Veteran of the Month – Corporal Dan Crowley

December 1, 2013

Click here for the full interview

NAME: Dan Crowley
ADDRESS: Simsbury, CT
MILITARY JOB: Aircraft Crew Chief
RANK: Corporal

ACTIVE SERVICE: 10/7/1940-4/6/1946

17th Pursuit Squadron
Provisional Air Corps Infantry on Bataan
4th Marine Corps Regiment

Bronze Star

Combat Infantryman Badge


Daniel Crowley was born on May 29, 1922 and raised in Greenwich, CT. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Hartford on October 7, 1940. In March of 1941, Crowley arrived in Manila, Philippine, where he was stationed when Japan struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Eighteen hours later, his ordeal began when his air base near Manila was hit by the Japanese in their quest to gain access to resources in the British and Dutch colonies of Southeast Asia. With the destruction of the entire air fleet in Manila, Crowley became a Private in the US Army Infantry.

Within a couple of weeks, Crowley was headed for the peninsula of Bataan, where disease and starvation took the lives of thousands. Crowley, with both American and Filipino troops, held off the Japanese for several months before General Edward King surrendered on April 9, 1942. Despite this, Crowley and a small brigade of U.S. Marines, 4th Regiment, under the command of General Jonathan Wainwright, continued to fight on the island of Corregidor until May 6, 1942, when he too was officially surrendered, a day Crowley calls the “worst disgrace” for U.S. troops and the beginning of his nearly four years as a Prisoner of War (POW). His parents were notified of his POW status by way of a postal telegraph.

Crowley was sent to Camp O’Donnell, where over 22,000 American and Filipino POWs died from disease and starvation. He was later transferred to Camp Cabanatuan and then to a slave camp in Palawan where he helped build an airfield in the blazing sun with little clothes, no hat nor shoes. Half the prisoners died there, and if it were not for an American doctor’s convincing diagnosis that he was mentally unfit, Crowley would have been returned to the camp and burned alive with the remaining prisoners at the airfield.

Next, Crowley was shipped to Japan where he worked 2000 feet down in an ancient copper mine until August 14, 1945 when Crowley recalls, “The Japanese admitted that we got their attention.” On that day, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration surrendering Japan. While the emperor was speaking, prisoners were not allowed to work. That day began what Crowley calls the “year of freedom.”  Crowley was liberated on September 4, 1945, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He took a slow boat back to the United States in October 1945 and was discharged from the U.S. Army in April 1946 in Massachusetts.

After discharge from military service, Crowley became an insurance agent, married, and raised a son and daughter with his wife Marie in Simsbury. Marie Crowley passed away in February 2012 after 67 years of marriage.

Dan Crowley continues to serve his country and community by sharing his story and ensuring that we honor and forever hold in our memory the brave men who did not return from war. His most recent efforts to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the state legislature to name the bridge on Route 185 in Simsbury the “Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge” in memory of those soldiers who fought alongside Crowley and who lost their lives at the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor. The dedication will take place on December 7, 2013 and the Department of Transportation’s official signs will be unveiled.