Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Elvin OestreichOestreich, Elvin D. (Dave) also known as Elvin Davis

 Note:  Elvin D. Oestrich went by Elvin Davis until after he was out of the military and got married

Elvin D. Oestreich (Dave) was born in Sunnyside, Washington to Delbert and Nellie on Sept. 10, 1922. He passed  away on Feb. 26, 1998 in  Bellevue, Washington. He graduated from high school in Myrtle Point, Oregon. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1940 based at Hamilton Field, California.  He went to Air Force Technical School in Chanute, Illinois.  He served as a flight engineer and was assigned to the 34th Pursuit Squadron.

He arrived in the Philippines on Nov. 21, 1941.  He was at Del Carmen Field, Pampanga when the Japanese attacked the Philippines.  He fought as "Flying Infantry" at Aglaloma Bay in the Battle of the Points.  Dave participated in the Death March going and went to O'Donnell and then Cabanatuan, where he daily buried the dead.  He left Cabanatuan in Oct. 1942 to go to Mukden.   An OSS team and Russian troops liberated him in August, 1945. 

After the war he received a degree in journalism and Far East studies from the University of Oregon where he was a member of Sigma Delta Chi.    He got a job with Pan American World Airways, then the Boeing Co.  After his retirement from Boeing, he worked as a certified travel consultant for All Around Travel.  He led two successful tours of Bataan and Corregidor for  veterans and their families returning  to the Philippines.  He became a junior commandant of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

He served as commandant of the Seattle Seafair Commodores in 1967, was a member of the Seafair Board of Directors for Greater Seattle, and was active as a member of the  Seattle Navy League.  In addition, he belonged to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and acted as past president and president Emeritus of the President's Club.

He married Dorothy J. Murta and as of his death they were together 50 years.  They had two sons.

Letters from Dave Oestreich

Dave wrote to his cousin in the military on Sept. 17, 1945 from Manila, P.I.

"I have been damn lucky the last few years and it was always there when I needed it the most...but looking back now I don't know how I made it--I learned to be a fatalist a long time ago.  There were four of us from the old home town here in P.I. in the start, Frendy Medlock, Stan, Eugene Laird and myself.  Frendy, Stan, and myself managed to get together after they took us.  Stan and I were together since we left the states and ran into Frendy in prison.  Stan and Frendy are both gone now and I have reason to believe Eugene is still O.K.  Ran into him at Cabanatuan and he was ok, that was '42 but have checked and found he is probably o.k.  I went to Manchuria in Oct. '42 and he went to Japan later. The first winter in Manchuria and the next spring I wasn't in such good shape but now I'm in damn good health--a few more steak and eggs and I'll be as good as ever.  I've put on 20 or 30 lbs. since Aug. 20 all of us have.  This stateside chow is really swell.  Had a good start for home until we got stopped.  Flew in here from Manchuria--they are trying to get our records straightened here.  I was hoping I'd never see this place again but guess it's alright now that we're here...It all sums up to this.  They sent me up the river for a hitch and  they tried to put the finger on me several times but always managed to get out from under them when things got a little warm.  I had to get back to the old boss because he couldn't carry on alone very well without the agents help.  So have everything squared away when I got there...A lot of the boys had troubles that were bothering them and started worrying about things at home as a result a lot of them didn't make it.  I thought of you all everyday but it never came to worrying a great deal...The last 15 months I've worked in a tanning factory, a little on the smelly side, but we got used to it.  Kept working not for the Japs understand but for my own good--kept our minds occupied and gave us enough exercise to keep us in as good shape as possible on the chow we were getting.  Boy you should have seen some of the leather we turned out! I would hated to be caught out on a hike in a pair of shoes made out of the stuff!

Note:  In a letter to Bob Lundy Sept.  17, 1945 he added this information:

One thing that was mainly responsible, that has helped me get through was knowing that you and the folks there at home were pulling for me in spirit.  That is a lot of comfort and a big help.  I have a clear mind in that respect.