John L. Short
Credit: Jim Opolony: 192nd & 194th Tank Battalion
Sergeant John L. Short was born on May 23, 1917. He was the son of John and Leah Short. It is not known if his father died but his mother married Ralph Balduf and the family resided at 907 State Street, Port Clinton, Ohio. He attended both grade school and high school in Port Clinton
John joined Company H of the Ohio National Guard in Port Clinton in 1939. This unit was federalized on November 5, 1940 and designated C Company. On November 25th, the company joined other tank companies from Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin at Fort Knox, Kentucky and formed the 192nd GHQ Light Tank Battalion. Picture: John on right, with Rollie Hager, on left, both of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
During the winter of 1940 and into the summer of 1941, the battalion continued their training at Ft. Knox. In the late summer of 1941, the battalion was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana for maneuvers. Unknown to the members of the battalion, it had already been selected for duty in the Philippine Islands.
From Camp Polk the battalion traveled by train to San Francisco. There, they took ferries to Angel Island arriving there on October 25, 1941. After receiving physicals and inoculations, the battalion sailed for the Philippines. On November 20, 1941, the battalion arrived in the Philippines and was sent to Ft. Stotsenburg. Since their barracks were unfinished, the battalion lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.
On December 8,1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, John lived the Japanese attack on Clark Field. During the attack, John and the other tankers could do very little since they did not have the proper weapons to fight aircraft.
On December 22nd, C Company was sent north to Lingayen Gulf to aid the 26th U. S. Calvary who were fighting Japanese invasion forces. The tanks were used as a rear guard as the Filipino and American forces withdrew from engagements with the Japanese. During this time, John spent four months on the front lines fighting the Japanese without a break.
On April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner Of War. (See picture at right) He took part in the death march and was held at Camp O'Donnell.
John volunteered to go out on a bridge building detail. Lt. Col. Ted Wickord of the 192nd was one of the two token American commanders of the detail and attempted to fill it with members of his own battalion. The POWs on this detail rebuilt the bridges that they had destroyed as they retreated just weeks before.
During John's time on this detail, he worked near the barrio of Calaun. The people of the town showed great generosity to the POWs. They shared food and provided medical attention to the POWs. When the people heard that the detail was leaving, they held a great feast. To get the Japanese to allow the prisoners to attend, the townspeople convinced the Japanese that the feast was to thank them for the bridge.
The detail next was sent to Batangas where the POWs were given clothing by Irish Catholic nuns. From Batangas, they were sent to Candelura where they lived in an old coconut mill. Again, the Filipino people shared their food with the POWs.
When the detail ended in September, 1942, John was sent to Mindinao. It is not known what type of work he did there. After this detail ended, he was sent to Cabanatuan. After his return to Cabantuan, his family received a postcard from him. In it he said: "Was sure glad to hear from you. I am in good health and shape. Hope you are getting along fine. Give my regards to the rest of the family."
John was next sent out on a detail in December 12, 1942 to Lipa Batangas. The detail was known as the Las Pinas Detail. John and the other POWs built runways for a Japanese airfield. He remained on this detail for nearly two years. When he was returned to Cabanatuan and selected for shipment to Japan.
John was sent to Japan on the Canadian Inventor. The ship departed Manila on July 4, 1944. The ship sailed but returned to Manila. On July 16th, the ship sailed again. After stops at Takao and Keelung, Formosa, the ship sailed for Naha, Okinawa before arriving at Moji, Japan. By the time the ship arrived in Moji on September 4, 1944, John had spent 62 days in the hold of the ship.
In Japan, John was sent to Omine Machi. It appears that his time at the camp was short, and he was sent to Fukuoka #17. The POWs there were used to work in a coal mine that had previously been condemned by the Japanese as being unsafe. John would remain in this camp until he was
sent to Fukuoka #9 near the end of the war. There, John also worked in a coal mine owned by the Kajima Tanko Mining Company. He was liberated there in September, 1945. He was returned to the Philippines and after being treated for his illnesses sent home.
John Short returned to Port Clinton and in 1946 married Sally Custer. He became the father of one child, Leah. John spent the rest of his life in Port Clinton and passed away on July 24, 1994.
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