Regimental Headquarters Company History
The surprising combination of specialized units, of which Regimental
Headquarters Company is composed, welds itself together through intensive
cooperation, knowledge of their duties, and plain hard work.
Actually, there is little difference between the Headquarters Company of
the Regiment and any other headquarters; the scale on which the work is
accomplished is the chief difference. For
instance, the Radio Section is capable of transmitting at near-commercial
distances, the I & R platoon often does the reconnaissance work required of
an entire company, and the Wire Section often lays miles of wire outside the
scope of its ordinary duties. Moreover,
the Message Center works night and day – processing, clearing and sending out
vital information. Swing shifts
from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. are no new thing to them.
The overall picture is one of continuous activity, prompted by devotion
to duty and display of initiative.
Now that the Fighting 69th Division has climaxed the war in the ETO (European
Theater of Operations) by their historic meeting with the Russians, the I &
R men, under the direction of Lt Wallace Moulis, are still busy. After being the point for the drive across Germany, the
Platoon unfortunately missed out on the kill (#@!%*!!). However, there are many other things that demand interest in
the men. The following are a few of
No military operation of
this war could have been successful without the best motor maintenance possible.
The excellent combination in Regimental Headquarters Company of S Sgt
Harry Levitt and Tec 4 Cecil Ginsberg has kept the company rolling from Danebury
Downs, England, to the Elbe. The
only jeeps that could be put in working order were Hq 13 and 18, which were both
hit by Panzerfausts. At
Witzenhausen, a motor pool was set up in a garage.
But who put up the sign, “Off Limits by Order of CG? [Commanding
General]” Usually, the line
company Joes think that a Regimental Headquarters driver has a sweet racket, but
in this outfit, things worked out differently.
Cpl Wallace, Colonel Buie’s driver, can tell about the Regimental CO
(Commanding Officer) being under direct fire several times, and on one occasion,
the Colonel and Wallace just got out of their jeep before it received a direct
88mm and was demolished.
The morale of any military
organization cannot be maintained without an able kitchen staff.
Mess Sgt Jimmy Sarris and his crew whipped up many swell meals (10-1).
Big-hearted Tec 5 Joe (The Monk) Cocco and Tec 4 Herman Schinneller were
the Miracle Whip specialists. S Sgt
Jimmy Sarris and Pfcs Nick De Pinto and Guy Henninger were amusing, planning a
spaghetti dinner. Nick’s famous
battle cry was, “The M-1 is loaded!” Those
southern fried chicken dinners (S Sgt Sarris, please note) – we didn’t get
often enough. The kitchen truck
with the cooks got lost out in the enemy lines – good thing Jerry was asleep!
What would we have used the can openers for that came with each ration?
Nevertheless, give these GIs credit for their untiring efforts to prepare
good chow, no matter how difficult the conditions were.
Take a bow! Visit Nick De
Pinto at his famous Pussy Willow Inn.
The radio section moved into the combat area feeling much as did the riflemen,
machine gunners and cannoneers. All
hoped that they’d be able to contribute toward the general goal of
Kraut-killing, at the same time keeping their hides relatively intact.
Radio’s particular job was to work with the rest of the platoon to
provide constant communication between the Regimental CP (Command Post) and the
Battalions and Special Units.
Troubles cropped up from the first. The
air was always cluttered with dots and dashes, and the operator was often
confronted with the sound of six or seven signals fighting one another, all
trying to “get with” on the single channel.
Another difficulty developed just as we entered combat. Capt McFarland, anticipating the nature of our mission,
ordered a lot of voice sets to supplement our TE (Table of Equipment).
These provided more headaches for the technicians, T 4s Liss and
Scarborough, but, by substituting a little sweat for sleep, they managed to keep
all sets in operation and in good repair.
Throughout the drive, movement was swift. Accordingly,
as soon as one CP was in operation, an advance communications party was
dispatched in the wake of the battalions. This
group then establishes the forward installations so that Colonel Buie and his
staff could move into a CP already “in” with all echelons.
