WARNER P. PORTZ, CDR, USN
Warner Portz '15
Date of birth: December 8, 1891
Date of death: January 7, 1945
From the 1915 Lucky Bag:
Warner was lost on January 7 1945, when he died of exhaustion and wounds received in the attack on the Hell Ship Oryoku Maru. He was aboard Enoura Maru (before that ship was destroyed on January 9, 1945).
Warner was commanding officer of USS Leary (DD 158) from July 1932 to January 1935; he later commanded USS Moffett (DD 362) from May 1938 to June 1939. Some point after June 1939 he was commander of Destroyer Division 28.
At the outbreak of the war, he was the Port Director, Manila, Philippines.
Following his capture, he was the Senior Prisoner of the Davao prison camp until the camp was evacuated in late 1944. He was described as "sharp nosed, kindly."
They stacked their dead at the entrance to the court. They moved the tall referee’s platform to the middle of the court, where it became a kind of lookout and command post. Commander Warner Portz was still nominally senior officer, but so exhausting had been the experience he underwent in the aft hold that both he and Commander Francis Bridget '21 were depleted as well as wounded. Leadership was passing into the hands of Beecher, whose forward hold had suffered greatly, but not so much.
"We saw that Bridget and Portz were fading," says one Army Lieutenant. "Their throats were almost gone from shouting orders; you could hardly hear them. Both had body wounds, and Portz was wounded in the head, too. I had never seen bravery and leadership in my life like that of Bridget when men began dying in the hold. As for Portz, I had come to think of him as I would my own father."
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Warner Philip Portz (NSN: 0-9042), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism while a prisoner of war of the Japanese serving as Senior Officer of a group of over 1,600 prisoners confined in the holds of the Japanese vessel ORYOKU MARU, during the period 13 December 1944 to 15 December 1944. By registering vigorous and repeated protests in spite of beatings and threats of execution, Commander Portz persisted in his efforts to obtain water and ventilation for his suffering and dying comrades until shot in the head during the bombing and strafing of the vessel on 15 December 1944. His performance of duty as Senior Prisoner was in accordance with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Division: Prisoner of War (POW Ship Oryoku Maru)
Prisoner of War Medal
From Hall of Valor:
Commander Warner Philip Portz (NSN: 0-9042), United States Navy, was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Corregidor, Philippine Islands, on 6 May 1942, and was held as a Prisoner of War until his death in captivity on 15 December 1944.
General Orders: NARA Database: Records of World War II Prisoners of War, created, 1942 - 1947
Division: Prisoner of War (Philippine Islands)