Commander of the 21st Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines and P.O.W.
Survivor of the Bataan Death March
Born in Albany, Texas, Lt. Col. William E. Dyess was Commander of the 21st Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines when World War II began for the United States in December 1941. Heavily outnumbered, his squadron continued combat operations until finally overwhelmed. When the United States surrendered the Bataan Peninsula to the Japanese, Dyess was captured and, along with 75,000 Filipino and American troops, endured the Bataan Death March, a brutal 65-mile march to a POW camp. One of only three prisoners to escape from captivity, he returned to the States where he recounted the terrible conditions and inhumane treatment by the Japanese. He was killed in 1943 on a training mission in California while flying a P-38. Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, is named in his honor.