Pvt. John Dale Minier

    Pvt. John D. Minier was born on December 31, 1919, to Joseph E. Minier and Hattie E. Floro-Minier. With his parents, two brothers and three sisters, he resided at 216 Maple Street in Port Clinton, Ohio.   In May of 1939, John became a member of the Ohio National Guard tank company in Port Clinton.  At that time, he was working in an automobile parts factory.

  When his company was federalized in November 1940, it was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  The company joined by other National Guard companies from Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin to form the 192nd GHQ Light Tank Battalion.  At Ft. Knox, he was sent to Armored Forces School and was trained as a tank driver.   He was a member of the tank crew of Sgt. John Morine.

    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after the maneuvers, on the side of a hill, that the battalion members learned they were being sent overseas.  John and the other members of the battalion received leaves home to say goodbye to friends and family.
    The battalion sailed from San Francisco, on the U.S.A.T Hugh L. Scott, on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day.  About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, after hearing the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the tankers were sent to the perimeter of Clark Field.  It was 11:45 in the morning when planes appeared over the airfield.  When bombs began exploding, the Americans knew the planes were Japanese.

    For the next four months, John and the other tankers fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands.  During this time, the tankers had few if any breaks from the fighting.  It was at this time that John wrote a letter to his sister.  It it, he mentioned that they had been involved in heavy fighting.  His sister did not receive the letter until April 1943.
    At Baliung, the tanks of C Company were hidden inside the barrio when the Japanese began entering the barrio.  The tanks got into a tank battle destroying a company of Japanese tanks.  John's tank is credited in destroying two tanks.

    On April 9, 1942, John and the other members of C Company became Prisoners Of War when the defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese.  He and the other members of C Company destroyed their equipment and made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula.

    It was from Mariveles that John started what became known as the death march.  John recalled that some of the POWs actually were nude since they had not been allowed to dress.  Those who fell were kicked by the Japanese guards. 

    John and the other POWs went without food or water.  Men prayed for rain so that they could have a drink.  When they reached bridges, they were made to do double time over bridges so that the Japanese convoys heading south would not be stopped.  He remembered walking past artesian wells without being able to get a drink.  At one point, the POWs risked being killed by running to a turnip field. He watched as men were shot.  On another occasion, he saw POWs shot attempting to get food in a sugarcane field.  John counted the bodies of 370 dead Americans while on the march.

    It took 10 days for John to make his way to San Fernando.  There, the POWs were kept in a school yard.  John was at the front of the column entering the school yard and was able to grab two handfuls of rice from a sack.  This was the first food he had during the march.

    At San Fernando John and the other POWs were crammed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  During the trip, those prisoners who died in the cars remained standing until the cars were emptied at Capas.  From there, John walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell. 

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training camp.  The camp had only one water faucet for 12,000 prisoners.  John knew that if he remained in the camp he would die, so he volunteered to go out on a work detail rebuilding bridges.  He next volunteered to go out on a scrap metal recovery detail.  He remained on this detail until September, 1942,  when he was sent to Cabanatuan.

    On October 5, 1942, John was sent to a warehouse on Pier 7 for transport.  He was boarded on the Tottori Maru on October 7th.  The ship sailed the next day, and on October 9th, two torpedoes from an American submarine passed the ship.  The ship later passed a mine laid by the sub.  The ship arrived safely at Takao, Formosa, on October 12th, remained in port until the 16th, sailed and returned to Takao the same day.  On October 18th, the ship sailed again for the Pescadores Islands arriving the same day.  It dropped anchor and remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao.  The next day, the POWs were disembarked and given a shower with fire hoses.  
    The ship sailed again on October 30th for Makou, Pescadores Islands.  After an overnight stay, the ship sailed for Fusan, Korea, arriving there on November 7th.  The POWs going to Manchuria were unloaded and the ship sailed the next day. After disembarking the ship, the POWs took a two day train trip north to Mukden, Manchuria.
    The POWs lived 75 men in each barracks.   The barracks were partially in the ground.  Food for the men consisted of a soy bean soup.  To improve their diets, they learned to make snares to catch the wild dogs that roamed into the camp,  They did this until a detachment of POWs saw a dog eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian.

    John was assigned to work in a machine tool and die factory.  This factory was run by the Japanese company MKK.  The POWs would commit acts of sabotage to prevent the plant from contributing to the Japanese war effort.  One trick was to drop sand into the oiling holes of the machines.  The Japanese believed the Americans were too dumb to do this, so they believed that the Chinese civilians working in the plant were doing it. 

    The POWs first knew the war had ended when three parachutists were dropped into the camp.  A few days later, Russian troops liberated the camp.  The Russians held a official surrender ceremony and made the Japanese surrender in front of the liberated prisoners.

    John left Mukden on September 10, 1945 by train.  He and the other liberated Americans were boarded onto the hospital ship the U.S.S. Relief. John's weight at the time was 85 pounds.

    John arrived in San Francisco on October 15, 1945, on the U.S.S. Storm King.  It was almost four years since he, and the other members of his battalion, had departed the city for the Philippines.

    John was sent by train to Fletcher General Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio.  He was promoted to Staff Sergeant and discharged on May 8, 1946, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
When the remains of Sgt. John Morine were returned home, John served as a pallbearer at Morine's funeral on March 12, 1949.

    John married Irene Kowalezk on October 5, 1946.  Some of her family did not want Irene to marry him because they believed he would be dead in ten years.  Irene and John became the parents of two sons, Joe and John.  Their younger son attended West Point.  To support his family, John worked at Port Clinton Fish Company to be outside.  Both John and Irene were active in the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

    John D. Minier passed away on October 5, 1988, which was his 42 wedding anniversary, on Catawba Island Township, Ottawa County, Ohio.  He was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Port Clinton, Ohio.


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