Wesley J. Holden’s name is often listed among those from Carter County killed during World War II.
You’ll find the former Watauga resident’s name on the World War II marker in the Carter County War Memorial Park, as well as the roll call of World War II dead in Frank Merritt’s “Later History of Carter County. “
But he didn’t die in World War II; instead, after spending three years and four months in a Japanese prisoner of war Camp, he walked away from his captors and to liberation after hearing about the truce, then went on to serve a total of 24 years in the U.S. Navy.
Holden lived to be 91, and died recently – April 3 of this year in Independence, Mo.
After his capture at the Battle for Corregidor, he initially was listed as Missing In Action, which led to his being erroneously listed as “dead.”
Holden’s military career began when he joined the Navy in February 1940 at the age of 17; after completing boot training at Norfolk, Va., he was sent to San Diego, Calif., traveling by ship via way of the Panama Canal.