T/5 John T. Fox was the son of Sylvester B. and Evelyn Fox. He was born on March 21,
1920, and was the oldest of the couple's three children. John, with his sister and brother, resided in
the family's home at 907 Milwaukee Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was called
"Jack" by his family.
As a child, Jack attended St. Patrick's School before attending Janesville High
School for three years. The summer before he was to start his senior year, Jack went to work for his
father's cousin on his farm near Wells, Minnesota. Instead of returning to Janesville when September
came, Jack chose to stay in Minnesota and attended part of his senior year in Austin. Minnesota. At some
point, Jack left school and returned to Janesville.
Not too long after returning to Janesville, Jack joined the Wisconsin National Guard in
Janesville. Being six feet six inches tall meant he stood out among the other members of the company.
In the fall of 1940, Jack went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for one year of federal
service. His company was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion as A Company. Being National
Guardsmen, the army housed the battalion away from the main residence area.
In January of 1941, Jack was assigned to Headquarters Company. The company was
formed with men from the three letter companies of the battalion. He would work as a member of this
company to keep the tanks supplied with the materials they needed. It is believed that since Jack had
attended cook's school that he was assigned to the company as a cook.
Jack took part in the Louisiana maneuvers in the late summer of 1941 from September 1
through 30. It was after these maneuvers that the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. On
the side of a hill, the soldiers learned that their one year of federal service had been extended and that they
were being sent overseas. Jack and the other members of the battalion were given furloughs home to say
Jack parents were not happy with the fact that he was gong overseas, but they were willing
to tolerate it. Jack did not care one way or the other about being sent overseas.
The decision for this move - which had been made in August 1941 - was the result
of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen
Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something
odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the
distance. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the
direction of an Japanese occupied island which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day,
when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on its
deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was
difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military
presence in the Philippines.
The battalion traveled west over different train routes and arrived at Ft. Mason in San
Francisco and were ferried. on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Angel Island where they given physicals and inoculated by the
battalion's medical detachment. Anyone who had a medical condition was replaced or held back 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 on Monday, October 27th.
During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered
they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP
The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so t
he soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5, the ship sailed for Guam
but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. It was at this time it was joined by, the
heavy cruiser, the
and, another transport, the
S. S. Calvin Coolidge
. Sunday night, November 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International
Dateline. On Saturday, November 15, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The
Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the
smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam
on Sunday, November 16
, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.
At one point, the ships passed an island at night and 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, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20, and docked at Pier 7 later that
morning. At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove
trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. 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. After making sure that they had received Thanksgiving Dinner, he went to have his own dinner.
The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field
Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned
to each tent. There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of
the rows of tents.
On December 8, 1941, Jack lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield. The soldiers watched as the
dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything that could carry the
wounded was in use. When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
John spent the next four months attempting to find food to feed HQ Company. During this time, Jack sent
home the second postcard that his family received from him. In the postcard, he told them about the $10,000
dollars in life insurance he had taken out on himself. The one thing that stood out about the postcard
itself was the fact that it had been mailed without a stamp. On the card, where the stamps should have
been, Jack had written that there were no stamps available.
In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except
the tanks. This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day. At the same time, food rations were cut
in half again. Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent
The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3. On April 7, the 57th Infantry,
Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this
from happening. During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully
withdrew. C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while
hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back. The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being
near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
It was at this time that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since
approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.
In addition, he had over 6000 troops who sick or wounded and 40000 civilians who he feared would be
massacred. At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
Tank battalion commanders received this order
: "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy
within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat
vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as
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 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. Donald 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.
Jack and the rest of HQ Company made their way by truck to Mariveles. Just outside of
the town, they were ordered out of the trucks and into a field. They remained there until they were ordered
to move to another field.
Later in the day, the POWs were order to move and taken to a school yard in Mariveles and ordered
Behind them were Japanese artillery pieces. The guns were firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. When
the two American strongholds began returning fire, the prisoners found themselves in the line of fire and s
hells began landing around them.
Five POWs who hid in an old brick building were killed when it took a direct hit. When the barrage
ed, three of the four Japanese guns had been destroyed.
It was from this school yard that the POWs began the death march.
The first five miles of the march was uphill.
They made their way north from Mariveles to San Fernando. During the march men who had fell were shot
and bayoneted where they fell.
When they reached San Fernando, the POWs were put in a bull pen which had been created by
putting barbwire around a school yard. They were left there for hours sitting in the sun. At some
point, the Japanese ordered them to form 100 men detachments. When this was done, they were marched to the
At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden
, "Forty or Eights."
