|Tec 4 John Kovach Jr.
| Tec 4 John Kovach Jr. was born on
October 7. 1922, in Gypsum, Ohio, to John Kovach Sr.
and Margaret Kovach. When he was a child, his
parents separated and his three sisters and him lived
with their mother in Church Hill, Tennessee. The
family would later live at Step 99 Portage Township,
Ottawa County, Ohio. John worked as a laborer
with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
John enlisted in the Ohio National Guard's Tank Company that was headquartered in Port Clinton. In September 1940, the tank company was federalized and designated C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. In November, the company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for what was suppose to be a year of military service.
Since none of the companies had enough tanks, the soldiers went to the junk yard at Ft. Knox and recovered dicarded M2A2 tanks which were known as "Mae Wests." After rebuilding the engines and making other repairs, every company was up to strength.
It is not known what John's specific job was, but in the late summer of 1941, the tankers were sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to take part in maneuvers. It was after the maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to remain behind at the base.
On the side of a hill, the tankers were informed that their time in the military had been extended. Those 29 years old or older were allowed to resign from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
Over different train routes, the battalion made its way to San Francisco. Once there, they were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands.
After loading their tanks, the battalion sailed from San Francisco on October 27, 1941, and arrived at Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd. The soldiers were given shore leave to see the sights. On November 4th, the ships sailed again. This time they were headed for Guam.
At one point, an unknown ship was seen in the distance. One of the escort ships was a cruiser. It's bow came out of the water as it took off to intercept the unknown ship. As it turned out, the ship was from a neutral country.
Arriving at Guam, the ships took on bananas, water, and coconuts. They sailed the same day for the Philippines arriving at Manila on Thursday, November 20th. After unloading the tanks, the soldiers were taken to Ft. Stotsenburg where they lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.
The week of December 1st, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field. Their job was to protect the airfield from paratroopers. Two crew members remained with the tanks at all times. The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were having lunch from food trucks at Clark Field. Earlier, they were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All morning long the sky was filled with American planes. At noon the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
At 12:45, as the tankers ate their lunches, they watched as 54 planes approached the airfield from the north. What looked like raindrops fell from the planes. It was only when bombs began exploding that the tankers knew the planes were Japanese. During the attack, the tankers hid under or in their tanks for cover. Afterwards they saw the devastation.
On December 21st, B and C Companies were sent north to Lingayen Gulf were the Japanese had landed troops. When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta. The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river. As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th. While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.
At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese. The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle. The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there. While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing. It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered. The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese. They then fell back to Cabanatuan.
C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks. It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.
After this battle, C Company made its way south. When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment. The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.
Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge. The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks. A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.
Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town. One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge. Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag. 2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.
Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag. He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple. The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off. Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.
When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge. The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks. Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.
Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt. The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them. By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company
was mined and
about to be
The 192nd held
so that the
frog past it
and then cover
192nd was the
unit to enter