This Week In Quartermaster History
|On 9 April 1942, Allied forces on Bataan surrendered to
the invading Japanese and the infamous "Death March" ensued. Weeks later
the island stronghold of Corregidor succumbed to a similar fate. But not before the world
had learned of the Quartermasters who struggled heroically to keep hope alive.
One of the real heroes of that campaign was Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Kalakuka, QMC, a West Point graduate of Ukrainian descent. His near legendary feats over the course of five months earned for him the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart Medal.
One day during the fierce fighting on Bataan, he grabbed a rifle and led his Quartermasters to repel a Japanese air raid, he put out fires in the petroleum area and cut the moorings on some barges so they would escape the advancing Japanese.
His actions on Corregidor in stalling Japanese efforts to blow up the Malinta Tunnel helped save the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. wounded soldiers.
Like General Wainwright, Colonel Kalakuka was also captured, and participated in his own "death march." While in captivity he contracted malaria and died on 31 October 1942.
Compiled by the
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Historian
Fort Lee, Virginia