Kolesar

 

Sgt. John G. Kolesar Jr.


   Sgt. John G. Kolesar Jr. was the son of Mr. & Mrs. John G. Kolesar Sr.  With his three sisters and two brothers, he grew up at 315 Hurd Street in Port Clinton, Ohio.  He was born on September 9, 1918, and was a graduate of Port Clinton High School.  While he was a child, during the 1920s,  his mother passed away. 

    Like many young men of his age, John knew that it was just a matter of time before he was drafted.  During August 1940, to fulfill his military obligation, John joined the Ohio National Guard's H Tank Company headquartered the armory in Port Clinton.

    On November 25, 1940, the tank company was called to federal service as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  For the next ten months, John trained with the tank company at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  In January, 1941, John was assigned to Headquarters Company when it was formed.  During this time, he rose in rank from private to sergeant. 

    John next took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana.  There, the tankers received orders to remain behind at the fort without having any idea why. 

    On the side of a hill, the battalion members learned they were being sent overseas.  Those men 29 years old or older were released from federal service.  Many men received leaves home to say their goodbyes to families and friends.
    The battalion traveled by train, over different train routes, 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 later date.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. 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.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and 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. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
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.

    On December 8, 1941, John lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.  He spent the next four months making sure that the tanks of the  battalion received supplies.  He was reported wounded at one point during the fight.
    The 192nd remained at Clark field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 
    At Gumain River, the tank companies formed a defensive line along the south bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  It was there the tankers noted that the Japanese soldiers were high on drugs when they attacked.  Among the dead Japanese, the tankers found the hypodermic needles and syringes.   The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese for several weeks.
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.
   
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.
 

    When Bataan was surrendered on April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner Of War.  He took part in the death march and was held at a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell.  When Cabanatuan opened, John was left behind at Camp O'Donnell because he was considered too ill to be moved to the new camp. 

    On Monday, June 8, 1942, Sgt. John G. Kolesar Jr. died of malaria and dysentery at Camp O'Donnell.  He was 24 years old.  He was buried at the Camp O'Donnell Cemetery.  After the war, his remains were reburied at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.


 

 



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