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Colgan, Aquinas T.

Date of birth:
February 20th, 1911 (Chicago/Illinois, United States)
Date of death:
May 6th, 1945 (Bukidnon Province/Northern Mindanao, Philippines)
Buried on:
American War Graves Mount Olive Cemetery
Service number:
0-525920
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

Fr. Aquinas Colgan O. Carm. ’28, went to the Carmelite Seminary in Niagara after just 2 years, so he didn’t graduate from MC.
Born February 20, 1911, as Thomas at Visitation Parish & grew up there on Chicago’s south side.
o Ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1936
o Taught Spanish & Journalism at Mount Carmel: 1933-1939; 1942-1943
o Ministered to the Mexican workers at Nuestra & Senora del Carmen in Joliet
o Taught pre-flight at Lewis University in Romeoville
From the Columbia Article in May 1955 by John Kuenster:
Fr. Aquinas was wounded twice before his death. He received a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf cluster. He followed his men into four battles:
• Aitape, New Guinea
• Wakde – Samri
• Morotai, Netherlands East Indies
• Mindanao in April 1945, where he sought to aid a wounded combat medic. Once with the wounded man, Fr. Aquinas was first wounded but continued to try to pull the man to safety. A few minutes later, he was killed by a burst of machine gun fire. Later, when his body was recovered, his arms were still wrapped around the now deceased medic’s legs.
"When the Division landed in Dobadura, New Guinea, in March of 1944, Father Colgan marched with the men in jungle training and day and night practice of amphibious landings. Despite the extreme conditions, he managed to hold regular religious services.
Father Colgan stayed focused on his task amidst vicious fighting. Spotting a wounded man, he began to make his way ducking automatic fire. Suddenly he was hit in the shoulder, but he still continued to crawl through the underbrush until he reached the wounded man laying in a shell hole. Suddenly, a quick burst of machine gun fire killed Chaplain Colgan. In the minds and hearts of those who were there, the site became known as "Colgan Woods."
His superior & Principal at Mount Carmel, Fr. Ambrose Casey, O. Carm., later said that, "Never have I seen any man wish for anything in his life as much as Father Aquinas wished to be commissioned a chaplain in the United States Army!"

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
124th Infantry Regiment, 31st Infantry Division, U.S. Army
Awarded on:
1945
General citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 31st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 7 May 1945. Chaplain Colgan's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 31st Infantry Division, and the United States Army."

Headquarters, U.S. Forces-Pacific, General Orders No. 68. Aquinas T. Colgan was one of seven World War II chaplains to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor posthumously
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Captain
Unit:
124th Infantry Regiment, 31st Infantry Division, U.S. Army

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)

2 campaign stars
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

Sources

  • Photo 1: Terry Stadler
  • - Stadler, T., Men of Mount Carmel: Remembering Those Who Died in World War II