Roadblock in Luzon

80 Years Ago today.

At a Roadblock on the Road to Bataan by Don Millsap, via the U.S. Army National Guard’s Heritage Collection

Luzon, Philippine Islands, December 26, 1941 — While the main attention of the beleaguered U.S. forces in the Philippines was focused on Japanese columns streaming inland from the Lingayen Gulf in the west, another enemy force came ashore on the east coast of Luzon at Lamon Bay. Company C 194th Tank Battalion from Salinas, California, was attached to a Filipino Army regiment near the town of Lucban. The 2d Platoon was ordered to make a show of force that would take it down a narrow trail. As the tank, commanded by SSgt Emil C. Morello, rounded a sharp curve it came face-to-face with an enemy roadblock. Without any hesitation, the tank smashed into the roadblock and the Japanese gun behind it.

Before being hit, Morello’s tank fired on other gun positions. After pretending to be dead, Morello and his crew escaped the next morning only to be either killed or captured, along with the other members of the 192d and 194th Tank Battalions, at Bataan.

These two battalions were National Guard units with companies from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For their gallantry in action, both units were awarded three Presidential Unit Citations. Today’s 1st Battalion, 149th Armor, California Army National Guard carries on the gallant traditions of the 194th Tank Battalion.

The U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection has plans to exhibit a restored early U.S. M3 light tank, identified by the sponson-mounted .30 caliber machine guns on each side: 

This type was used by the National Guard tankers of the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions on Luzon

Alongside a Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go that has belonged to the U.S. Army since it was captured in the Philippines in 1945.

The Ha-Go was the most common Japanese tank of World War II. Introduced in 1935, the Ha-Go weighs 7.4 tons and is armed with a 37mm main gun and two 7.7mm machine guns.

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