Sgt. John Olin Hopple
| Sgt. John Olin Hopple was born
on July 15, 1914, in Missouri to Dwight Hopple
& Maude Meddenhall-Hopple. His parents
were farmers residing in Taylor County, Iowa, near
the town of Bedford. He attended
Valley School in South Taylor and graduated in
1932 from Hopkins High School with honors.
John was also very well known in the town of
Bedford and worked to clear ground so the
community could create The Lake of the Three
John next attended Maryville State Teachers College for two years. He finished his studies in electrical engineering at Iowa State College, in Ames, graduating in March, 1940, and worked as a consulting electrical engineer in Des Moines.
John moved to the Chicago area where he was employed by the Northern Illinois Public Service Company. It was while he was living in Illinois, that John joined the 33rd Tank Company of the Illinois National Guard from Maywood, Illinois. In November of 1940, he was called into federal service when the tank company was federalized.
At Fort Knox, Kentucky, the192nd Tank Battalion was organized. Company A was from Janesville, Wisconsin; Company B from Maywood, Illinois; Company C from Port Clinton, Ohio; and Company D from Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The formation of the battalion was according to army plans that had been put into place after World War I.
During the training at Ft. Knox, the members of the 192nd were trained to operate various equipment in use by the battalion. John qualified as a magneto expert for tanks. He would later be assigned to tank maintenance.
John, along with unit, was sent to Louisiana to take part in the maneuvers of 1941. It was upon completion of these maneuvers that the battalion was informed that they had been selected for duty in the Philippine Islands.
It is known that John returned home and visited
his parents on leave. He then returned to
Camp Polk, Louisiana. From there, he
traveled west by train to San Francisco and was
ferried to Angel Island, After receiving
inoculations, John with his battalion sailed for
In the Philippines, the 192nd found itself thrust into combat when Clark Field was bombed on December 8, 1941 by the Japanese. During an engagement against the Japanese at the Little Pocket, John was credited with saving the lives of a tank crew. The tank had been set on fire with a hand grenade. John grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the fire out saving the lives of the crew and saving the tank.
As a member of Lt. Edward G. Winger's tank crew, John was trapped in the tank when the Japanese, for the first time in the war, used flame and oil throwers against a tank. Lt. Winger's crew was blinded by the flames and smoke which resulted in the tank being wedged between two trees. John, with the rest of the crew, abandoned the tank while under enemy fire and made their way back to American lines. In his attempt to get back to American lines, John was wounded. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.
During the Battle of Toul Pocket at Assayian Point, John took part in the recovery of a wounded member of the battalion. On February 18. 1942, during this recovery attempt, John was wounded by a sniper as he, Owen Sandmire of A Company, and two other members of the battalion attempted to rescue Jack Bruce. The four men crawled out to Bruce while under fire, put him on the litter, and returned him to American lines. Three of the four rescuers were wounded.
Owen Sandmire, of A Company, drove John and the other soldiers, who had been wounded, to the field hospital. This meant he drove down the west coast of Bataan, through Mariveles, and back up the east coast to the field hospital. Because of the tropical climate, infections set in quickly. John succumbed to his wounds on February 18, 1942, at Hospital #1 on Bataan. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the
battalion's surgeon, Sgt. John Olin Hopple was
posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service
Cross for his actions on February 7, 1942.
This was confirmed by Brigadier General James
Weaver in his short book on the operation of the
Provisional Tank Group.
According to John's family, his mother had an extremely difficult time of dealing with the death of her only child. On September 7, 1942, she attempted to commit suicide and shot herself. Several days later, she died from her wounds.