0.42 linear feet [1 document case]
Willibald C. Bianchi (1915-1945) a native of New Ulm, Minnesota, and a 1940 graduate of South Dakota State University. He was commissioned in 1940 and joined the 45th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts in 1941. For his actions during the Battle of Bataan, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1942. He was promoted to Captain and returned to battle only to be captured by the Japanese on April 9, 1942. He spent over two years in multiple prison camps before dying on an unmarked prison ship after it was bombed by an American airplane on January 9, 1945.
The collection contains information regarding the Willibald C. Bianchi Memorial scholarship, ceremony, and plaque at South Dakota State University. The records also include news clippings, remembrances, and a photocopy of the Congressional Medal of Honor certificate. In addition, there are photocopies of letters from Bianchi to his family while he was stationed in the Philippines and as a prisoner of war.
Willibald C. Bianchi was born March 12, 1915, in New Ulm, Minnesota to Joseph and Carrie Bianchi.
He enrolled at South Dakota State College in 1935. An active member of the R.O.T.C., Bianchi was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army upon his graduation in 1940.
That fall, Bianchi entered Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was later promoted to First Lieutenant. In April 1941, Bianchi joined the 45th Infantry Regiment of Philippine Scouts. His unit was to provide military training to Filipinos.
Bianchi remained in the Philippines after the United States entered World War II. On February 3, 1942, he was injured during the Battle of Bataan. Despite being wounded multiple times, he continued to push back Japanese troops until an explosion disabled him. As a result of his actions, General Douglas MacArthur presented Bianchi with a Congressional Medal of Honor, making him the third recipient of the medal during World War II.
After recuperating, Bianchi returned to service and received a promotion to Captain. Along with 75,000 other American and Filipino soldiers, he was captured by the Japanese on April 9, 1942. The captives marched 65 miles across the Bataan Peninsula in the heat with no food or water, in what is known as the Bataan Death March. Bianchi worked to help his fellow prisoners survive the grueling conditions of the march and prison camps.
After more than two years of being held prisoner, Bianchi was detained in several prison camps. On January 9, 1945, he was being held on an unmarked prison ship, which was bombed by an American airplane. He died instantly.
His body was never recovered, and Bianchi is remembered on the Wall of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Philippines. His grave marker is located at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 1998, South Dakota State University honored Captain Willibald Bianchi by dedicating a plaque placed in the Student Union, creating a scholarship, and holding a ceremony.
The collection consists of collected materials relating to the life of Captain Willibald C. Bianchi. The materials were used by the Tom Beattie and the Willibald Bianchi Memorial and Scholarship Committee to create a memorial to Bianchi at South Dakota State University. Files contain information regarding the scholarship, ceremony, and plaque. These materials also include news clippings, remembrances, and a photocopy of the Congressional Medal of Honor certificate. Items of significance comprise photocopies of letters from Bianchi to his family while he was stationed in the Philippines and as a prisoner of war.
SDSU Archives and Special Collections
If you have questions or would like to schedule a visit, please let us know.
South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.
Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.
SDSU Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, "William C. Bianchi Collection" (2022). Manuscript Archive. 84.