Upon the outbreak of war in the Far East, the 4th Marines were offered to General MacArthur by Admiral Hart. Instead of being used as infantry in the ensuing campaign (they were considered to be the best fighting regiment in the Philippines), the 4th Marines were instead used as guards over MacArthur's Army headquarters.
When Lieutenant General Wainwright surrendered, he was forced by his Japanese captors to surrender all units, including the 4th Marines. The Marines destroyed their weapons, and as Colonel Howard ordered the colors burned, he turned to his Executive Officer, Colonel Donald Curtis, and exclaimed, "My God ... and I had to be the first Marine officer ever to surrender a regiment!"
He was, however, awarded a Navy Cross for his courage and service to the nation as the leader of the 4th Marines at Corregidor.