A biography of my uncle’s combat and capture in the Philippines, and POW survival there and in Japan, WWII. Includes my own visits, observations and investigations in the Philippines in 2016.
When Richard W. Bartz joined the Army-Air-Corps at 18 in 1939–a big, strapping Irish-American lad–it was as much for a new home, and escape from a young life of sorrow and survival, as it was to serve his country.
Upon his signing-in, he said, “Uncle Sam had never had a more eager recruit.”
Eager or not, Dick had no idea what was in store for him. His enlistment took him to the Philippines, which locale and duty greatly pleased him. Then World War II broke out, anchoring its fangs deep into the tiny island of Corregidor, where Dick was stationed. His fate was sealed.
Subsequently, Dick saw extensive and prolonged combat and action not only in Corregidor, but across Manila Bay at Bataan, where he would be captured and start the infamous Bataan Death March. But, he escaped his captors, only to somehow return to Corregidor from across the rugged Bay, and finally be conquered again after a brave defense.
He then became a prisoner of war of the Japanese, and POW in the Philippines, and finally in Japan, until the Americans were victorious in the mid-40s.
His survival skills from his turbulent youth saw him through years of captivity and torture. When he left the war zone at 6-feetplus and 108 pounds, he returned to the States only half the man he was–but he was alive.