Sgt. John G. Kolesar Jr.
| Sgt. John G. Kolesar Jr. was
born on September 9, 1918, to Mr. & Mrs. John
G. Kolesar Sr. With his three sisters and
two brothers, he grew up at 315 Hurd Street in
Port Clinton, Ohio and was a graduate of Port
Clinton High School. While he was a child,
during the 1920s, his mother passed
Like many young men of his age, John knew that it was just a matter of time before he was drafted. In 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 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was transferred in January 1941, to Headquarters Company when it was formed. During this time, he rose in rank from private to sergeant, but his exact duties are not known.
In July 1941, John came home on furlough for few days. When he returned to Ft. Knox, the battalion was preparing to take part in maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana, without having any idea why. On the side of a hill, the battalion members learned they were being sent overseas. Those men who were married or 29 years old, or older, were given a chance to be released from federal service. Many of the men received leave home to say their goodbyes to families and friends.
The battalion traveled by train,
over different train routes, to San
Francisco, California, and were
ferried 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 and
scheduled to join the battalion at a
later date. Other men were
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.
As they prepared to die, a car pulled up and a Japanese officer got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. After talking to the sergeant, he got back in the car and drove off. The sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were marched to a
school yard in Mariveles and again ordered to
sit. Behind them were Japanese artillery
pieces. The guns were firing on Corregidor
and Ft. Drum. When the two American
strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners
found themselves in the line of fire and shells began landing around
Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were
killed when it took a direct hit. When the
three if the four Japanese guns had been
At the train station, the POWs were crammed into small wooden boxcars known as forty or eights, since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese put 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors. Those who died, remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. From there, the POWs walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino
Army training base that the Japanese put into
use as a POW camp. There was only one water
faucet for the entire camp. Men
stood in line for days to get a drink of
water. Disease in the camp ran wild
because they had no medicine to treat the
sick. The death rate among the POWs
rose to as many as 50 men a day so the
Japanese opened a new camp at
Cabanatuan. Being considered too
sick to move, John remained behind at Camp