Jacques V. Merrifield was born in Amboy, Illinois, to the Rev. Roy and Mrs. Jeanette Merrifield on March 26, 1918. He graduated from Proviso Township High School as a member of the Class of 1938. After high school, he worked as a paint mixer at a paint and varnish manufacturer while attending the University of Chicago.
On September 23, 1940, Jack enlisted in the Illinois National Guard. Jack was called to federal service with the 33rd Tank Company from Maywood, Illinois, as a member of B Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The battalion trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
He arrived in the Philippines in November 1941as a Lieutenant in the 192nd Reserve Tank Group and was stationed near Clark Airfield. In December, he was sent to Lingayen Gulf to defend against an invasion by the Japanese before strategically withdrawing to the Bataan Peninsula to fight the battle for Bataan.
He was taken prisoner by the Japanese on April 9, 1942 and survived the infamous Bataan Death March. He was held in POW Camps in the Philippines until December 1944. When defeat became evident for the Japanese, they attempted to transport all the POWs to Japan. Jack was aboard the POW Hell Ship Oryoku Maru when it was sunk on Dec. 15, 1944 in Subic Bay by planes from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet.
Many POWs were killed; those that survived and managed to get ashore were corralled on a tennis court slab. They were asked by the Japanese who among them were too ill to walk. Those that raised their hands were put on trucks, taken up into the surrounding hills, removed from the trucks and shot or bayoneted to death.
On Dec. 26,1944 Jack and other survivors were put on another Hell Ship, Enoura Maru, and left for the Philippines. This ship was also sunk, on Dec. 31, 1944 at Takao Formosa. Those who survived and managed to get ashore were taken on yet another Hell Ship, Brazil Maru, on Jan. 14,1945, ending up in POW camp Hoten at Mukden Manchuria. He was recaptured by the Russians on Aug. 21, 1945 and returned to American control at the Port of Darien, then sent back to the Philippines before returning to the U.S.
After the war, Jack went to work for Federal I.R.S. and retired after 35 years service. He and his wife Grace raised a son and a daughter. After retirement, he and Grace moved from Colorado to Lake Havasu City, AZ in the mid-1980s.