Sgt. John W. Wood Jr. was the son of Mr. & Mrs. John W. Wood Sr. and was born on March 11, 1914, in Milton,
Wisconsin, and known as "Jack" to his family and friends. He was a 1932 graduate of Milton Union
On September 9, 1940, John joined the Wisconsin National Guard since he
knew it was just a matter of time until he would be drafted into the Army. The tank company had already been
notified that it was being called to federal duty on November 25, 1940. On November 28, the company traveled
by train to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
During his time at Ft. Knox, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was created
on December 20, 1940.
A typical day started at 6:15 A.M. with reveille, but most of the soldiers were already up
so they could wash, dress, and be on time for assembly. Breakfast was from 7 to 8 A.M. which was followed buy
calisthenics from 8 to 8:30. After this, the remainder of the morning dealt with .30 and .50 caliber machine
guns, pistols, map reading, care of personal equipment, military courtesy, and training in military tactics.
At 11:30, the tankers got ready for lunch, which was from noon to 1:00 P.M., when they
went back to work by attending the various schools. At 4:30, the tankers day ended and retreat was at 5:00
P.M. followed by evening meal at 5:30. The day ended at 9:00 P.M. with lights out, but they did not have to
be in bed until 10:00 P.M. when taps was played.
In April 1941, he was promoted to private first class. In the late summer of 1941, John
took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after the maneuvers at Camp Polk, that he and the other men
learned that they were not being released from federal duty but being sent overseas.
On the side of a hill, the battalion members were informed that they were
being sent overseas. Those members of the battalion 29 years old, or older, were given the opportunity to
resign from federal service. Men were given furloughs home to say goodbye to family and friends.
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. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. 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 2 and had a
two day layover, so the 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
U.S.S. Louisville and, another transport, the
S. S. President 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. 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 up 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 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, they were greeted by Gen. Edward P. King, who apologized that the men
had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field, but the fact was that he had not learned
of their arrival until just days before their ship docked. He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving
Dinner before he went to have his own dinner. Ironically, November 20 was the date that the National Guard
members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.
On Monday, December 1, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard
against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd
guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their
vehicles. Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
At six in the morning on December 8, 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 at the perimeter of
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, the tankers were having lunch and watched as 54 planes approached the
airfield from the north. As they watched, the saw "raindrops" falling from the planes. When
bombs began exploding, the soldiers knew the planes were Japanese.
The tankers could do little more than watch since their weapons, except for the tanks'
machine guns, were useless against planes.
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.
That night, HQ Company slept in a dry latrine near their tents. They had no idea
they had slept their last night in a bed for the next three and a half years.
John spent the next four months supplying the letter companies of the battalion with the
supplies they needed in their fight against the Japanese. It was during this time that John was promoted to
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 6,000 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.
HQ Company boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat
and waited. 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
As they sat there watching and waiting the Japanese soldiers, a Japanese officer pulled up to the Japanese
soldiers in a car. He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back
in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, John was 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.
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
boxcars known as "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 Capas. From Caps, the POWs walked the last miles to Camp O'Donnell which was an unfinished Filipino
training base that was 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
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. When the Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies
to the camp, Tsuneyoshi refused to allow the truck into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical
supplies to 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, John went out on a work detail. The detail was sent to Mariveles to collect
scrap metal. How long he remained on this detail is not known.
When the detail ended, John was sent to Cabanatuan which was actually three camps. Camp 1 was where the
men who captured on Bataan and taken part in the death march where held. Camp 2 did not have an adequate
water supply and was closed. It later reopened and housed Naval POWs. Camp 3 was where those men
captured when Corregidor surrender were taken. In addition, men from Bataan who had been hospitalized when
the surrender came were sent to the camp. Camp 3 was later consolidated into Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only entered
if they had an issue they wanted to deal with. 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.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one
man escaped the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were
beaten. Those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if
any POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120
POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting. Many
quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived
together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
In John's case, he lived in Barracks 15.
The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years. A typical day on
any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a
shed each morning to get tools. As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit
them over their heads.
The camp hospital consisted of 30 wards that could hold 40 men each, but it was more
common for them to have 100 men in them. Each man had approximately an area of 2 feet by 6 feet to lie
in. The sickest POWs were put in "Zero Ward," which was called this because it was missed by
the Japanese when they counted barracks. The Japanese put a fence up around the building to protect
themselves and would not go into the area. There were two rolls of wooden platforms around the perimeter
of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower platform which had holes cut into it so the they
could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the ward died.
According to medical records kept at the camp, John was in the camp hospital on June
29, 1942, and was tested for tuberculosis. The results were negative. No date of discharge was
given in the records.
John went out on a work detail to build runways on a work detail that became known as the
Las Pinas Detail. The POW detachment he was in was sent there to increase the number of men on it to
800. Work was done by two detachments. One detachment drained the rice fields and did the
preparation work for the runway. The second detachment laid the foundation for the runway and did the
actually building of the runway. In July 1944, most of the POWs were sent to Cabanatuan since most of the
work had been completed.
Each morning the POWs were awakened at 6:00 A.M. and did exercises. They were
next fed their breakfast and marched about a mile to Nichols Airfield. The Filipino civilians seeing the
ragged clothes and lack of shoes expressed their sympathy to the POWs which angered the Japanese guards.
This detail quickly became known as a "death detail" by the POWs in the
camps because of the treatment given by the Japanese guards.
