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1st Sergeant James Underwood-37th Infantry, 145th Regiment, Company E, 3rd Platoon

Discussion in 'What Granddad did in the War' started by rkline56, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    These are great! I hope you and Mr. Underwood can continue this for a long time.
     
  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Amen to that, Biak.
     
  3. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5 Patron  

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    Tom,
    Biak

    Thanks for your kind comments regarding Mr. Underwood. I have mentioned to him that the division's actions in WW II are interesting to a great many of our forum members and I've thanked him profusely many, many times for his service and for watching out for my Grand Uncle Paul Glasgo. Take care and have a great weekend, gentlemen.

    Forum,
    I hope many of the esteemed members, visitors and researchers to this forum have found these letters valuable, informative and thought provoking. If anyone has any specific questions regarding the history of the 37th I.D. or wants to clear up any detail of campaign life in Munda Point, Bougainville or Luzon please let me know here or by PM. I would be happy to submit any request for information to Mr. Underwood. I am planning to ask for more detailed recollections of the battles but have tread lightly in order to avoid bringing too many painful memories to the forefront for Jim (again). If anyone has any thoughts on whether or not to do this; or if you have a technique that has worked well for you, by all means let me know. I have seen how we worked with Brian Guy and have read with interest - Jeff's Old Hickory posts. Your interview as well Poppy, buddy. Anyway, thanks again to all forum contributors for their important work.

    Thanks for taking the time to read the words of this True American Hero from the "Greatest Generation".:aa_usa::salute:
    Rick

    I was able to find the reference to the 155 Howitzers used to break up the IJA Bougainville counterattacks here:


    [​IMG] Buckeye Divison
     
  4. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5 Patron  

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    Today I received the letter that I hoped would not come for many more years. I was notified by James son that his father had passed, at home on April 15th, 2012. No illness preceded his passing and the official report stated that his heart stopped unexpectedly. I will post an article and his obituary at a later date.

    James, sir, you will be sorely missed by many friends and family. You lived your life as a larger than life hero and our country is much stronger and wiser for your efforts. I will miss you, my dear friend. I salute your life and your service.
     
  5. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    I'm sorry to hear it, too. We are losing these men quicker than any of us would wish. It's up to us to preserve their memories and thei stories. Thanks for doing your part.
     
  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    This is very sad news, indeed. My heartfelt condolences to Mr. Underwood's family and friends which, my friend Rick, includes you. What a rare privilege you have had to correspond with such a hero. I am sure that you brought him some measure of happiness to him by the appreciation you have shown him from yourself and on our behalf. Thank you, Rick, for giving us a chance to know him a little bit. As our WWII veterans go, they do leave behind a lasting legacy. However, they also leave a void that cannot be filled.

    Thank you, 1st Sgt. Underwood. Thank you. :(
     
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  7. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    This is sad news. One small consolation is Mr. Underwood will live on within the pages of WW2f and continue to inspire those who will be able to read his story thanks to one of our own. Godspeed Sargent, Rest well Sir.
     
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  8. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5 Patron  

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    Lou, Tommy, Rog,

    Thanks for your sentiments for this great man. And for your interest in this amazing story.

    There was a good article in the Peoria Journal Star, written by Phil Luciano, that added to the story.

    There were only two dugout boats the men used to ferry the 19 dead and wounded back across the river. They worked these boats through muck and waist high water to bring their friends back for two and one half hours, under fire. The other members of the platoon kept a withering cover fire (small arms, mortar and arty) on the Japanese to allow the four men to miraculously complete their operation. The three men who went with Jim were his great pals and couldn't refuse when he asked them to help retrieve their comrades. They all won Silver Stars but were considered for MOH's until the Regimental Colonel made the unfortunate comments mentioned within these letters to the Company Commander. The other three men were:

    KERANS, CHARLES E., RIP 2006

    Synopsis:
    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Charles E. Kerans, Private First Class, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company E, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 11 February 1945, near Malabon, Luzon, Philippine Islands. At daybreak, Company E, 145th Infantry, prepared to make an assault crossing of the Dampalit River east of Malabon to seize a strategic crossroads. The enemy, 500 in number, delivered intense mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire on our troops as they forced the crossing, causing such heavy casualties that a withdrawal was ordered. Private First Class Kerans voluntarily assisted in the evacuation of the casualties, all of whom were exposed to hostile fire. Using native dugouts and litters, he made repeated trips under constant, intense fire from the enemy positions, wading through mud and water to load the wounded and dead on the dugouts, and then dragged and pushed them across the river through the deadly fire to safety. Working over a period of two and one half hours, Private First Class Kerans eight times crossed the treacherous river and, by his complete disregard for safety and heroic determination in the face of grave danger, saved many lives and furnished a shining example of high courage. His intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 37th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
    Headquarters, U.S. Forces-Pacific, General Orders No. 162 (1945)
    Home Town: Charleston, Illinois


    PERSINGER, BILLY M.
    Synopsis:
    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Billy M. Persinger, Private First Class, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company E, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 11 February 1945, near Malabon, Luzon, Philippine Island. At daybreak, Company E, 145th Infantry, prepared to make an assault crossing of the Dampalit River east of Malabon to seize a strategic crossroads. The enemy, 500 in number, delivered intense mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire on our troops as they forced the crossing, causing such heavy casualties that a withdrawal was ordered. Private First Class Persinger voluntarily assisted in the evacuation of the casualties, all of whom were exposed to hostile fire. Using native dugouts and litters, he made repeated trips under constant, intense fire from the enemy positions, wading through mud and water to load the wounded and dead on the dugouts, and then dragged and pushed them across the river through the deadly fire to safety. Working over a period of two and one half hours, Private First Class Kersinger eight times crossed the treacherous river and, by his complete disregard for safety and heroic determination in the face of grave danger, saved many lives and furnished a shining example of high courage. Private First Class Persinger's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 37th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
    Headquarters, U.S. Forces-Pacific, General Orders No. 162 (1945)

