Cpl. Jack Vernon Bruce
Cpl. Jack V. Bruce was the
son of Mamie Bruce. He was born on October
28, 1921, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It
appears that his father died and his mother
married Joseph Bruce. His step-father
adopted Jack and his two sisters. After his
mother remarried, the family moved to Milton,
Wisconsin, and attended Milton schools and Milton
While Jack was junior in high school, he enlisted in the 32nd Tank Company of the Wisconsin National Guard. The tank company was headquartered in an armory in Janesville. To earn money, he worked as a farmhand. While Jack was still in high school, he was called to federal duty.
In November of 1940, Jack's tank company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky for one year of training. During this training Jack became a tank crew member.
In the late summer of 1940, Jack took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. At Camp Polk after the maneuvers, Jack and the other members of the battalion learned they were being sent overseas.
The battalion traveled by train to San
Francisco. By ferry, they were
taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel
Island. On the island, they
received inoculations and
physicals. Those members of the
battalion who were found to have
treatable medical conditions remained
behind on the island. They were
scheduled to join the battalion at a
After arriving in the Philippines, Jack spent
two weeks preparing to supply the members of A
Company with the things they needed. The
preparations ended with the Japanese attack on
Clark Field in the Philippines.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, planes appeared
overhead. Like the other men, Robert
believed they were American until they felt and
heard bombs exploding. During the attack,
Bob and the rest of his tank crew fired at the
planes, but could do little damage since they
did not have the proper weapons.
After the attack, the company was sent to the
Barrio of Dau so it could protect a highway and
railroad from sabotage. From there,
the company was sent to join the other companies
of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.
There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the
During the Battle of the Pockets, Jack somehow ended up in "no man's land" and was wounded. He could not make it back to the American lines. Owen Sandmire, John Hopple of B Company, and two other members of the battalion crawled out to him with a stretcher. Hopple and the other men were hit by enemy fire during the rescue. Since there were no drivers, Sandmire drove them down to Mariveles and back up the East Coast of Bataan to the hospital. By the time he got there, all three were dead.
Sometime during the Battle of the Philippines,
Jack appears to have been made a member of 1st
Lt. William Reed's half-track crew. Being
a member of the crew meant that Jack was
involved in various engagements against the
Japanese. It was during one of these
engagements that Jack's the half-track was hit
by enemy fire and knocked out. A second
round would mortally wound Lt. Reed.
Jack and another member of
the tank crew went for help, but before they
could return, the Japanese overran the area. Lt.
Reed died of his wounds and Pvt. Ray Underwood
became a Prisoner of War.
On April 9, 1942, Jack became a Prisoner Of War when the Filipino and American defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese. He took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell. It is not known if Jack went out on a work detail while a POW there.
When the new camp at Cabanatuan opened, Jack was
sent there. Sometime in early 1943, Jack
was selected for the Bachrach Garage Detail
which was also known as the Cabcaban
Detail. The POWs on this detail repaired
cars, trucks and other equipment for the
It was while he was on this detail that
he became extremely ill on November 22,
1943. That day records state he developed
a fever and had back and leg pains. It was
reported that his illness was bad enough to have
him transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Unit at
Bilibid Prison on November 26, 1943. The
doctors wanted to admit him to the hospital, but
the Japanese refused to allow it, so he was
returned to the work detail.
Jack's bronchitis and pneumonia got worse, so he
was returned to the hospital on November 29th.
Records kept by the medical staff show he
was vomiting, coughing up blood in his mucous,
and 102.4 degree fever. On November 30th,
the cramping he was experiencing increased and
so did the bloody mucous.
After the war, Jack's family had his remains returned to Janesville, Wisconsin. Cpl. Jack V. Bruce was reburied at Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville on October 21, 1949. His headstone indicates that he died on December 1, 1943, which is also the date given on the POW death records from Bilibid Prison. This date conflicts with the date given in the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion.