Harry Lewis Nytra

Obituary: Harry L. Nytra / Corregidor defender who survived POW camps

Nothing in life was easy for Harry L. Nytra. He grew up an orphan, then joined the Army to survive the Depression.
World War II followed, and Mr. Nytra ended up with an undermanned unit trying to defend Corregidor Island from attacking Japanese soldiers.
Ordered by their superiors to surrender after several months and then 27 days of the full battle on Corregidor, the Americans were taken captive on May 6, 1942. Mr. Nytra spent the next 40 months in Japanese prison camps, where beatings, disease and death were rampant.
A resident of Ingram, Mr. Nytra died Sunday at the veterans' hospital in Aspinwall, where he was being treated for kidney failure and other internal ailments. He was 88.

Mr. Nytra enlisted in the Army in 1935. A staff sergeant by the time the United States entered World War II, he was the command officer of an ammunition warehouse on Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines before being assigned to help defend Corregidor Beach on April 8, 1942.
His transfer allowed him to escape the infamous Bataan Death March by a matter of hours, but he would later face abuses almost as great. A month after Bataan fell, Mr. Nytra and the other Corregidor defenders also were captured and imprisoned. He eventually was shipped to Japan and held at Fukuoka Camp No. 17 until the end of the war.

After the war, Mr. Nytra found a job as a laborer on Neville Island, where he worked for 31 years until his retirement in 1977. He was active in veterans' organizations, especially the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
Mr. Nytra is survived by his wife, Dolores; two sons, Tim, of Ingram, and Harry, of Irwin; and a daughter, Lorraine Gowland, of Tasmania, Australia.

Mr. Nytra will be buried June 15 in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Credit: Milan Simonich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, June 02, 2004


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