Sgt. John J. Morine was the son of Frank & Rosa Morine.
He was born on November 22, 1916, and grew up in Gypsum, Ohio, where his
father worked for U. S. Gypsum. With his brother and sister, he
grew up in company housing. His family and friends called him
"Chocolate" because of his dark complexion.
high school, John was employed by U. S. Gypsum. It was during this
time that he joined the Ohio National Guard in 1932. In the fall of
1940, John was called to federal service when H Company of the Ohio
National Guard was designated C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. During
his training at Ft. Knox, he rose in rank to sergeant and was made a
In the late summer of 1941, the
192nd was sent to Louisiana to take part in the Louisiana maneuvers of
1941. After the maneuvers on the
side of a hill, the tankers learned that they were being sent overseas.
He received a furlough home to say his goodbyes.
John traveled west by train to San Francisco, there he was ferried
to Angel Island where the battalion was given physicals and inoculated
against tropical diseases. Traveling by ship to the Philippine
Islands, John arrived in Manila on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. He and
the rest of the battalion were taken to Ft. Stotsenburg where they lived
in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.
The morning of December 8, 1941, John heard the news of the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor. He and the other tankers were ordered to
the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers. As
the tankers sat in their tanks, they watched American planes flying over
their heads. Around noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to
At 12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese planes
approached the airfield from the north. At first, the tankers believed
the planes were American. It was only when bombs began exploding
around them did they know that the planes were Japanese.
For the next four months, John fought to slow the Japanese conquest of
the Philippine Islands and took part in the Battle of the Pockets.
It is known that John Minier was was his tank driver. On January
1, 1942, his tank was one of the C Company tanks that fought a tank
battle against Japanese tanks at Baliuag, Pampanga Province. His
tank crew was credited with destroying two Japanese tanks.
On April 9, 1942, the tankers received word of the surrender. The
members of C Company feared the treatment they would receive from the
Japanese and did not want to surrender. John volunteered to
surrender the company to the Japanese. He was escorted to
the Japanese command center, by four guards, where he officially surrendered his
company. He and the rest of the company were now Prisoners of War.
John took part in the death march from Mariveles at the southern tip of
Bataan to San Fernando. There, he and the other POWs were packed
into small wooden boxcars. The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who
died remained standing. At Capas, he disembarked the car and
walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
POW, John was held at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan. It is known
that he went out on a work detail to Clark Airfield to build runways.
The POWs were sent to Bilibid Prison to await transport to Japan.
In late September 1944, John and other POWs were taken to the Port Area
of Manila and boarded onto the Hokusen
Maru on October 1st. His POW detachment was scheduled
to sail on the Arisan Maru. The
POW detachment assigned to the Hokusen Maru
had not completely arrived but the ship was ready to sail. The
Japanese flipped-flopped POW detachments and put John's detachment was
put on the Hokusen Maru.
On October 3rd, the
Hokusen Maru sailed for Hong Kong. It arrived there on October
11th. The ship
sailed again, on October 21st, for Formosa arriving there on October
24th. As it turned out, the ship John had been scheduled to sail
on, the Arisan Maru, was sunk by an American
submarine on the same date. Only nine of the 1803 POWs on the ship
survived its sinking.
Upon arrival at Formosa on Noember 9th, John was taken to Heito
Camp. When the Americans arrived in the camp, they were met by the
camp commandant, 1st Lieutenant Tamaki. The POWs were lined up and
Tamaki walked down the line. As he passed each man, he searched
each one and went through their possessions. He took any medicine
or medical instruments he found.
Not too long after arriving in
the camp, ten American POWs died from what the camp's British doctor
called "brain fever." Since he had no medicine to treat the sick,
they died. Lt. Tamaki called all the POWs in the camp together.
He asked the POWs if they had a fever. Fifty or sixty POWs raised
their hands. Tamaki then told the POWs that Heito Camp had a
large cemetery, and that he was going to put as many as them in it as he
On their fifth day in the camp, the
Americans were put to work. The POWs were placed in work groups of
five men. Each "team" of POWs was expected to load three box cars
with ballast. Each box car held ten tons of ballast. The
ballast was collected from fields that the Japanese planned to use to
grow rice. POWs who were
too weak to do this work were put to work on the camp farm.
If the Japanese decided that a POW was not working
hard enough they punished him. When the POWs returned to the camp
at the end of the day, he would be grabbed by three or four
guards. The POW was dragged to a water trough and thrown into the
trough and held underwater. When the Japanese finished with the
trough, they took the POW into the guardhouse. From inside the
guardhouse, the POWs could hear the man scream from the beating he
received from Lt. Tamaki. After three or four days of repeated
beatings, the POW was released. The other POWs were shown the
welts on the man's shoulders, backs, and legs.
John became ill while at Heito
Camp. John was reported to have died of dysentery on
January 15, 1945. According to Sgt. John Massimino of B Company,
who was friends with John, John died from "brain fever." Massimino
was on John Morine's burial detail and buried
John at Tomon Cemetery in Takao, Formosa.
The remains of the POWs were later disinterred by American Grave Registration and moved to
another location. It was most likely the American Graves
Registration Mausoleum in Shanghi, China. Later the remains were sent
On March 10, 1949, John's family
requested that his remains be returned home. The remains of Sgt.
John J. Morine was returned to Gypsum,
Ohio, in early December 1949. Albert Allen,
of C Company, gave the eulogy at his funeral, while the sermon was given
by Father John E. Duffy. Fr. Duffy was a liberated Japanese POW.
John was buried for the final time on December 12, 1949, at St. Joseph
Catholic Cemetery, Sandusky, Ohio, in Section: C, Block: 95,
Lot: 137, which is his family's lot.
It should be mentioned that there us another version of John's death.
While John was on Formosa, he became friends with S/Sgt. Charles H. Norgilar
who was known as "Cork". In
1995, ten years after Cork had died, his sister, Frances Shimko mailed a
package to Gypsum from Oceanside, California. It was simply addressed, "To:
The family and friends of John J. Morine, son of Rosa Morine, Gypsum,
Ohio". A postal clerk at the post
office identified Gerri Gill as a cousin of John Morine.
Geri received a phone call from the post office about the package. As
she drove to get the package, she wondered what was in it. When
she opened the package, she found her cousin's dog tags wrapped in
plastic. The note in the package explained that Charles "Cork" Norgilar had taken the tags off the body of his friend,
John Morine, to return them to his family. John had been executed
by the Japanese, but Cork never explained to anyone what had happened.
In her letter to the Morines, Frances Shimko explained why her brother
had not returned the dog tags years earlier. After the war, Cork
had visited another family with the dog tags of their son.
The mother of the dead soldier was angered that he had survived the war
while her son had died. This act of rejection prevented Cork from
trying to find John's family. Several years later, when he set out
for Gypsum, Ohio, he turned around half way there, because he could not
bare to be rejected again.