Jose Cabalfin Calugas MOH

b. 29/12/1907 Leon, Philippines. d. 18/01/1998 Tacoma, Washington.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/01/1942 Bataan, Philippines.

Jose Calugas MOH

Calugas was born in Barrio Tagsing, Leon, Iloilo, Philippines, December 29, 1907. His mother died when he was ten, and he later left high school in order to work and support his family. In 1930, he enlisted in the United States Army and had received his basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Upon completion, he received additional training as an artilleryman, and then assigned to the 24th Artillery Regiment of the Philippine Scouts at Fort Stotsenburg, Pampanga. While stationed at Fort Stotsenburg, he married and began to raise a family. His next unit was the 88th Field Artillery Regiment of the Philippine Scouts. He was a Sergeant with Battery B when the United States and the Philippine Commonwealth, declared war with Japan in 1941. His unit was mobilized for duty and sent to Bataan in December 1941.

On January 6, 1942, his unit was covering the withdrawal of a portion of the U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), with the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts and the 31st Infantry Regiment. For his actions on that day, his superiors recommended Calugas for the United States military’s highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. Before he could receive it, however, all American forces on Bataan surrendered to Japanese forces.

After the surrender, Calugas and the other prisoners marched from Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell, a prison camp in the province of Tarlac. The Japanese, having expected the fighting to continue, anticipated about 25,000 prisoners of war and were inadequately prepared or unwilling to transport a group of prisoners three times the size. The majority of the prisoners of war were immediately relieved of their belongings and endured a 61-mile (98 km) march in deep dust, over vehicle-broken macadam roads, and crammed into rail cars for the portion of the journey from San Fernando to Capas. En route, over 21,000 men and women died from disease, starvation, dehydration, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton execution. The deaths of Filipinos to Americans was disproportionately high: approximately 5,000–10,000 Filipino and 600–650 American prisoners of war died on the Bataan Death March. Calugas remained a prisoner at Camp O’Donnell until January 1943, when he was released to work for the Japanese.

His release placed him as a laborer in a Japanese rice mill, and while assigned there he secretly joined a guerrilla unit, #227 Old Bronco. As an officer of the guerrilla unit, he participated in the attack on the Japanese garrison at Karangalan. His unit fought in the continued campaign against the Japanese, which eventually led to the liberation of the Philippines.

After the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, he finally received the Medal of Honor for which he had been approved the beginning of the war. The Medal was presented to him by General of the Army General George Marshall on 30 April 1945 in Pampanga, Camp Olivas, Philippines. Calugas subsequently accepted a direct commission in the United States Army, and was later assigned to the 44th Infantry Regiment, which was assigned with the occupation of Okinawa. After the unit was disbanded in 1947, he was assigned to the Ryuku Command, on the Ryukyu Islands in the South China Sea, where he remained until 1953. He was later assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington.

Calugas eventually retired from the army with the rank of Captain and in 1957 he moved to Tacoma, Washington with his family. After retiring from the army he earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Puget Sound in 1961 and worked for the Boeing Corporation. In addition to furthering his education and starting a new career, he was involved in several veterans groups within the Seattle and Tacoma area. He died in Tacoma on January 18, 1998, at age 90, and is buried at Mountain View Memorial Park in Tacoma, Washington. He was survived by his three children, including retired Sergeant First Class Jose Calugas Jr., eleven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. His wife of 52 years died in 1991.



The action for which the award was made took place near Culis, Bataan Province, Philippine Islands, on 16 January 1942. A battery gun position was bombed and shelled by the enemy until 1 gun was put out of commission and all the cannoneers were killed or wounded. Sgt. Calugas, a mess sergeant of another battery, voluntarily and without orders ran 1,000 yards across the shell-swept area to the gun position. There he organized a volunteer squad which placed the gun back in commission and fired effectively against the enemy, although the position remained under constant and heavy Japanese artillery fire.