Died Oct.13, 2011, at the age of 94
Richard Francies at Manila Cemetery 2004
Richard Francies was born in Willoughby, Ohio. His family moved many times due to his father's job. He attended Ohio State for a year and joined the ROTC. His interest in the program led him to join the army in 1937 and then went to Fort Monmouth and attended Radio School. He shipped out to the Philippines where he was assigned to the US Army 228th Radio Corps. A week before he was due to come back home the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, so Dick stayed on. The Army moved the radio equipment to Bataan Peninsula and after the troops were surrendered, Mr. Francies, sick with malaria, made the Death March.
He wrote to his mother in August of 1941 prior to the horrid events ahead of him and ordered a Thanksgiving dinner. He requested turkey with dressing, baked ham with pineapple and roast beef. He wanted potatoes, both mashed and scalloped and sweet potatoes baked with the ham. For vegetables he ordered brussel sprouts, squash, corn, spinach, eggplant, carrots and peas, and cauliflower. He also chose to have cranberry jelly.
Next, he picked out his desserts: apple pie and ice cream, pumpkin and whipped cream, and raisin pie, chocolate cake with maple butter cream frosting. He hoped also to have assorted candies throughout the house. Instead for the years of 1942, 1943 and 1944 he would have only one thing for Thanksgiving dinner--rice. By the time he returned home his mother had passed away and his sister would be making the dinner of his dreams.
During his time in prison camp Richard Francies dropped from 160 to 110 pounds. He was sent to northern Japan his last year in captivity to work in a copper mine. When the war had ended and the Americans dropped supplies to the camps, they received penicillin. No one had heard of it as it was not available at the beginning of the war.
After the war worked at Ohio Bell for 38 years and retired as an engineer and a manager. The best thing he liked about working for the phone company was that he only paid the tax on his bill which amounted to about 80 cents.
He married in 1947 and had two daughters Susan and Kathy. He started going to the Epworth Euclid Methodist Church as a teenager because they had a basketball court. He was a member for 78 years until his death. His other interests included owning an amateur radio station. He made a film about this POW experiences and he shared his story with students in Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana. He showed his patriotism by raising funds so that the flag in front of city hall could be lit 24 hours a day.
Mr. Francies thought so highly of the Filipino people that helped them during the war that by 2006 he had taken seven return trips. He went to the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Philippines in 1982 and to the dedication of the Hellships Memorial at Subic Bay in 2006.
Mr. Francies did not like that the United States has started detaining prisoners and even torturing them.
Francies saved by "shot " from Japanese
In an article by Lisa Burgess, Dick Francies recalls his experience on the Death March when he was shivering with malaria and was so dizzy that he stopped by some bushes. As he tried to gather up energy to go on a Filipino man tapped him on the soldier and he mimed why he was stopped. The old man left to come back with a Japanese medical corpsmen. Francies thinking he was done was releived when the corpsmen shot him up with medicine, rather than bullets. Read the rest of his experiences here: Vet Recalls Surviving Death March, article from Stars and Stripes Article,