Provost’s “Traveling Circus,” “The Chairborne Battalion,” “The GI
Cab Company…” Yes, the Service Company has been referred to by many names.
Some of them, for the sake of posterity, would be best not to mention in
The story of
Service Company differs in many ways from that of any other unit in the
Regiment, but is by no means less interesting.
The company is broken down into many sections, each working independently
of the other, but at the same time together.
For instance, Master Sergeant (M Sgt) Shearer, the Regiment’s Sergeant
Major and his staff of capable clerks who keep things running smoothly in the
front office, have a distinctly different version of what has transpired since
Le Havre than do the 2-1/2-ton truck drivers who have herded the big trucks over
some of the worst roads the enemy had to offer.
pattern is Major Welles’ RSO (Regiment Supply Office) – the boys who put the
rations on the line whenever it was humanly possible to do so.
The boys who secured the warm clothing when it was so badly needed in
Born, Honsfeld and several other places along the way.
Breaking down rations by the flare of artillery fire in some beat-up
German schoolhouse is but one of the tasks performed by RSO.
Hats off to the Major, Mr. Baltier, the Battalion S-4 groups – M Sgt
Moxness, Staff Sergeant (S Sgt) Johnson, Technician
4th Class (Tec. 4) Timberlake,
Wierrich, Nelson, Stalker, Gambrel – and all the rest of the boys from RSO.
They did a wonderful job.
A large portion
of the credit for the success of the Regiment must go to the Ammunition Section.
Those weren’t stones you were throwing at the Jerries, you know.
It took a lot of hard work on the part of Capt La Patka, Brooklyn’s own
Mr. Leary, T Sgt Richard and Chester, and PA’s favorite son, Sgt Hipple, to
get that stuff up to you. After the
war is over, if you should meet some poor guy shuffling along the streets of New
York, mumbling something about basic loads, treat him nicely, for he probably
had something to do with the ammunition supply for the 272 Infantry.
We boast of
another section of Service Company, worthy of the praise of every man in the
Regiment. That section is
Personnel, the one that we run to when the little lady writes and tells us that
her allotment check didn’t arrive on the first of the month.
We seldom see much of the pencil commandos, but the evidence shows that
behind the scenes, they are doing a bang-up job.
Capt Gildner, T Sgt Haney, Sgt Cope, Cpl Sired and the entire staff at
Personnel, please accept our thanks.
Perhaps the most
important thing in the life of the individual GI is his daily mail.
Sgt Bohlke, Cpl Semmler and Cpl Burnett saw to it that everyone received
their mail, just as fast as they could get it up.
Back in France, the mail slowed up a bit, but that was easy to
understand. Von Runstedt’s drive
pushed all the mailbags off the boats from the States and put a lot of other
bags there in their place – duffle bags, we mean, with a replacement standing
beside each one. Taking everything
into consideration, the Regimental Post Office department deserves much credit
for maintaining the most important thing of all – the link with home.
We hear many
gripes from other outfits about the shortage of PX rations.
No gripes from the 272 Infantry! There’s
not a man in the Regiment who can honestly say that he went for an extended
length of time without his candy and cigarettes.
Lt Hinds and Cpl Fournier of the Special Service Office made sure that we
received all that was coming to us. Aside
from that, they also had a good supply of athletic equipment on hand, and a few
movies, which helped us to relax once in a while.
We are grateful to the SSO for making life more bearable for us while in
the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
careful guidance of Capt A.C. (Big Red) Williams and his capable assistants, Lt
Donnelson, Lt Cates and M Sgt Teves, the Transportation Platoon kept the 272
Infantry on wheels from the time we hit the coast of France up until the present
day. Night and day, over some of
the worst roads in the world, the trucks of our Regiment carried the much-needed
food and ammunition to the boys in the foxholes.
Some folks may
say that the Infantry truck driver has a pretty soft racket during combat.
The small, well-drilled hole in Cpl “Pappy” Taylor’s windshield
belies that statement. It is only a
few inches above the driver’s head. Ask
Cpl Orloff what he was thinking about as he laid in a ditch watching some German
88s pick his truck apart. The
“Mad Russian” confessed later that he was worried stiff – his boodle box
was in the back of the vehicle and he was sweating out a direct hit.
