Army Veteran Jose Calugas was the only Filipino recipient of the Medal of Honor during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Bataan. Calugas began serving in the Philippine Scouts in 1930 and was eventually mobilized to Bataan, in the Philippines, with his unit. On January 16, 1942, Calugas was on duty as a mess sergeant when he noticed that one of his unit’s field guns was destroyed and its entire crew had been killed. Without orders, Calugas voluntarily ran 1,000 yards to the inactive gun. Calugas and a group of volunteers effectively repaired the gun and fired back at Japanese forces. Though he was under constant heavy fire from enemy forces, Calugas manned the 75 mm canon alone and stopped around 60 advancing Japanese vehicles.
Calugas’ superiors recommended him for the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, but before he could receive it, American forces in Bataan surrendered to Japanese forces. Calugas was captured and held as a prisoner of war for over two years. After being captured, Calugas endured a forced march, known as the Bataan Death March, of over 60 miles to a prison camp. The Bataan Death March claimed the lives of many that were captured. He survived severe beatings, malnourishment and disease as a prisoner of war, but remained committed to his country. While at a prison camp, Calugas secretly joined a guerrilla unit and fought for the eventual liberation of the Philippines in 1945. On April 30, 1945, Calugas was awarded the Medal of Honor and he continued to serve in the Army until 1957 when he retired at the rank of captain. Along with the Medal of Honor, he received over 10 other military decorations and numerous civilian awards. Calugas passed away at the age of 90 in January 1998.
We honor his service. #HonoringVets