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Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany


Little by little an organization emerged, tried in the swamps and bearded Louisiana forests, welded into comradeship by months of living, sweating, cursing, laughing and working together. The hustle and confusion of moves, the old army game of "hurry-and-wait," the long lines for movies, inspections, a haircut, the widespread indignation at cleaning up new stations, the parties, the new "Song of the Ozarks," the band, parades, endless salutes, all these gave birth to a common background, new friendships, and a mutual, inarticulate esteem and affection for comrades and outfit.
Reviews, parades, by train to Ft Dix, passes to Trenton and New York, sleepless shifts on Philadelphia street cars during the strike, POM, last minute inspections amid the vari-colored buildings of Camp Kilmer, the staggering justifyspacer
heavily-laden march to the ferries, "gang-plank fever," the fetid, cramped, blacked-out sleeping quarters of slow transports, sea sickness, Red Cross "thrillers," the lights at Weymouth, a windy and wet debarkation at Cherbourg, the rain-drenched orchards of "Area M," the roar of trucks on the Red Ball MSR, all formed a panorama moving swiftly, poignantly to the battle fields of Germany. Then another long train ride in sleepless baggage-crowded French cars, detouring fabled Paris, over the scarred beet fields of Belgium to the hospitable pastures and villages of Holland. There the 102d Infantry Division assembled in late October 1944, far from the brave "good-byes," apprehensive but never doubting the future, poised on the threshold of its destiny.


Our turn had finally arrived. After months of training, months of waiting, more months of sweating it out, the 405th Infantry entrained from the battle-soured Norman town of Valognes, bound for the Siegfried Line. The first train pulled out at exactly 210810A October. Five days later the weary, dirty, disgruntled troops emerged from baggage-laden cars only to face a long truck ride to Waubach in Germany proper. That helped a little, and morale took a turn for the better when the destination became known. Perhaps they'd get a chance at the Krauts after all, a chance that sometimes looked mighty slim back there on the dusty ranges of Camp Swift. As a matter of fact they were much closer to battle than they realized, for the following day the 405th Infantry, temporarily attached to the 2d Armored Division, relieved the 41st Armored Infantry, thus becoming the first Ozark unit to see action.
The remainder of the Division likewise suffered the cramped cruelties of a five-day train ride, with the exception of Division Headquarters, Division Artillery and a few other units, whose personnel acquired severe jeep-blisters, underwent the excruciating worry of sweating out a detour around Paris, braved flying apples, darting children, disciplinary action for allowing helmet chin straps to hang unfastened, and other similar hazards of the open road. 407th Infantry detrained 27 October to bivouac northeast of Brunsum, Holland; justifyspacer
three days later, attached to the 29th Infantry Division, they relieved the 117th and 115th Infantry Regiments on a line from Hatterath through Teveren to Waurichen. 406th Infantry went to Hertzogenrath in Germany where, under control of the 30th Infantry Division, they replaced the 117th Infantry, defending a sector near Geilenkirchen; by 2 November the 406th had received its baptismal fire.
Meanwhile on 27 October 1st/Sgt Cecil Reynolds had been wounded in action, thus acquiring the dubious distinction (according to his comrades) of being the first Ozark to receive a Purple Heart. Next day Pfc Clayton Richards, ASN 35545063, was killed in action, the first Ozark to die fighting for his country and ideals. Both of these men where members of Co I, 405th Infantry, which was then engaged near the small village of Waurichen.
By noon 5 November, Division Artillery, having reconnoitered for, and occupied positions, and having completed its first survey under battle conditions was all set to fire its first shot. After a conference between the Division Commander and the Division Artillery Commander, Brigadier General Charles M. Busbee, the first divisional artillery concentration was placed in the square in the proud city of Geilenkirchen. Within the next twenty-four hours all batteries expended a total of 635 rounds executing nine close support missions, 81 interdictory missions and 14 miscellaneous missions.

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