Seventy-two years after the 192nd Tank Battalion was formed by federalizing National Guard tank groups from 4 different states, we are still making changes to the roster of the 192nd. Today, we added Pvt. Joseph P Henderson to the Co. B roster. The research was done by Jim Opolony of the Proviso Bataan Commemorative Research Project, so I’ll let him explain:
[T]he story of finding Pvt. Joseph P. Henderson took on its own life. For the first seven years of the [Proviso Bataan Commemorative Research Project] project, we could not confirm that, as indicated in 1st Lt. Jacques Merrifield’s final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion, a Pvt. Henderson was a member of the 192nd.
It was in 2006, that we received our first confirmation that “Mule” Henderson had been a member of the battalion. A couple of years later, we received an interview that Field Reed,a Kentucky National Guardsman, had given. In the interview, Reed told how he and “Mule” Henderson delivered supplies to the tanks. Reed believed that Henderson was from Georgia or another southern state.
So the search for Pvt. Henderson continued. We worked under the assumption that he was from the South. On several occasions, we thought that we had found Pvt. Henderson only to find that we were wrong, and that the man was a member of another unit. On one occasion, we actually had found him, but because of the assumption that he was from the South, we dismissed our finding as wrong. The mystery of who was Pvt. Henderson continued to haunt us.
Thanks to Tuller Merrifield, the daughter of Jacques Merrifield, the mystery of “who was Pvt. Henderson” was solved. Tuller sent us her father’s journal which he had compiled while he was a Prisoner of War. It was from this journal that the final U.S. Army report on the 192nd Tank Battalion was written. In the journal, Merrifield had written that Pvt. Henderson had originally been a member of the 31st Infantry. We knew that the situation on Bataan was “fluid,” so Henderson becoming a member of the tank battalion was a possibility. Merrifield also indicated that Henderson died on Palawan Island,
With this information, we were able to search the Palawan Massacre Roster and found that there were two Hendersons who had been killed by the Japanese on the island. The roster indicated that one of the Hendersons was a U. S. Marine, while the other Henderson had no unit indicated on his file. So, we now believed that Pvt. Joseph P. Henderson was “Mule” Henderson of the 192nd.
We next checked the NARA POW on-line files and found additional information on Pvt. Joseph P. Henderson. Karl Rowe had provided NARA with a roster of the members of 31st Infantry. Pvt. Joseph P. Henderson was not listed on the roster. We had finally found Pvt. Mule Henderson.
To read the rest of Pvt. Joseph Henderson story, please visit the excellent Proviso Bataan Commemorative Research Project page on Pvt. Henderson by clicking here.
Special thanks to Jim Opolony and his students and staff for their great work on this award-winning site!