Yeast, Willard Rue (P2, C4, L37)
Private Willard R. Yeast, 29, of Mercer County, Kentucky, joined the Harrodsburg National Guard unit some time before they were activated in November 1940. He was taken prisoner on 9 April 1941. He survived the Death March. He was held at Camp O'Donnell, Cabanatuan, Batangas and Palawan Island. He died on 14 December 1944 when he was burned to death during the Palawan Island Massacre along with his fellow Harrodsburg tanker Staff Sergeant Joseph B. Million.
POWs were sent to Palawan Island beginning in August 1942 to build an airfield. In October 1944, due to increasing sightings of allied aircraft and air raids the prisoners were allowed to construct shelters for protection. The Japanese expected an American invasion of Palawan and on 14 December 1944 the POWs were ordered into the air raid shelters and Japanese soldiers doused the wooden shelters with buckets of gasoline and set them afire with torches and grenades. They shot, bayoneted or clubbed to death nearly all POWs who were able to escape the burning shelters. The search and killing of fire survivors continued until dark. Some of the wounded were buried alive in mass graves. Of the 150 American POWs held in the Palawan prison camp on that day only 11 survived the ordeal. The victims’ remains were later returned to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.