Ed Dyess was a smart, talented, athletic kid from Texas who had a passion for flying, movie star good looks, and a flare for acting. Thanks to a chance encounter on a highway in the middle of nowhere, he went on to become an ace fighter pilot, lead men with guns-a-blazing in America’s first amphibious attack during World War II, survive the Bataan Death March, and escape a harsh Japanese POW camp. All the while, Dyess kept quietly inspiring and leading everyone he encountered.
Today on the show, I discuss this real life GI Joe with writer and filmmaker John Lukacs. John is the author of Escape From Davao and made a documentary about Dyess called 4-4-43 (narrated by past AoM podcast guest Dale Dye). John shares how Dyess started his military career as fighter pilot during World War II, but ended up leading men on the ground in the earliest infantry battles in the Pacific. We then dig into Dyess’ experience during the Bataan Death March and how he continued to support his men during this crucible. John then shares how Dyess, along with nine other men, escaped from one of Japan’s harshest prison camps and how he fought his way out of the jungle to let the world know of the atrocities going on in the Philippines. We end our conversation with a discussion of why Ed didn’t win the Medal of Honor despite his heroic actions, his tragic death, and the leadership lessons we can all take from him.
Get the full show notes at aom.is/dyess.