Pvt. John Thomas Stanton
Pvt. John T. Stanton was the son of John W. Stanton
and Susie Severine-Stanton and was one of the couple's
three children. He was born in Mansfield, Texas,
on August 30, 1913, and known as J. T. to his
family. When he was two, his family moved to
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, and he lived there for the
next 27 years until he was drafted into the U.S. Army
in March 1941.
John trained at Fort Still, Oklahoma, and than Ft. Knox, Kentucky. He was known as, "Little Stanton" to the other recruits who did basic training with him. After training at Ft. Knox, he was sent to join the 753d Tank Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana. When he arrived at the base,the Louisiana maneuvers were taking place, but the 753rd did not take part in them.
After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and informed the battalion was being sent overseas. Being the the battalion was made up mainly of National Guardsmen, the army allowed men 29 years or older, or married, to resign from federal service. It was at that time that John joined the battalion when his name was selected in a drawing. According to Andy Aquila, John's name was one of the last names drawn, from a hat, to be transferred to the 192nd. Peter Pirnat stated, in a letter, that Stanton did not want to go overseas because his mother was ill. The sergeant who could have prevented his transfer did nothing to prevent John's transfer. Upon joining the battalion, John was assigned to Headquarters Company.
John traveled west by train to San Francisco, California, and were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. He and the other men received physicals and inoculations for duty in the Philippine Islands. Those men with minor medical conditions were held back and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii, as part of a three ship convoy which arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received shore leave and allowed to explore the island. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam. The ships took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship, was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
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. 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. The ships entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th, at 8:00 A.M., and docked at Pier 7 later in the day. At 3:00 P.M., the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila. The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind and unloaded the battalion's tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel 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 live in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived. He remained with the battalion until they had settled in and had their Thanksgiving Dinner. Afterwards, he went and had his own dinner.
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 morning of December 8, 1941, he lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field. He spent the next four months working to supply the tanks with ammunition and gasoline.
On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern portion of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern portion. At all times, two members of each tank and half-track remained with their vehicles. Meals were served to the tankers from food trucks.
At six in the morning on December 8th, the officers of the battalion were called to the radio room at the fort. They were ordered to bring their tank platoons up to full strength around Clark Airfield. The tankers were receiving lunch from food trucks when, at 12:45, they saw a formation of planes approaching the airfield from the north. At first they thought they were American planes and had enough time to count 54 planes. As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes. When bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
As a member of HQ Company, Peter remained in the bivouac of the battalion. After the attack, the tankers saw the carnage done during the attack. The Japanese had effectively destroyed the Army Air Corps. The tankers would spend the next four months attempting to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
HQ, B, and C Companies received orders on December 21st 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. After the attack, the tanks were repeated sent on wild goose chases against factious Japanese paratroopers.
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, but they successfully crossed the river.
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, when the tanks fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan, and at San Isidro, south of Cabanatuan, on December 28th and 29th. While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, but once again, they were able find a crossing over the river.
The 192nd took part in the Battle of the Points from January 27, 1942, until February 13, 1942. The Japanese had been landed on two points and been cut off. The tankers were sent in to wipe out these positions. According to Capt. Alvin Poweleit, the battalion's surgeon, the tanks did a great deal of damage.
At the same time, there was another battle taking place known as the Battle of the Pockets which lasted from January 23rd until February 17, 1942. Japanese troops had been cut off behind the battle line. Tanks from B and C Companies were sent in to wipe out the Japanese in the Big Pocket. According to members of the battalion, two methods were used to wipe out the Japanese.
The first method was to have three Filipinos sit on the back of the tank with bags of hand grenades. As the tank passed over a Japanese foxhole, each man dropped a hand grenade into the foxhole. The reason this was done was the grenades were from World War I, and one out of three exploded.
The second method was to have the tank park with one track over the foxhole. The tank would spin on one track and grind its way into the ground killing the Japanese in the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of the tanks because of the smell of rotting flesh in the tracks.
The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. George was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans. They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and ordered to sit. As they sat, John and the other Prisoners of War noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in front of the soldiers. He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. As he drove away, the sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the POWs were moved to a school yard in Mariveles. In the school yard, they found themselves between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum. Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide. Some of the POWs were killed from incoming shells since they had no place to hide. The American guns did knock out three of the Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march they received no water and little food. At San Fernando, they were put in a bull pen, ordered to sit, and left sitting in the sun. They were ordered to form detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station where they were put into a small wooden boxcars known as "Forty and Eights" because they could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar. The POWs were packed is so tightly that those men who died could not fall to the floors of the cars. At Capas, the living disembarked and walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese put into use as a POW camp. There was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs. Men stood in line for days just to get a drink. Disease began running wild in the camp because there was no medicine and sanitary conditions were bad. Many POWs got out of the camp by going out on work details.
J. T. went out on the bridge building detail that left Camp O'Donnell. The ranking American officer on the detail was Lieutenant Colonel Ted Wickord of the 192nd. He attempted to fill the detail with members of the tank group as possible. According to Andy Aquila, the work on the detail was hard on J. T. Aquila stated that while working on the detail, J. T. was crushed in an accident at 7:30 A.M on August 30, 1942. The report kept by the camp medical staff at Cabanatuan, stated that J.T. was admitted to the camp hospital on Thursday, August 13, 1942, suffering from malaria and a back injury. The telegram received by his parents, stated J. T. died of malaria, but the final report on the 192nd Tank Battalion has J. T. dying of dysentery and a back injury.
After the war, the U. S. Army attempted to identify the remains of all Americans who died as POWs. Since John's remains and the remains of the two men he had been buried with could not be separated, it was decided that they would be buried in a common grave.
Having received a request that the remains of one or more of the men be returned to the United States, the men were reburied at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Kentucky. The reason this location was selected was that it was the most centrally located national cemetery. Burying the men there meant that each family would have to travel approximately the same distance to visit the grave.
On February 24, 1950, the remains of Pvt. John T. Stanton, 2nd Lt. George W. Porter and Pvt. Wesley L. Thompson were reburied with full military honors at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. The photograph below shows their grave.