By Alexander Oka (written in 1983 for 442nd Veterans Club 40th Anniversary souvenir booklet)
Meritorious Service Unit Plaque – On August 30, 1945 the 5th Army in Italy awarded Service Company the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque for rendering superior service to the Combat Team during the European Campaigns. And on May 10, 1945, Major General E. M. Almond, Commander of the 92nd Div. sent a letter of commendation to the regiment. Part of that letter was a tribute to the performance of Service Company for rapidly equipping the regiment upon its return to Italy from France.
Organization of Service Company – The average strength of the Company during the war was 10 officers, 5 warrant officers and 100 enlisted men. The Company had 10 sections performing service – 1) Company Hq Section, 2) Regimental Hq Section, 3) Regimental Supply Section, 4) Ammunition, 5) Motor Pool Maintenance, 6) Transportation, 7) Postal, 8) Personnel, 9) Special Services, 10) Public Relations.
Company HQ Section – The Heart of Service Company was composed of administration, mess hall and company supply. This section also operated the replacement depot for the combat team.
Regimental HQ Section – Service Company provided the core of the personnel for the Regimental Hq. The Regimental Sgt. Major was from Service Company.
Regimental Supply Section – In addition to obtaining supplies from Division quartermasters, the men in this section, along with mechanics and drivers, often hand-carried rations and ammunition up the mountains to the men in the rifle companies. Also part of this
section were the men of the Battalion Supply Section who were responsible for the distribution of supplies to the rifle companies. Several men in the Battalion Supply Section received the Purple Heart.
Ammunition Section – Because of this section, the fast-moving and hard-hitting troops of the Combat Team were always adequately supplied with ammo. Their efforts were much appreciated during the last campaign in Italy.
Motor Pool Regimental Maintenance Section – Because of the skill and devotion of the mechanics in this section, the regimental vehicles always reached the destinations on schedule. On several occasions, the men made repairs to vehicles while under enemy fire.
Transportation Section – Drivers of Service Company between 20-27 June 1944, were sent on temporary duty to the 1st Armored Div. to shuttle troops. In support of the Combat Team, the drivers often drove thru enemy artillery barrage and under total blackout conditions.
Postal Section – This section did first-class work to help up the morale of the men in the regiment by processing the mail. They averaged 35 sacks of mail a day and their peak was on October 27, 1944 when they handled five truck loads of 508 sacks of mail.
Personnel Section – was responsible for the service record of every man in the regiment. An inspector of the 44 AAA Brigade mentioned that the 442 personnel records were the best he had seen.
Special Services Section – In addition to the leisure time activities – sports – it also handled the distribution of PX rations.
Public Relations Section – This section was responsible for much of the publicity received by the Combat Team. It processed 2,700 news-stories on the record and achievements of the combat team.
171st Infantry Battalion (Separate)
The 232nd Combat Engineer Company
By Charles T. Ijima
The 232nd Engineer Company was a very unique outfit.This company was the only company in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team that was comprised of 100% Nisei members.All the other companies had non-Nisei officers in command positions.Our company commander told us that he was given permission by the commander of the 442nd that he could pick and choose whoever he wanted from the Regiment’s roster to form his company.
At Camp Shelby, Mississippi, I was assigned to the 3rd Platoon, 1st Squad of the Engineers.Our manpower was majority from Hawaii.Mainland Niseis were mostly from the West Coast states.Basic training at Camp Shelby was a new experience for most of us.The climate, the people of the area, the animals and insects, the military way of life, the mixtures of men from different backgrounds and ages – all of these things required adjustments.Fear of snakes, chigger bites or sand fleas attacks were all part of the training time experiences.
After basic training our company went to Italy and joined the 100th Infantry and the 34th Division north of Rome.We were so inexperienced, our company convoy drove right up to the battle area and into artillery fire.We suffered our first casualty during this encounter.I remember as we proceeded from the rear to the front lines, we passed large artillery guns and gradually the arms got smaller.One person on our truck made a comment – when you start hearing machine guns and rifle fires, you know you’re in the combat zone.We got our baptism that day and learned real fast how to survive.
In Italy our company was fortunate to be attached to the Engineer Battalion of the 34th Division.We were given orientations on the various types of mines used by the German Army.We were surprised to find mines made of metal, wood, glass, cement and even ceramic.They came in all sizes and shapes.There were land mines to disable tanks – heavy equipment.Then there were anti-personnel mines like the “shoe” mine and the “Bouncing Babies.”The “shoe” mines were the smallest and they were used to maim more than to kill.The “Bouncing Babies” were the deadliest.These anti-personnel mines were packed with ball bearings or chopped metal pieces and when stepped on or if wires attached to it were tripped, the inner chamber would bounce up by a charge and explode spreading all the deadly metal fragments.Many men were killed or wounded by the mines.
Besides disarming, neutralizing mines and sweeping for mines with metal detectors, our company was involved with building by-pass roadways around blown bridges and highways.When the infantry units were advancing at a rapid pace, our engineers were assigned to provide passage for supplies and ammunition to the front and the evacuation of the wounded to the rear.Usually these by-pass roads were for jeep travel.Better and wider roads were left for the rear echelon engineers to construct.On occasion bulldozer and heavy equipment were too noisy to use.Manpower was the only way to complete the job.
In the battle of Bruyeres and the “Lost Battalion,” engineers had to do a lot of work clearing the roads through the forest areas.The Germans blew large trees with explosives onto the roads to block traffic.To clear the large trunks and other debris, we had to use large, heavy, noisy gas engine-run chain saws.These operations usually resulted in artillery shellings with great danger to the personnel working.In Vosges forest area, our engineer built miles and miles of wood plank and log-covered roads so our equipment could get through the muddy roads.During the “Lost Battalion” battle, we were assigned to sweep the forestry roadway for mines and make clear so supplies and ammo could move through.Our squad was close enough to hear all the commotion during this battle.We even saw the casualties coming out from the area.A very happy day for some but a very sad one for many.
