Back from Bataan….

Of the men who survived the Bataan Death March, Colonel William N. Amis is not the most well known. Yet Colonel Amis also had a story to tell.

WN Amis

The grandson of Joseph T. Amis and Susan Norvell Amis, William was born in 1896 in Louisiana. By 1920 he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. A photo taken in 1923 above shows, then Lt William N. Amis with Lt Jimmy Doolittle at Barksdale Field in Louisana. Over the next decade his career advanced, and by the late 1930s he was now a major and had been in command of several flying squadrons. In 1939, he received orders assigning him to the Philippines. It appears his wife and son, William N. Amis II, remained in the United States. This assignment was a turning point in his life.

Wikipedia notes that the Bataan Death March began on April 9, 1942. Approximately 2,500–10,000 Filipino and 100-650 American prisoners of war died. They marched from Mariveles, Bataan, to San Fernando, Pampanga. From San Fernando, survivors were loaded to a box train and they were brought to Camp O’Donell in Capas, Tarlac. That William survived the march is nothing less than a miracle.

Few records exist of his captivity. He was promoted in November 1942 to Lt Colonel while a POW. In October 1944, he was moved from his initial prison to the Hoten prison camp, Mukden Manchuria, an infamous Japanese POW camp. By then he was promoted to full colonel. With the end of the war, he was repatriated to the Americans, but even then there are appear to be few records of the place or date. Then, he seems to disappear until 1963 when a short notice of his death appeared in a newsletter of Bataan survivors: “Colonel William F. [sic] Amis, Valparaiso, Florida, died last Christmas Eve [1963], while vacationing in Mexico.”

In a last bit of service by this family and sacrifice for our nation, his son 2nd Lt. William N. Amis II, entered the Army Air Corps and was shot down in the the Pacific Theatre in 1944. He is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.


About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Bataan Death March, Family History, Norvell Family History, Social History, Uncategorized, US Army Air Corps, World War Ii and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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