The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PVT John Lofing, 39935710, who died in the service of his country on May 2nd, 1945 in Luzon. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death John was 19 years of age. He was from Columbus, Montana.
The decorations earned by PVT John Lofing include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
John is buried in the Manila American Cemetery but also has a grave stone in the Park City Cemetery in Park City, MT.
(Letter To Family From CO)
21 July 1945
Mr. Conrad Lofing
Dear Mr. Lofing,
By this time no doubt the War Department has informed you of the death of your son John Lofing. Nothing I can say can alleviate your grief and I hope I do not open a sore wound, but I would like to give you an account of his activities prior to his death and to tell you of the high esteem in which he was held bu all with whom he came in contact.
On 2 May 1945, Company L occupied a very important position on Myoko Mountain in the Balete Pass sector of north-central Luzon. During the early morning the enemy attacked in force and the fighting was severe. John's platoon bore the brunt of the attack but successfully repelled it. In this action John was severely wounded by shrapnel from a hand grenade. It was with deep regret that we learned of his death in the hospital later in the day. His actions, willing and brave, will be an example to us in the days to come.
Your son was buried with full military honors at United States Cemetery, Santa Barbara, Luzon. The cemetery is well-cared for and shall be as long as an American soldier is buried there.
We share your loss. Those of us in Company L who knew John will miss a good friend and a fine soldier. We will not forget him and promise you that we will do our best to justify his sacrifice.
William C Boehm,
Commanding L Company
(Letter T Family From Chaplain)
24 August 1945
Mr. Conrad Lofing
Box 67, Columbus, Montana
My Dear Mr. Lofing,
I received your letter of the 6th of August in regard to my letter sent you concerning the death of your son John.
In my letter to you I stated that John was wounded on the 12th Of April and died on the 2nd of May. After an investigation I found that an error had been made in the records which is responsible for the wrong information I sent you. The records have now been corrected.
The facts are that John was severely wounded at an early hour on the 2nd day of May when a unit of Japs made a desperate attack on his position on Myoko Mountain near Balete Pass. In the course of the attack, a Jap hand grenade exploded very close to John and the fragments caused severe wounds in his buttocks and backs of both legs. He died of those wounds at 8:05 that night at a Portable Surgical Hospital in spite of everything that could be done for him.
You have my sincere sympathies in the sorrow caused by your great loss. I am very sorry that an error on the date caused you justifiable concern and perhaps opened afresh the wound in your heart. I hope this clears-up everything for you.
I contacted his buddies in the company, and two of his closest comrades have promised to write to you. Pfc. Victor Menghini was inducted with John, took Basic with him, came overseas and was in combat with him. Pfc. Russell Kain was Johns assistant bazooka man and spent time in combat with him.
In closing I pray that God will help you in this hour of sadness and that John will not have given his life in vain.
Sanford O Shafland
(Biography and More Information)
John Lofing was born in Park City, Montana, April 7, 1927. He was the youngest of a family of six girls and five boys born to Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Lofing. Their parents had been Russian peasants who came to America and finally settled at Park City where they operated a beet farm until 1943. At that time they became ranching tenants on Flaherty Flat, which the family now owns.
Working at various ranches, John became very fond of Lars Stene, and when Lars was called for service, John decided to go with him. His father had to sign a parental release for military duty as John was just five months past seventeen years of age.
Lars writes as follows: "On September 18, 1944, fourteen Stillwater men left for Butte to undergo physical examinations. Two days later they were inducted into the Army at Fort Douglas. Here John failed to pass his physical, but was given a re-run which he passed the next day. We did not get into the Navy as we had hoped. John was sent to Camp Hood, Texas and I went to Camp Roberts, California."
"John had never been completely well; having a chronic appendicitis situation but he refused to see a doctor or go on sick call because he wanted to finish Basic Training and go with his buddies. I was later told that his pals carried his pack and rifle during the hard, last training march!"
"We each got a ten day furlough from our respective camps and John got home before I did; but we both had a few days together at our ranches before returning to Fort Ord replacement depot. We had a final beer before saying good bye. He was assigned Pacific duty in the Philippines, I went to Leyte."
"By a strange coincidence I met another soldier, while on duty in Japan, who had been Johns partner in their attack and saw him fatally wounded. I am happy to have in my souvenirs a letter I had written to John that was returned to me following his death."
Shortly after the war was over, and the men were back home, Lars informant called on Pete Lofing; having made a special trip for this purpose from his home near Glendive. Here was his report:
"John had just joined our unit; Company L, 35th Infantry, 25th Division. He had arrived on Luzon April 17 and immediately went into intense training in rifle and grenades. I was Johns partner in a fox hole."
"Our objective was to drive the Japs from a honey-comb area of foxholes, nests, and machine gun emplacements; the most strategic and best fortification in the Philippines. Since it defended a rugged mountain pass, the Japs could not afford to lose it."
"We had made some progress, but on May 1st two Jap grenades were tossed into our fox hole. I grabbed one, stood-up, and threw it back into the Jap area as far as I could. I then escaped gun fire to get back to our own cover. The second grenade had landed under Johns leg, so he could not quickly get hold of it. Seconds after I arose, I heard a muffled explosion and knew that grenade had fired."
"The firing was incessant, and there was no chance to recover my buddy. The next morning we brought him back. He had probably been rendered unconscious on impact but was still breathing when the rescue party was able to recover him in the dawn of the next morning."
His parents were not told of the agony he must have suffered. The ten surviving children retained it as a family secret; scarcely discussing it because they knew that their brother was the youngest man from Stillwater County to be killed in action.
He was twenty-four days past 18 when he died. He had only five months of Basic Training at Camp Taylor, none of it pertinent to the close-quarter fighting which typified the military struggle against Japanese fortifications in the South Pacific. He was young, immature, and too "green" to be in a battle of this enormity and structure.