------------------- Remember the TankersMercer Titans pay tribute to harrodsburg WWII battalion By SUSIE LAUN firstname.lastname@example.org September 17, 2009
Growing up in Iowa, Bart Bredar didn’t know anything about the Harrodsburg Tankers.
When he began teaching at the Mercer County Ninth Grade Academy, he said he drove past the tank on U.S. 127 but assumed it was a local memorial for Army veterans.
Then, Bredar got the chance to learn about the Tankers. As part of the curriculum at the school, Bredar showed the KET documentary “Bataan: The Harrodsburg Tankers,” a film about the Tankers’ impact on World War II.
Bredar said he was surprised that so few people knew about the significance the men had on World War II and the community.
And he decided that he wanted to do something about it.
On Friday’s home football game against Boyle County, the Mercer County Senior High School athletics department will permanently retire the No. 66 jersey from play. Players were given small decals to wear on their helmets, honoring the men of the 192nd Harrodsburg Tank Battalion.
“Watching the documentary ... initially brought it to my attention,” Bredar said. “But I had seen the tank. I didn’t know it had significance to this community. I wasn’t aware that so many families had been directly impacted.”
No. 66 is being retired because that is how many men were a part of the tank battalion that would become known as the Harrodsburg Tankers.
The 66 men who were a part of the battalion were sent to the Philippines on Thanksgiving 1941. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Tankers fought alongside allied forces until their superiors ordered surrender in April 1942. The men would then become prisoners of war and were a part of the Bataan Death March. Of the 66 men who became POWs, 37 survived.
At the ceremony, the team will present jerseys to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and National Guard. A jersey also will hang in the Mercer County sports complex with a plaque.
Bredar hopes the jersey will inspire students to ask questions about its significance and allow teachers the opportunity to teach students about the Tankers.
Senior quarterback Tre’ Dunn had heard of the Tankers but didn’t know much about them, and senior Alex Logue, a tackle and center, said he never knew what the tank on the hill was. Both are glad to see students learning about the Tankers and community awareness being generated.
Bredar said educating students about the Tankers is important because those men make good role models for them.
“This is a chance to show them what true heroes are like,” he said.
Logue sees some similarities between the Tankers and the football team.“We’re battling just like they were,” he said.
Both groups of men were representing Mercer County and were working for victory, Logue said.
Senior defensive end Travis Gowins said he learned about the Bataan Death March when he was in 10th grade and now he is proud to be part of the class that will retire the No. 66 jersey.
Jim Stinnett, a member of the Mercer County Board of Education and VFW commander of the Bataan Memorial Post in Harrodsburg, said the ceremony means a lot to local veterans because the football team and the teachers did this on their own.
“We don’t go out and ask for it,” he said. “When they come up and say ‘thank you,’ that’s what means the most.”
Stinnett was stationed in Kuwait from October 2004 to November 2005 with a National Guard unit that went out of Harrodsburg.
“As a veteran, words can’t express what these guys are doing for these men, and for all veterans,” he said.
Post by rickthelibrarian on Nov 17, 2009 19:55:01 GMT -5
I also stumbled on to a little bit of 194th history. I was looking at a pictorial book of Fort Lewis (in NW Washington, about 80 miles away from me) and saw a picture of a 194th T.B. armored vehicle during training, apparently at Fort Lewis! A PNW connection!
(P.S. I looked up the link in the first post and saw that the 194th did do their training at Fort Lewis).