The cars could hold forty men of eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed
the doors. Those POWs who died in the cars did not fall to the floors until the living left the cars at
From Caps, the POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that the Japanese
pressed into use as a POW camp on April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the camp, the Japanese confiscated
any extra clothing that the POWs had and refused to return it to them. They searched the POWs and if a
man was found to have Japanese money on them, they were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next several
days, gunshots were heard to the southeast of the camp. These POWs had been executed for looting.
There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two
to eight hours waiting for a drink. The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and
the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again. This
situation improved when a second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing
when it had been soiled. In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the
camp and mess kits could not be washed. The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon
overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery. The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp
including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant. When the ranking American
doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies,
he was told never to write another letter.
The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six
medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them. When a representative of the
Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a
Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to
the hospital and placed underneath it. The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried
in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria. To clean the ground
under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it. The bodies of the dead were
placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a daily basis. Each day, the American doctors gave
a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work. If the quota of POWs
needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work. The
death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day. To get out of the camp, Jack volunteered to go out
on the bridge building detail. The detail was under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord who had been
commanding officer of the 192nd. Wickord attempted to fill the detail with as many tank group men as
Jack first worked at Calauan. There the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the
Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them
medication. They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.
Jack was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge. Again, the Filipino people did all they could
to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed. Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese
to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
The next bridge Jack and the other POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria. Once
again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans. An order of Roman Catholic
sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.
Wickord picked the twelve sickness looking POWs.
When the detail ended, Jack was sent to Cabnanatuan which had been the headquarters of
the 91st Philippine Army Division and was formerly known at Camp Panagaian. To prevent escapes, the POWs
set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp. The reason this was done was that those who did
escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch. It
is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp. The POWs were sent out on work details to cut
wood for the POW kitchens. Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of
vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn. The POWs were forced to work in the fields from 7:00 in the
morning until 5:00 in the evening. Most of the food they grew went to the Japanese not them. Other
POWs worked in rice paddies.
The POW barracks were built to house 50 POWs, but most held between 60 and 120
men. The POWs slept on bamboo slats without mattresses, covers, or mosquito netting. The result was
many became ill.
Each morning, the POWs lined up for roll call. While they stood at attention, it
wasn't uncommon for them to be hit over the tops of their heads. In addition, one guard frequently
kicked them in their shins with his hobnailed boots. after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed
to get their tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the
mud and stepped on by a guard. Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food,
and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned.
The camp hospital was composed of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs was
known as "Zero Ward," which got its name because it had been missed when the wards were
counted. The name soon meant the place where those who were extremely ill went to die. Each ward
had two tiers of bunks and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100 men in each. Each man had a two
foot wide by six foot long area to lie in. The sickest men slept on the bottom tier since the platforms
had holes cut in them so the sick could relieve themselves without having to leave the tier. While he was
a prisoner there, he came down with cerebral malaria. Somehow he got his hands on a bottle of quinine and
took the entire bottle.
One day, in spite of the fact that Jack was suffering from the disease, he made the
attempt to intervene in the behalf of a friend who was being beaten by a Japanese guard. Being six feet
five inches tall made Jack an intimidating presence. It should be noted that according to the other
surviving members of the battalion, the Japanese took great pleasure in beating tall Americans.
The Japanese guard was angry and got other guards to help him subdue Jack. After
they had him under control, the guards tied him to a pole just outside the main gate of the camp.
Whenever a Japanese soldier or a Filipino passed by Jack, they were expected to beat him with a wooden
board. He remained tied to the pole for three days in the sun and heat without food or water.
On the third day, the Japanese untied Jack from the pole and a truck pulled up beside
him. Jack was loaded onto the truck and was driven about a mile from the camp and near a
river. The American driver stopped the truck and got out. The Japanese guards told the driver
to face forward, stand at attention, and not to look. Jack got off the truck and was led toward the river
by the two guards.
The driver was still standing by the truck when he heard a gunshot. The two guards
returned alone and boarded the truck. The American drove the truck back to the camp and later told the
other POWs what had happened. John's date of death was given as Monday, August 31, 1942.
Since T/5 John T. Fox's final resting place is unknown, his name appears on
The Tablets of the Missing
at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.
After the war, Brigadier General James Weaver came to Janesville for the dedication of
the memorial to the members of A Company. Jack's mother was introduced to Weaver and showed him a
picture of her son. To her surprise, Weaver told her that he had known her son. Weaver then told the
story of how Jack came to his command post on Bataan carrying a peach pie for him. According to Weaver,
the amazing part was that Jack had somehow scrounged up the ingredients and baked the pie while food was short
on the peninsula.