During this “Leapfrogging” process, the burden rested with the radio
operator until all units were in by wire. The
radio chief, T Sgt Brislin, usually led this forward crew – T 4 Sceberra, T 5s
Young, Fine, and Stinely – although at times, roles were reversed with T 4
Taylor’s crew – T 4 Salmon, T 5s Brown, Davis, and Heaney.
But the men did more than develop “Dit-happiness.”
When the souvenir-hunting phase developed, T 4 Brown and T 5 Pine, not
content with mere dress swords or pistols, picked up an abandoned German truck
– a mysterious and finicky relic – that was soon loaded to the gunwales with
boodle. At another time, Sgt
Brislin and T 5 Young set a world record for laying identification panels when a
trigger-happy P-47 pilot began splashing ammo near their convoy.
Radio even met a few Heinies without their fingers laced over their heads.
Capt McFarland and some of the operators flushed the Krauts out of one
town, then welcomed a somewhat surprised battalion point warily entering by an
opposite route. And T 4 Taylor’s crew, while acting as a relay station
(sometimes necessitated when one unit was greatly extended), once found itself
the embarrassed captor of 150 Krauts.
The Radio Section’s “Hair Breath Harry” moments, however, were rare.
They did their work and did it as best as they could.
They cleared all traffic given them and minimized the time loss in
delivery. More than once, they increased the official range of their
equipment with improvised antennae, and the experimenters here – T 4s
Richardson, Salmon, and Sceberras – must certainly know every loose tile on
every roof in Germany. They worked
hard at penetrating the fog of enemy jamming; they learned to get through.
Of course, radio is a work of cooperation, and success depended upon the fine
work of the regimental net’s subordinate stations: the crew at Service CP –
T 4 Frank, T 5s Deakle and Couch, the Battalion sections, the Cannon and
Anti-Tank Company operators, and the I & R Platoon Operators.
And equally essential was the 569th Signal radio crew, who maintained
radio contact with the various Division CPs.
With these additions, the men of the radio section provided efficient and
constant radio communication during the days of combat.
Never can it be forgotten that it was wire in Shelby, wire in England, wire in
France, and Belgium. Now the
dividends pay off, for it’s wire in Germany.
A telephone has to be put in here, a telephone there, everyone wants a phone.
But the flier-packing wiremen were always there.
“The lines are in, Sir.” The
end? No, it’s only beginning.
An open line here, a shorted line there, a disrupted line everywhere, but
the troubleshooting, pliers-packing wireman was always there.
The Regimental Wire Section is on record as being one of the Army’s best.
Our Communication Officers had the utmost confidence in their section.
When a job was assigned, they knew the steel-legged linemen would come
through with flying colors. Did you
know that the section laid and installed about 1,000 miles of telephone lines,
many of which were under the most trying and adverse conditions?
The wiremen knew not the meaning of impassable roads, for theirs was a
job that had to be done. Biting
wind, stinging sleet, drizzling rain, all were taken in the stalwart, steady
stride that ensures that all lines will be in operation. Working seemingly endless hours was part of a lineman’s
job. But satisfaction was his in
the knowledge that he was helping his fellow soldiers as they were in turn
helping him – all working together that we might one day go home in peace.
Then came Honsfeld and Dahlem where, about the first of March, newcomers were
received into the Wire Section. “Gee,
fellows, you were sure welcome.”
Dog-tired, bearded and heavy-eyed, did the spirit of the wiremen ever falter?
Perhaps, but only to flame anew, for who could resist the cavorting
capers of the irresistible Spanish boy, Veiga?
None; not even Volentine. Then
came booming through the woods and across the fields, “Silver Wings in the
Moonlight.” We laughed, Dave, because we can’t sing either.
One day near Torgau, little did the men of Schumacher’s crew realize the epic
history-making of which they were a part. Did
you know that was the first time in history that American wiremen had
installations to a junction point with the Russians?
