Battle of Layac Junction: The First Line of Defense
On January 6, 1942, the first major USAFFE battle in defense of Bataan took place in Layac Junction, Dinalupihan. The 71st Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the command of Brigadier General Clyde A. Selleck supported by the US 31st Infantry Regiment under Colonel Charles A. Steel, the 26th Cavalry of the Philippine Scouts, and a heavy concentration of artillery, light tanks and self-propelled gun units bravely fought the Imai Detachment of the Japanese Imperial Army. The junction was the key position designated by War Plan Orange 3 (the Defense of Bataan) as the first line of resistance (MLR) of the Filipino-American forces.
In one of the most memorable scenes in the Battle of Layac Junction, Sergeant Jose Calugas eluded the bullets trained on him to take over a fallen comrade’s machine gun, led a group of volunteers, and engaged the Japanese in a shootout thus enabling other soldiers to take advantageous positions to defend the line. For his extraordinary bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Lieutenant Julian Chua and Cecilio Garcia were the two other Filipinos who have exhibited exceptional courage and who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.