Salinas in Monterey County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Company C 194th Tank Battalion
On the morning of February 18th, 1941, one hundred and five brave men of Company C 194th Tank Battalion of the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys marched four abreast down Main Street, through what is now called Old town Salinas, toward the train station. They were on the first leg of a journey that would take them into the annals of military history for which they will forever be known for their bravery, suffering and enormous self sacrifice. As they marched through Salinas toward the train depot the rain fell and the town people waved them farewell and God Speed. For many of those remarkable men, this would be the last time they saw the faces of their hometown neighbors.
After completing training in Fort Lewis, Washington, they boarded a ship on September 8th, 1941, in San Francisco Bay and set sail on a voyage of more than 6,000 miles to Clark Air Base, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning or provocation. While the worlds attention was fixed on the smoldering scenes from the Hawaiian Islands, that Monday morning (Manila Time) the men of Company C were facing a sustained Japanese attack from the air that destroyed nearly all the planes of the U.S. Far East Air Force.
Shortly thereafter, an invading Japanese ground
Their supplies, medicine and ammunition at almost zero and their physical condition weakened by lack of food, they knew that another prolonged engagement with a well-supplied, well-armed enemy would end in slaughter.
Relying on the assurances of treatment of prisoners of war as laid out in the Geneva Convention, the officers ordered the men of Company C and other U.S. forces to destroy the remaining workable equipment and weapons
The Japanese assembled the men of Company C along with the remains of other U.S. Army units and many brave Philippine nationals who had served shoulder to shoulder with the American troops. The treatment of the prisoners was brutal and merciless from the beginning.
Starting on April 10th, 1942 they were force marched to San Fernando along the Bataan Peninsula, eventually reaching Camp ODonnell prison camp. These men were denied the basics of food and medicine. The notorious chapter that will forever mark their place in history was just beginning. For more than sixty miles no provisions were made for the ailing, wounded or weak. The tropical sicknesses that ripped through the ranks of the weakened men were made ten-fold worse by the inhumane starvation and beatings at the hands of the enemy. The order was “march and keep marching.” The accompanying Japanese guards revealed a brutality and cruelty that took the lives of many men along that infamous march. Approximately 70,000 Filipino and US soldiers started the journey, only 54,000 reached the camp. The town of Salinas lost more men per capita in that march than any other town in the United States. That march became known at the time, and will forever be known as:
Many of the survivors of the march owed their lives to fellow soldiers who aided and carried them part of the way. This humanitarian act of kindness cost some of the marchers their own lives at the hands of the guards.
The men of Company C who survived the months of battles, rationing of food, brutality of the Japanese guards, appalling conditions of the prison camp and the array of tropical sicknesses were split up and sent to various locations throughout the Philippine Islands. They were later put in the holds of unmarked “Hell Ships” and sent to Japan and China to be used as slave labor for the Japanese war effort.
As the tide of American victories throughout the Pacific spelled an end to the Empire of Japan, the members of Company C suffering in camps throughout the war years concentrated on just surviving day to day. Shortly after the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the remaining men of Company C got the news that the war was over,
Of the 105 men in Company C who left Salinas, 6 were lost in combat, 52 lost their lives in the Death March, harsh conditions of prison camps, Hell Ships and labor camps. Just 47 returned to their families. The remains of those lost 58 men lie at the bottom of the sea or interred in soil far from the Salinas Valley. This memorial is dedicated to all the 105 men who marched proudly down Main Street on that damp February morning in 1941. Their story must never be forgotten. This memorial honors their bravery, their sacrifice and the enormous price they all paid to free the world from tyranny and oppression.
Six soldiers in Company C were awarded Silver Stars. The whole company received two United States presidential Unit Citations and the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation. In addition, the members all received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Thank you, gentlemen. Your deeds are not forgotten.
[An additional Plaque at the Memorial:]
Location. 36° 42.017′ N, 121° 40.683′ W. Marker is in Salinas, California, in Monterey County. Marker is at the intersection of Boronda Road and Calle Del Adobe, on the left when traveling north on Boronda Road. Click for map. The freeway exit from US-101 is Laurel Drive. Go west from the freeway and Laurel turns into Calle Del Adobe. From 101 go .76 miles west, Calle Del Adobe dead ends at Boronda Road, jog to the right and enter the Boronda Adobe History Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 333 Boronda Road, Salinas CA 93907, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 Josι Eusebio Boronda Adobe Casa (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Eugene Sherwood (approx. 1.5 miles away); The First and Second Filipino Infantry Regiments U.S. Army (approx. 1.6 miles away); Salinas Temporary Detention Center (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Salinas Railway Station (approx. 1.9 miles away); Baldwin Locomotive Class S – 10 Engine 1237 (approx. 1.9 miles away); Southern Pacific Caboose # 726 (approx. 1.9 miles away); The Sargent House (approx. 1.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Salinas.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. Bataan Commemorative Research Project. History, details and photos of the tank battalion, the men, and the home front. (Submitted on October 23, 2012.)
2. California State Military Museum. California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories - Company C, 194th Tank Battalion in the Philippines, 1941-42 (Submitted on October 23, 2012.)
3. Back to Bataan, A Survivor's Story. (Submitted on October 23, 2012.)
4. A History of the Salinas National Guard Company - 1895-1995. (Submitted on October 23, 2012.)
Categories. • War, World II •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by James King of San Miguel, California. This page has been viewed 802 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by James King of San Miguel, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.