Then there was the day back at Housefeld, when the Pink and Yellow Line went out so frequently that Rudy Gergurich became colorblind. It actually happened; that is, the line going out. That is also the place where Wilson made “Dead Horse Stop” famous. Willie was always looking for new animals to put on his Illinois farm. At this point, it must be explained to laymen that on long telephone lines, we usually have certain points to be checked while troubleshooting. Such a place was “Dead Horse Stop,” where a 110-phone line was clove hitched on a horse’s hoof.
When things went amiss, as they often do, the Wire Section gained inspiration
from Knudsen, the quiet and reliant boy from Jersey. The good humor man was present too – Stackowitz, a lad from
Brooklyn. Pep talks – yes, but
not from Rockne; from none other than Sergeant Eurick.
The Military Police of our Regiment had an extremely important job
In the Eifel, their big problem was security of the Regimental CP,
maintaining roadblocks, directing traffic and processing prisoners.
They also helped get many of our own freed American Prisoners of War back
to the rear.
These MPs are not to be confused with the rear-echelon MPs, as the Regimental
MPs have been collecting PWs in towns not yet cleared and, at times, have had
the good fortune to pick off a few Jerries of their own. At Leipzig, they handled thousands of PWs; four MPs marched
600 of them to the rear. During our
entire operations, they processed approximately 14,000 PWs.
Men like Pfcs Barham, Arena, Bemis, Campbell, Paxton, and Davis were out
Kraut-hunting in isolated pockets when everyone else was resting.
At times, they were left behind as the Regiment moved up to new
positions. In one town, they were
left with 250 PWs, and it took Lt Hundhausen four days to turn them over to
Division. The Platoon hasn’t lost
one PW in the campaign and were in all the hot action spots with the Regiment.
At times, they had some rather arrogant Jerries in the pen, and it took a
lot of willpower on their part to keep from beating up these Supermen who
didn’t fight to the last. Lt
Hundhausen and his men know much about these Supermen; it is interesting to hear
some of their stories. Look them up
A lot has been said about Message Centers – Ernie Pyle devoted almost a
chapter to it in his new book. Almost
everyone has seen one in operation, but only a few know some of the “behind
the scenes” stories that come from the nerve center of the Regimental Message
Center. In all sorts of weather, in
all kinds of situations, the message must go through.
Back in Vallendar, on the Rhine River, when we were CT (Combat Team) 272,
our Regimental Message Center, as far as number of personnel was concerned,
rivaled a Division Message Center. It
had its own staff, attached units and Battalion messengers.
Oh yes, at Vallendar, S Sgt Meyer and party had to dodge mortar fire
going in, as they entered a building to set up Message Center.
The town was not yet taken, much less Fortress Ehrenbreitstein.
From Waldorf to Leipzig, it was a mad dash.
Inge made the remark that, now he knew how actors felt on their one-night
stands. They unloaded, put on their
show, and reloaded again. Sometimes
Message Center set up for only an hour or so in one place.
Sometimes, overnight or simply on the march.
Once, a mad dash was made at 70 miles per hour to warn the forward jeep
that German positions were not far ahead, and once, the message center was set
up in a jeep covered with raincoats to keep the rain out.
Scheduled runs had to be made, and a strafing attack or bad weather did
not delay the run.
During the night attack from Ushlag to Klein-Almerode on 6 April, there were
three message centers in operation at once.
The foremost was operating on the front line. Wire, which was being laid from the rest of the Message
Center jeep, kept the CP informed as to the situation. Ask T 4 Chuck or Capt McFarland how busy this section was.
In fact, there was one time that Message Center had so many men out on
run that S Sgt Meyer had to put up a “Closed” sign and run messages himself!
T 5 Connelly, on that all-day attack at Kolleda, saw a plane drop
something and remarked, “Look, the plane is dropping a note.”
Did he hit the dirt when the factory in the area blew up?
Mandell and Gerger captured and brought in 27 prisoners at Vallendar.
They were some of the first prisoners brought in.
T 4 Chuck had a time trying to get a Russian flag for his collection.
