In 1927, the Third Battalion at Fort Lawton moved to Fort Lincoln, Maryland. After maneuvers in California in 1940, the 3rd battalion was redesigned as part of the 15th Infantry. Cadre made up a new 3rd Battalion from the remainder of the regiment and the transfer of two companies of the 32nd Infantry at Chilkoot Barracks, Alaska. The 1st battalion, 4th Infantry pioneered military development of the strategic Alaskan territory. The rest of the regiment arrived shortly after and started clearing ground for what is now Fort Richardson. It was the first organization of such size to arrive in Alaska.
The Fourth formed the nucleus for the Alaska Defense Command, to deter a Japanese invasion of Alaska. The Japanese began to build-up forces on the southern-most Alaskan Islands and the Fourth's major battle of the war was the battle of Attu, a Japanese held island. On 8 May 1943 soldiers of the Fourth climbed over the sides of their transport ships to land on Massacre Bay. Major John D. O'Reilley of Seattle, battalion commander, who was later to receive a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel, reported to Major General Landrem. Carrying extra rations and ammunition, the troops marched to engage the enemy less than 24 hours after landing. On Attu Island, the First Battalion fought the Japanese at altitudes of 2000 feet on snow-covered mountains. Moving north along the high west ridge of Chichagof Valley on 21 May 1943 the battalion came up against strong enemy opposition from machine gun and sniper positions. Later that day, the battalion moved along the ridge to a point where visual contact was established with other American forces that had proceeded inland from the Holtz Bay area, on the opposite side of the island.
After five straight days of strong enemy opposition, the First Battalion was pulled to the rear for rest and to prepare for their next mission. After a day's rest, the First Battalion was given the task of clearing entrenched Japanese defenders from the high peaks of Fish Hook Ridge. Covered only by mortar and machine gun fire, troops of Company A scaled steep cliffs while facing heavy enemy fire. Small groups of soldiers were clearly visible as they slowly inched their way up to the enemy held peaks. One observer later said that the scene resembled a Hollywood adventure movie rather than reality. Many were wounded or killed, but the battalion on 27 May 1943 finally took a portion of a high rock on the northeast end of the ridge, giving them a commanding position overlooking the main ridge running east toward the Chichagof Valley.
The fighting continued into the night and by 1900 hours on the next day, the 4th Infantry had accomplished its mission. The Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to the 1st Battalion for its heroism during the attack on the peaks. The next day, the American invasion force engaged and defeated 1,000 Japanese in a suicide counter-attack near Sarana Valley. The Fourth was given the task of combing the area of Chichagof Valley by active patrolling, hunting out and capturing or killing Japanese stragglers. This was the last engagement with the Japanese for the regiment. The Japanese had been driven from Alaska's Aleutian Islands. In the fighting the regiment lost approximately five officers and sixty enlisted men.
2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry participated in one of the first big troop movements by air, probably the largest up to that time. Early on the morning of 19 June 1942 the battalion was ordered to move to Nome, Alaska near the edge of the Arctic Circle, where unidentified planes were flying threatening an invasion. Only a small number of army transport planes were available. The situation was critical and orders required that the vanguard of the force, 20 anti-aircraft guns and their crews, be in Nome within 24 hours. All civilian air traffic in Alaska was stopped that day and every suitable airplane in the vicinity was requisitioned for the movement. The fleet of planes included Stinsons, Bellancas, and two old Ford Tri-motors. By midnight of the same day, after 39 individual trips, the anti-aircraft units had been moved to Nome and the big shuttle movement was under way. Despite weather that kept the planes on the ground part of the time, the entire force and all its equipment, with the exception of big field guns and similar heavy equipment, was transported to Nome in a period of 18 days. The movement would have been completed in a week had it not been for the unfavorable weather conditions. Cargo-carrying commercial planes coming in from China were used to supplement the air armada. The midnight sun, providing almost full 24 hours of daylight, made it possible for some of the planes to make two trips in a single day. Ammunition, rations, tents, even 37 millimeter guns and field kitchens, everything necessary to make the force self-sufficient were moved by air without one accident. Heavy weapons were brought up later by boat. The troops stepped out of the planes in Nome, equipped and ready to fight. The total flights came to 218. The troops maneuvered in weather from 20 to 35 degrees below zero. They found that none of the elaborate footgear provided by the army protected their feet as well as the native Mukluk, made by the Eskimos from deer and the hide of sealskins. The 2nd Battalion remained in Nome for a year, later moving to the Aleutians. First to Dutch Harbor then to Adak, where they experienced other types of bad weather.