On the detail, the last man to finish working was beaten. This was a done daily and whoever was
the last man to get in line received a beating.
The POWs on this detail worked at Nichols Field where the Japanese wanted to build one of
the biggest runways in the Philippines. The planes were drawn up by the United States which planned on
using construction equipment. The Japanese expected the POWs to do the work with picks and shovels.
The detail was under the control of the Japanese Navy and welfare of the POWs
was of no concern to them. They only concern they had was getting the runway built. If the number of
POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and
select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury. Men suffering from dysentery or
pellagra could not get out of work.
The POWs were divided into two detachments. The first detachment
drained rice paddies and laid the ground work for the runway, while the second detachment built the runway.
When most of the work was done in July 1944, most of the POWs were returned to Cabanatuan. John was one of
300 men that remained at the airfield.
On September 21, 1944, while the POWs were working, they saw American diver bombers. This was the
first time they had seen American planes since the surrender of Bataan. Watching the planes attack the
Japanese caused the POWs to cheer. The next day the detail was ended and the POWs were sent to Bilibid
On October 1, 1944, the POWs were put into the holds of the
s detachment of POWs was scheduled to sail on the
Arisan Maru, but when all the POWs scheduled to sail on the
Hokusen Maru had not arrived, the Japanese switched POW groups so that the ship could
sail. As it turned out, the
Arisan Maru was sunk by an American submarine and only nine of the nearly 1800 POWs on
it survived the sinking.
The ship sailed but dropped anchor at the harbor's breakwater. It remained there
for three days and the temperatures in the hold rose to over 100 degrees causing some men to go crazy. The
Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they didn't quiet the men. To do this, the sane POWs strangled
those out of their minds or hit them with canteens.
As part of a ten ship convoy the ship sailed again on October 4 and stopped at
Cabcaban. The next day, it was at San Fernando La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and
five escorts. The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks. This tactic failed
since, on October 6, two of the ships were sunk by torpedoes.
The ships were informed, on October 9, that American carriers were seen near Formosa so
they sailed for Hong Kong when they received word American planes were in the area. During this part of the
trip, the ships ran into American submarines which sank two more ships. The
Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11. While it was in port, American planes bombed the
harbor on October 16 but no damage was done to the ship. On October 21, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa,
arriving on October 24.
Upon reaching the Formosa, the POWs remained in the ship's holds until they disembarked on November 8.
Once on shore, they were taken to Inrin Temporary POW camp on the island. The POWs did light work because
most were too ill to do much more. The healthier POWs worked at a sugarcane processing plant.
On January 24, 1945, John and another 563 POWs took a train to Shirakawa were they boarded the
Enoshima Maru the next day. The ship sailed and took five days to reach Moji, Japan. After
arriving at Moji, the POWs left the ship and boarded a train. When they got off the train, they got on a
narrow gauge train which they rode into the mountains. After getting off the second train, in deep snow,
the POWs walked the last few miles to
arriving in the camp on January 23. In the camp, the POWs mined lead and zinc for the Mitshubishi Mining
In the camp, the guards carried bamboo clubs which they hit the POWs with on a regular
basis for various reasons. When being punished, the POWs were ordered and forced to stand at attention, in
the snow, in their inadequate clothing. On several occasions they were forced to stand at attention with
holding buckets of water at arms' length.
The POWs were marched to and from the mine by Japanese civilians. If they fell
behind during the march, they guards beat them with their bamboo clubs. One day when entering the mine, the
POWs had to remove their hats and bow to the Japanese mine god. He removed his hat, bowed, and said,
"Hello Roosevelt." The guard, who was known as "Tom," to the POWs understood what he
had said and hit him a three foot long stick on the top of his head which caused him to fall backwards about six
What is known about the camp is that the hospital was a cold wooden barracks that was
sealed against the cold. One of the worse things about the camp were the lice. John and the other
POWs would clean their clothes by running the carbide mining lamps along the seams. The heat from the lamps
would cause the lice to pop.
Medical equipment was poor and fourteen POWs died in the hospital. All the deaths
were contributed to lack of clothing, against the cold, inadequate heating of the barracks, and poor diet.
The sick POWs were forced to work in the mine when they were physically unable to work. Those who reported for
sick call had to line up in the hallway to the Japanese doctor's office and take off all their clothes before
they entered. While in line, they were often slapped in the face. The doctor made the POWs stand at
attention, bow, and follow orders given to them. Since this took so much time, most of the POWs were never
examined and had to work. Cold weather clothing and blankets from the Red Cross were never given out to the
POWs who had to sleep in the poorly heated barracks in the winter.
Although the Japanese received Red Cross packages for the POWs, they were not given to
the POWs. Red Cross medicines and medicals supplies that would help the prisoners were not given to
them. The camp doctor was known to eat vitamin tablets from the packages in front of the POWs.
John remained a POW in Japan until he was liberated on August 23, 1945. He returned to the Philippines
for medical treatment before returning to the United States on the
U.S.S. Joseph T. Dychman on October 16, 1945, at San Francisco. He was treated at Letterman General
Hospital in San Francisco and then at Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois. While he was there, his
parents came from Janesville to visit him.
John was discharged from the Army on June 3, 1946, returned to Janesville, and later
moved to Whitewater, Wisconsin, where his family had moved. In August 1946, he married Barbara Mitchell and
raised a family. On February 21, 1951, he reenlisted in the army, but was discharged on November 20,
John W. Wood Jr. died on June 10, 1977, in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in