Minier

Pvt. John Dale Minier


    Pvt. John D. Minier was born on December 31, 1919, to Joseph E. Minier and Hattie E. Floro-Minier.  With his parents, two brothers and three sisters, he resided at 216 Maple Street in Port Clinton, Ohio.   In May of 1939, John became a member of the Ohio National Guard tank company in Port Clinton, while working in an automobile parts factory.

   When his company was federalized. it was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky by train, on November 28, 1940.  The company joined by other National Guard companies from Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin to form the 192nd GHQ Light Tank Battalion.  At Ft. Knox, he was sent to Armored Forces School and was trained as a tank driver.   He was a member of the tank crew of Sgt. John Morine.

    From September 1st through 30th, the 192nd took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after the maneuvers that it was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, without being told why.  On the side of a hill, that the battalion members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, most had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippines, Luzon, Manila.  John and most of the other members of the battalion received ten day furloughs home to say goodbye to friends and family.

    The 192nd Tank Battalion received orders for duty, in the Philippines, because of an event that happened during the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots, who was flying at an lower altitude, noticed something odd in the water.  He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water.  In the distance, he saw another and came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island hundreds of miles to the northwest.  The island had a large radio transmitter on it.
    When the squadron landed, that evening, he reported what he had seen, but it was too late to do anything that evening.  The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat which was making its way to shore.  Since communication was poor between the Air Corps and Navy, no ship was sent to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
     From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes to San Francisco, California, where the soldiers were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases by the battalion's medical detachment.  Those men with minor health issues were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
    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.   They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, 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 U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, S. S. Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, 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 16th, 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 20th, 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 Gen. 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.  He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left 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.
    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.  They were scheduled to take part in maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
    On Monday. December 1st, the tanks and half-tracks were ordered to the southern perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  Two members of each crew remained with their vehicles at all times.  The morning of December 8th, the officers of the 192nd were called to an office and informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  All members of the letter companies were ordered to the tanks and half-tracks at the airfield.
    All morning the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers appeared over Clark Field destroying the American Army Air Corps.  Of this he said, "They caught us right at lunch when we head these planes coming.  Someone said, 'Look at the Navy planes.' We got to see these planes coming over then we saw the smoke and the ground began to shake.  Everything at Clark Field was going up."  John ran to his tank but found that it had moved, so he began directing vehicles carrying the wounded from Clark Field to Ft, Stotsenburg.  "It was just a bloody mess. I don't know how many were killed in that raid."
    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.
    A Company, on December 12th, was sent to the Barrio of Dau to protect a road and railroad from sabotage.  It remained there until the 21st when it was sent to join B and C Companies which had been sent north toward the Lingayen Gulf were the Japanese were landing troops.

    The tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was 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.  This platoon fought the first tank battle of the war which allowed the 26th to withdraw from the area.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta, where the bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed, so 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 successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    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.
    The tankers were fell back toward Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and December were at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  While there, the bridge over the Pampanga River was destroyed, they were able find a crossing over the river.  
   
    At Cabu, seven tanks of the company fought a three hour battle with the Japanese.  The main Japanese line was south of Saint Rosa Bridge ten miles to the south of the battle.
  The tanks were hidden in brush as Japanese troops passed them for three hours without knowing that they were there.  While the troops passed, Lt. William Gentry was on his radio describing what he was seeing.  It was only when a Japanese soldier tried take a short cut through the brush, that his tank was hidden in, that the tanks were discovered.  The tanks turned on their sirens and opened up on the Japanese.  They then fell back to Cabanatuan.           
    C Company was re-supplied and withdrew to Baluiag where the tanks encountered Japanese troops and ten tanks.  It was at Baluiag that Gentry's tanks won the first tank victory of World War II against enemy tanks.       

    After this battle, C Company made its way south.  When it entered Cabanatuan, it found the barrio filled with Japanese guns and other equipment.  The tank company destroyed as much of the equipment as it could before proceeding south.

    On December 31, 1941,  Company was sent out reconnaissance patrols north of the town of Baluiag.  The patrols ran into Japanese patrols, which told the Americans that the Japanese were on their way.  Knowing that the railroad bridge was the only way into the town and to cross the river, Lt. Gentry set up his defenses in view of the bridge and the rice patty it crossed. 

    Early on the morning of the 31st, the Japanese began moving troops and across the bridge.  The engineers came next and put down planking for tanks.  A little before noon Japanese tanks began crossing the bridge.  