The 3rd Battalion, which included two companies that were stationed at Chikoot Barracks for many years before the war, helped to establish two big bases, Fort Richarson and Ladd Field.
On 2 December 1943, the 4th returned to the United States, and after consolidating the regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington, it moved on 23 January 1944 to Fort Benning, Georgia, where it was assigned to the United States Army Replacement and School Command. On 1 November 1945, the 4th Infantry was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. The incumbent personnel and equipment were reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division, which was at Camp Butner, North Carolina, while the regimental records and accoutrements were forwarded to Japan to establish a unit for occupation duty. This iteration of the 4th Infantry Regiment was inactivated on 31 January 1947, at Osaka, Japan. The records and accoutrements were returned to the United States and the 4th Infantry Regiment was relieved from assignment to the 25th Division on 1 February 1947.
CPL. ALLEN MERRITT
Army Correspondent Headquarters,
Fort Lewis, Washington
THREE YEARS IN
Veterans of three long years in the bitter cold of Alaska end the lashing winds of its Aleutian islands, the "Fighting Fourth Infantry" which pioneered military development of the strategic Alaskan territory has returned after one of the war's longest fours of overseas duty.
The first units of the famed regiment, which dates back to the time of George Washington, disembarked from a ship at Seward in June, 1940--the very month the world was stunned by the fall of France to German military might. As the remainder of the regiment arrived end started clearing ground for what is now Fort Richardson, congress passed the selective service act.
It was the first organization of such size to arrive in Alaska, and formed the nucleus for the old Alaska defense force. Since that time, the regiment has written another colorful chapter to its history.
Its first battalion, the first to arrive in Alaska, played a decisive role in the bloody Battle of Attu. The graves of many of its officers and men are marked by wooden crosses in that bleak island's Little Falls cemetery.
The second battalion took part in whet was perhaps the largest movement of troops and equipment by air up to that time. That was lest year when the Japanese moved into the Aleutians and it appeared they might attack Nome, on the mainland in the far north. More than 2,000 fully equipped troops were moved there by army and civilian planes in an 18-day period. The battalion later helped to establish the chain of bases out on the Aleutian archipelago.
The regiment's third battalion, which includes two companies that were stationed at Chilkoot Barracks for many years before the war when that was the largest army garrison in the territory, helped establish the two big bases at Ladd Field and Fort Richardson.
Col. Gregory Hoisington, Seattle, who had been commander of the garrison at Chilkoot Barracks, assumed command of the regiment when it went to Alaska, holding that post for about a year and a half until he was succeeded by Col. P. E. Le Stourgeon, Lexington, Ky., the present commander.
Few of the regiment's soldiers had furloughs during their long stay in Alaska--the job they were doing was too important--and today they are seeing their wives, friends and relatives for the first time in three years. Some of them are meeting young sons and daughters they had never seen.
A few of them, who had come to know Alaska as home, asked to remain in the territory and were transferred to other Alaskan organizations. In a few cases, they had bought property there and married Alaskan girls.
When they bade Alaska goodbye, none had the slightest idea what the future held in store for them. Many who spent years at isolated points, naturally enough, hoped to be stationed in the States near a fair-sized city where they could once again enjoy the comforts and entertainment offered by civilization. A number of them expressed a desire that the regiment be to a division for duty in a more active theater of war.
The Battle of Attu
Soldiers of the Fourth Infantry regiment's first battalion, who were already overseas veterans when the United States entered the war, acquitted themselves well at Attu, where they saw action in one of the strangest and bloodiest battles of the war.
They were called in at a critical point in the campaign, exactly a week after the first American troops had landed on that fog-shrouded island. They did not even know what part they were scheduled to play in the battle when they climbed over the sides of their transport ship last May 18 to land at Massacre bay, for they had not originally been slated for action at Attu.
Major John D. O'Reilly of Seattle, Commander of the battalion, who was later to receive a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel for outstanding leadership, reported to Major Gen. Eugene Landrum. Carrying extra rations and ammunition, the troops were marched directly to a battle sector, and they had engaged the enemy less than 24 hours after they landed.
