Pvt. Joseph L. Wisniowski

    Pvt. Joseph L. Wisniowski was born on March 12, 1919, in Chicago.  He was the son of Frank Wisniowski & Bernice Kadzik-Wisniowski .  With his five sisters and two brothers, he grew up at 2108 West Eighteenth Street in Chicago.  Like so many other boys of the time, Joe never went to high school.  Instead, he went to work at an assembler at a company that manufactured globes.

    Joseph was inducted into the U. S. Army on March 4, 1941, and joined B Company during its training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Joe was a replacement put into B Company to fill-out the company roster after the original National Guardsmen from Illinois were transferred to Headquarters Company in early 1941.

    During his training at Ft. Knox, Joe attended cooks' school.  This was the same job that he had once held as a civilian.  It was in this role that Joe took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  Being a cook, he did not participate in the maneuvers directly.  After the maneuvers,the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk.  None of the members had any idea why.
    On the side of a hill, the members of the 192nd were informed that they were being sent overseas.  They were told that this decision had been made by General George Patton.  Those members of the battalion who were 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to resign from federal service.  After replacements joined the battalion, they received new tanks and half-tracks.

    The battalion traveled by train, over different train routes, to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S Calvin Coolidge 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 November 5th, 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.  They docked at Pier 7 and 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.

    On December 8th, Joe was serving meals to the tankers when planes appeared over Clark Field.  When the bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack, he witnessed the destruction done to the airfield.

    Joe was later assigned to the tank of Sgt. Jim Griffin.  With him in the tank crew was Pvt. Orrie Mulholland.  He would serve with this tank crew until the surrender on April 9, 1942.

    Joe took part in the Death March and was held as a prisoner at Camp O'Donnell.  It is not known if he went out on a work detail to escape the conditions in the camp.  He was later sent to Cabanatuan.  It was while he was at this camp that he was came down with dysentery and malaria. 

    Pvt. Joseph L. Wisniowski died on Wednesday, October 7, 1942, at approximately 5:00 PM.  He was buried in the Plot 3, Row 1, Grave 128, in the camp cemetery.  After the war, his family requested that his remains be returned to the United States.  In April 1949, he was buried at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Justice, Illinois.




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