David R. Westcott

  • Private First Class
  • WW II


David Riekie Westcott was born and grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island. He is the son of Charles and Marion Westcott. He was a 1937 graduate of Cranston High School where he was very active in sports and school activities. He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1938 with the Class of 1942, majoring in Engineering. David was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC program.

On 11 October 1940, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He attended basic training for six weeks at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and advanced technical training at Keesler Field, Mississippi before arriving at the Southern Pacific Theatre, Philippine Islands. On 8 December 1941, the Battle of the Philippines began with the invasion by Japanese military forces. The defending forces outnumbered the Japanese invaders by three to two, but they were a mixed force of inexperienced American and Philippine units. The Japanese used their best first-line troops and overran most of Luzon in the first month of the campaign.

Private 1st Class Westcott was assigned as an infantryman with the 31st Infantry Division to fight against the invading Japanese forces. The Americans and Filipinos fought with courage and determination; however, they were no match for the best, first-line Japanese troops. During the Battle of the Philippines, allied loses were 25,000 killed, 21,000 wounded and 100,000 captured.

Private 1st Class Westcott was captured during the battle for Luzon. He was first reported as missing in action until he was identified as a prisoner of war at the Ofuna Japanese POW Camp 501, Kamakura, Japan. The Ofuna POW Camp was nicknamed the “Torture Farm” by the prisoners. Sadly, Private 1st Class David Riekie Westcott, U.S. Army Air Forces, died while a prisoner of war on 23 July 1942. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

Private Westcott volunteered to serve our country during World War II and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. He was a true Rhode Island and American hero. He is a member of the “Greatest Generation.”