    Later that day, the Japanese had assembled a large number of troops in the rice field on the northern edge of the town.  One platoon of tanks under the command of 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady were to the southeast of the bridge.   Gentry's tanks were to the south of the bridge in huts, while third platoon commanded by Capt Harold Collins was to the south on the road leading out of Baluiag2nd Lt. Everett Preston had been sent south to find a bridge to cross to attack the Japanese from behind.  

    Major Morley came riding in his jeep into Baluiag.  He stopped in front of a hut and was spotted by the Japanese who had lookouts in the town's church's steeple.  The guard became very excited so Morley, not wanting to give away the tanks positions, got into his jeep and drove off.  Bill had told him that his tanks would hold their fire until he was safely out of the village.

    When Gentry felt the Morley was out of danger, he ordered his tanks to open up on the Japanese tanks at the end of the bridge.  The tanks then came smashing through the huts' walls and drove the Japanese in the direction of Lt. Marshall Kennady's tanks.  Kennady had been radioed and was waiting.

    Kennady's platoon held its fire until the Japanese were in view of his platoon and then joined in the hunt.  The Americans chased the tanks up and down the streets of the village, through buildings and under them.  By the time Bill's unit was ordered to disengage from the enemy, they had knocked out at least eight enemy tanks.
    On December 31st/January 1st,  the tanks were stationed on both sides of the Calumpit Bridge when they received conflicting orders, from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff, about whose command they were under and to withdraw from the bridge.  The defenders were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 which would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River and about half the defenders withdrew.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using smoke as cover.  This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions.  At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
    The night of January 6th/7th the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    A composite tank company was formed, the next day, under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25th.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw.  Just after the infantry evacuated a column of Japanese came marching down the road and were taken by surprised by the tanks and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese  This stopped the Japanese advance and the tanks withdrew without any problems.
    Later on January 25th, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26th/27th, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    The tank battalions, on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.

    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver:  "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."   
    Companies A & C were ordered to the west coast of Bataan while B Company - which was held in reserve - and 17th Ordnance held the southern shore of Bataan.  The tankers were awake all night and attempted to sleep under the jungle canopy, during the day, which protected them from being spotted by Japanese reconnaissance planes.  During the night, they were kept busy with repeated threats both on and off shore.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
   
C Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
   
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers
   
    During this time, the tankers had few if any breaks from the fighting.  It was at this time that John wrote a letter to his sister.  It it, he mentioned that they had been involved in heavy fighting.  His sister did not receive the letter until April 1943.
    At Baliung, the tanks of C Company were hidden inside the barrio when the Japanese began entering the barrio.  The tanks got into a tank battle destroying a company of Japanese tanks.  John's tank is credited in destroying two tanks.

    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 to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3rd.  On April 7th, 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.  The number of operational tanks was also critical with C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, having only seven tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle where they 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. 
   About 25% of the troops were healthy enough to fight, and Gen. Edward King estimated they could last one more day.  In addition, he wanted to prevent the massacre of the approximately 6000 wounded soldiers and 40000 civilians.  At 10:30 P.M. on April 8th, he sent his staff officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan. and 11;40 ammunition dumps began being blown up.

    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 accomplished."
    On April 9, 1942, John and the other members of C Company became Prisoners Of War when the defenders of Bataan were surrendered to the Japanese.  He and the other members of C Company destroyed their equipment and made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula.  Of this, he said, "They never in armed force school how to surrender.  We burned our tanks and our guns.  Of course, we didn't have much food left, or ammunition."

    It was from Mariveles that John started what became known as the death march.  John recalled that some of the POWs actually were nude since they had not been allowed to dress.  Those who fell were kicked by the Japanese guards. 

    John and the other POWs went without food or water.  Men prayed for rain so that they could have a drink.  When they reached bridges, they were made to do double time over bridges so that the Japanese convoys heading south would not be stopped.  He remembered walking past artesian wells without being able to get a drink.  At one point, the POWs risked being killed by running to a turnip field.  He watched as men were shot.  On another occasion, he saw POWs shot attempting to get food in a sugarcane field.  John counted the bodies of 370 dead Americans while on the march.  "It got so you couldn't walk 100 feet without someone having been bayoneted.  We had nothing to eat and they would march us right pass artesian wells in these Philippines barrios.  Some guys would run for water and be bayoneted or shot.  Of surviving the march he said, "It seems everything I did, I happened to do the right thing at the right time.  Something was with me."

