T/Sgt. Johnnie William Bottoms Sr.
Johnnie William Bottoms Sr. was born in September 23, 1915, and raised in
Harrodsburg and Richmond, Kentucky by
his grandparents. He was known as "Johnnie" to his family and
friends. It was in Harrodsburg that he joined the
Kentucky National Guard's 38th Tank Company. He was called to federal service on November
It is known that he was married to Anna Mae Spoonamore and was the father of a son, John William Bottoms Jr. When he was called to federal service, he was working as a truck driver and farm worker.
Johnnie trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky as a member of D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He was reassigned to Headquarters Company when the company was created in January, 1941.
In September, 1941, Johnnie took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was at Camp Polk, Louisiana, that he and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas. Most members of the battalion received passes home to see their families and say goodbye.
Traveling by train to California, Johnnie arrived in San Francisco. There the soldiers were taken by ferry to Angel Island. They were given physicals and boarded onto a transport bound for the Philippine Islands.
Arriving in the Philippines, Johnnie's battalion was taken by train to Ft. Stotsenbeug. He spent the next two weeks getting the necessary supplies ready for maneuvers the battalion was scheduled to take part in. The early afternoon of December 8, 1941, Johnnie lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield.
Although Johnnie did not take part in any frontline action, he did live with the constant bombing and strafing by Japanese planes. The night of April 8, 1942, he and the other members of HQ Company were informed of the surrender to the Japanese.
HQ Company made its way to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan. It was from there that Johnnie began the death march.
It is not known how long it took Johnnie to complete the march, but what is known is that he at San Fernando he and the other Prisoners of War were packed into metal freight cars used to haul sugarcane.
At Capas, Johnnie and the other POWs disembarked the cars and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell. This camp was so bad that as many as fifty men a day died. To get out of the camp, Johnnie went out on a work detail to rebuild bridges that had been destroyed weeks before as the Filipino and American forces as they retreated.
The first barrio that the work detail went to was Calauan. Johnnie like the other POWs was weak and susceptible to illness. In his case, he came down with malaria. According to Phil Parish of A Company, Sgt. Johnnie Bottoms died from malaria on May 28, 1942, at Calauan. His death bed was a wet concrete floor.
T/Sgt. Johnnie Bottoms was buried in Calauan's small but neat cemetery. Phil Parish, of A Company, stated that several days after Johnnie's burial, a Japanese guard was escorting the POWs as they left for a work detail. As the detail passed the front of the cemetery, the guard ordered the POWs to halt and pointed to Johnnie's grave. He then called out in English "Attention" and the POWs and the guard saluted. After saluting Johnnie, the guard and detail continued on their way.
After the war. the remains of T/Sgt. Johnnie William Bottoms Sr., were returned to Kentucky as requested by his wife and family. He is buried, next to his wife, at Richmond Cemetery in Richmond, Kentucky.