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Grandfather's Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by alp, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. alp

    alp Member

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    I was able to obtain my Grandfather's WWII Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge. I know his branch was Army.
    The form indicates he was with Company B, 17th Infantry. I did a simple google search and I saw:

    17th infantry regiment
    17th infantry Division
    1st battalion 17th infantry
    4 battalion 17th infantry

    Confused - How do I know what group he was assigned to? Are these the same?

    Under "Battles and Campaigns" the form indicates he fought at Ryukyus. I've gathered this is a group of islands - Okinawa being the largest.

    Is it possible to narrow down were exactly my Grandfather fought?
     

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    He served with Company B, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He didn't join them until the end of Feb 1945. He would have received his Combat Infantryman's Badge for the Battle of Okinawa.
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    Because he was awarded a CIB he was entitled to a Bronze Star, which was given after the war.
     
  4. alp

    alp Member

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    Thank you TD-Tommy776 @ LRusso216. I appreciate the quick response. Is there any good history books that you would recommend that specify the battles that Company B, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division were in?
     
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  5. alp

    alp Member

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    So what would have been the insignia on his uniform the Buffalo 17th Infantry or the Hourglass 7th Infantry Division?
     
  6. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  7. alp

    alp Member

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    Thank you Lou. I found a used paperback on Amazon for under $18. Ordered it.
     
  8. alp

    alp Member

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    What would have been the insignia on his uniform the Buffalo 17th Infantry or the Hourglass 7th Infantry Division?
     
  9. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    He would have worn the 7th Infantry Division patch on his left sleeve. The 17th Infantry DUI would have been worn on his garrison cap or lapel depending on the uniform.
     
  10. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    The Hyperwar.com website has an online version of the US Army in WWII "Green Books" volume, "Okinawa: The Last Battle". You may want to check out Chapter 9 (starting at page 227) and Chapter 11 (starting at page 271). You can also look through the Index for other references to the 17th Infantry. If you prefer, you can download a PDF version of the entire book from the US Army Center of Military History website.

    It is usually possible to find a copy of the 7th Infantry Division's WWII history, though be careful to not overspend. There are 1988 Battery Press reprints available that shouldn't cost more than about $50. Don't assume that because someone is asking $100+ for it that it is not a reprint. The original was published in 1950 by Infantry Journal Press. The original printing was hardcover. I believe the reprints may be paperback. Or you can opt for getting it on loan from your local library.
     
  11. alp

    alp Member

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    Thanks again TD-Tommy776. I found a reprint for $35. I can't wait to read it.

    After contacting the National Personel Records Center, I received a letter form them where they listed my Grandfather's medals. It indicates that they are going to ship his medals to me. Do they normally send the actual medals or documentation for the medals or both. I hope they send something that reveals more specifics about his service. Do any of you experts know what I should expect?
     

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  12. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    How exciting! Did you check the status of your shipment? It gives a link at the bottom of the letter.
     
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  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Whether they send actual medals depends on who has requested them and whether or not a request for replacement medals has previously been fulfilled. I don't believe they provide any specific information regarding the circumstances of the awards. However, I have not received replacement medals myself, so perhaps a member who has can confirm or correct my supposition.
     
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  14. alp

    alp Member

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    Yes. The website indicates I should receive something by November 2017. YES! This is exciting. Once I receive, whatever it is they are going to send me, I'll provide an update. Oh no! It's only July. Hahahaha.
     
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  15. alp

    alp Member

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    I'll post here when I receive shipment of whatever it is they ship. ;-)
     
  16. alp

    alp Member

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    When I received the document of my Grandfather's WWII Honorable Discharge, I learned that he was in Co B, 17th Infantry Regiment. That's about all I knew about the (for lack of a better word and understanding "group") he served with.

    I posted the document here. Almost immediately TD-Tommy776 posted, "He served with Company B, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division". Wow! That was exciting to get more information. Thanks!
    My question is, from the limited information I provided, how does one know what battalion he was part of?
    I'm reading the 7th Infantry Division's WWII history (Battery Press reprint) that was recorded. I'm reading through the chapters about Okinawa. But I'm having significant difficulty understanding the organization of how the army, company, battalion, regiment, corps, division structure works.

    As I'm reading, naturally I'm looking for information about my Grandfather's outfit. So not understanding this organization structure is hindering me. Is there an organization chart that lays this system out clearly so bone-heads like me can understand?

    I've googled and found out the kinds of numbers of officers and troops that make up a division or battalion. But what I would like to see is a specific chart or something that lays out, in detail, how the 7th Infantry Division was organized in 1945-1946.

    Here is a for instance of my confusion. See photo. I'm reading along about the 184th. On this page the author is talking about various companies, and the 2nd Battalion, and "...the entire Division". I am lost for any sense of reference as to how these groups fit together with the whole.

    Is there another reference book that I need to purchase? I've exhausted myself googling. I greatly appreciate any and all assistance. And I'm very sorry that I am a bag-o-hammers.
     

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  17. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    I am still learning, but it gets easier. I'm going to over simplify it for you with this example. Think of it this way.... The division is your high school, the regiment is your grade level, the company is your English class, and the platoon is who you sit with at lunch. All the same high school, but divided into smaller sections. You are in all of them. Now, there are other high schools, grade levels, classes, and people eating lunch. Lol It just helped me to learn the sizes first. Hopefully someone will come along with a good chart. I googled and couldn't find the one I wanted. I'll look some more. :)
     
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  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    I have referred others to the Trailblazers web page which explains Infantry Structure during WWII. It's a very good tutorial on the elements of Infantry Divisions. Once you understand the structure, figuring out the Battalion is easy. Figuring out the Division requires knowing what Division the 17th Infantry Regiment was assigned to during WWII. That can usually be figured out by doing an internet search.

    In a nutshell, Infantry Divisions during WWII were "triangular". That means that each Division had 3 Infantry Regiments. The Regiments in turn had 3 Battalions. The Battalions (designated as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively) each had 4 Companies. 1st Battalion had Companies A, B, C, & D. 2nd Battalion had Companies E, F, G, & H. 3rd Battalion had Companies I, K, L, & M. The first 3 Companies of each Battalion were Rifle Companies. The fourth Company (D, H, & M) were Heavy Weapons Companies (i.e. heavy machine guns, mortars, etc.). So, knowing your grandfather was in B Company meant that he was in the 1st Battalion. When a discharge paper states something like "17th Infantry" without any further designator, it is almost always referring to the Regiment and not a Division. [Note: I purposely left out other elements (i.e. Headquarters, Cannon, Medical, etc.) as they are covered in the above link.]

    Companies were also divided into Platoons, and Platoons into Squads. As a practical matter, it is very difficult to determine with which Platoon or Squad a particular soldier served. The records and histories available rarely go beyond Company level detail. While it is desirable to find that information out, it is not really necessary to understanding the soldier's service. It will be much more helpful to find out what you can about what his Company did, including the larger context of his Regiment and Division. Then seek out personal narratives of soldiers who fought in the Pacific, and Okinawa in particular.
     
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  19. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

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    I'm a little behind the eight ball with this, but yes, you will receive all the awards that are listed. The only awards they don't replace are any foreign awards and none are listed. Usually this takes some time but They have always come through. Tommy is always amazing.
     
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  20. alp

    alp Member

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    Wow! That was VERY helpful my friend. After reading your explanation, I think I understand. I also understand you left out other elements for clarity. I made a diagram of what I think your trying to teach me. Is the attached diagram accurate (recognizing I left out the other elements like you did)?
     

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