They fought the Jap at altitudes of 2,000 feet or more, in snow-blanketed mountain areas high above the clouds. But these men already were acquainted with Alaska weather and were more inured to the hardships than other American troops on the island.
Moving north along the high ridge west of Chichagof valley on May 21, the battalion came up against strong enemy opposition from machine gun and sniper positions. Many of the Japanese were killed, the remainder driven off, and the Fourth moved along the ridge to a point late that day where visual contact was established with other American forces which had pressed inland from the Holtz Bay area, on the opposite side of the island.
The battalion fought for five days without rest and then was given 24 hours for its members to rest and get ready for one of the toughest assignments of the campaign--wresting the high peaks of Fish Hook ridge from the Japanese.
The battalion provided its own barrage of concentrated machine gun and mortar fire, while its soldiers scaled the 60-degree cliffs in the face of enemy fire from prepared positions high above them. This was part of the movement that drove the Japanese into Chichagof valley, from where they made their final suicidal counterattack.
Observers watching the action from a distance were fascinated by the spectacle, with small groups of troops clearly visible as they clambered up the steep slopes. Other troops were evacuating the wounded, crawling painfully clown the almost impossible mountain sides with their human burdens.
It impressed the observers as being more like a scene from a Hollywood thriller than the grim reality that if was.
After suffering many casualties, the battalion on May 27 finally took a portion of a high peak on the northeast end of the ridge, giving the Yanks a commanding position overlooking the main ridge running east toward the Chichagof valley. The fighting continued through that night, and by 5:30p.m., the next day, the Fourth Infantry's battle-weary troops had accomplished their mission. They had seized the high peak and wiped out all enemy resistance on the slopes.
The next day after the final big counter attack by more than 1,000 Japanese, two companies of the Fourth were sent to help clear the enemy out of Sarana valley and the high ground surrounding the area. Most of the Japanese had been exterminated or had committed suicide by that evening and the situation was well under control.
Later the battalion was assigned the task of combing the area east of Chichagof valley by patrol action, hunting out and destroying the scattered and doomed Japanese stragglers.
The Fourth Infantry had added another battle streamer to its colors---no other unit of the army boasts as many--but it had paid a high price. Approximately five officers and 60 enlisted men of the battalion were dead.
Their experience in Alaska proved invaluable for soldiers of the Fourth during the Battle of Attu, as evidenced by the fact that casualties from exposure in this battalion were few. The much-discussed "immersion feet" which took such a terrific toll among other troops was virtually nonexistent in the ranks of the Fourth.
The cold blasts of wind end the oozing muskeg that kept clothing and sleeping bags saturated was old stuff to them. Consequently, they could relax and sleep when they were afforded the opportunity, while other troops who were newcomers to the Aleutians were too miserable to rest.
Great Movement of Troops By Air
To Protect Nome
One of the first of the big troops movements by air, probably the largest up to that time, took place last year when Nome, on the Alaska mainland, near the edge of the Arctic Circle, was threatened with an invasion.
Dutch Harbor was still smoldering from two Japanese bombing raids, and Kiska and Attu had been occupied by the Japs. Enemy surface activity had been reported in the vicinity of St. Lawrence and the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea. Several Jap ships were reported steaming toward Nome, which had no defense force capable of turning back a full-scale invasion.
An unidentified plane, flying higher than was possible for any based in the area, circled over Nome.
Early on the morning of June 19, reinforcements were ordered moved to Nome immediately, and the Fourth Infantry's second battalion, reinforced with engineer, field artillery and anti-aircraft units into a force of more than 2,000 troops, hastily prepared to depart from the Fort Richardson area.
The move was made under the direction of Col. Thomas M. Crawford, Lebanon, Tenn., GSC, G-3 of ADC. Maj. E. H. Jacobsen, Oakland, California, AC, represented the Air Transport Command, and Capt. Nell W. Philips of the Fourth Infantry, Palos Verdes Estates, California, then a first lieutenant, superintended the actual loading of planes.
Only a pitifully small number of army transport planes were available, the situation was critical and orders required that the vanguard of the force--20 anti-aircraft guns and their crews--be in Nome within 24 hours.
