Service Company 


Captain Joe 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 this chronicle! 

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.   

Another cross 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). 

Under the 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. 

Not very 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 rations. 

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. 

Sgt Walter 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 honorable mention. 

The Maintenance 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. 

The Company’s 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 capable manner. 

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.