Pvt. John Hando
| Pvt. John
Hando was born on May 22, 1918, in Piney Fork,
Pennsylvania, to Ignatius Hando & Veronica
Haydu-Hando. He grew up in Brookfield, Ohio,
with his four sisters and brother. He completed
eighth grade but never attended high school. He
worked in a steel mill as a slag operator.
John was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 28, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was sent Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. During his basic training he was assigned to HQ Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
The 192nd was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers. During the maneuvers, HQ Company serviced the tanks of the battalion, but they did not actively participate. After the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, the battalion learned they were being sent overseas. According to members of the battalion, General George Patton told them the news. Men too old to go overseas were released from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Many of the members of the battalion were given leave so that they could say goodbye to family and friends. They returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train to San Francisco, California. From San Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island. On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam. When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables. They sailed the same day for Manila. The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th. They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King. The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons. The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea. They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The letter companies were ordered to the south end of Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. HQ Company remained behind in their bivouac.
All morning the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps. The members of HQ took cover since they had no weapons to use against the planes. After the attack, they witnessed the devastation caused by the bombing and strafing.
For the next four months John worked to keep the tanks supplied and running. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese at 7:00 A.M. The members of the company remained in their bivouac. 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. Jack was now a Prisoner of War.
The company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were moved to an open field in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. These two islands had not surrendered. Shells from these two American artillery began landing among the POWs. The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed by incoming American shells. One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were
ordered to move again by the Japanese. The
POWs had no idea that they had started what became
known as the death march. During the march,
the POWs received no water and little food. It
took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San
Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a
bull pen that had a fence around it. In one
corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by
the POWs. The surface of the trench moved
since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had
enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During 1945, things
got worse for the POWs, so they knew the Japanese
were losing the war. At 5:00 P.M. on August
15th they learned the war was over. The POWs
did not believe it. The next day the camp
commandant, at 9:00 A.M., informed the POWs that the
war was over. He also told them that they had
to stay in the camp. On August 24th, the
Japanese gave the POWs paint and canvas and told
them to paint "POW." on the canvas and put it on the
medical treatment in the Philippines, John was put
on the U.S.S. Marine Shark which arrived at
Seattle, Washington, on November 1, 1945. The
former POWs were sent to Ft. Lewis for more medical
treatment. John returned home and was
discharged from the Army on June 6, 1946.
He married Dorothy Wansack on January 19, 1947,
and became the father of a daughter and
son. The family resided in Youngstown,
Ohio. John went back to work at Sharon
Steel Company as a slitter operator in the cold
roll department. John also began to carve
pipes again. Many have been valued at
hundreds of dollars.
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