Nathaniel Minter Dial – Lieutenant, United States Navy

My grandfather was Lieutenant N. Minter Dial, U.S Navy, Annapolis Class of 1932, Born in 1911, in Laurens, South Carolina.

What I know of my grandfather is limited to a few Red Cross letters that we received. He was commanding officer of the tugboat USS Napa at Corregidor and was awarded the Navy Cross defending the boat under heavy fire from Japanese planes.

In March 1942, he reported to the Commandant of the Sixteenth Naval District for duty on his staff. With the capitulation of the allied forces, he was thence captured, apparently sick with dysentery, and ended up Cabanatuan Prison Camp #1; he then went to Cabanatuan #3 and ended up in Bilibid (transferred there in October 1944).

Virtually the only thing we know of his time in camps was that he volunteered for the wood chopping detail. He died on December 13, 1944, on a Japanese ship, which was bombed by U.S. forces. The boat made it to Formosa.

He died beside a Major Bertram to whom he passed on a last letter and his Annapolis ring. The latter man made to Japan, lost the ring, but saved the last letter Minter wrote (night before his death) which he delivered to my grandmother some 7 months later. The ring ended up being refound in 1958 in Korea by the driver of Rear Admiral Pressey who had been a classmate of Minter’s at Annapolis.  It was a miraculous discovery and was eventually given over to my father, N. Victor Dial (a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy as well).

My grandfather was also awarded the Purple Heart. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.  I would like to have any information at all while he was stationed in the Philippines and during the 3 years he was in the POW camps.   Who were his friends?  What did he do with his time? What details did he work on? His ailments, his good times…if there were any..

Yours sincerely,
N. Minter Dial


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment