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Patches & Medals = Puzzles & Mysteries, please help!

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by CactusBird85, Feb 14, 2012.

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  1. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Hey guys, hoping you could help. My grandfather passed away before I met him, but I've been researching some of his history and these are some of the few WWII items we have left of his. He didn't speak at all of his time overseas, so I'm looking for anything I can find to learn a little of his story since his children do not know anything.

    As for my "information request," I'm including photos that I'd like help in identifying and was wondering if you could correct any mistakes in my info I've found so far and maybe answer a few questions in my attempts to tie it all together and get a sense of an idea about him as a soldier.


    Patches
    View attachment 15797
    l-r
    Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command:Western ; 45th Infantry Division (”Thunderbirds”) ;
    Fourth US Army (Training) ; 103rd Infantry Division (”Cactus Division”) ;
    AA Command ; Army General HQ Reserves

    Questions :
    a) What is the Fourth US Army? Does that correspond to any of his return address units below?
    b) What is the "Army General HQ Reserves"? Does that mean he was a reservist at the beginning?


    ________________________________________________________


    Pins/Medals
    View attachment 15798
    l-r
    Combat Infantryman Badge ;
    European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal ; American Defense Service Medal ; Good Conduct Medal ;
    American Campaign Medal ; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal ; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ;
    157th Infantry Regiment emblem pin ; 4th Infantry Division pin ; Presidential Unit Citation
    Questions :
    a) Why would he have received an Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal with a silver star when he only served overseas in Europe for two years?
    b) What is the star/oak leaf system? If a bronze star indicates 5 bronze stars, does that mean he had 7 awards of that ribbon? Three oak leaves = three instances of that award?
    c) Are any of these particular "special?" I realize simply his service alone is quite special, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about, for instance, the CIB and Presidential Unit Citation, to know if these lofty sounding names were common or not.


    ________________________________________________________


    A sample of return address labels (showing units) NOTE: some postmarks may be late/quite late based on the date of the letters written inside the envelopes.
    View attachment 15796
    l-r
    Priv. Bty C, 51st Btn Camp Callan; Priv. Bty A 121st Sep. (?) Bn CA (AA) Camp Haan ;
    Sgt. Bty A 121st Sep. (?) Bn CA (AA) Camp Haan ; Cpl. Bty A 248th AA S/L(?) Bn. ;
    Cpl. Bty A 248th AA S/L(?) Bn. ; Cpl. AT Co. 411th Inf. Reg. A.P.O. 470 (?);
    Cpl. AT Co. 157th Inf Reg A.P.O. 45 (?) ; Sgt. AT Co. 157th Inf Reg A.P.O. 45 ;
    S/Sgt (?) 157th Inf Reg A.P.O. 45

    Just in case this helps shed any light on the above!



    Thanks so much in advance! (Wasn't quite sure if this should have gone under the "service records and genealogical search," let me know if this post needs moving.)
     

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  2. 693FA

    693FA Member

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    Cactus,
    I'm gonna stick to the medal side of your question so here it goes.
    ref a.) The 4th US Army was primarily a training command but responsible for the defense of the West Coast and you had many letters with APO's during this time period of WWII. He obviously met the criteria during this time.
    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
    ref b.) The star/oak leafs are part of the device system for types/multiple awards of a medal/ribbon...however the bronze star device is for battles/campaigns and not to be confused with the actual Bronze Star Medal.
    13/32-Inch (Large Full Medal Size) Oak Leaves (Model #:956)Bronze Star Devices (Model #:914 DBSD)
    ref c.) IMHO, Yes the CIB is a special thing I think. I also think the PUC is since it was awarded to units that distinguished themselves in combat .....
    Presidential Unit Citation (United States) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Hope this helps some.......






