A Connecticut native, Daniel W Crowley joined the Army Air Corps in October 1940 at the age of 18. For his first duty assignment, Crowley was assigned to an aircraft unit on Nichols Field near Manila, the capital of the Philippines. He arrived there in March 1941.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On the same day, the Japanese attacked the Philippines, bombing several military airfields. The next day, the U.S. declared war on Japan, and the Japanese bombed Nichols Field where Crowley was assigned.
The Japanese raid at Nichols Field destroyed all the hangars, most of the aircraft, and other infrastructure. While Crowley and others worked to defend the airfield against the Japanese attacks, their efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful.
On Dec. 24, 1941 — about 15 days after the Japanese bombed Nichols Field — Crowley and others sailed about 25 miles across Manila Bay to the Bataan peninsula in the dark of night, leaving their former home abandoned.
During the Battle of the Points on the west coast of Bataan, Crowley and the regiment used hand-to-hand combat to fend off three amphibious landings by the Japanese. After three and a half months of fighting, it was apparent the Japanese were going to prevail at Bataan.
On Corregidor, which is just off the southern tip of the Bataan peninsula, Crowley and others were met by a Marine Corps unit — the 4th Marines Regimental Reserves.
The island fell to the Japanese on May 6, 1942. After that, Crowley and nearly 12,000 others were taken as POWs. Crowley spent three-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war and slave laborer in Japan.
After Hiroshima, the Japanese signed documents of surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Just two days later, Crowley was liberated.
He was honorably discharged from the Army in April 1946; however, Army records show he had been promoted to sergeant in October 1945, but Crowley never learned of that promotion until Jan 4, 2001 when he was awarded a POW medal and the Army's Combat Infantryman Badge.