strategic withdrawal, otherwise known as a retreat, into Bataan. The "strategic withdrawal" was the artillery leaving first and setting up positions about five or six miles away. Then the infantry left to follow the artillery. Then, the tanks stayed to protect against the Japanese coming in while they were moving back to the rear echelon. Once they got about eight miles back they started the process again and piggy-backed all the way back into Bataan.In Bataan, the Japanese had formed a line at the Pilar - Bagac road, with Pilar on one side and Bagac on the other side, at the base of Bataan. All the Japanese were there. Tenney states that their job was to keep them there. Every few days, there would be a pocket and the Japanese would try to come into their area and the tanks would attempt push the pockets back up again.Tenney remembered that they were promised supplies and some new guns, they were using Springfield rifles from 1917 and they were using ammunition that was thirty-five to forty years old that wouldn't fire, it would clog a gun up. They knew if they were going to get new supplies, new ammunition, and new equipment that they would make it. They kept getting promises almost every day saying that reinforcements are on the way; new arms, and new ammunition. This was designed to keep them fighting, but of course nothing ever came.Tenney realized that the fight was over and that the Japanese would be successful on April 3rd [Annotators Note: 1942]. On April 3rd there was a big push and the Japanese brought in another 30,000 troops on their way to Australia. Their reinforcements were so many that it was at the point where they would fire a machine gun and its barrel would just curl up from the heat and they'd have to move. The Japanese just kept coming one on top of each other. It made no difference. By the 9th of April, it became quite obvious that there was no place to go. They already had water on all three sides and they were already pushed down within 150 to 200 yards of the water. General King [Annotator's Note: General Edward Postell King Jr.] had orders from General MacArthur [Annotator's Note: General Douglas MacArthur] to continue to fight down to the last man, but General King said he couldn't do it. He couldn't see the men slaughtered that way, so he surrendered the forces on Bataan.Surrendering made the men cry, the mere fact that they were surrendering was a horrible thing. Tenney thinks also that the word surrender meant that they would be at the mercy of the Japanese. They had already heard about Americans the Japanese had captured and the rumors of what they did to them. 


All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at