Frederick William Elkes was born June 24, 1902 to Michael Joseph Elkes and Della Bowman in Wheeling, Ohio, West Virginia. Frederick grew up in Wheeling with his sister Hazel, but his parents did not remain married. Both of his parents remarried, and his father relocated to St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Frederick enlisted into the United States Army March 22, 1927 at Detroit, Michigan and he continually reenlisted for three year periods through 1940. By this point he was already serving in the Philippines, having been there since the late 1930s. He served with bravery during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines as a private first-class with the 17th Pursuit Squadron of the 24th Pursuit Group, but he was captured as a prisoner of war at the fall of Bataan, when the remaining US troops were forced to surrender to the enemy.
Frederick was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Frederick lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the South China Sea. His death was received by the War Department on June 16, 1945.
Frederick was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Frederick W. Elkes's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Frederick's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History