Pfc. George Robert Dietrich
| Pfc. George R.
Dietrich was the son of Joseph F. Dietrich &
Eva Venemann-Dietrich. He was born on August
27, 1914, in Hibbing, Minnesota, and grew up at
409 Godfrey in Louisville, Kentucky, with his two
sisters and brother. Before he was drafted
into the U. S. Army on March 5, 1941, he worked
for his father's contracting company as a
After being drafted into the army, he was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training. Upon arriving there, he was assigned to the 192nd Tank Battalion. The reason for this is that he was from one of the four states that the National Guard companies that made up the battalion were from.
George was assigned to D Company and worked in supplies. In this capacity, he went to Louisiana with the company to take part in maneuvers in the late summer of 1941.
After the maneuvers, George learned that his
battalion was being sent overseas. He and
the other men received leaves home to say
goodbye to their families and friends. They
returned to Camp Polk and traveled by train
to San Francisco, California. From San
Francisco, the tankers were ferried to Ft.
McDowell on Angel Island. On the
island they were given physicals and
inoculated for tropical diseases. Some
men were held back for health issues but
scheduled to join the battalion at a later
morning the sky was filled with American
planes. At noon, the planes landed
and the pilots went to lunch. At
12:45 in the afternoon, Japanese bombers
appeared over Clark Field destroying the
American Army Air Corps. The
members of HQ took cover since they had
no weapons to use against the
planes. After the attack, they
witnessed the devastation caused by the
bombing and strafing.
George was held at
Fukuoka #23 at Keisen. He and the
other POWs were used as laborers in a coal
camp consisted of a mess hall, a hospital, six
unheated barracks located on top of a hill with
a ten foot high wooden fence around it. In the
barracks, the POWs slept in 15 X 15 foot
bays. Six POWs shared a bay. At 6:00
A.M., 6:00 P.M., and 9:00 P.M. the Japanese took
row call. For the first two weeks in the
camp, the POWs learned the Japanese words for
things got worse for the POWs, so they knew the
Japanese were losing the war. At 5:00 P.M.
on August 15th they learned the war was
over. The POWs did not believe it.
The next day the camp commandant, at 9:00 A.M.,
informed the POWs that the war was over.
He also told them that they had to stay in the
camp. On August 24th, the Japanese gave
the POWs paint and canvas and told them to paint
"POW." on the canvas and put it on the barracks
When George was considered healthy enough, he was boarded onto the Dutch ship, S.S. Klipfontaine, and arrived at Seattle, Washington, on October 27, 1945. He returned to Louisville and was discharged on April 20, 1946. George R. Dietrich passed away in October 19, 1985, in Louisville, Kentucky.