All civilian air traffic in Alaska was stopped that day and every suitable plane in the territory was requisitioned for the movement. The fleet of planes included Stinsons, Bellancas and two old Ford tri-motored jobs.
By midnight of the same day, after 39 individual trips, the anti-aircraft units had been moved to Nome and the big shuttle movement was under way.
Despite weather that kept the planes on the ground part of the time, the entire force, along with all its equipment, with the exception of big field pieces and similar heavy items, was transported to Nome in a period of 18 days. The movement could have been completed in a week had it not been for unfavorable weather conditions.
Cargo-carrying commercial planes coming in from China were used to supplement the air armada. The midnight sun, providing almost a full 24 hours of daylight, made it possible for some of the planes to make two trips in a single day.
Ammunition, rations, tents, even 37 millimeter guns and field kitchens--everything necessary to make the force self-sufficient--were moved by air without one single accident. Heavy weapons were brought up later by boat. The troops stepped out of the planes at Nome, equipped and ready to fight. A total of 218 flights were made in the movement.
With Col. W. K. Dudley, Eustis, Fla., then a lieutenant colonel, in command of the force, the defense of the area was hastily organized with the troops working long hours and until late at night. There had been only a small garrison at Nome until that time, and there were no facilities for housing or feeding the big force.
Later, after it became apparent the expected invasion would not materialize, the troops prepared themselves for the bitter cold of the winter to come. Tents were winterized, buildings went up, the supply of rations was supplemented. Nome is ice-bound about nine months of each year, and all supplies moving by boat must be brought in during the three summer months.
The troops maneuvered in weather from 20 to 35 degrees below zero. They found that none of the elaborate footgear provided by the army protected the feet from this particular type of weather as well as the native mukluk, made by the Eskimos from deer and reindeer hides or sealskins.
Mai. Roy M. Morse of Eugene, Ore., who described the Nome adventure, said that the mukluk had no equal in a climate like Nome's. The army purchased a number of them by contract from the natives and provided every soldier there with a pair.
The second battalion remained in the Nome area for about a year, later moving out to the Aleutians to Dutch Harbor for a short stay, and then to Adak, where they became acquainted with another type of disagreeable weather.
Teaching Eskimos to Drill Was a
Soldiers of the Fourth Infantry's third battalion learned during their three years in Alaska, among other things, that although many Eskimos are mechanical wizards, it is next to impossible to teach some of them close order drill.
The battalion furnished some of the personnel for operating an Alaska recruit training detachment where draftees from Alaska, including Eskimos, get their basic training.
The best method for teaching them close order drill, Fourth infantrymen said, is to get all the native recruits in a small room where they cannot help but hear what the drill sergeant has to say about the intricacies of this GI institution. Outside, the Eskimos become extremely interested in each other and pay little attention when the sergeant is explaining the proper way to do an about face.
After days of patient explanation and innumerable demonstrations, they finally learn to march in a straight line in simple formation. A "column left" causes considerable confusion and "by the right flank" results in pandemonium.
The drill sergeant, by this time, is on the verge of suffering a cerebral hemorrhage and is muttering incoherently.
On the other hand, they show a remarkable mechanical aptitude. Some of them can watch a complex machine gun dismantled and then put together just once and can take over and do a repeat performance.
One officer said he had heard of cases where an Eskimo, with some machine part broken and no replacement available, would take a piece of iron and a file and patiently file out a new part. They have infinite patience, he said.
On the whole, they are intelligent and serve many useful purposes in the Alaskan theater.
As for army chow, the Eskimos missed their native dishes of seal oil and fish, but most of them were already, well acquainted with most foods served. Pork chops are their favorite.
They are extremely susceptible to common sick, nesses of the white man and, not having immunity, are gravely ill with simple ailments like measles. Large numbers were hospitalized.
Medical stocks of castor oil, salad oil and buffer disappeared from refrigerators, while trays of carefully prepared hospital food were left untouched.
When the Fourth Infantry arrived in Alaska, the two companies which had been stationed at Chilkoot barrack for many years before the war when that was the largest army garrison in Alaska, became a part of its third battalion.
Some members of the famed Alaska combat scout intelligence platoon, which includes many Alaskan old-timers, came from these two companies.
