Tec 5 John T. Fox
T/5 John T. Fox was the son
of Sylvester B. and Evelyn Fox. He was born
on March 21, 1920, and was the oldest of the
couple's 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
As a child, Jack attended St. Patrick's School before attending 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 near Wells, Minnesota. Instead of returning to Janesville when September came, Jack chose to stay in Minnesota and attended part of his senior year in Austin. Minnesota. At some point, Jack left school and returned to Janesville.
Not too long after returning to Janesville, Jack joined the Wisconsin National Guard 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 residence area.
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 the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was on the side of a hill that the soldiers learned that their one year of federal service had been extended and that they were being sent overseas. 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. When
there was not
much left of
watched as the
were hauled to
on bomb racks,
Many of these
men had their
arms and legs
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
On April 11th, the first
appeared at HQ
Donald was now
a Prisoner of
out onto the
road that ran
in front of
Once on the
the sides of
the road with
sides of the
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.
Life in the camp was horrendous, and 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 who had been commanding officer of the 192nd. 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 without 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, stand at attention, 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 was 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.