Monday, May 30, 2011

SELF TRIB UTE

A soldier boy in a muddy camp in France 1945


Today is Memorial Day; the day in which we should remember and honor all of those Americans, both citizens and non citizens, who have given their lives from pre-revolutionary days to today in the various conflicts which this nation has been involved. It mattered not whether the war was justifiable or not what is important is that the departed made a sacrifice for this country.

It would be most fitting if everyone; search their inner soul and root out any traces of hatred and prejudice and bigotry. If we admit that those three factors exist, we would be well on the way of overcoming the present social problems that affect this community as well as this nation.

I am flattered that the the Courier news as well as all the other Gannett paper in New Jersey chosen the  chose me  to be an example World War II veteran. Although I was in actual combat areas under enemy fire my risks were never, except with one exception, as great as the front line soldier. They are the true heroes of warfare.

Since the paper did publish an article although there are some errors, I would like to offer some proof that I actually served in the Army and make some corrections. I entered service January 14, 1944 and was separated from the service February 24, 1946. I was discharges as a captain medical officer general duty 3100 that is a line officer Dr. The actual date I became a civilian again was January 2, 1946. It was a great day for at that time I already had two children one of whom I had never seen.

My initial training was at the Carlisle barracks in Pennsylvania for six weeks at which time, although there was a foot of snow on the ground, we were given instructions in how to combat malaria and other South Pacific diseases. We were also instructed in the techniques the Army had used during World War I, modified by experiences learned in the Spanish Civil War; the incubator for much of the tactics of World War II.

While at Carlisle barracks my oldest daughter Pamela was born in Muhlenberg Hospital Plainfield.

For the next six weeks while the Army had to decide what to do with me, I spent at Finney General Hospital in Georgia as a ward officer in the medical ward. One of the most pleasant parts of that experience was that the pathologist in the hospital was Colonel Darlington. Dr. Darlington had been the pathologist in Muhlenberg Hospital before entering service and returned to his duties in Plainfield at the end of the war. It was pleasant because Col. Darlington introduced me every night at the officers club to his tablemates including his wife. Of course I had to have a drink with them..

From Finney General Hospital I received orders to report to the 1st Battalion 194th Glider Regiment's, 17th Airborne Division. This Airborne Regiment had only two battalions instead of the usual three of an regular infantry divisions. What was unique was unlike the regular Army Divisions each medical section attached to an airborne Battalion had to 2 medical officers instead of one. This was in preparation for the potential losses in any operation. In our Battalion there with a total of seven medical officers including a dentist. All of us would go overseas but only four of us returned at the end of the war.

We arrived in England in August 44 and were stationed down in Wiltshire. We were just "unfortunately" too late to be included in the ill-fated airborne invasion of Holland. However, when the Bulge broke in December; on Christmas Day our Regiment was airlifted to France. (good story) I spent New Year's Eve with three aid men attached to Company C guarding a bridge over the Maas River. Two days later in the division's initiation to combat we we suffered about 10% causalities in a counteroffensive attack against a tank supported SS division.

We withdraw from the front lines at the end of the Bulge to a muddy field near Chalons France to be reorganized and resupplied. Our division and the British 6th airborne were to make the airborne portion in the invasion of the German mainland across Rhine. That is a story unto itself. After chasing Germans across Westphalian and the closing of the link around the Ruhr Valley, We spent a short time as occupation forces in Duisburg Germany.

Fortunately, with peace in Europe our division was to be broken up and personnel transferred other wheres. But that is another story. I transferred as Battalion Surgeon to the 82nd Airborne 376 Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, and went to Berlin as part of the initial American occupation forces This is a sketchy story of my experiences. in WWII.

I have posted 2 pictures as some proof that I am a veteran. The top one was taken in the field.
The other for posterity when I returned home.

The Ribbons are unit citations Croix de Guerre ( both France and Belgium)
The ribbon on the right is 'The Unit Distinguished Badge''
The top badge on left is Combat Glider Badge
The ribbon below is the "Purple Heart"
The large bar contains ribbons representing "European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 3 battle stars and an Arrowhead (for the combat glider landing). and the World War II Victory medal
The last badge is the " Combat Medical Badge"
I hope my memory is right on the names: It has been a long long time. Incidentally I last spoke to my battalion co surgeon DR. Jethro Irby of Martinsville Va. a year ago.
There was nothing gung-ho about my service, I was just doing my duty to my country and if I had a choice would have much rather been in a hospital here in the States. I just did what I was ordered to do. My best duty in Europe was 4 weeks as Chief of the Veneral Disease Service in the only American Hospital in Paris.
My now deceased older brother served as a physician with the Fleet Air Wing of the Navy. He graduated from flight training at the Navy school in Pensacola. He was responsible for the organizing the evacuation of the wounded from Guadalcanal. After the war he became Regular Navy and had a varied career. One of his sons served 2 tours of duty as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam another did a hitch in the submarines.

2 comments:

  1. I wrote this using Dragon speech software which seems to be fairly accurate but does quirky things at times with what I dictated. No matter how many times I proof read it I seem to miss weird context errors. I try to correct when I find them

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  2. Thank you for your service Doc!

    ReplyDelete