Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Dyess

Edwin Dyess Ends Year of Leadership

Last week I mentioned that Edwin Dyess, president of the Student Council, was one of the five Tarleton students that attended the Memphis, Tennessee Southern Federation of College Students and Press Representatives Convention in April 1936. The spring of 1936 was Dyess' last semester at Tarleton. Just before graduation he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Cadet Corps.

Lt. Col. Dyess was also a star in track and a capable and inspiring leader. A true defender of the purple and white, he was nominated for All Tarleton Boy. After graduation he attended flight training at Kelly and Randolph Fields in San Antonio and was commissioned second lieutenant in the United States Army. He then was promoted to first lieutenant and led the 21st Pursuit Squadron to Nichols Field, Manila, Philippines in October 1941.

Dyess was captured by the Japanese on April 9, 1942 and later that day he and the others began the Bataan Death March. He was a POW at Camp O'Donnell, but after two months of planning and preparation he and the others escaped, eventually being evacuated by the U.S. Navy to Australia. After arriving back in the United States he was taken to an army general hospital in Virginia to regain his health and was promoted to lieutenant colonel upon his release.

Lt. Col. Edwin Dyess then resumed flying December 22, 1943, but was killed that day in Burbank, California. His plane caught fire while on a training mission and he was killed attempting an emergency landing. He stayed in the plane rather than bail out in order to guide it to a vacant lot in Burbank, saving countless civilians on the ground.

Dyess received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Service Cross and the Abilene Army Airfield in Abilene was renamed Dyess Air Force Base in 1957!

Handbook of Texas Online.
J-TAC, April 11, 1936.
J-TAC, April 25, 1936.
J-TAC, May 16, 1936.

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