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.
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 tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers on December 1st to guard against paratroopers. Two members of each tank remained with their tank at all times. 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.
The tank battalion received
that it was to
B and C
ran low on
enough for one
to support the
On December 31, 1941, Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag. The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way. Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
sent by train to Fletcher General Hospital in
Cambridge, Ohio. He was promoted to Staff
Sergeant and discharged on May 8, 1946, at Camp
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
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.