Only a few of the soldiers who were at Chilkoot barracks for so long still remain in the companies. There are few, if any, soldiers who have been on duty outside the United States for as long a time as these Alaska veterans.
1st Sgt. James Kay, of Adams, Mass., Company "K," for example, had been in Alaska for eight and one-half years, with the exception of one eight-month period when he returned to the States with the Fourth.
Several experimental and reconnaissance trips were conducted by the third battalion. One party of 10 men made a trip with toboggans to Eagle river glacier and reconnoitered the vicinity of Eagle river pass.
Maj. George A. Felch of Spokane, Wash., now head of the Alaskan department experimental board and formerly with the Fourth infantry, made a trip to various outposts to determine the best types of footgear for various climatic conditions.
An interesting experimental trip was one on which Maj. Felch led a party of 28 men on a three-week trip to an area near Mt. McKinley. Certain items of food, clothing and equipment were tested. As a result of this trip and previous research, Maj. Felch was called to Washington, D. G., by the quartermaster general to make recommendations on arctic clothing.
Members of the third battalion became past masters at the art of unloading ships and putting up Quonset and Pacific huts, the greater part of their time being devoted to work details. They got their share of training, however, in the Eklutna and Campbell Lake areas near Fort Richardson. The battalion was also assigned to the defense of certain military installations in the area and kept small detachments at those points.
BRIEF HISTORY OF 4th INFANTRY DURING ITS 141 YEARS IN SERVICE
Fourth Infantrymen will tell you that there is something that sets a member of the regiment apart from other soldiers. Perhaps this can be attributed to the regiment's great history and traditions.
The regiment was organized 141 years ago as the Infantry of the Fourth Sub-Legion, and has figured prominently in every war in which the United States has been involved with the exception of one, the Revolutionary war.
Out of its ranks have come some of the most renowned military figures and statesmen in American history. There were Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant, Presidents of the United States. Then there were Phillip H. Sheridan and George Cook, famous for their part in the Civil war, and George Wright, who gained fame during the Indian wars in the west, and for whom Fort George Wright, Wash., was named. There were many others.
FIRST OVER ATLANTIC
The Fourth Infantry, in 1899, became the first U. S. army unit to cross the Atlantic ocean, except for a small detachment of artillery serving with the navy during the Algerian war. The Philippine Insurrection had reached serious proportions, and the regiment sailed aboard the transport Grant from Brooklyn to Manila, by way of the Suez canal.
Wearing of a red breast cord for members of the regiment's band was authorized after an incident in the Mexican war. During the battle of Monterey, in 1846, members of the band threw aside their instruments and joined in the battle. They captured a Mexican field battery and turned the guns on the fleeing enemy. The red breast cord was authorized to show that they were good artillerymen as well as infantrymen.
MARCHED ON PENSACOLA
In 1817 the regiment, as part of a force under Gen. Andrew Jackson, marched on the independent, Spanish-controlled town of Pensacola, Fla. It was claimed that Spanish citizens and officials of the town were abetting the Seminole Indians in their war against the Americans. After a short but fierce campaign, the town was taken and many Indian villages were destroyed.
The regiment played an active role in the campaign of 1841-42, in which the Seminole wars were ended with the capture of Indian Chief Helleck Tustemuggee and occupation of his most important village, which housed most of his stores of food and supplies.
Five officers of the Fourth, of Southern birth and sympathies, resigned their commissions at the outbreak of the Civil war and joined the Confederate army.
SUFFER HEAVY CASUALTIES
In the thick of the fighting at many of the major battles of the Civil war, the regiment suffered heavy casualties, and in June, 1864, with but three officers and 143 enlisted men remaining, this gallant organization was selected by General Grant, as a token of appreciation for its services, as guard for his headquarters.
In one engagement during the Philippine Insurrection, the Insurgents, with artillery pieces and about 5,000 men, attacked the Fourth's position at Imus. After a seven-hour battle, only three men of the regiment had been wounded, and those but slightly, while the Insurgents had lost 221 killed and over 400 wounded. The regiment later was at Cavite, Manila bay.
IN DEFENSIVE ACTION
The German army was at its crest and The Allies were staggering under ifs blows in World War I when most of the regiment disembarked from the Transport ship Great Northern at historic Brest, France.
