Marine Corps Veteran Leo J. Dulacki is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in December 1918, Leo J. Dulacki was the son of Polish immigrants. After graduating from Omaha South High School in 1936, Dulacki enrolled in Creighton University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in June 1941. Following graduation, Dulacki was commissioned a reserve second lieutenant within the ROTC but resigned in favor of accepting an appointment as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in September of that year.
Dulacki served in the Marine Corps detachment aboard USS Hornet for much of World War II, taking part in the Doolittle Raid in April 1942, as well as the Battle of Midway in June of that year. Dulacki was also aboard Hornet during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where the vessel was hit by three bombs from an Aichi D3A dive bomber. Colliding with another of the bombers, which had been shot down, the badly damaged Hornet managed to temporarily escape the fighting with the assistance of USS Northampton towing the vessel. However, this did not spare Hornet from its ultimate fate. Despite repair crews restoring power, nine Krate torpedo aircraft later intercepted the vessel, one of which landed a fatal hit on the vessel’s starboard side. With Hornet effectively sunk, its crew were ordered overboard.
Surviving the affair, Dulacki was rescued by escorting destroyers and sent to Pearl Harbor, where he was eventually promoted to the rank of captain. Dulacki again served aboard another vessel, USS Belleau Wood, until it was severely damaged by a kamikaze aviator in 1944. Following this, Dulacki transferred to serve as an officer in charge of the local Marine Corps recruiting office in Kansas City, Missouri, where he remained until the end of the war.
Dulacki completed the Junior Course at the Marine Corps School, Quantico, before attending the Army Language School, studying Russian and finally attending the Strategic Intelligence School in Washington, D.C.
After returning from an assignment in Finland, Dulacki was assigned to serve in Korea and deployed on the Jamestown Line. As the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army launched its counterattack, Dulacki was wounded by artillery fire as an ordinance exploded near his position. Surviving, Dulacki was able to participate in the truce talks at Panmunjom.
Following his service in Korea, Dulacki completed the Senior Course at the Marine Corps School and was later appointed as the assistant naval attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow in 1958. Continuing his education further, Dulacki returned to the United States in 1961, where he attended the Naval War College and also earned a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
Serving in Vietnam, Dulacki continued his outstanding career throughout his service before eventually returning to the States, where he was eventually promoted to the rank of major general on Aug. 17, 1970. Three years later, Dulacki was promoted to lieutenant general on May 14, following confirmation by the Senate on May 10, 1973, the highest rank of his military career. He retired four years later after 32 years of service on Jan. 1, 1974.
Dulacki died in January 2019, aged 100.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Milosh Mihajlovic-Klaric
Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton
Researchers: Jake Stanard, Kennady Hertz
Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley