Lt. Col. William E. Dyess (August 9, 1916 – December 22, 1943)
Marker Text: A native of Albany, and a graduate of Albany High School and John Tarleton Agricultural College, William Edwin Dyess was the son of Judge Richard T. and Hallie Graham Dyess. Trained as a pilot at Randolph Field, San Antonio, he led the 21st Pursuit Squadron of P-40s in the Phillipines, where he was when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the U.S. entered World War II. Dyess' actions against invading Japanese forces at Subic Bay, despite few operational planes, and his later role as infantry commander earned him a reputation for bravery and resourcefulness.
Dyess was among the men captured at the Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and forced into the grueling Death March. He survived the malnutrition, disease and torture that resulted in the loss of thousands of his comrades. Almost a year after their capture he and 11 other men escaped and made their way to safety through hostile territory. Dyess reported to the U.S. War Department and Gen. Douglas MacArthur on enemy actions. Through his personal accounts of Japanese atrocities in the Chicago Tribune, he influences world opinion on wartime brutalities.
Promoted to Lt. Colonel, Dyess returned to Albany in November 1943 after recuperation and made an appearance at the football field on his way to California. Weeks later, he died when the P-38 he piloted crashed at Burbank. His body was returned to his hometown for burial. His wife, Marajen, published The Dyess Story (1944), a book of his accounts, and Albany playwright Robert E. Nail, Jr., wrote Men of Bataan (1943), an acclaimed play based on his exploits. Dyess Air Force Base at Abilene was named in honor of Albany's much-decorated war hero in 1956. (2005)
Marker No: 13109
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Geographic: N 32° 43.384 W 099° 17.816
Location: Courthouse square, near intersection of S Main St and US 380, Albany