O'Brien

 

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.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco 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.  King 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.

    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.
    While he was out on the work detail, a new POW camp was opened at Cabanatuan.  When Jim arrived at the camp, he was put into the camp hospital.  It was known as "zero ward" since most of the POWs who entered it never came out alive.

    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.


 

 

 

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