VICTOR J. IRELAND
Technical Sergeant | Infantry
The 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment became known as the “Lost Battalion” while fighting in Leyte’s Ormoc corridor in October 1944. After about a month of constant combat, the battalion received orders to establish a roadblock through the mountains in order for American forces to break out to the south toward Ormoc.
Four days later, Platoon Sergeant Victor Ireland reached the road with his men of E Company. The fight to get there sapped their supplies and they were soon without food, forced to scavenge rice off of dead Japanese and forage hearts of palm trees. For another four days, they held their road block against every imaginable threat. On top of the enemy threat, the steamy jungle diminished health quickly. Dysentery and jungle rot was rampant in their flooded foxholes.
Ireland, who was already sallow to begin with, was looking dreadfully thin. More days passed and the battalion held out until the colonel ordered to withdraw. Battered, starving, and exhausted, the men trailed down the rough terrain back to friendly lines after nearly two weeks surrounded by the enemy.