Abilene in Taylor County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Lt. Col. William E. Dyess
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and invaded the Philippines, Dyess led successful attacks against Japanese shipping in Subic Bay, with few operational planes, and served as an infantry commander during the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942. He was taken prisoner and faced the grueling Bataan Death March that resulted in the loss of thousands of American and Filipino lives. Despite the malnutrition, disease and torture the captives faced in Japanese prison camps, Dyess survived, on April 4, 1943, almost a year after his capture, he and 11 other men escaped, making their way through hostile territory. They connected with a guerrilla group who put them in touch with a U.S. submarine that took them to Australia. Dyess debriefed with the War Department and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. After Dyess returned home, publication of his stories in the Chicago Tribune
Promoted to Lt. Colonel and recuperated from his wartime ordeal, Dyess returned to flying. He died on December 22, 1943, when the new P-38 he piloted caught fire over Burbank, CA., and crashed. His wife, Marajen, published his personal war accounts the next year as The Dyess Story, and he was the inspiration for the acclaimed play Men of Bataan (1943). Highly decorated for combat heroism and leadership, Dyess was buried in Albany (35 mi. NE). In his honor, Abilene Air Force Base was renamed Dyess Air Force Base in 1956.
Erected 2004 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13110.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • War, World II.
Location. 32° 26.52′ N, 99° 48.578′ W. Marker is in Abilene, Texas, in Taylor County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Arnold Boulevard (Farm to Market Road 3438) and Military Drive, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located at Dyess Memorial Park at the southwest corner of the intersection. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dyess AFB TX 79607, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. 12th Armored Division at Camp Barkeley (approx. 0.4 miles 12th Armored Division Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); 7th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (approx. 0.8 miles away); Air Force Medal of Honor Recipients (approx. 0.8 miles away); Dyess Elementary School (approx. 1.8 miles away); Site of Western Cattle Trail (approx. 2.3 miles away); Abilene Woman's Club Building (approx. 2½ miles away); Company I 7th Texas Infantry (approx. 3.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Abilene.
Also see . . . William Dyess - Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on October 1, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 1, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 319 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 1, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.