He pointed to a piece of red paper that was on the ground and waved a GI
handkerchief to try to show the Russians what he wanted.
The Russians only laughed and ran to bring vodka!
4. Pfc Merrill and Wilkinson were out on a run, when an 88 landed in front of them. They turned around and had gone some 500 yards when a second one landed where they had been seconds before. They took off like two big birds!
Message Center is not the place to call to find out the following: Is
there a move tonight? What time is
chow? Any rumors?
The story of the enlisted staff sections is the story of the men who started
from Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on 1 November 1944, toward one of the most
uncertain futures that can face anyone. These
men were M Sgt Robert B. Shearer, Regimental Sergeant Major; Tec 4 Jerre N.
Burton, Regimental Stenographer; Tec 4 Basil D. Price and Tec 4 Frederick B.
Hays of the S-1 Section. For the
next five months, they were to travel across Europe, carrying not only their TE
Equipment, but also the records of the Regiment and the paraphernalia for
keeping them up to date. To these
men, in the heat of battle, fell the job of seeing that the administrative
functions of the Regiment did not falter or cease entirely. It was they who published the Daily Directives, General and
Special Orders, much miscellaneous correspondence, and the all-important Field
Orders and Operational Instructions that led the Regiment to ultimate victory.
The EM of the staff sections of Regimental Headquarters can look back with pride
on the work they did during the Blitz across Germany. Setting up CPs, sorting and distributing maps, preparing
checkpoints and overlays, were only a few of the vital jobs that had to be done
daily and kept everyone busy nearly 24 hours a day. Sometimes, an ideal setup would be found, like the Police
Academy at Bad Ems, where almost everyone had his own office or desk, and then
again, conditions could be so crowded that all operations had to be performed in
a small farmhouse kitchen.
From time to time, the staff sections were enlarged to facilitate the handling
of the volume of work that fell their lot.
Soon after entering the line in Belgium in the Buchholz Forest, the S-3
Section swelled its ranks by the addition of Pfc Marijan Chulig, and it was not
long before the S-2 Section had augmented itself with two men, Sgt Samuel
Spiegler and Pfc John Seroyer. The
S-4 Section, which heretofore had largely been centered at the RSO, now set up
its staff section at Regimental Headquarters with Tec 4 Lawrence L. Timberlake
in charge, and ably assisted in his work by Pfc Elmer K. Nelson.
The ranks of the enlisted staff sections continued to increase and, at
Dahlem, Pfc Herbert Blum became the new I and E (Information and Education) man.
The days in Dahlem, although tending to become a rest period for most of the
Regiment, meant nothing but increased work to the staff sections – now there
were, in addition to the other things, awards and decorations to be gotten out
– and so it was that the lights burned all night long, and the click of the
typewriter keys echoed into the stillness of the night.
Memory of the quiet days at Dahlem rapidly dissolved with the crystallization to
the plan of attack, and it was not long before the Regiment had launched the
beginning of what turned out to be the final drive for victory.
Sometimes, following in the wake of the advancing troops, but more
generally as a part of the advance CP which accompanied the spearheading troops
into a new location, the front line was not a mere figure of speech to these
men. Many times, the Regimental
Command Post itself was as close to the front as the average line soldier.
It was at this time that the last, but not the least, addition came to
the staff sections in the person of Cpl John Movchan of the S-3 Section.
The rapid advance during the months of March, April and May necessitated setting
up CPs many times. Thus, the
arrangement of a CP became second nature, and it was not an uncommon occurrence
to move in and set up to begin work, only to find out that the rapid advance of
the troops necessitated moving to another location.
Quickly, all records would be put back into their boxes, typewriters
cased, and maps and field desks reloaded. We
were on the move again.
All was not work and dullness, however. There
were times for relaxation to be taken advantage of.
Whenever it was possible to break away, an occasional jeep ride or
sightseeing tour of the countryside was a welcome diversion.
Now, Victory in Europe finds the staff sections, like the rest of the Regiment,
working, but eagerly awaiting the next move.