Military History/Weapons

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Question
Hello I am trying to figure out what was my fathers occupation in the Army was.His name is Dan Spivey, WWII 1941-1945, Mortar Light NCO 607, CIB
Thank you,
V/r Lolamarie Agins USN Retired

Answer
Lolamarie:

You answered your own question.

The Army puts people in Military Occupational Specialties and these define what they will be doing.

So if he was in light mortars, that means he was a M2 60mm mortar man. The MOS code is the 607.
The CIB indicates he was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the most coveted of awards in the army.  It says he was in combat, fact to face with the enemy.  Its the one with the blue field and white trim, worn above the left pocket with the flintlock musket and garlands on it.

Light and Heavy Weapons (including organizational maintenance).
511 Armorer.
604 Light Machine Gunner.
605 Heavy Machine Gunner.
607 Light Mortar Crewman.
745 Rifleman.
746 Automatic Rifleman.
812 Heavy Weapons NCO.
1607 Heavy Mortar Crewman.
1812 Light Weapons NCO.

Now, in WWII the Army had just moved over to the Triangular division and that meant everything was in "threes"  A division had three regimental combat teams (formerly known as regiments).  Earlier they were divided into brigades, two infantry and one artillery.  They reorganized so that each RCT had a mix of infantry and supporting artillery.  The RCT was used more in Europe than in the Pacific where regiments were still regiments.

There were battalions attached to the divisions: combat engineers, tank, tank destroyers and so on.  This allowed the commander to assign assets for specific missions.

So back to the threes.  Each RCT or regiment had three battalions, each battalion had three companies, and each company had three platoons, and each platoon had three squads.

In addition to the three platoons of infantry, there was a heavy weapons platoon that consisted of a mix of heavy and light machine guns and 3 M2 60mm mortars.  

There were other heavier mortars, but they were assigned at a higher level and with longer range could fire from the rear.  The light 60mm mortar moved forward with the troops and gave supporting fire to them on the attack or on defense.  The mortar was in a squad of 9 men, commanded by a staff sergeant.  Men of the squad carried the mortar, one carried the base plate, others carried the tube and the Sergeant carried the sight. Ammunition was divided up between the squad and carried forward.  The mortar squad would move up with an attack, so they could lend supporting suppressive fires or lay down smoke as requested by the Company commander.  They might be kept near him or be assigned to one of the platoons.

The concept of 3's allowed two battalions, or platoons or squads to be on the attack and the third could be held in reserved if needed to exploit a success.  When on defense, on battalion or company could be in reserve or resting and refitting.  It gave commanders greater flexibility.

If you have your fathers discharge papers, the MOS number should be on it.  In addition, it should show where his parent unit was deployed at different times during the war and could give you an understanding of what campaigns he participated in.

M2 60mm mortar was designed to bridge the gap between the hand grenade and the heavier company level 81mm mortar.  So your dad would have been in the thick of it.


Keith

Military History

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Keith H. Patton

Expertise

I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.

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I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

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B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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