Thursday, December 29, 2022

Media Advisory: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal to be Awarded to NC Veteran and Last Surviving Member of Battle of Wake Island

Dec 29, 2022
NCDMVA Seal Horizonal Black



Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Contact: Tammy Martin 

Office: 984-292-3255  

Cell: 984-480-6256  


NCDMVA to Award Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal to NC Veteran and

Last Surviving Member of Battle of Wake Island 

Raleigh, NC — N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will honor NC Veteran Pearson Riddle, JR, of Burnsville, NC, with three medals honoring his dedication and heroic service including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Medal.  Riddle, 101, is the last surviving member of the Battle of Wake Island. Riddle was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps assigned to Wake Island in the Pacific to build air bases and help with other defense projects, including hauling sandbags and water for gun emplacements. In 1987, the Navy administratively awarded him the rank of E4 and evaluated him a 100% wartime service-connected disabled veteran. Riddle was among the civilian contractors and U.S. Marines who were captured on December 23, 1941, when Japanese forces overtook Wake Island. They stripped him and other POWs and forced them to march in only underwear and shoes and stay in barracks on the island until February 13, 1942, when they were shipped to a labor camp in Woosun, China. He spent 19 months leveling the land and carrying rocks from sunup to sundown. He describes being forced to live in lice, flea, and bed bug infested bedding and clothing, receiving only a cup of gruel daily, and receiving and witnessing relentless beatings and punishments to his fellow POWs, having his hands and feet frozen. In 1943, the Japanese military shipped him to Kobe, Japan, and then later to Kawasaki, near Tokyo, Japan. He worked there in a steel mill until March 1945. Then Riddle was sent to northern Japan to work in an open mine. In September 1945, Riddle and other POWs were finally released and returned to the U.S.


“Mr. Riddle survived unimaginable torture, horrific living conditions, and forced labor in his service to the United States. With grateful hearts, we acknowledge and honor his dedication and heroic service in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.”

Walter E. Gaskin

Lt. General, USMC Ret., Secretary of NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs