Willie Ray Perkins
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 06/19/1935 - 10/10/1941
Escaped Bataan Death March. POW at Santo Tomas and Los Banos, 23rd Infantry Division

He joined the Army "to get something to eat" and almost starved in captivity. Born in Juanita, Louisiana, about thirty miles south of DeRidder. Willie enlisted in the Army on June 19, 1935. A private in the Twenty-Third Infantry Division, he later transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was discharged October 10, 1941, but worked in the Philippine Islands as a civilian attached to American military forces. Swept up in the capture of the island nation in spring of 1942, he was on the Bataan Death March for about forty miles until he escaped. Willie later was incarcerated in a prison for civilians at Santo Tomas College for eighteen months, and then was sent to Los Banos, another college campus turned into a civilian prison. There, inmates were reduced to eating dog meat. American paratroopers liberated the compound's 2,100 Allied prisoners, and freed Willie from three-and-a-half years of captivity. He weighed 185 pounds when captured, and 118 when he was freed. He returned to America in April of 1945. Willie worked for thirty years in the civil service at Fort Polk in Leesville, Louisiana, and also served as a minister.