Ernest O. Paitsel was born March 13, 1919 to N.C. Paitsel and Anna Kennedy in Selma, Virginia. The Paitsels were a large family and Ernest had four brothers, K. G., Gordon, James, and Noah Wilson, and five sisters, Ruby, Virginia, Annie, Mary, and Ida. Ernest spent most of his life in Princeton, Mercer County, West Virginia and attended the Princeton city schools before entering the armed forces.
Ernest enlisted in the United States Army on March 8, 1940. He was soon shipped overseas to the Pacific to serve in the Philippines with the 59th Coast Artillery Unit as a corporal. His time of freedom in the Philippines was to be short lived. He served bravely while the Japanese attacked the islands in 1941-1942, but he was taken as a prisoner of war when the last remaining troops were forced to surrender.
Ernest was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Ernst 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.
Ernest 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, Ernest O. Paitsel's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Ernest'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