Edwin R. Nelson was the son of C. Paul and Mary Nelson of Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia. He was a commissioned officer of the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve and he held the rank of Lieutenant. Edwin was a physician and he was on detached duty on Corregidor in the Philippine Islands when World War II broke out.
Edwin served with great dignity during the attack on the Philippines, caring for all he could. Sadly, Edwin was taken as a prisoner of war by the invading army when Corregidor fell in 1942 and the remaining American and Filipino troops were forced to surrender.
Edwin was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. During all this time, he never shirked his duties as a physician. Another officer who was being held as a prisoner later stated that he had been a patient of Lt. Nelson, and that he spoke with the doctor frequently and credited him with making him walk again.
Sadly, even while Edwin was working to save so many others, his own life was not to be spared. While being transported to Japan on the Oryoku Maru, Edwin lost his life on December 15, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the Subic Sea. His death was received by the War Department in June, 1945.
For his bravery and service Lt. Edwin Nelson was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. His body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Edwin R. Nelson's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Edwin'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