Lewis Spencer Kirkpatrick
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Lewis Spencer Kirkpatrick was born May 15, 1901 to Dr. Elmer E. and Claudia (Spencer) Kirkpatrick. When he graduated from Central High School, Spencer had been part of the high school football team and debating society in addition to working in the summer as a section hand on the Colorado Midland Railroad.
Spencer attended the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1920 and graduated in 1924. He was immediately promoted to Second Lieutenant and stationed at Fort Sheridan in Chicago, Illinois. In 1926, Spencer transferred to Quarry Heights to the Canal Zone in the Republic of Panama where he served with the Military Police Company under the Panama Canal Department until November 1927. He was later transferred to the 33rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Clayton also in the Canal Zone where he remained until September 1928.
In November 1928, Spencer attended the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Field near San Antonio, Texas. In January 1929, Spencer was sent to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, home of the 25th Infantry Regiment. He served during an ongoing Mexican Revolution which intensified throughout the spring of 1929. In August he was promoted to First Lieutenant.
In July 1930, Spencer transferred to the Coast Artillery Corps at Fort MacArthur in Los Angeles, California with the 63rd Coast Artillery as the Battery Executive Officer. In September 1931 he transferred to the Coast Artillery Command School at Fort Monroe, Virginia. In June 1932, Spencer would also marry Elizabeth “Bess” Boyer Cacy at “the Little Church around the Corner” in New York. The couple honeymooned in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado at the Kirkpatrick family’s cabin.
Near the end of August, Spencer and Bess sailed for Fort Kamehameha located near Honolulu on what was then the Territory of Hawaii. Spencer became Battery Commander with the 15th Coastal Artillery on Oahu. In March 1935 Spencer transferred to the 8th Coastal Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense) at Fort Preble in Maine again as Battery Commander. In August, he was also promoted to Captain.
While stationed at Fort Preble, both of Spencer’s children were born. On November 5, 1935, Roy Spencer Kirkpatrick was born. Nearly three years later on May 15, 1938, Spencer and Bess had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. Two months later Spencer received orders that he would be sailing for the Philippines; the family set sail together in February 1939 for the islands.
In March 1939, Spencer became Battery “D” Commander for the 59th Coastal Artillery at Fort Mills on Corregidor, Philippines. In April 1940, a ban on visiting Shanghai was lifted and Spencer together with other officers visited the area aboard the USS Augusta. The following year, families living on the Philippines were evacuated. In March 1941, Spencer assumed command of the Battalion and became Plans and Training Officer. By summer, he became the Garrison Commander of Fort Drum and was promoted to Major.
Spencer wrote to his family frequently in the months leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor about possible assignments back in the United States. Multiple opportunities to return to the United States were frustrated and by December 1941, the Japanese began bombing the Philippine Islands. That same year, Spencer was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
In February 6, 1942, Fort Drum itself began experiencing significant bombing with 100 shells hitting the “Concrete Battleship” on the first day. The 200 men stationed on the fort remained through the Japanese take over in Bataan and move into Manila Bay. Finally on May 5, 1942, Spencer was ordered to surrender Fort Drum. He did so only after he and his men destroyed the equipment, rendering the fort useless for the invading Japanese Army.
Spencer remained a prisoner of war at a Philippines internment camp until April 27, 1943 when he died of pneumonia.