Military History/WW2, Battle of the Bulge
QUESTION: Good Evening Sir,
My name is Ryan Wooley and my father (deceased) is
Wooley, George A., Pfc, SS R.A.CE., Kansas City, Kan, HQ Co 1Bn 335 serving under the 84th infantry (railsplitters)
My wife and I just had twins and my sister came down to meet them and she bought a box of Dad's military items and I finally had time to go through all of his items. We always new dad fought in WW2, however, we never knew what he did as he didnt talk about his time in the service so over the years we learned not to ask.
After reading his DD214 I was shocked to learn he was awarded 3 bronze stars and one silver medal. Ive sent off a records request to the government in an effort to find out more information. In the DD214 it showed that he was a Scout. As you can imagine, with our new children (1st for us) I am extremely interested in finding out as much as I can. What was a Scout issued; weapon? clothes? uniform? Where/why did he receive the Silver Medal? Did everyone who serve in WW2 receive bronze medals?
Ive always had a deep respect for those who serve and sacrifice for our country. After finding about dad the respect is even that much deeper/stronger.
Any information/help you can provide would be extremely helpful.
The Bronze star is the US 4th highest individual award. It is given out for varous reasons, but all of them must be in a combat zone. My father got one in VietNam, but here is the clincher, for it to be awarded for Valor in action it is awarded with the "V" device for valor. If it does not have that, then it could be for merit or meritorious service. That is what my dad got, not for anything in combat. The records you have might indicate if it came with the V for valor. The Bronze star is just above the Purple Heart in the hierarchy.
The Silver Star Medal is ONLY awarded for valor in the face of the enemy. So your dad earned his chops for this one. Only the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor are higher.
Now on the search to look for more information, knowing what unit(s) he was with, is of major importance. So you know, depending on when he entered that army it would have changed. Today, troopers join up and are treated as one in a large replacement pool, unless they go to a MOS specialty school, that stands for Military Occupational Specialty, that is in specific to one branch. For instance if he was good in math he might have been assigned to the Artillery. Or mechanically inclined, to the Armor or Quartermaster corp or the Combat Engineers. All this was based on aptitude tests they had to take.
Now if he joined early, he might have gone into a specific division being raised in a given state, or geographical area. Some went into National guard divisions from their state, that were then federalized into the army. After that inductees were assigned to divisions that were being newly formed, The US only formed 98 divisions during the war, including 6 Marine divisions and 10 Armored Divisions. The rest were Infantry or specialize divisions, like the 10th Mountain Div. On top of that they formed independent Anti Aircraft Battalions and Tank Destroyer Battalions, Tank Battalions, Engineer Battalions and so on. These were not organic parts of a Division but were assigned to divisions for special purposes. If a division was going to need additional support to cross a river in its sector or needed more armor, the Corp Headquarter (a Corp headquarter commanded three or more divisions, Two or more Corps made up an Army. Each of these headquarters, Army, Corp, and Division headquarters, had independent Battalions attached to it by higher headquarters to help them fulfill their mission. While each Division had artillery battalions organic to it, three or four battalions worth, each headquarter did to, so Division, Corp and Army had additional Artillery, Tank destroyer and tank battalions they could send down to help or assign to specific Divisions to help out in attack or defense.
I tell you that because there are a lot of battalions in the order of battle so its important to know what unit your dad was in. He could be shown to have served with Division X and then we could determine what Corp, and what Army he was assigned to. Divisions changed Armies on occasion. The US assigned several US Divisions to the British 12th Army Group on the north shoulder of the breakthrough during the Battle of the Bulge to simplify logistics.
Okay if we can find out what Division he was in, we can find out what Army and what Corp, and the we can determine where he fought during the battle and where he was as they moved across Europe to the end of the war. Divisions were divided up into three regiments. The Division is the smallest self supporting unit of maneuver, meaning it can supply, feed equip and so on the troops assigned to it. A regiment and battalion gets it beans and bullets from the division. A Regiment has 3-4 battalions, this changed during the war, most started out with 4 and were called square divisions, they had 4 regiments, 4 battalions per regiment and so on. This changed to the triangular division, 3 of each. Then later, the Regiment was changed to Combat Command in the Armored Divisions. A regiment or CC,(designated CCA, CCB and CCC) were made up of infantry, Armor and Artillery and were truly combined arms units.
Infantry had artillery three battalions of infantry and one of Artillery, the Artillery Regiment having been broken up to supply one battalion to each Infantry regiment.
The Battalion was made up of Companies, 4 per battalion, and each company into Platoons, and each platoon into squads. All composed of threes.
So you might see something that says your father was in the X division, X battalion, X Infantry (it won't say regiment, it's a convention that 21st Infantry for example means 21st Infantry Regiment or Marine Regiment), C company. It will probably be listed in reverse, Company, Regiment, Battalion, Divison.
Now lets go back to MOS. Don't believe some of the crap you read on some of the bulletin boards about WWII. There was a specific MOS for Scout, number was 761 and was Under Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Security. It is as I suspected, it looks like your dad was assigned to a Scout Recon unit, and would have been assigned to G2 or intelligence. Some Cavalry Groups were assigned to the Armored Corp Level and were charged with intelligence gathering. They would be responsible for finding out WHERE the enemy was. They were the guys in the Light tanks (Stuarts and Sheridans) or Armored cars, and Scout weapon carrier trucks out ahead of the rest of the troopers, looking for where the first point of contact was going to be. This is from a source:
" Reconnaissance in the armored divisions was performed by the armored reconnaissance battalion -- in the heavy division -- or by the cavalry reconnaissance squadron, mechanized -- in the light division. These units were identical, except that the battalion was organized as companies, the squadron as troops (although the light tank unit was a company in both organizations). In addition, each armored regiment had a reconnaissance company and each infantry division a reconnaissance troop (organized the same as below), while each tank battalion had a reconnaissance platoon.