The regiment participated in The defensive actions of Aisne, Chateau-Thierry and Champagne Marne, and in The Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. The entire regiment was decorated with The French Crolx de Guerre.
Having lost approximately 80 per cent of ifs men, under constant and grueling fire during 30 days on The line, The regiment was relieved by The 60Th Infantry. After a rest during which The organization received 600 replacements, it was marched To a position in The Forst de Beese, and on Nov. 9, 1918, received orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice.
The men knew They were To Take part in the final drive to encircle Metz, in The event The Germans did not accept Terms of The proposed armistice which had been Tendered The Germans. Preparations were being made for The departure on The morning of November II when The end of The war was heralded by French villagers' shouts of "Vive la France! .... Vive l Amerique!" "Vive les Allies! ...Fini la guerre!"
The Fourth served as part of the Army of Occupation after The end of The war.
(Provided courtesy of Mack Collings and http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/aleutians
By Pfc Charlie E. Harris
4th Infantry Regiment
|We were on the Isle of Adak one summer day |
The Seventh called for help, and they took us away
We boarded a boat, and sailed the blue
For an Island known as Attu.
The Japs were here, and very much alive
And they had fought them round and round
We looked at the mountains capped with snow
The 32nd was exhausted from lack of sleep
To get at the Japs we could not wait
So with that in mind, we started to fight
The weather was bad, it snowed and hailed
We'd moved up and take the place
We didn't mind that so bad
Over rock hills covered with snow
The battle was over, we had won
But now it is over, our job is through
And now the Japs are dead in their grave
but all we can do is sit in silent bliss
Editors Note: Jon Thackerson provided these poems written by his uncle, Pfc. Charlie E. Harris (along with his photo) who participated in the invasion of Attu as part of the 4th Infantry Reg., Co C. Charlie had lived in Cisco, Texas until his death on the 19th of January, 1977. Charlie received the following awards: American Theater Ribbon, A-P Theater Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, AR 600-68 World War II Victory Medal. We thank Jon for providing this poem. It definitely seems to be from the heart, and reflect the attitudes held by the American G.I.s during those times.Captain Willoughby and 244 men of his Scout Battalion landed on Attu's northern Beach Scarlet (Austin Cove) on the 11th of May, 1943 at approximately 0300hrs, with Capt. James Austin right behind him with an additional 165 men of the 7th Cavalry Recon Troop, The 7th Division's Northern Force (including the 32nd), landed on Attu's Red Beach (located just to the north of Holtz Bay on the northeastern side of Attu) by mid-afternoon on the 11th of May. The Southern Force, landing at Massacre Bay, began their efforts at 15:30hrs on the afternoon of the 11th of May. Frozen feet, lack of sleep, food and long, bitter fighting had taken its toll on the American forces. After long and arduous fighting, The Japanese forces retreated to Chichagof Harbor by Tuesday, May 18th, 1943, The American forces finally encircled the Japanese defending the ridges surrounding Chichagof Harbor, with bitter fighting holding each side at a standstill around a 2000 foot high mountain named Point Able. General Buckner's 4th Infantry Regiment, held in reserve for three weeks aboard ship, finally landed ten days after the initial invasion on Thursday, May 20, 1943, with the battle for Able Point still raging. Barely able to walk due to their shipboard confinement for such a long period, the 4th marched at a snail's pace to join in the battle. At Point Able, nothing had moved for three days. Finally, the 4th managed a move northwest in a pincer movement and began to make headway against the heavy Japanese opposition led by Lieutenant Honna. In the evening of the 21st, Company E of the 32nd Infantry, in a final charge up the slopes of Point Able, shot Lieutenant Honna. The 2nd Company, 303rd Japanese Infantry Battalion, was wiped out to the last man. Many folks who've read the above poem have been upset with the content and the implications. Now you know the history. It was a joint effort by all American units that led to the final victory on Attu. Additional information from Nick Moreska: I think, maybe, the engineers who repelled the banzai attack, should get some credit. The last day. On the point of victory, the Americans had come frighteningly close to losing everything they had gained in three weeks of ferocious, bloody fighting. Only the precarious line of the 50th Engineers, desperate but steadied by discipline, had kept Yamasaki's banzai charge from reaching the all-important artillery. But the Engineers had held. It was over. Note: The Engineers, Medical, Headquarters personnel were noncombatants. The above was taken from the 1000 mile war ---29th day. As you and I know ---credit (for the victory) cannot be given to any one person or group. Nick Moreska.
