Seventy years after American forces invaded the Philippine island of Cebu during World War ll, David Colamaria ’94 stood beside a monument to the brave soldiers who retook the island from the Japanese army. The Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 182nd Infantry Regiment took part in the amphibious assault in March 1945, with Colamaria’s grandfather among them.
Colamaria’s journey to remember his grandfather, Technical Sergeant Edward Monahan, and the men of 182nd Infantry began years earlier. “I’d often wondered what my grandfather did in the Pacific during World War ll. Once I started doing the research, I was so inspired that I went back to school to make history my life’s work,” he notes.
A civil and environmental engineering major while at UMass, Colamaria worked in engineering and technology after graduation. But in 2007, he enrolled at George Mason University to obtain a master’s degree in digital history with a military focus. He is currently a photo archivist with the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, DC working to digitize and archive over a million Navy photos for public access.
During his career transition, Colamaria continued his research into the 182nd Infantry Regiment. Through historical documents at the National Archives, the National Guard Association and the Americal Division Veteran’s Association, he pieced together the history of 182nd Infantry Regiment, which is one of the oldest regiments in the American military, dating back to 1636.
“Once I got my website off the ground, people started to contact me,” shared Colamaria. “I’ve spoken with a lot of the guys who served in the company during World War ll. Sadly, quite a few of them have passed on in the last few years, but I got to know them quite well and actually traveled to visit with some of them.”
Shortly after publishing his research online, Colamaria was contacted by one of the soldiers of the 182nd Infantry. “My grandfather had lent him a compass and pocket knife over in the Philippines. He was wounded while on patrol and during the evacuation process lost most of his belongings, except for that compass and pocket knife. He kept them for over 60 years and then returned them to our family, which was a very emotional moment.”
Colamaria is working to update his website with a relaunch date of Memorial Day, May 25.
By Elena Lamontagne
The UMass Amherst Alumni Association proudly recognizes all veterans of the United States Armed Forces and thanks them for their sacrifice and service to our country.