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192nd Tank Battalion Militaria

Technical Sergeant Zenon R. Bardowski's Uniform (1946)

The uniform of T/Sgt. Zenon Bardowski of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During the Philippine Defense Campaign, he is credited with being the first member of an American tank crew to shoot down an enemy plane during WWII and eventually commanded a tank platoon.

On the day Bataan was to surrender, April 8, 1942, he led his platoon to the Bataan coast, hoping to escape to Corregidor. After being told that he and his men could not board a barge to the island, he used his Thompson as a means of persuasion, but abandoned his tanks. On Corregidor, he was assigned to D Company, 4th Marine Regiment. Ironically, the first Japanese tank to land on Corregidor was Bardowski's captured tank, which he had to destroy.

He surrendered on May 6. He was taken to the following POW camps: Cabanatuan #1, Cabanatuan #3, and Bilibid Prison. Then he was forced to board the hellship Nissyo Maru and sent to Fukuoka #23, near Hiroshima, Japan. The 1st Cavalry Division freed the camp on September 25, 1945. Bardowski was honorably discharged on April 12, 1946.

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(Courtesy of the Victor Verano. Excerpts of Bardowski's biography from Proviso East High School's Bataan Commemorative Project)


Last modified: 15-Aug-2015