Ranger Robert Prince: WWII 'Great Raid' hero dies


Special Forces
Rest In Peace
Jul 16, 2008
Seattle, Puget Sound — PNW
World War II's 'Great Raid' hero dies :(

Robert Prince led daring mission to free Allied POWs
The great raider has died.

Robert Prince, a Seattle native and Army Ranger who was the assault force commander of the daring World War II mission to liberate Allied prisoners that was portrayed in the 2005 movie "The Great Raid," passed away New Year's Day in Port Townsend, his family confirmed.

At Robert Prince's request, no services were held. Remembrances are suggested to the Children's Orthopedic Hospital or a charity of one's choice.
"He will be lovingly remembered by his family and friends as a warm, generous, but reserved and humble man," Prince's family said in a funeral notice.

A Garfield High and Stanford graduate, Prince was "a lifelong student of history, an avid follower of politics, and until recently, an enthusiastic Husky football fan," his family wrote.

Prince's humility extended to the mark in history he made as a soldier, from which he often deflected attention. His obituary says simply, "He served in the Southwest Pacific in New Guinea, the Philippine Islands and in Japan. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the rescue of 571 Bataan prisoners of war from the Cabanatuan Prison Camp January 31, 1945."
Prince was only 25 when he was handpicked by a man he deeply admired, Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, to lead 120 Rangers of the 6th Ranger Battalion, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas to rescue POWs from a Japanese prison camp near the town of Cabanatuan in the Philippines.

The highly successful mission was quickly heralded across the U.S. Mucci, Prince, nine other Rangers and their wives were sent on war bonds campaigns, and met with President Franklin Roosevelt.

Mucci and Prince both received the Army's highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the nation's second highest tribute for valor, after the Medal of Honor. The two also were named to the Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

Prince, originally from Seattle's Madrona neighborhood, returned home to Seattle and his wife, Barbara, leaving the Army as a major in February 1946.
The couple settled in Wenatchee, where they raised two sons and focused on getting on with their lives. Prince's son, Jim, has said his dad never talked about the war or the mission to him or his brother until once, when their mom urged Prince to tell them.

Prince carved out a business career marketing Washington apples in Seattle and Wenatchee for 40 years. He retired in 1985 as president of Gwin, White and Prince Inc., and held several leadership positions in the fruit industry.
He and his wife retired in Kirkland, where Barbara died in 2003. Prince then moved to a condominium in Port Townsend to be near his family.

Prince not only knew war as a veteran but as a parent. A son, Spc. 4 Stephen Robert Prince, was killed in action Aug. 11, 1969, near Quang Ngai, Vietnam, while serving with the Army's 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

In addition to his son, Jim, Prince is survived by daughter-in-law Mardee Stadshaug, grandchildren Amy Murray and Andrew Prince, and a brother, John, of Seattle. He was preceded in death by brothers Ken and Dick of Seattle.

In an Apr. 16, 1945, interview Prince gave to the P-I while home on leave, he said:

"People everywhere thank me. I think the thanks should go the other way. I'll be grateful the rest of my life that I had a chance to do something in this war that was not destructive. Nothing for me can ever compare with the satisfaction I got from freeing those men."
RIP Major Prince. The Great Raid was one of the most outstanding operations in the history of special forces. You truly led the way for others both on the field of battle and for all Rangers who followed your path.