All throughout the war, many unforgettable incidents took place.In the Pisa area when we returned to Italy from France, our engineers during push into the Po Valley suffered 4 bulldozer losses.All ran over land mines and were put out of commission.One highway was so important to our offense, the engineers built an overpass over one of the disabled bulldozers so traffic could go through.In one area where the 92nd Division was assigned our squad with a bulldozer operator and dozer had to clear the highway full of dead horses and men – a very stinky job.We had to throw our shoes away because the rotten oil from the dead horses was too much to handle.
For all the bad things that we endured during the war as well as the good times we had, I am very satisfied with the end results.I think the wartime experiences made a better person of me.
522nd Field Artillery Battalion
HEADQUARTERS 522D FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION A.P.O. #758, U.S. ARMY
16 January 1945
**** UNIT HISTORY FROM ACTIVATION TO DATE*****
The 522d Field Artillery Battalion was activated 1 February 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi with a cadre of nine (9) officers and ninety-six (96) enlisted men.Of the enlisted cadre only about eight (8) or ten (10) had ever had previous training or experience in a field artillery unit. The enlisted cadre was composed entirely of soldiers of Japanese ancestry and they were sent in small groups from about six (6) different Army posts.Twenty-two (22) second lieutenants joined the unit about three (3) weeks after activation, coming directly from the Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. At the time of activation there were no field artillery officers of Japanese ancestry available for assignment to the unit, which is believed to be the only field artillery battalion in the United States Army whose enlisted personnel are all of Japanese descent. From 1 February to 18 April 1943, the cadre was given an intensive course of training. On 18 April 1943 a majority of the filler replacements arrived from Hawaii. Other replacements had been arriving in small groups. They were for the most part soldiers who had requested transfer to the battalion. The basic training program began on 10 May 1943 and was completed on 30 August 1943. This period of training was completed while the unit was under the supervision of First Headquarters, Special Troops, Third Army. Upon completion of basic training the battalion was placed under the Commanding General, IX Corps Artillery for supervision of training. The unit training period was completed 23 November 1943, the last week being taken up by Army Ground Forces Field Artillery Battalion firing tests. The battalion did exceptionally well in these tests reflecting considerable credit upon the ability of the men to assimilate new and strange duties. From 29 November 1943 to 24 January 1944 the battalion participated in the Fifth Maneuver Period, Third Army Maneuvers in western Louisiana. During this maneuver period the unit worked in turn with the 89th, 97th and 86th Infantry Divisions. The battalion was alerted, placed in A-2 supply priority on 15 December 1943. Upon completion of maneuvers the unit returned to its home station, Camp Shelby, Mississippi and after a few days spent in cleaning and repairing equipment, participated in the 69th Infantry Division “D” Series Maneuvers in the DeSoto National Forest in southern Mississippi. This was the first appearance of the 442d Combat Team as such, the entire unit taking part in this small maneuver. Following completion of the “D” Series Maneuvers, the next three (3) weeks were spent in combined training with the infantry regiment and in the taking of various Army Ground Forces training tests involving the infantry and artillery working together as a team. The entire Combat Team was alerted for overseas movement 15 February 1944 and considerable time was spent in completing individual requirements in preparation for overseas movement. The battalion left Camp Shelby, Mississippi on 22 April 1944 along with the other elements of the 442d Combat Team and was staged at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, and left Newport News, Virginia on 2 May 1944. After a twenty-six (26) day voyage in a Liberty Ship convoy, the unit debarked at Brindisi and Bari, Italy on 28 May 1944.Then followed a two (2) day trip by railway to a staging area in the vicinity of Naples, Italy.On 6 June 1944 the battalion left Naples and proceeded to Anzio by LST.The trip from Anzio, Italy to Tarquinia, Italy was by motor convoy.The battalion was attached to 34th Infantry Division Artillery from 10 June 1944 to 14 August 1944 and participated in that division’s drive up the western coast of Italy from Near Grossetto, Italy to Pisa, Italy.The important Italian port of Livorno was captured 19 July 1944.The battalion was then shifted to the II Corps sector near Firenze, Italy and attached to the 88th Infantry Division Artillery.Shortly after the opening of the Fifth Army offensive north of the Arno River on 1 September 1944, the battalion was again withdrawn and attachment to the Fifth Army terminated.The unit was shipped from Piombino, Italy to Naples, Italy, and from Naples to Marseilles, France, arrived at Marseilles, France 29 September 1944 and was attached to the Seventh Army. Movement was made by convoy from Marseilles to an assembly area near Pouxeux, France.The battalion was attached to VI Corps and the 36th Infantry Division Artillery upon arrival in Seventh Army area on 11 October 1944. The battalion remained with the 36th Infantry Division and participated in very severe fighting in the Vosges Mountains sector until 18 November 1944. On 19 November 1944 the battalion departed for Nice, France, and was attached upon arrival there to the 44th AAA Brigade. On 26 November 1944 Battalion occupied positions in support of a defensive line along the Franco-Italian border. Further movements have been for the purpose of strengthening present defensive set-up. This unit is the organic artillery battalion of the 442d Infantry Regimental Combat Team and has participated in all of its battles to date, performing the primary mission of direct support. Since entering combat six (6) non-commissioned officers had received battlefield appointments in the grade of second lieutenant and are now on active duty with the battalion.