Nearly 80 years after helping defend the Philippines against the Japanese invasion that began December 1941, Daniel Crowley, 98, was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge during a ceremony Monday, Jan. 4 in Connecticut.
Crowley, who endured years of brutal slave labor as a POW in the Philippines and Japan before his release at war’s end in August 1945, also received the Prisoner of War Medal and a long-belated formal promotion to the rank of sergeant, according to a report by Stars and Stripes.
The Combat Infantryman Badge is awarded by the Army to infantrymen and Special Forces soldiers in the rank of colonel and below who fought in active ground combat.
Crowley had long resented the U.S. Army’s refusal to award the badge to the ill-equipped provisional soldiers who fought the Japanese on the Bataan Peninsula. He was a member of the Provisional Army Air Corps Infantry Regiment.
Crowley and other soldiers and sailors refused to surrender in Bataan and instead swam 3 miles to Corregidor Island, where American and Philippine fighters of the 4th Marines Regimental Reserve fought until surrendering on May 6, 1942.
“It bothered me that I never got the badge that I should have had because it signified you were shooting back at the bastard who was trying to kill you,” Crowley told Stars and Stripes.
After being held in a POW camp in Palawan, Crowley and hundreds of others were transported to Japan in “hell ships.” There Crowley was forced to work in two separate copper mines, the last one 2,000 feet below the surface.
On hearing Crowley’s story and his request to finally receive the combat badge, Gregory J. Slavonic, acting undersecretary of the Navy, worked with the Secretary of the Army to research Crowley’s service history and confirm awards and promotions due him.
The research found that Crowley also had been promoted to sergeant in October 1945, but he was never notified.
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