     
  3. DocL

    DocL Member

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  4. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I would like to concur with and elaborate on Clint's HO vis a vis the CIB. I will save myself some typing by quoting the Wiki:

    Bronze Star Medal
     
  5. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I agree. My father was awarded the CIB (although I have seen no record of it) and was awarded a Bronze Star because of it. He really was not aware of the Bronze Star until it was sent to him when he requested his medals in the 80's. He died in 1990, and it was not until a few years ago that my mother sent his medals to me. I have since made a shadow box showcasing his awards which hangs in my den.
     
  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Have you posted a photo of his shadow box, Lou? I, for one, would be interested in seeing it.
     
  7. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Great information, thanks so much Clint, Doc, TD, and Lou!

    Like you said, maybe he received the Asiatic-Pacific citations because he spent much of his training time on the West Coast; maybe this was considered part of the 'national defense' seeing as the United States was officially at war. Could this have been the case? Were those types of ribbons awards just for being in the military at the time of war, rather than it being necessary to have seen combat in that theatre of war?

    If I understood it right, the CIB was awarded to all soldiers who took part in combat in WWII, as opposed to being a commendation to individuals for what they did while in combat, correct? I imagine therefore that any soldier who saw combat in WWII received one, and subsequently per TD-Tommy's post, each received a bronze star as well?


    The PUC sounds very impressive as well, being that not only did the unit need to see combat, but it needed to distinguish itself while in combat. (Sort of like what I was trying to describe in the former sentence)
     
  8. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Lou-

    Would my mother be able to request the medals in the same fashion on his behalf now that's passed away? Do you know what method one would take to request those?

    I recently put in a request for his NARA records (separation papers I believe?) that should apparently show things like medals, commendations, etc. Crossing all my fingers his record wasn't lost to 'the fire,' so we'll see.
     
  9. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Thanks for this info Tommy, exciting stuff! My grandfather actually wrote in some of his last letters from overseas that he was being recommended for a Bronze Star. Unfortunately, the letters ran out because the war was over soon after and he was coming home, but seeing that I have no actual Bronze Star medal and his family knows nothing about it, my guess is that it was either not granted, or got lost in the all the shuffling of the war ending and troops being sent home.

    If I'm understanding you correctly however, according to this 1947 policy, because he has a CIB, he technically should have received the Bronze Star as well at some point?
     
  10. 693FA

    693FA Member

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    Yes she can...you/she would need to do it through the same NARA request in St. Louis see attached:
    Awards and Decorations
     
  11. 693FA

    693FA Member

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    Cactus,
    This doesn't affect any of the above information but looked like it may be an interesting side note with respect to the APO's. It appears that your grandfather may have been busted down in rank and then made it back during his service following the way he titled the return address' and the corresponding dates.
    9/22/41 private
    10/21/42 he's now a Sgt.
    1/20/44 the next dated letter he's now Cpl. and uses this through at least 2/??/45....
    then your last letter dated 7/12/45 in NY he again is using Sgt.
     
  12. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

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    Looking at the dates on your grandfathers letters he was in the service (I believe the National Guard) before Pearl Harbor which qualifies him for the American Defense Medal (top row center) He went overseas in Feb. 1945 and was assigned to the 157th Infantry Bn of the 45th Division. From that date the 157th fought in Rhineland, and Central Europe. They returned home to Boston in Sept. 1945. The 45th Division liberated Dachau Concentration Camp and stayed on occupation duty until they were shipped home. I believe your grandfather particapated in two campaigns in the EAME Theater. The top row of ribbons would be correct for his service and he would qualify for the American Campaign for his service in the states. If he qualified for the CIB he would also have the Bronze Star. The correct order would be Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct, American Defense, EAME W/2 bronze stars , WWII Victory Medal, and I believe the Occupation Medal.

    The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the second EAME Medal with the seven campaigns (one silver and two bronze) don't belong-the war in the Pacific ended before he got home and he didn't have enough time in Europe to be in seven campaigns.

    Regarding the CIB-no not everyone who saw combat earned one. The key word is Infantry. Have a look at this link Combat Infantryman Badge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This badge is highly regarded and difficult to earn--actually more difficult than the requirments for the Bronze Star Medal and that's why it was given with the CIB.

