Tec 5 John T. Fox
T/5 John T. Fox was the son
of Sylvester and Evelyn Fox. He was born on
March 21, 1920, and was the oldest of three
children. John, with his sister and brother,
resided in the family's home at 907 Milwaukee
Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin. He
was called "Jack" by his family.
As a child, Jack attended St. Patrick's School. After grade school, he attended Janesville High School for three years. The summer before he was to start his senior year, Jack went to work for his father's cousin on his farm in Wells, Minnesota. Instead of returning to Janesville when September came, Jack chose to stay in Wells and attended his senior year in Austin. Minnesota. Jack left high school before graduating and returned to Janesville.
Not to long after returning to Janesville, Jack joined the Wisconsin National Guard. The National Guard company was headquartered in an armory in Janesville. Being six feet six inches tall meant he stood out among the other members of the company.
In the fall of 1940, Jack went to Fort Knox, Kentucky for one year of federal service. His company was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion as A Company. Being National Guardsmen, the army housed the battalion away from the main area of residence.
In January of 1941, Jack was assigned to Headquarters Company. The company was formed with men from the three letter companies of the battalion. He would work as a member of this company to keep the tanks supplied with the materials they needed. It is believed that since Jack had attended cook's school that he was assigned to the company as a cook.
Jack took part in the Louisiana maneuvers in the late summer of 1941. It was after these maneuvers that Jack and the other members of the battalion learned that their one year of federal service had been extended. Jack and the other members of the battalion were given furloughs home to say their goodbyes.
Jack parents were not happy with the fact that
he was gong overseas, but they were willing to
tolerate it. Jack did not care one way or
the other about being sent overseas.
On December 8, 1941, Jack lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. He spent the next four months attempting to find food to feed the men of HQ Company.
During this time, Jack sent home the second postcard that his family received from him. In the postcard, he told them about the $10,000 dollars in life insurance he had taken out on himself. The one thing that stood out about the postcard itself was the fact that it had been mailed without a stamp. On the card, where the stamps should have been, Jack had written that there were no stamps available.
On April 9, 1942, Jack and the other members of HQ Company learned of the surrender from Capt. Fred Bruni. They were told to stay where they were until receiving orders to move. For the next two days, the soldiers remained in their bivouac.
Upon receiving orders to move from a Japanese officer, the Prisoners of War made their way out to the road that ran alongside their bivouac. Once on the road, the POWs were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. The Japanese soldiers passing them took whatever they wanted from the POWs possessions.
Jack and the rest of HQ Company made their way by truck to Mariveles. Just outside of the town, they were ordered out of the trucks and into a field. They remained there until they were ordered to move to another field.
It was from Mariveles that Jack and the other members of HQ Company started what became known as the death march. After completing the march, he was then held as a Prisoner Of War at Camp O'Donnell.
Life in the camp was horrendous. There was only one water faucet for the 12,000 POWs in the American portion of the camp. As many as fifty POWs died a day. To get out of the camp, Jack volunteered to go out on the bridge building detail. The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord. Wickord attempted to fill the detail with as many tank group men as possible.
Jack first worked at Calauan. There the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them medication. They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.
Jack was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge. Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed. Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
The next bridge Jack and the other POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria. Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans. An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner. Wickord picked the twelve sickess looking POWs.
When the detail ended, Jack was sent to Cabnanatuan. The camp had opened while he was on the detail. While he was a prisoner there, he came down with cerebral malaria. Somehow he got his hands on a bottle of quinine and took the entire bottle.
One day, in spite of the fact that Jack was suffering from the disease, he made the attempt to intervene in the behalf of a friend who was being beaten by a Japanese guard. Being six feet five inches tall made Jack an intimidating presence. It should be noted that according to the other surviving members of the battalion, the Japanese took great pleasure in beating tall Americans.
The Japanese guard was angry and got other guards to help him subdue Jack. After they had him under control, the guards tied him to a pole just outside the main gate of the camp. Whenever a Japanese soldier or a Filipino passed by Jack, they were expected to beat him with a wooden board. He remained tied to the pole for three days in the sun and heat with no food or water.
On the third day, the Japanese untied Jack from the pole and a truck pulled up beside him. Jack was loaded onto the truck and was driven about a mile from the camp and near a river. The American driver stopped the truck and got out. The Japanese guards told the driver to face forward and not to look. Jack got off the truck and was led toward the river by the two guards.
The driver was still standing by the truck when he heard a gunshot. The two guards returned alone and boarded the truck. The American drove the truck back to the camp and later told the other POWs what had happened. John's date of death is given as Monday, August 31, 1942.
Since T/5 John T. Fox's final resting place is unknown, his name appears on The Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
After the war, Brigadier General James Weaver came to Janesville for the dedication of the memorial to the members of A Company. Jack's mother was introduced to Weaver and showed him a picture of her son. To her surprise, Weaver told her that he had known her son. Weaver then told the story of how Jack came to his command post on Bataan carrying a peach pie for him. According to Weaver, the amazing part was that Jack had somehow scrounged up the ingredients and baked the pie while food was short on the peninsula.