    BABSON, ROBERT F.
    Citation:
    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Robert F. Babson, Private First Class, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company E, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 11 February 1945, near Malabon, Luzon, Philippine Islands. At daybreak, Company E prepared to make an assault crossing of the Dampalit River east of Malabon to seize a strategic crossroads. The enemy, 500 in number, delivered intense mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire on our troops as they forced the crossing, causing such heavy casualties that a withdrawal was ordered. Private Babson voluntarily assisted in the evacuation of the casualties, all of whom were exposed to hostile fire. Using native dugouts and litters, he made repeated trips under constant, intense fire from the enemy positions, wading through mud and water to load the wounded and dead on the dugouts, and then dragged and pushed them across the river through the deadly fire to safety. Working over a period of two and one half hours, Private Babson eight times crossed the treacherous river and, by his complete disregard for safety and heroic determination in the face of grave danger, saved many lives and furnished a shining example of high courage. His intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 37th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
    Headquarters, U.S. Forces-Pacific, General Orders No. 162 (1945)

    James approached his Company Commander with the idea (on his own initiative) to retrieve the men before any order was ever issued to attempt the extraction.
    I salute all these men of the "Buckeye Division" with heartfelt gratitude and remembrance.

    Jim's son, Pat said (at his fathers funeral), "He was proud to have served and he was proud to have never left anyone behind.":flag_USAwave::_wwiiforums::S!
     
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  9. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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  10. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Thanks for the mention of Luciano. It's been a while since I've read anything by Phil and that article was one of his better ones. I believe there may be a new nightclub opening, with the sounds of the Big Bands playing some swing in Heaven.
     
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  11. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5 Patron  

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    I am sending copies of his letters to his son in Illinois. He was gracious enough to have his wife send me Mr. Underwood's obituary. God rewarded James with a long, healthy life. He was not ill and remained to his last day in the home he loved in Metamora, Illinois and passed peacefully onward and upward. A fitting reward for such a stellar, giant of a man.
     
  12. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5 Patron  

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    http://www.iwvpa.net/ellisonsr/index.php

    T
    his is a site that I hope many people will view. Dr. Ellison has documented some great encounters with veterans. There are great poems and other nice works on his site. There is an email circulating, allegedly by Dr. Ellison, with some good photos. Here is one poem that was recently added:

    Russell G. Robison FAITHFUL

    Alone he stood defiant
    He would not step aside
    He’d fight until he fell
    Just like his brothers who had died
    Here I am his tracers said
    His sixty running hot
    He was a deadly viper
    And indeed had not forgot
    That now this ground was sacred
    This ground he now defends
    For it was down to do or die
    That’s how it was my friends

    ©Copyright March 2012 by Russell G. Robison Delta Blue

    Very powerful. Tommy if you have a better place to put this post, feel free. I think Mr. Underwood would have been happy, knowing what Dr. Ellison is doing.
     
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  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    The poem you chose to post is a fitting tribute to a great man, Rick. Thanks.
     
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  14. Jim T.

    Jim T. New Member

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    My Father, PFC James Tully was in this company having joined it in either Bougainville or New Guinea. He was in both locations in addition to Luzon. On 9 Feb 45 his outfit was ambushed on the Dampalit by what he later believed was a Filipino guerilla who had somehow got hold of a Nambu LMG. The GIs believed he had never seen the current style of US Army helmets, having only seen the "Tommy" style helmets the GIs wore prior to the war and the guerilla mistook them for Japanese infantry. Believing the "E" company troops were Japanese infantry he opened up on my Dad's outfit and killed several GIs and wounded several others. The "E" company men believed at the time that they were under attack from Japanese infantry. Fog of war. Volunteers were requested to go out for possible survivors. My Dad said he got about 2 steps before the LMG cut him down as well. He was pretty seriously wounded with 2 or 3 bullets in the abdomen. If they had waited a couple more minutes a Sherman tank came up and via interphone the "E" company troops told the tank to take out the LMG which was successful. By this time my Dad's war was over and he was sent to a hospital in Manila. He found out years later from a surgeon friend that the 37th ID surgeon, whose name my father remembered, that worked on him in Manila literally wrote the book on abdominal surgery and was solely responsible for saving his life (good for me and my sisters) as those wounds were "unrecoverable" in the Philippines in 1945. If you've seen Saving Pvt Ryan his wounds were virtually identical to the medic who got hit and killed by the MG42 while assaulting the hill.
    The account here of 1stSgt Underwood's exploits sounds very much like what happened to my Dad's outfit and I believe he might have been one of Underwood's recruits. Truly a remarkable outfit made up of ordinary men doing extraordinary things in the most trying circumstances. If anyone knows where I can get the accounts of 1st Sgt Underwood's Veterans Project I would appreciate it. My Dad passed away 20 years ago just as he was beginning to write of his time in the Army. All I have is his verbal accounts from my memory and that seems somewhat confusing to me now.
    All I do recall is that one of his best friends was a guy he called "Dutch" Schultz, who he said was the most deadly shot he ever saw. Dutch may have been from Ohio someplace. My father grew up in Philadelphia.
     
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  15. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    If you are on Facebook, you should check out this page: www.facebook.com/37thidwwii. The fellow who maintains it is actively researching the 145th Infantry, specifically F Company. However, he may have information that will help you.
     

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