Tec 5 John T. Fox
| 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
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 their goodbyes.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.