Minier

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, who 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 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 orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  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.

    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 Baluiag2nd 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 crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
   
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  
   
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
   
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers
   
    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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