Morine


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.  The general apologized that the men 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 morning of December 8, 1941, John heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He and the other tankers were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. As the tankers sat in their tanks, they watched American planes flying over their heads.  Around noon, the planes landed and 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.

    For the next four months, John fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands and took part in the Battle of the Pockets.  It is known that John Minier was was his tank driver.  On January 1, 1942, his tank was one of the C Company tanks that fought a tank battle against Japanese tanks at Baliuag, Pampanga Province.  His tank crew was credited with destroying two Japanese tanks during the battle.
    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.
 



 

 

 

 

 

 

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