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Researching my father

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by COTEX, May 6, 2011.

  1. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    View attachment 13304 I am looking for any information I can find on the 552nd Heavy Ponton Battalion and the 1159th Engineer Combat Group. All I know about my father was he was a forward observer at a command post in Kripp near the Remagen bridge. I think he was also in the 552nd but I don't know when he arrived in Europe or left. All I have is a "Operations Narrative" that mentions his name.
     

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  2. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    COTEX likes this.
  4. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. The report from the 1128th ECG was particularly useful. I am constructing a time line for both the 552nd and the 1159th. My father started out in the 552nd Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion in Camp Gordon, Georgia. I know he was there in November of 1942 because he was taking flying lessons at the Augusta airport. So I assume he stayed with the unit until at some point he transitioned to the HQ position in the 1159th Engineer Combat Group. I received some 552nd unit data from the Army Historical Foundation but it doesn't have much detail in the late 1944 and early 1945 time frame other than they were in Belgium between 23 Oct 1944 and 7 March 1945 and then in Germany beginning 8 March 1945. The report from the 1128th indicated that the 552nd was attached to the 1102nd ECG around 21 Dec 1944. So that means the 552nd had not yet been assigned to the 1159th. And since the data I have indicates the 552nd didn't enter Germany until 8 March 1945 and the 1159th was in Germany on 12 Feb 1945, I can probably assume my father didn't transition to the 1159th until sometime after 8 March 1945. I am also plotting each unit on a Google map so I can better visualize each unit's movements. I am also planning to order some 1159th unit documents from NARA that might help also.
     
  5. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Thanks for the update. Hope you have continued success.
     
  6. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    Thanks Lou,
    Yesterday was informative but also a little disappointing. I talked to three vets from the unit (amazed they are still around). None remembered my dad though. I did learn there were three companies in the 552nd (an H&S, Co A and Co B). Maybe my assumption about my dad being in the 552nd is incorrect. Its based on a bracelet with 552 stamped on it and a pilots log book with Camp Gordon indicated which is where the 552nd trained. There were only three units assigned to the 1159th ECG at the Remagen Bridge activity (the 51st ECB, the 181st and 552nd Eng Heavy Ponton Battalions) so I assumed my dad was probably with the 552nd and then got assigned to headquarters staff in the 1159th. I have a pretty good book written about the 51st ECB and it has a pretty good roster of the companies and my dad was not mentioned anywhere. I need to research the 181st a little more.
    Carl
     
  7. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Carl,

    Just because a group of vets don't remember your dad doesn't necessarily mean that he wasn't in the unit. According to your research, I would be surprised if he wasn't in the 552nd. I would keep trying to find vets, and hope that one of them might remember your dad -- I have read quite a few stories on here of similar "long-shot" connections actually coming through. In the meantime, I would definitely get the records from the NARA. The DD 214 will tell you all the military information about your father (rank, medals, units, dates, etc) and would really be useful.
     
  8. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    I think Alan is correct. It would be surprising if you did find a vet who remembered him. These units were fairly large, and men moved in and out of them. Keep searching and go the NARA route. It will be useful in your search.
     
  9. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    I received a reply from NARA. Its interesting because I received one a few years ago (2002) that gave me a NA Form 13038 (Certification of Military Service). It had his service number and discharge date of 25 Dec 1945. There was no mention of a DD214. Both letters from the National Personnel Records Center indicated that the records were lost in the fire in 1973. I do have two ribbons that he kept. One is the American Defense Medal. The other is the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars.

