272nd 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. 

I & R (Intelligence & Reconnaissance) Platoon 

     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 the highlights:  

  1. Pfc Bobby Ellis’s fine marksmanship at 400 yards scared off Jerries trying to capture Cpl Don Rogers, Pfcs Joe Casey, Bert Jaffe, and Joe Picone, who were pinned down by machine gun and rifle fire at Bad Kösen.  At the same place, Pfcs Willie Lord and Bill Mulford braved a hail of fire to warn the 3rd Battalion, which was driving into Naumberg, and to bring help to the rest of the men pinned down.  Pfc George Brewer was captured and freed here by Capt McFarland and his men about four hours later.
  2. The screaming meemies and the GIs in the Ardennes Forest.  What a combination!  Dry run air attack – remember that? – only it was a little wet!  Just ask Sgt Willie Heil, Pfc Bert Jaffe, George Brewer, and Capt Don Rogers, or Division Headquarters.
  3. Those unidentified tanks at Dehrn that turned out to be the Sixth Armored, and those Jerry planes that respected Pfc Joe Casey, and Pfc Leonard Brooks at the Fifty Cal (50 Caliber).  Take a bow, fellows.  The night the Krauts threw all they had (88s) at the OP (Observation Post) manned by Sgt Robert Olson, and Pfcs Edward Meisburger, Edwin Clay, and Frank Majijczyk.
  4. Lt Wallace Moulis, Tec 4 Archie Naylor, and Tec 5 Danny Dean, who were ambushed at Pomssen.  Dean got the one-in-a-million: a close shave.  The bullet creased his upper lip.
  5. 1 Sgt Joe Susco tossed a grenade into a machine gun nest that was holding up the drive on Bad Ems.  Alles kaput!
  6. The Landwehr nightmare.  Pfcs Higgins, Casgrain, and Mulford played nursemaid to the messenger drivers at 2:00 in the morning.  The following morning, a squad with Lt Moulis on reconnaissance drew mortar fire and, as one dropped 10 feet from them, came the casual order, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”  Pfc Bert Jaffe’s jeep was temperamental and stalled.
  7. Orchids to Tec 4 Archie Naylor, who sent radio messages under direct fire at Bad Kösen!  Pfc Maury Kelisky and Pfc Willie Lord sent direct to the Regimental Commander the blow-by-blow description of the Battle of Leipzig.  Lt Wallace Moulis and Sgt Roger Olson led the tank attack on Heiligenstadt, when the tank commander declined to attack without the I & R reconnoitering the enemy position.  Pfcs Bobby Ellis, Bill Mulford, and Frank Majijczyk blasted their way into town.
  8. Lt Moulis’s fine leadership throughout the campaign.  Pfc Mike Brewer, who told the SS Troopers to go to hell, when captured and questioned of our strength.  Our strong-arm interpreter Walter Graff obtained useful information from enemy prisoners.  Pfc Geronomo Lambertson and his M-3 shot up Krauts at Bad Ems.

Motor Maintenance and Drivers 

     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. 

MP Platoon 

     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 sometime. 

Message Center 

     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! 

Now you know:

1.      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?  Ask him!

2.      Mandell and Gerger captured and brought in 27 prisoners at Vallendar.  They were some of the first prisoners brought in.

3.      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!

5.      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 Staff Sections 

      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.