Ernie Plantz joined the Navy as a seaman a year after graduating from high school in Charleston, West Virginia. Between those times, he served a ten-month stint with the Civilian Conservation Corps. He completed his basic training at Norfolk, Virginia, and served on the battleship USS New Mexico before volunteering for submarine duty on the USS Perch
The submarine was scuttled after receiving serious damage during the Battle of Java Sea in March 1942.. He was one of 54 sailors and 5 officers taken prisoner and sent to the Mokassar prison camp in Indonesia. It held some 3,000 Allied prisoners. Six of his shipmates did not survive their captivity. Once he suffered 75 blows to his rear end with a baseball bat.
Prisoners built radio towers and moved pillboxes. Plantz got a severe case of dysentery and malaria and lost 100 pounds while in prison. After spending 1,297 days in captivity, he was liberated in September 1945.
He later served on the submarines USS Tautog, Diablo and Bushnell and later was an instructor at the US Navy's Groton Navy School, retiring as a lieutenant.
Quite the Story. --GreGen