Tec 4 James W. O'Brien
T/4 James W. O'Brien was born on July 15, 1923, at Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was one of the three sons of Patrick & Amanda O'Brien. He was raised in Port Clinton, Ohio and resided at 517 West Fifth Street. He was called "Jimmy" by his family.
Jim joined the Ohio National Guard's H Tank Corp with his best friend from high school, Bob Gerding, while they still were in high school. In the fall of 1940, Jim and Bob were given the choice to stay in school or go to Fort Knox, Kentucky with their tank company. Bob chose to stay in school, while Jim went with the company to Ft. Knox when the company was called to federal duty on November 25, 1940.
At Ft. Knox,
the company was designated C Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. It was at this time that Jim was
trained as a motorcycle messenger. After ten
months of training Jim took part in maneuvers with
his tank battalion in Louisiana. After the
maneuvers the tankers were informed that they were
not being released from Federal service, but that
they were being sent overseas.
On December 8, 1941, Jim lived through the attack on Clark Field. He and the other members of the company could do little more than watch as the Japanese destroyed the Army-Air Corp.
The tankers were sent out to protect a dam and later sent north in support of A and B Companies. They would spend the next four months serving as a rear guard for the retreating Filipino and American forces.
When Bataan was surrendered on April 9, 1942, James became a Prisoner Of War. He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando. On the march, Jim carried another member of C Company who was too ill to finish the march. At San Fernando, Jim boarded a samll wooden boxcar and road a train to Capas. From there, he walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Jim did not
remain in Camp O'Donnell very long. Not too
long after arriving in the camp, Jim went out on a
detail to drive trucks for the
Japanese. Sometime during this time,
Jim became ill.
On Tuesday, June 30, 1942, at 2:00 P.M., Pvt. James W. O'Brien died of dysentery in the Philippine Islands. He was 19 years old. After he died, he was interred in Grave 1010, Row 0, Plot 10. He shared his grave with fourteen other POWs. One of which was Russell Simon of HQ Company who was also a National Guardsman from Port Clinton.
After the war in 1948, Jim's family requested that the his remains be returned to Port Clinton. He was buried in Riverview Cemetery next to his brother, Ralph, who was Killed in Action in Europe.