Vincent Leonard Bailey was born April 12, 1916 in Cullman County. He enlisted in the United State Navy and served during World War II. Bailey was ranked Petty Officer First Class and his military occupation was Storekeeper First Class. He was attached to USS Canopus (AS-9).
A letter he wrote to his sister, Mrs. Evelyn Buchanon, from the USS Houston on July 1, 1941 was published in the Cullman Tribune on September 9, 1943, stating that he was writing from “somewhere in the Pacific.” It reads, “The offs are heavily against us. All of the rest (of the ships) are of World War vintage. Even if they were new ‘twould be the same. They are only destroyers and submarines; not a battleship or air-craft carrier or other cruiser. We, one cruiser, would be against 10 battleships, seven air-craft carriers and about 40 cruisers, 60 destroyers and 50 submarines. Not even a Superman could win against such odds.”
The family would receive another letter the same week from the Imperial Japanese Army that reads, “My health is excellent….please see to the broadcasting of my whereabouts to all my family and friends. Tell all hands that I am well and kicking, and one fine day will kick right in the front.” This letter was from Bailey as he was held as a prisoner of war at the Philippine Military Camp No. 2.
On August 20, 1944, he was being transported by the Japanese to Davao, Philippine Islands. Later he was en route to Manilla. The Navy Department issued a statement on September 7, 1944 explaining, “On 7 September, 1944, this Japanese transport ship which bore no mark to indicate it was carrying prisoners of war was torpedoed and sunk by a submarine off of Liloy Point, Sindangan, Philippine Islands. The Japanese Government through the International Red Cross has reported your brother missing as a result of the sinking. Other prisoners of war who survived the sinking and have since been returned to military control have expressed a conviction that there is no possibility that your brother could have survived.”
Vincent Leornard Bailey is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manilla American Cemetery. He received the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal. He is also memorialized at Cullman’s Veterans Memorial Park.
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