Plymouth County

Jack Stoos




Jak Stoos Mans One of Heavy Machine Guns

Matt Ruba on the left & Jack Stoos on right

Among the sagas of heroism that adorn the pages of American military history, co-equal with the siege of the Alamo, are Wake Island, Guam, and Corregidor, and when the final story is written, history will probably say that Corregidor was the most crucial.

Today, at least two Plymouth County men are doing the job at Corregidor.  They are Mathias Ruba, son of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Ruba, of Marion township, and Jack Stoos, son of John Stoos, of Remsen.

Both enlisted in the United States army in December, 1940, and until the war broke out, the copy of The Globe-Post for which young Ruba had subscribed was being sent to Fort Mills.  It’s a safe bet that he hasn’t been getting his paper regularly lately, and also that he would be too busy to read it anyway, what with having to dodge Japanese bombs, and sending back to the Japs large and noisy shells loaded with unpleasantly acting T. N. T.

Corregidor is the key to Manila Bay.  Unless the Japs can capture it, their costly conquest of the large Philippine islands of Luzon, and even the capture of the city of Manila, will be of little military benefit to them.  Every since Dewey sailed into Manila Bay to destroy the Spanish Navy, Corregidor has been recognized as the key to all the Philippines.  In a way, it is the key to all of Australasia—though not the only key.

Matt Ruba is now a sergeant in charge of the feeding of the men who serve the guns at Corregidor.  After his enlistment, he was offered an opportunity to attend an army cook’s and baker’s school.  He made good there, received his sergeant’s warrant, and in subsequent inspections his kitchen received the highest rating for efficiency and cleanliness on the island.  If any Jap bombs dropped on it, it may be not quite so neat now, but at any rate, Sergeant Ruba hasn’t been seriously wounded or killed up to now.

Mrs. Elmer Nitschke of Remsen, sister of Jack Stoos, told The Globe-Post Tuesday that Jack had written little except personal news since he was sent to the Philippines; except that he had been assigned to a machine gun company on the island.  From this it can be deduced that he is today living in a red rock cave, fairly well protected by sandbags and solid concrete breastworks, the muzzle of his heavy, 50-calibre machine gun, forever scanning the waters of Manila Bay for possible sneak attacks by Jap suicide squads in small boats, trying to get to the island under cover of darkness. 

Little information of actual conditions in Manila Bay has been published, due to military secrecy.  However, stories of some war correspondents indicate that Corregidor has not been attacked from the Batan peninsula, where a heavily outnumbered American-Fillipino army is still holding out.  Neither is it likely that any Jap submarines have tired to land storm detachments, because the navigable water is heavily mined and also closed by submarine nets.

Except for some long distance artillery dueling, and one or two attempts by Japanese warships to force the passage—attempts that cost the Japs heavy losses from the booming big coast defense guns on the island, all of the attacks on Corregidor island have come from planes, by air.

Corregidor originally was not designed to resist heavy aerial attack.  Its high, steep-sided red rock walls were honeycombed, however, with tunnels and underground rooms to give its gun crews protection against heavy bombardment from the sea, and this protection is just as good against bombs.  The Japs can bomb until they’re black in the face—instead of yellow—and the men resting underground will hardly hear them.

On top it’s different, of course.  It’s a safe guess that anti-aircraft guns were taken off some of the ships evacuated from Cavite, and set up on Corregidor, and these are certainly in heavy action.  Young Stoos, as machine gunner, is probably firing at the Jap planes every chance he gets.

The real show-down on Corregidor is not likely to come unless the Japs can force General MacArthur to evacuate the peninsula of Batan and cross the shallow waters of the bay for a last stand on Corregidor.

Whether this will come before several months seems doubtful.  The cost to the Japanese of a final assault would be extremely bloody losses, and they may decide on a long siege in the hope of starving the Americans out.  In the latter event, there is good chance that President Roosevelt may decide to launch a counter-offensive, and the tough garrison of Corregidor, like that of Tobruk, may be able eventually to leave its stronghold and return home, where the members including the Plymouth Countyans, will receive the honors due to heroes.

~Source: LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, January 15, 1942 (photograph included)

“Coming Home As Soon As We Spank the Japs”

A letter to his relatives at Remsen from Jack Stoos, son of John Stoos, reveals the fact that the army lad is on the fighting front at Fort Mills, Corrigador, says the Remsen-Bell Enterprise.  His message, which arrived this week, was brief.  It came minus postage but with the notation “no stamps available” and endorsed as “soldier mail.” Jack said, among other things, “…to let you know that I am O.K…..say hello to the kids….will be home as soon as we spank the Japes.”

Source:  LeMars Globe-Post, April 6, 1942

Jack Stoos, son of John Stoos, of Remsen, is reported missing in action, according to official notice received by the family.

Source:  LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, May 29, 1942

This Makes Three First Victims of War Reported Safe

A long period of anxiety ended this week for the family of Jack Stoos, formerly of Remsen, who with Willard Stearns and Math Ruba, comprised the only Plymouth County representatives to be fighting in the Bataan-Corregidor area when it was taken by overwhelming numbers of Japanese.

Willard Stearns and Math Ruba had been previously reported prisoners on the Philippines, but an impenetrable silence has, until this week obscured the fate of the Remsen boy.

A letter was received by Mrs. Elmer Nitzschke, sister of Jack Stoos, giving the bare information that he is alive and presumably well.

Instructions are also given for the sending of strictly personal messages to prisoners of war.  No money or goods may be sent—just personal letters, under conditions laid down by Japanese military authorities.

This leaves on more American who was in the Philippines still unaccounted for.  He is Corporal Bob Kelly, son of Mr. and Mrs. O. M. Kelly of LeMars, who was on Mindanao island attached to a new airfield when the Japs invaded.  It is known that American units escaped to the interior of the big mountainous islands, and may still be living with the natives, who have no use for the Japs, waiting for the day when the American flag once more flies over the Philippines. 

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, April 8, 1943

Our Neighbors in the Services

Remsen, Iowa – Jack Stoos, who has been reported missing in action for several months, was reported to be a Japanese prisoner according to a report received from the American Red Cross by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Stoos of Remsen, Stoos was last heard from shortly before the Pearl harbor attack. At that time he was stationed at Corregidor. Young Stoos had enlisted as a gunner in the coast guard in December, 1940.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, April 12, 1943

Family Informed Jack Stoos Of Remsen Jap Prisoner

Remsen Bell-Enterprise:  The Nicholas Stoos family were informed Tuesday by the Red Cross society that their son and brother, Jack, several months ago reported missing in action, is a prisoner of war, held by the Japanese in the Philippines.

Jack was last heard from shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941, and at the time was at Corregidor where he took part in the defense for weeks.  The relatives anxiously awaited further word from him direct, but months passed and finally the War Department reported him “missing in action.”

Tuesday came word from the American Red Cross, which had been steadily on the job with regard to learning the fate of missing men, and told the family that Jack is alive but his exact location was not given.  The relatives were told how to address letters to him, also that no parcels or money can be delivered and that letters must be of a strictly personal nature.  The matter of letters written by him was not touched upon and it is believed this privilege is denied him.

Jack enlisted December 3, 1940, in the Coast Guard and was a machine gunner.  He was sent to the Philippines immediately.

Source:  LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, April 13, 1943

Plymouth County World War II Dead

Stoos, John M. Jr., Pfc--Killed May 6, 1942, at Corregidor. Father: John Stoos, Sr., Remsen; Sister: Mrs. Elmer Nitzschke, Remsen.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Jan. 4, 1946