“People everywhere thank me. I think the thanks should go the other way. Nothing for me can ever compare with the satisfaction I got from freeing those men.” Robert Prince in an April 16, 1945 interview with the Seattle P-I.
Robert Prince was born in 1920 in Seattle, Washington. He attended schools in the Seattle Public School System graduating from Garfied High School and then continued his education at Stanford University where he focused on history and economics. While at Stanford he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1941.
Robert Prince married Barbara Harrison on January 31, 1942 in Seattle. Just a few months later he was commissioned to New Guinea. Soon after his return from New Guinea he joined the newly-formed, elite 6th Ranger Battalion. In January 1945 the U.S. Military learned of the Japanese Army’s new “Kill-All” policy adopted to extinguish last surviving witnesses, prisoners of war. In response, the 6th Ranger Battalion was charged with rescuing prisoners held at the Japanese POW Camp near Cabanatuan in the Philippines. Lt. Col. Henry A. Mucci, commander of the 6th Ranger Battalion, hand-picked Mr. Prince to plan the raid. Mr. Prince’s plan, assembled quickly with limited reconnaissance, successfully liberated 571 prisoners of war on January 31, 1945. Strategic principles of his plan are still taught at the WSMA West Point.
Mr. Prince, his wife, Lt. Col. Mucci and nine other Rangers and their wives were celebrated as heroes for their actions by President Franklin Roosevelt and in war bond campaigns. In 2005 the successful raid was depicted in the film The Great Raid. Actor James Franco portrayed Mr. Prince.
The Distinguished Service Cross, our nation’s second-highest award for valor, was presented to Mr. Prince for his service to the citizens of the United States. He was also named to the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. Mr. Prince retired from the U.S. Army in 1946 as a Major.
After his discharge from the Army, Mr. Prince and his wife moved to Wenatchee where they raised their two sons. Mr. Prince was active in the apple industry marketing Washington grown fruit and serving in many leadership positions within the industry. He retired in 1985 as president of Gwin, White and Prince, a Wenatchee-based fruit marketing firm he was instrumental in forming.
Mr. & Mrs. Prince had two sons, Jim and Stephen. Stephen Prince was killed in Vietnam on August 11, 1969.
The current ownership of Gwin, White & Prince initiated this scholarship to honor the many contributions Mr. Prince made to his community, industry and nation. Scholarships awarded in Mr. Prince’s name will help talented students achieve their academic potential and prepare for valuable service to their chosen communities and industries.