    The Presidentual Unit Citation was a unit decoration and was equivalent to an individual earning a distinguished Service Cross. Your grandfather could wear this ribbon while he was assigned to the unit that earned it. If he was with the unit when it was earned he could wear it regardless what unit he was with. The one shown represents four awards. The 45th saw a bunch of action in Italy, Sicily and in Europe but I don't know if the 157th earned it four times, it could be checked.

    If you fill out a copy of form 180 and ask for a replacement set of medals they will replace everything he earned. It's free. If your mother can ask for them it would be great, she would be next of kin.

    Hope I didn't overwhelm you with all this. Dave
     
  13. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Yes, I noticed that as well, in fact, if you look closely at the other three letters in that photo with the July 29th '45 date, they are self-addressed "S/Sgt." This was also around the time he wrote about the Bronze Star rec I believe so maybe there was another promotion in there too?

    Knowing what I do about my grandfather, I can't imagine how he'd have gotten busted down a rank; he was a very quiet and humble man who immigrated here from Italy as a boy, but I suppose it could have been a million things or just getting into mischief out of boredom during those camp years around CA and TX. I also thought it might have been an effect of switching units those few times, but I guess it'll be forever a mystery!
     
  14. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    Dave-

    Thanks so much for all that detailed info! I have to correct you on a couple things though, which might tie some loose ends together:

    Some of these postmarks were quite late. I know for a fact based on the contents of the letters that he shipped over to Europe with the 411th Inf Reg, AT co. on the date of October 6, 1944. He wrote in some of the letters about the voyage, and I found in my research that the 411th left NY on this date and landed in Marseille on the 20th of October.

    He was with the 411th Inf Reg until early January '45, where he transferred to the 157th Inf Reg. My guess based on the reading I've done is that he was part of replacements for how bad of a hit the 157th took at a battle at a place called Reipertswiller. I believe the 411th (or 103rd division they were part of) were somewhere nearby in support or fighting with. He returned to the states in late summer of '45, but I have no exact dates on this to be certain. Last letter from Europe was dated August '45 I believe, I'll have to check again later.

    I don't know a lot about his enlistment details besides what ancestry.com told me: Enlisted 6/25/41 as a PVT. The part I don't understand is that under branch, its listed "Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA." Any idea what that refers to?

    Does that help fill in any more holes in the story? The Pacific campaign medal still baffles me also, but maybe the fact he was in Europe longer than you thought might answer for the other EAME awards??



    My grandfather did write briefly of the 'horrors of mankind' he witnessed at a camp north of Munich in these letters, which of course has to be Dachau. These experiences must have been a part of the reason he never wanted to discuss his wartime experience.



    Thanks again-
    Peter
     
  15. CactusBird85

    CactusBird85 Member

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    I'm looking again at the eVetRecs system on the NARA site. (I just submitted a request for records alone a few days back, but am now looking re: medal requests)

    However, I noticed this text on there:

    "Submit requests for replacement of Army or Air Force awards by clicking on the 'Continue' button below. Indicate in the 'Comments' section of Step 3 the specific awards to which the veteran is entitled that you wish to replace."

    Is there a way they can find out and send which medals he's officially earned like Lou and Dave mentioned? As you can see, I have no definite ideas of all the medals he earned, so I'm wary of making a list of them to submit. Maybe I should wait to see what records they send back in hopes it is listed on there before making a medal request?
     
  16. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I think you could go either way, worst case scenario is that the awards center doesn't have confirmation of his awards and they send you letter stating as much. On the other hand it could be just the opposite and they confirm his awards and sent you a copy of his discharge papers with the replacement medals. In either case all you risk is time.

    That would correspond with the liberation of Dachau or one of it's sub camps.
     
  17. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Yes I have. Look at my profile page and you'll see it there.
     
  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Ah, I should have thought of that. Thanks, Lou.
     

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