    Carl
     
  10. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    Just received some great information from my sister who had some photographs of my dad. Seems he was in Camp Breckinridge in Jan 1943 and also June 1944. Then he was in Panama City Florida 25 Jun 1944. I think there was a training camp nearby (Camp Gordon Johnston).
    So now my theaory is that he might have been in the 552nd only briefly while at Camp Gordon in Nov 1942 thru Jan 1943. Then he transfers to Camp Breckenridge, KY. There was an engineering unit there (983rd Engineering Battalion). So he may have been assigned to it. Then my sister had an undated photo of him at Camp Rucker, Alabama which is where the 1159th Engineer Combat Group was activated on 26 June 1944. The 1159th is where he was during Remagen and he was in Oklahoma at Camp Gruber after the war which is where the 1159th deactivated 20 Feb 1946.
    -Carl
     
  11. shinglehouse

    shinglehouse New Member

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    Hi,

    I don't believe that I see your father's name in the thread? My dad was at Camp Breckenridge with the 284th engineers. They were part of the 1159th Combat Engr group.

    You can do a last name search on my site to see if maybe he was attached to the 284th:
    284thcombatengineers.com

    Good luck in your search! And if he happened to have been with the 284th please get in touch with me!
    Mikel
     
  12. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Mikel,

    Looks like a nice website you have in progress. Keep up the good work!

    It looks like Carl hasn't been online since last December. If you look at the 4th paragraph in the Operations Narrative that he attached in his Post #1, it refers to a "Capt. [Greeley?] of this Headquarters..." which I believe is the name he refers to in that same post. Unfortunately, the name is not clear and the image resolution is not great. My best guess at the name is Greeley, but I am not certain about that. Hopefully, he will stop in again soon.
     
  13. shinglehouse

    shinglehouse New Member

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    Thanks TD-Tommy!

    It has been a great adventure researching all of the guys and their travels. The best part was finding a picture of my grandpa (though I call him dad because he raised me) and one of the guys in Nice, France back in '45 and then going to meet that guy and now having a picture of him and I some 68 years later. Crazy stuff :)
     
  14. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    You're welcome. Research can be addicting, especially when one has a personal stake in it. It would be fascinating to see those photos side by side -- sort of a soldier version of the Then & Now pics that are so popular on the Forum.
     
  15. shinglehouse

    shinglehouse New Member

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    Research is addicting...and holy time consuming! I'll post a few pictures after the reunion this weekend!
     
  16. COTEX

    COTEX Member

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    Mike,
    My dad was assigned to the 557th Heavy Pontoon Battalion at Camp Breckenridge on 23 Jul 1943. I'm not sure when he left the unit but he reported to the 1159th at Camp Rucker, Alabama on 26 June 1944.
    Carl
     
  17. Gunner1957

    Gunner1957 New Member

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    My father was in the 552nd from training at Camp Gordon until they returned from Europe. His name was SSG Joe H. Rice and he was in H&S Company. I have a group photo of him along with the rest of the company (including the BN command group) at Camp Gordon in late 1942. If you think your father would be in this pic, I can get it digitized (which I've been meaning to do anyway) and send it to you.
     
  18. Robert Lee

    Robert Lee New Member

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    Hello,
    My Dad was a member of the 552nd Heavy Ponton Battalion, Corps of Engineers during WWII. He was in A company and was also a Staff Sergeant. His name...Robert E. Lee (no kidding) from Altoona, PA. He did his training at Camp Gordon starting in December of 1943 stayed with the 552nd until the end of the war. Chances are good that our Dads knew one another.

    I have a book that Dad gave me which was published after the war; it's all about the 552nd with stories, photos, as well as names and photos of personnel. Thankfully you included your Dad's name so I looked for him...and found him. His picture is in the book and it has his home address as 224 Judiciary Street in Gurora, Indiana. If you like, I would be more than happy to scan his picture and send it to you.

    Hopefully this message will somehow find you.
    Regards,
    Robert E. Lee III (Bob)
     
  19. shinglehouse

    shinglehouse New Member

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    I hadn't mentioned it but the documents above mention the 284th and when they were hit by a V2, I have posted 35+ pages of 1159th documents on my 284th ECB documents page (I tried to upload here but you can only do it one at a time and then some were too large).

    SO if you're looking for information on the 1159th you can find some here:
    Documents

    Also, the III Corps AARs for Jan, Feb and Mar 1945 and a ton of other information is posted.

    ENJOY!
    Mikel
     

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