There are a lot of bastards in the Army.

Anyone who has served will tell you that. But for some, the title isn’t an insult, muttered out of earshot. It’s an honor, proudly proclaimed.

So it is for the members of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion of the 194th Armor Regiment: Task Force Bastard.

These Bastards earned their nickname after being essentially abandoned on the Bataan Peninsula on the island of Luzon in the Philippines in the early days of World War II.

In the fall of 1941, prior to the official U.S. entry into WWII, Gen. Douglas MacArthur deployed the 194th to support Filipino forces and defend Manila against the Japanese. The 194th became the first expeditionary armored force in U.S. military history. MacArthur was planning a comprehensive Pacific theater strategy, and he sent the 194th there as a temporary shield.

But it went tragically sideways on December 7, 1941. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor of course, but also Clark Field on Luzon Island. With the Naval fleet and Army Air Force crippled on Luzon, the Japanese Imperial Army launched a ground offensive days later. Within a month, they had captured Manila.

The American and Filipino defenders were forced to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula. For the next three months, the brave bastards of the 194th and their Filipino counterparts held out with weakened equipment, no air support, no resupply, no reinforcements, no food, no medical supplies, and limited ammunition.

Finally, on April 9, U.S. General Edward King Jr was forced to surrender approximately 75,000 starving and disease-ridden troops at Bataan.

The surrendered Filipinos and American troops were rounded up by the Japanese and forced to march over 60 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Peninsula, to San Fernando – the infamous “Bataan Death March.” The men were divided into groups of approximately 100 soldiers and took each group around five days to complete. It is estimated that thousands of troops succumbed during the march as a result of starvation and brutality. The POWs who survived were transported to squalid camps where they suffered torture, malnourishment, Beriberi disease, malaria, and dysentery until their final liberation in 1945 the end of World War II.

U.S. war correspondent Frank Hewlett wrote a poem about the 194th.

We’re the Battling Bastards of Bataan.
No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces
And nobody gives a damn.

Today, the 1st Combined Arms Battalion of the 194th Armor Regiment serves as the theater armored Regional Response Force for CENTCOM.

And yes, we do give a damn about these bastards.