4th Infantry Army troops have been stationed off and on in this area for many years. Currently a battalion of the 4th infantry and 502nd AAA Gun Battalion have been stationed in the Ladd-Eielson area for better than two years. From this beginning army troops north 'of the Eange have increased until presently there exists a sizeable command consisting of combat troops of all arms-and logistical support troops. Those army troops stationed on Ladd and- Eielson air force bases have responsibility for ground defense of the two bases and the area adjacent to the two bases. This responsibility is of course discharged by means of the closest coordination and cooperation with air force troops stationed at the two bases. The organization of the army in the Fairbanks area and its channels of command and administration are not generally understood by many citizens of Fairbanks and surrounding communities. Evidence of this fact is found almost daily in local news media and in dealngs with civic officials. The highly gratifying relationship which already exists between the military and civilian elements in the area could only be furthered by a broader understanding of army organization, since it would define the most direct and therefore the most effective channels for solving problems involving army personnel and army activities. Since July of this year, command of all army troops stationed at Ladd and Eielson air force bases has been vested in the Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry regiment, to whom army units at both bases are directly responsible. Although the army works in closest cooperation with the air force, army units form an independent command reporting directly to the Commanding General, U.S. Army, Alaska at Anchorage. The only exception is the 807th Aviation Engineer battalion, which is under command of the Commanding General of Ladd air force base. In addition to command responsibility for army troops at both air force bases, Headquarters, 4th Infantry is charged with court-martial jurisdiction over and logistic support of all army troops north of the Range excepting those at Big Delta. Logistic support includes local purchase of materials and contracting for" services. The headquarters of the 4th Infantry regiment is located at Ladd air force base.
--Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 4 October 1951
Charles "Mack" Collings joined the US Army in October 1940 and was shortly thereafter in Seward, Alaska as part of the 4th Infantry Band. He arrived in the Aleutian Islands in November 1942 and hopped from island to island entertaining the troops as they went.
Listen to Mack describe joining the military and his experiences during, and immediately after, the war. Select link below.
I joined the U. S. Army on October 1st, 1940, after two weeks of grabbling with my parents. I went to Fort George W. Washington for recruit training. After graduation, I left for Anchorage on the 26th of December, 1940 and arrived at Seward, AK about six days later. Fort Richardson was just being built, as was Elmendorf Field. I was in the 4th Infantry Band.
We left for the Aleutian Islands in November of 1942, and arrived in December. Along the way we picked up about 350 sailors from a Liberty Ship that had broken down. Our Alaska cruise liner was already overloaded by about 150 passengers.
We pitched our pup tents on the island of Adak (8 Dec 1942) and slept on the tundra and snow. In the mornings we were in water from the heat of our bodies. We ate "C" rations for a few weeks, then when we did get a mess hall we would try to get back to our tents with the food in our mess kits but the wind would fold our mess kits up and spill our food. When we tried to get more food, they would say "NO DEAL!"
We jumped from island to island (Shemya, about February 1943; Amchitka, about March 1943) playing music for the men but we would freeze our butts off. After we settled the island of Attu, we got our instruments back and we did more playing. I would get a jeep from the motor pool and drive down the water trails as the creeks were the only way you could get around. We would go to the Navy area and play for our food, as every Wednesday they would serve steak and ice cream! Boy, was that a treat! We would also play for the civilian workers while they would gamble...boy, what tippers they were! I remember one time we were playing, "I came here to talk to Joe," a 1942 big band song, and the Japanese bombers flew over at 30,000 feet. The whole damn Massacre Valley opened fire with 50 caliber anti-aircraft guns. Boy, did these guys get heck!
I took my Cadet exam at Dutch Harbor in September of 1943 and passed everything except the Cadet Aviation Examination Board (consisting of one Artillery Lt. and one Infantry Lt.). I became a pilot nevertheless when I returned home in 1945.
We were shipped to the States in late November 1943, arriving at Seattle, Washington in early December. I barracked at Fort Lewis for 3 or 4 months and then was shipped to Camp Hood, Texas (now known as Ft. Hood). We played at all the big band dances and toured the State with USO groups.