The mechanized cavalry squadrons were organized with three Cavalry Troops, lettered A to C, each equipped with 13 M8 armored cars and jeeps; an Assault Gun Troop, E, with six M8 HMC; a Light Tank Company, F, with 17 M5 Stuart, or later M24, tanks; a Service Company; and an H&H Company. The armored divisions reconnaissance squadron was identical except that it had a fourth Cavalry Troop, D, and the Assault Gun Troop had eight M8 HMC. Infantry divisions each had a single cavalry reconnaissance troop.
Cavalry groups were usually assigned to corps, but were occasionally attached -- by squadron -- to divisions. Cavalry was primarily intended for reconnaissance missions. However, during the war they were usually employed in defensive, economy of force, security, or screening missions. Armored field artillery, engineer, and tank destroyer units reinforced the cavalry groups for most missions.
Interestingly, the cavalry groups were almost never called to perform their primary duty: Later analysis showed that pure reconnaissance missions accounted for only 3 percent of their activities. The remaining 97 percent of missions assigned included: defensive operations (33 percent); special operations "including acting as mobile reserve, providing for security and control of rear areas, and operating as an army information service" (29 percent); security missions "blocking, screening, protecting flanks, maintaining contact between units, and filling gaps" (25 percent); and offensive operations (10 percent).
Thirteen mechanized cavalry groups fought in Europe. They were the 2nd (2nd and 42nd Squadrons); 3rd (3rd and 43rd Squadrons); 4th (4th and 24th Squadrons); 6th (6th and 28th Squadrons); 11th (36th and 44th Squadrons); 14th (18th and 32nd Squadrons); 15th (15th and 17th Squadrons); 16th (16th and 19th Squadrons); 101st (101st and 116th Squadrons); 102nd (38th and 102nd Squadrons); 106th (106th and 121st Squadrons); 113th (113th and 125th Squadrons); and 115th (104th and 107th Squadrons). In addition, the 117th Squadron served with the Seventh Army in Southern France
I'm pretty certain your Dad was in one of these Squadrons (if Armor) or Recon companies (if Infantry)
Don't mistake this for the guy walking point in the squad, these were not MOS designations, just someone picked to be the first guy shot or the first to step on a mine.
If you can find in his papers some reference to X Cavalry Group or something it will allow you to determine what Corp he might have been assigned to.
Let me know if you need more help once you get any new information.
What I did for my dad while he was still living was put together a shadow box: it looks like a uniform front, with the dress uniform pockets and you put the ribbons, medals and so on the uniform in the frame to hang on the wall.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Good afternoon Keith,
May I begin with a heart-felt thank you. I hope your holidays were enjoyable.
I was able to find my fathers DD214 with the help of my sister and mother.
Wooley George A
Army Serial No
17 175 ***
Arm or Service
BHQ 00 1st. Bn 335 Inf 84th Div
Date of Separation
20 Dec 45
Jefferson Barracks MO
Kansas City, KS
Date of Enlistment
3 Dec 42
Military Occupational Specialty and No.
CIB Go1 HQ 335 Inf, 1 45 E2, IB Go 23 HQ 335 INF IKop44 (this section was real fuzzy
Battles and Campaigs
Arennes, Rhineland, Central Europe
Awarded 3 bronze stars for the above campaigns per WD G 33440 1945. Good Conduct Medal. Silver Star Medal GO# 13 HQ 84 INf 20 Jan 45
Service outside Destination Date of arrival
29 Sep 44 Eto 10 Oct 44
3 Dec 45 USA 15 Dec 45
Reason and Authority for separation
AR 615-305 Convenience
No time lost under AR 107, Tpae 1 Button issued. Entitled to wear American Theatre Campaign Ribbon, European African Middle Easter Theatre Campaign Ribbon, 2 Oversees Bars, Victor Ribbon, A R Score 65
I quickly read through your email, I am going to spend a bit of time to go through and read some of the accompanying links. Ive spent the last 4 weeks going through Netflix/Hulu/History Channel and watching as much information on WW2 as I can. Thankfully my wife has been fully supportive of this :).
As of this email, I have yet to receive anything back on my records request so I am still trying to piece as much together as I can.
Thank you again for the shadow box idea. Once I figure out what kind of uniform he had and I get his Rack put together, I intend to do the same thing as you did. Thankfully, I still have the flag that was presented to me at his funeral.
I also discussed that my dad worked for NASA and was part of one of the lunar landings. Still digging into this one. I have a couple of NASA provided photographs of the landing and a letter.
Again, thank you for your help!
This one too:
This might interest you: http://forums.military.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3050051361001/m/4440045822001
The army put together what they call the Green Books, the official history of the Army in WWII by campaigns. You can access them on line through the US Army Historical Branch....
Check this out on the division....and this for the regiment....
On the form:
CIB Go1 HQ 335 Inf, 1 45 E2, IB Go 23 HQ 335 INF IKop44 (this section was real fuzzy
CIB is combat infantryman's badge...so he was under fire to earn that.
The Go1 could be Co 1 or 1st company Headquarters...telling where he earned the CIB
The next series may refer to his rank, E2 or private