    It took 10 days for John to make his way to San Fernando.  Where, the POWs were kept in a school yard.  John was at the front of the column entering the school yard and was able to grab two handfuls of rice from a sack.  This was the first food he had during the march.

    At San Fernando John and the other POWs were crammed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane.  During the trip, those prisoners who died in the cars remained standing until the cars were emptied at Capas.  From there, John walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell. 

    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training camp which had only one water faucet for 12,000 prisoners.  The POWs began to die from starvation and disease.  He recalled,"The big, healthy strong ones seemed like they were the first to go. We were dying so fast we couldn't keep graves dug ahead.  It was a pretty eerie feeling looking out there at night at all these bodies and seeing a live one get up."  John knew that if he remained in the camp he would die, so he volunteered to go out on a work detail rebuilding bridges.  He next volunteered to go out on a scrap metal recovery detail.  He remained on this detail until September, 1942,  when he was sent to Cabanatuan.  He remained there a short time before volunteering to be transferred to another part of the Japanese empire.  The Japanese were looking for experience machinist, so John lied to get selected.

    800 POWs gathered at 2:00 A.M. on October 6th, and were given rice coffee, lugow rice, and a big rice ball.  After eating and packing their kits, the POWs marched out of the camp at 2:30 A.M. and received two buns as they marched through the gate to the barrio of Cabanatuan which they reached at 6:00 A.M.  There, 50 men were boarded onto each of the small wooden boxcars waiting for them at about 9:00 A.M.  The trip to Manila lasted until 4:00 P.M. and because of the heat in the cars, many POWs passed out.
    From the train station, the men were marched to pier 5 in the Port Area of Manila.  Some of the Filipinos flashed the "V" for victory sign as they made their war to the pier.  The detachment arrived at 5:00 P.M and were tired and hungry and were put in a warehouse on the pier.  The Japanese fed them rice and salted fish and let them eat as much as they wanted.  They also were allowed to wash.
    Before boarding the Tottori Maru on October 7th, the prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The conditions on the ship, for those in the holds, were indescribable, and those POWs those on deck were better off.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed, which resulted in many of the POWs dying during the trip.
    The ship did not sail until the next day at 10:00 A.M. and passed the ruins of Corregidor at noon.  In addition, there were sick Japanese and soldiers on the ship.  That night some POWs slept in the holds, but a large number slept on the deck.  Each day, the POWs were given three small loaves of bread for meals - which equaled one American loaf of bread - which most ate in one meal, but the men rationed their water.  The ship was at sea, when torpedoes fired at by an American submarine but the torpedoes missed the ship.  The ship fired a couple of shots where it thought the sub was, but these also missed.  A while later, the ship passed a mine that had been laid by the submarine.  The POWs were fed bags of buns biscuits, with some candy, and received water daily.
    The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on October 12th, and the POWs disembarked and were bathed on the dock.  They sailed again on October 16th at 7:30 A.M. but returned to Takao at 10:30 P.M., because the Japanese thought submarines were in the area.  At this time, the POWs were receiving two bags of hardtack and a meal of rice and soup each day.  The ship sailed again on October 18th and arrived at the Pescadores Islands at 5:00 P.M., where it remained anchored until October 27th when it returned to Takao.
    During this time two POWs died, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.  The ship sailed again on October 27th and returned to Takao the same day.  The next day, the POWs were taken ashore and bathed with seawater at the same time the ship was cleaned.  They were again put into the holds and the ship sailed again on October 28th and arrived at Makou, Pescadores Islands.  The ship sailed on October 31st, as part of a seven ship convoy.  During this part of the voyage, it rode out a typhoon for five days on its way to Fusan, Korea.  On November 5th, one of the ships was sunk by an American submarine and the other ships scattered.
    The Tottori Maru arrived at Fusan on November 7th, but the 1300 POWs leaving the ship did not disembark until November 8th.  Those POWs who were too ill to continue the trip to Mukden, Manchuria, remained behind at Fusan.  Those who died were cremated and had their ashed placed in small white boxes which were sent to Mukden.
    The POWs were given new clothes and a fur-lined overcoat before boarding a train for a two day trip to Mukden, arriving there on November 11th.  After arriving, the POWs first held at the first Mukden camp and slet in dugouts.  On August 3, 1943, they were transferred to the new camp when it was opened and put in a two story barracks.  

