Sgt. John Joseph Morine


    Sgt. John J. Morine was the son of Frank & Rosa Morine.  He was born on November 22, 1916, and grew up in Gypsum, Ohio, where his father worked for U. S. Gypsum.  With his brother and sister, he grew up in company housing.  His family and friends called him "Chocolate" because of his dark complexion. 
    After high school, John was employed by U. S. Gypsum.  It was while he was in high school, that he joined the Ohio National Guard in 1932.  His father had to sign the papers since John was only sixteen.  In the fall of 1940, John was called to federal service when H Company of the Ohio National Guard was designated C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During his training at Ft. Knox, he rose in rank to sergeant and was made a tank commander.  It is known one member of his tank crew was John Minier.
    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd was sent to Louisiana to take part in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941.  After the maneuvers the members of the battalion learned they were to stay at Camp Polk instead of returning to Ft. Knox.  None of the men had any idea why they were being kept at the fort..
    On the side of a hill, the tankers learned that they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, many of the tankers had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  John received a furlough home to say his goodbyes.
   
Over different train routes, the battalion's companies traveled to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Fort McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  There, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands.  Those men who were found to need minor medical treatment remained behind at the fort and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.


    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7.  November 20th was the date that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be released from federal service.  The soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own.  Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.    
   
    
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, John heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers returned to the perimeter of the airfield.  As the tankers sat in their tanks, they watched American planes flying over their heads.  Around noon, the planes landed and were parked in a straight line outside the mess hall.  The pilots went to lunch.
    At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese planes approached the airfield from the north. At first, the tankers believed the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding around them did they know that 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 were dead. 

The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.       
    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  C Company was pulled out of their position along the west side of the line.  They were ordered to reinforce the eastern portion of the line.  Traveling south to Mariveles, the tankers started up the eastern road but were unable to reach their assigned area due to the roads being blocked by retreating Filipino and American forces.

    On April 9, 1942, the tankers received word of the surrender.  The members of C Company feared the treatment they would receive from the Japanese and did not want to surrender.  John volunteered to surrender the company to the Japanese.   He was escorted to the Japanese command center, by four guards, where he officially surrendered his company.  He and the rest of the company were now Prisoners of War.
    John took part in the death march from Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan to San Fernando.  There, he and the other POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars.  The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing.  At Capas, he disembarked the car and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    As a POW, John was held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan.  From medical records kept at the camp, John was reported in the camp hospital on June 23rd.  No illness was given on the report nore was a date of discharge given.  It is known that John went out on a work detail to Clark Airfield to build runways.  The POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison to await transport to Japan.  

    In late September 1944, John and other POWs were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Hokusen Maru on October 1st.   His POW detachment was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru.   The POW detachment assigned to the Hokusen Maru had not completely arrived but the ship was ready to sail.  The Japanese flipped-flopped POW detachments and put John's detachment was put on the Hokusen Maru.
    On October 3rd, the Hokusen Maru sailed for Hong Kong.  It arrived there on  October 11th.  The ship sailed again, on October 21st, for Formosa arriving there on October 24th.  As it turned out, the ship John had been scheduled to sail on, the Arisan Maru, was sunk by an American submarine on the same date.  Only nine of the 1803 POWs on the ship survived its sinking.
    Upon arrival at Formosa on Noember 9th, John was taken to Heito Camp.  When the Americans arrived in the camp, they were met by the camp commandant, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki.  The POWs were lined up and Lt. Tamaki walked down the line.  As he passed each man, he searched each one and went through their possessions.  He took any medicine or medical instruments he found.
    Not too long after arriving in the camp, ten American POWs died from what the camp's British doctor called "brain fever."  Since he had no medicine to treat the sick, they died.  Lt. Tamaki called all the POWs in the camp together.  He asked the POWs if they had a fever.  Fifty or sixty POWs raised their hands.  Tamaki then told the POWs that Heito Camp had a large cemetery, and that he was going to put as many as them in it as he could.
    On their fifth day in the camp, the Americans were put to work.  The POWs were placed in work groups of five men.  Each "team" of POWs was expected to load three box cars with ballast.  Each box car held ten tons of ballast.  The ballast was collected from fields that the Japanese planned to use to grow rice.  POWs who were too weak to do this work were put to work on the camp farm.
    If the Japanese decided that a POW was not working hard enough they punished him.  When the POWs returned to the camp at the end of the day,  he would be grabbed by three or four guards.  The POW was dragged to a water trough and thrown into the trough and held underwater.  When the Japanese finished with the trough, they took the POW into the guardhouse.  From inside the guardhouse, the POWs could hear the man scream from the beating he received from Lt. Tamaki.  After three or four days of repeated beatings, the POW was released.  The other POWs were shown the welts on the man's shoulders, backs, and legs.
    John became ill while at Heito Camp.  John was reported to have died of dysentery on Monday, January 15, 1945.  According to Sgt. John Massimino of B Company, who was friends with John, John died from "brain fever."  Massimino was on John Morine's burial detail and buried John at Tomon Cemetery in Takao, Formosa.  The remains of the POWs were later disinterred by American Grave Registration and moved to another location.  It was most likely the American Graves Registration Mausoleum in Shanghi, China.  Later the remains were sent to Hawaii.
    On March 10, 1949, John's family requested that his remains be returned home.  The remains of Sgt. John J. Morine was returned to Gypsum, Ohio, on March 10, 1949.  Albert Allen, of C Company, gave the eulogy at his funeral, while the sermon was given by Father John E. Duffy.  Fr. Duffy was a liberated Japanese POW.  His pallbearers were John Minier, Joseph Hrupcho, Kenneth Thompson, Virgil Janes, John Short, and Harold Beggs.  After a funeral mass, John was buried for the final time on March 12, 1949, at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Sandusky, Ohio, in Section: C,  Block:  95,  Lot: 137, which is his family's lot.

    It should be mentioned that there is another version of John's death.  While John was on Formosa, he became friends with S/Sgt. Charles H. Norgilar who was known as "Cork."  In 1995, ten years after Cork had died, his sister, Frances Shimko mailed a package to Gypsum from Oceanside, California.  It was simply addressed, "To: The family and friends of John J. Morine, son of Rosa Morine, Gypsum, Ohio".  A postal clerk at the post office identified Gerri Gill as a cousin of John Morine.
    Geri received a phone call from the post office about the package. As she drove to get the package, she wondered what was in it.  When she opened the package, she found her cousin's dog tags wrapped in plastic.  The note in the package explained that Charles "Cork" Norgilar had taken the tags off the body of his friend, John Morine, to return them to his family.  John had been executed by the Japanese, but Cork never explained to anyone what had happened.
    In her letter to the Morines, Frances Shimko explained why her brother had not returned the dog tags years earlier.  After the war, Cork had visited another family with the dog tags of their son.   The mother of the dead soldier was angered that he had survived the war while her son had died.  This act of rejection prevented Cork from trying to find John's family.  Several years later, when he set out for Gypsum, Ohio, he turned around half way there, because he could not bare to be rejected again.
 






 

 

 

Return to Company C

Next