Congress honors Lititz WWII hero

By on December 29, 2015

On Dec. 11, Congressman Joe Pitts honored local hero Joseph DeMott, of Lititz, in the Congressional Record.

“Mr. DeMott served our country in the Army Air Corps during World War II, suffering severe leg wounds in a mission over what is now Jakarta,” Pitts shared. “While he was in the hospital, Japan overtook the city and he was captured in March 1942. He was sent to a POW camp to do farm labor, build fences, dig ditches, and work on the docks.”

DeMott was starved, beaten, and temporarily blinded until the camp was liberated in September 1945. For his heroism, he received two Purple Hearts.

 

Joseph DeMott (seated) with a Marine escort at the British Commonwealth Cemetery in Yokohama, Japan. (Photos provided by Kirk Buchanan)

Joseph DeMott (seated) with a Marine escort at the British Commonwealth Cemetery in Yokohama, Japan. (Photos provided by Kirk Buchanan)

 

After the war, back home in Pennsylvania, he became an electrical engineer after graduating from Penn State. He went on to work as a plant manager at Champion Blower and Forge in Lancaster.

This October, 70 years after his wartime experience, DeMott and seven other former POWs held by Japan during World War II traveled to Japan as guests of the Japanese government to revisit and reconcile with their past.

“Mr. DeMott’s story is an outstanding lesson to us all,” said Pitts, “not only in courage, selflessness, patriotism, and valor, but also in forgiveness. Those who are truly strong are strong enough to forgive.”

In addressing Congress, Pitts pointed out that there are heroes all around us in this country, and that he is proud to represent more than 40,000 of them in his district.

Congressman Pitts served three tours of duty in Vietnam over five and a half years. Initially commissioned as a second lieutenant, he was promoted to captain by the time he left the service. He graduated second in his class from Navigator School, after which he was trained as an Electronic Warfare officer. As an EW officer, he served on B-52s out of Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, with payloads of nuclear bombs. When America committed itself to the Vietnam conflict, he rotated out of Guam, Okinawa, and Thailand. In all, he completed 116 combat missions and earned an Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.

 

Former Japanese prisoner of war Joseph DeMott, 97, chats with U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, at her residence in Japan.

Former Japanese prisoner of war Joseph DeMott, 97, chats with U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, at her residence in Japan.

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