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 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
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. It was almost four years to the day that 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.