    The POWs lived 75 men in each barracks, at Mukden, which were partially in the ground.  Each enlisted POW received two thin blankets to cover themselves with at night.  The officers got one blanket and a mattress.  Meals were the same everyday.  For breakfast they had cornmeal mush and a bun.  Lunch was maize and beans, and dinner was beans and a bun.  POWs who died, during the winter, bodies were stored in a warehouse until spring.  They were than buried in the camp cemetery.
    To improve their diets, they learned to make snares to catch the wild dogs that roamed into the camp,  They did this until a detachment of POWs saw a dog eating the body of a dead Chinese civilian. 
    John was assigned to work in a machine tool and die factory.  This factory was run by the Japanese company MKK.  The POWs would commit acts of sabotage to prevent the plant from contributing to the Japanese war effort.  One trick was to drop sand into the oiling holes of the machines.  The Japanese believed the Americans were too dumb to do this, so they believed that the Chinese civilians working in the plant were doing it.   

    John was assigned to work in a machine tool and die factory.  This factory was run by the Japanese company MKK.  The POWs would commit acts of sabotage to prevent the plant from contributing to the Japanese war effort.  One trick was to drop sand into the oiling holes of the machines.  The Japanese believed the Americans were too dumb to do this, so they believed that the Chinese civilians working in the plant were doing it.
    The POWs were forced out into the cold and snow and made to strip when the Japanese searched for contraband cigarettes that the prisoners had bought from the Chinese while working in the factories.   They were made to stand in the snow barefooted while the Japanese searched all 700 POWs.
    Punishment was given for any infraction.  Two POWs were knocked out and kicked in the ribs for violating a camp rule.  At other times, the camp's food ration was cut in half because the Japanese believed a POW was not working as hard as he should have been, or someone had been caught smoking in an unauthorized area.  They would also withhold Red Cross packages.  On one occasion, Lt Murado ordered the prisoners to remove their shoes.  After they had, he hit each man in the face with his shoes.
    In the spring of 1943, four Americans escaped and made their way to the Russian border.  Chinese villagers turned them over to the Japanese.  The men were returned to the camp and placed in cells for several months before they were taken to a cemetery and shot.

    The POWs first knew the war had ended when three parachutists were dropped into the camp.  A few days later, Russian troops liberated the camp.  The Russians held a official surrender ceremony and made the Japanese surrender in front of the liberated prisoners.  On August 15, 1945, he wrote his family and said, "I've experienced some pretty tough times since I left Port Clinton, but when it got too tough for everybody else then it was just right for me, and I'm coming home just like I threatened in previous letters.
    I'm so doggone anxious to get home I can hardly control myself.  Do you know its been over three years since I've eaten an apple?  But all that's going to change."

    John left Mukden on September 10, 1945 by train.  He and the other liberated Americans were boarded onto the hospital ship the U.S.S. Relief.  John's weight at the time was 85 pounds. 

    John arrived in San Francisco on October 15, 1945, on the U.S.S. Storm King.  It was almost four years since he, and the other members of his battalion, had departed the city for the Philippines.

    John was sent by train to Fletcher General Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio.  He was promoted to Staff Sergeant and discharged on May 8, 1946, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
When the remains of Sgt. John Morine were returned home, John served as a pallbearer at Morine's funeral on March 12, 1949.

    John married Irene Kowalezk on October 5, 1946.  Some of her family did not want Irene to marry him because they believed he would be dead in ten years.  Irene and John became the parents of two sons, Joe and John.  Their younger son attended West Point.  To support his family, John worked at Port Clinton Fish Company to be outside.  Both John and Irene were active in the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
    In April 1967, John, Kenneth Thompson, Joe Hrupcho, and their wives returned to Bataan.  During the visit, the men walked one mile of the road that they had walked so many years earlier as POWs.  They also took part in other activities to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the march.  John did not usually talk about his time as a POW, but when he did, he told stories about the funny things that happened.  The only time he did talk about being a POW, was when the members of the 192nd came together at battalion reunions.

    John D. Minier passed away on October 5, 1988, which was his 42 wedding anniversary, on Catawba Island Township, Ottawa County, Ohio.  He was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Port Clinton, Ohio.


 

Return to C Company

Next