John Edwin Ball
| S/Sgt. John
E. Ball was born in Stuart, Iowa, to Frederick E. Ball & Cora C.
Rinehart-Ball on September 17, 1914.
He was one of the couple's ten children. Before he and his
brother, William, moved to the Chicago area in 1940, he worked as a machinist in
a light factory. In the Chicago area, he and his brother lived at
1035 South Harvard Avenue in Oak Park.
John was one of the original Illinois National Guardsmen, of B Company, called to federal duty on November 25, 1940. He trained with the company at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during 1940 and 1941. He then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the later summer of 1941.
With the 192nd, John sailed to the Philippine Islands in November of 1941. He lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield and took part in the defense of the Philippine Islands. On December 8, 1941, just ten hours after Pearl Harbor, John lived through the Japanese attack on Cark Airfield.
That morning, the tankers were informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The tankers had been positioned around the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. All morning, as they watched, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.
At 12:45, John and the other tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. In all, they counted 54 planes. At first, they watched since they believed the planes to be American. It was only when bombs began exploding on the runways that they knew the planes were Japanese.
For four months, John fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands. He took part in the Battle of the Pockets and guarded the beaches of Bataan to prevent the Japanese from landing troops behind American lines. One night, he was involved in a fire fight when the Japanese attempted to land troops.
On April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner Of War. He took part in the death march. He and the other members of his company made their way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. There, they were searched and the Japanese took what they wanted from them.
The POWs marched out of Mariveles. The first few miles the road gradually rose. Since many men were ill, this was too much for them. Those who fell were killed. At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars used to haul sugarcane. Each car could hold eight horses or forty men. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas. From Capas, John walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
John was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell. The camp was an unfinished Filipino training base. There was only one water spigot for the entire camp. The POWs stood in line for hours for a drink. Some died while doing this.
The death rate in the camp was so high, that the Japanese acknowledged that they had to do something about it. The Japanese opened a new camp at Cabanatuan to relieve the conditions at Camp Polk, John was transferred there. Sometime during the time he was there, John developed malaria.
S/Sgt. John E. Ball died of malaria at Cabanatuan POW Camp on July 3, 1942. He now lies in Plot B, Row 9, Grave 12, at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.