Then there is the case of Purple Heart Winkfein.
He didn’t think driving was such a racket when his truck hit an
anti-tank mine outside of Leipzig. He
left old SV-29 in a very great hurry, through no fault of his own.
amusing, the mental reactions of the driver who had to drop out of a midnight
convoy because of a flat tire. When
the roar of the 2-1/2 tons faded away in the distance, he felt pretty much alone
in this world. The grotesque hulks
of the burned-out Jerry tanks that lined the road offered very little in the way
of comfort at that late hour.
Then there were
always those annoying signs along the road: “Keep Moving, You Are Under Enemy
Observation.” On more than one
occasion, a driver was thankful that he brought along a supper unit of K
The drivers are
all familiar throughout the Regiment: Linkewiz, Keay, “Singing Harry”
Ravenscroft, Jones, “Tiny” Foster, Perez, Cowger, Yocum, Skelton, Shipman,
Tompkins, Raines, Olsen, McCleaf, Pauley, little “Scratchy” Evans, Mitchell,
Schultz, Stowell, Edgley. Our jeep
jockeys – Berkley, Scott, and Commando Kirylick – always struggled to keep
their vehicles below 40 miles per hour. And the Chaplain’s drivers, Cpls
Leary, Gray and Carlson, and many more that limited space does not permit
mention. Every man was a hero.
Lyons, the big peanut man from Virginia, sees to it that the trucks are ready to
go. At almost any hour of the day,
you will find him in the Service Company area with a GI blanket tucked under his
arm, checking vehicles or warning some driver about fraternization.
It is said that the blanket was to sit on because he is allergic to grass
stains. During the offensive, he
performed his work well. Sgt
Seagraves, the Ammunition Truck Master, Cpl Pettigrew, the “Weasel Wizard,”
and the three BFOs, Battalion Truck Master, “Mauldin” Mente, “Swede”
Swenson, and the guy who luckily had a 37-day powder to the UK, also deserve
Section of the Transportation Platoon certainly covered itself with glory.
Mr. Thayer can be justly proud of his charges, the grease monkeys of the
272. Sgt “Short Pants” Lecamu
is the Chief Mechanic in charge of the Regimental shop.
Somewhere back in the States, he saw a sign that read, “Keep Them
Rolling,” and that is exactly what he has been doing since we hit the ETO.
We all know that
cold weather and mud places a terrific strain on the engine of a vehicle.
Under such conditions, a lot of maintenance work is needed to keep the
vehicle in good condition. Well, we landed in France during cold weather and certainly
did run into plenty of mud later on. Added
to those obstacles, the vehicles of the 272 Infantry had perhaps the longest
haul of the war under combat conditions. The
Mechanics have had very few idle moments since they landed in Europe.
A 21-gun salute to Carpenter, Orr, Arnold, Hughes, Povinelli, French,
Engasser, Ayers, Cataen, Benner, Lyne and all the boys from the Maintenance who
spared us many weary marches by keeping vehicles in tip-top shape.
Headquarters Platoon means a great deal in Service Company.
1st Sgt Herron guides it with a soft voice but a stern hand.
Supply Sergeant (S Sgt) Rasmussen has a strange habit of saying “no”
and not meaning it. One seldom
leaves the supply room without the article required.
He, with the help of his two versatile assistants, Cpls Hartje and Alto,
did a wonderful job of keeping the Company well supplied with all the needed
equipment. Cpl Broder and Dedman
handled the Company’s mail all during the campaign and did so in a very
Lastly, we pay
homage to the most important men in the Company – the kitchen crew.
Without them, all would have starved, and this story would never be
printed. Drink a toast in powdered
milk to S Sgt Zag, Sgt Evilsizor, Faust, Parker, and the lace-curtain Irishman
“Red” Mahan – a better crew of hash slingers cannot be found.
This is the
story of Service Company. Perhaps
each man only did what was expected of him, but he did it well and with
determination. The men in Service
Company are proud of the part they played and proud in the knowledge that they
helped to make the Battle Axe Regiment one of the greatest in the history of the
United States Army.