Activation |Training |Command | Campaigns |Unit Citations & Awards |Combat Operations |Casualties
A SYNOPTIC HISTORY OF THE
The 462d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion was organized with a cadre from the 458th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.
It was activated on 15 June 1943 with LTC Forrest R. Armstrong as Battalion Commander and 1LT William E. Colby, Battery Commander. Those officers drew other assignments shortly after activation and the battalion that went overseas was organized as follows:
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
LTC Donald L. Madigan, CO
Major Melvin R. Knudson, XO
Captain Donald D. Burke, CO HQ Battery
M/Sgt Edwin F. Pater, Sgt Major
1st Sgt William D. Milliken, HQ Battery
Battery "A" (75 mm Pack Howitzer)
Captain Frederick Pope, Jr., CO
1st LT Harold S. Link, XO
1st Sgt Jolen D. Jones, 1st Sgt
Battery "B" (75mm Pack Howitzer)
Captain James D. Bell, CO
1st Lt Melvin R. Weeks, XO
1st Sgt Eddie J. Powers, 1st Sgt
Battery "C" (75mm Pack Howitzer)
Captain John W. Jones, CO
1st LT Charlie T. Horton, XO
1st Sgt W. J. Crowe, 1st Sgt
Battery "D" (50 cal MG AA)
Captain Henry W. Gibson, CO (original at activation)
Captain Albert L. Tait, CO
1st LT Daniel J. Doherty, XO
1st Sgt James C. Hindman, 1st Sgt
Captain Emment R. Spicer, Bn Surgeon
Captain Holgar S. Mouritzen
S/Sgt Earl H. Droge
Basic and unit training was conducted at Camp Mackall, NC and Fort Bragg, NC. Field Artillery Battalion Tests were conducted at Fort Bragg, NC in December 1943.
The unit sailed for Australia aboard the U.S.A.T. ‘SEA CAT’ on 11 March 1944 arriving in Brisbane, Australia on 28 March 1944.
The battalion was quartered at Camp Cable in Australia and conducted training, including live service practice at Flinders Range, Australia.
The battalion sailed for Noemfoor Island, Netherland East Indies on the Dutch freighter KPM VAN HAUTZE on 17 August 1944. Here it joined the 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 161st Engineers, forming the 503d Airborne R.C.T. The Combat Team continued the mission earlier begun when the infantry was jumped in, in support of a unit already there. After capture of the island, the Combat Team trained with live fire exercises. On one of these joint exercises with the 503d P.I.R., LTC Madigan, Bn CO of the 462d was hit by an artillery shell fragment and was evacuated to the U.S. Major Arlis E. Kline, assumed command.
On 12 November 1944, the unit departed for Leyte, Philippine Islands and was assigned the mission of beach defenses in the vicinity of Dulag. Training consisted of local patrols and anti-aircraft defense against Japanese aircraft.
On 13 December 1944, the battalion participated in the amphibious landing on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. The vicinity was subjected to daily attacks by enemy aircraft as well as Japanese naval units. Joint patrols were conducted to clear the island of enemy stragglers.
On 8 and 9 April 1945, the 462d P.F.A. Bn was airlifted from Mindoro Island to Iloilo, Panay and thence to Negros Island by boat. The battalion was placed in general support of the infantry forces and was attached to the 40th Infantry Division Artillery. The 75mm Pack Howitzers were not suitable for this long range support role, nevertheless the artillery performed its mission well. When the 40th Infantry Division was relieved of its positions, the 462d finally were able to operate as parachute artillery unit in direct support of the 503d P.I.R.
CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDITS 5
World War II
· New Guinea Campaign (Noemfoor Island)
· Leyte Campaign
· Luzon Campaign (AIRBORNE) W/ ARROWHEAD
· Southern Philippines Campaign (Negros)
UNIT CITATIONS & AWARDS 5
1. Presidential Unit Citation (Army)
WD GA 53,1945
Streamer embroidered ‘CORREGIDOR’.
2. Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
DA GO 47, 1950
Streamer embroidered ‘17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945’.
3. Letters of Commendation from
CG, SIXTH army
CG, Eight Army
CG, XI Corps
for the Corregidor Operation
COMBAT OPERATIONS (AIRBORNE) 5
Code Name: ‘ROCK FORCE’
Mission Statement – 462d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion participate in the combined airborne assault on the island of Corregidor and provide close artillery support and anti-aircraft support to the 503d Regimental Combat Team, ‘ROCK FORCE’.
Airborne Units Involved
· Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
· Battery ‘A’;
· Battery ‘B’;
· AA units from Battery ‘D’.
On 16 February 1945, the initial assault force of paratroopers consisted of the following units.
· Third Battalion, 503d P.I.R. commanded by LTC John R. Erickson.
· Battery ‘A’ 462d Parachute FA, Bn, commanded by Capt. Frederick Pope, Jr.
· Company ‘C’ 161st Parachute Engr Bn commanded by by Capt. James S. Beyer
· Elements of the 503d P.I.R. and H.Q. 462d Parachute FA Bn. , plus a platoon of 50 cal MG units from Battery ‘D’ 462d Parachute F.A. Bn. took off from the airfield at Mindoro at 0700 hours and landed on the DZs at approximately 0833 hours, 16 Feb 1945.
The C-47 aircraft returned to Mindoro to pick up the second echelon consisting of:
· Second Battalion, 503d P.I.R. commanded by Major Lawson B. Caskey.
· Battery ‘B’ 462d Parachute FA Bn commanded by Capt. Henry W. Gibson.
· Elements of Regimental H.Q. and HQ 462d Parachute FA Bn.
· Platoon of 50 cal MG units from Battery ‘D" 462d Parachute FA Bn.
Battery ‘D’ 462d PFA Bn was commanded by 1st Lt Daniel J. Doherty.
This echelon took off from Mindoro approximately 1000 hours and begun landing on the DZs at approximately 1240 hours, 16 February 1945.
The third echelon consisting of:
· First Battalion, 503d P.I.R. commanded by Major Robert H. Woods.
· Battery ‘C’ 462d Parachute FA Bn commanded by Capt Zack CD. Mathis plus the remaining elements of HQ Battery and Battery ‘D’ were scheduled to airlift from Mindoro on 17 February 1945 but due to heavy fighting at both DZs the drop was cancelled and these elements flew to San Marcelino on Mariveles and landed amphibiously on Corregidor approximately 1400 hours, 17 February 1945.
These units sustained heavy casualties from intense machine gun and mortar fire from entrenched Japanese troops on the cliffs overlooking the beach.
CASUALTY SUMMARY 5
SYNOPTIC ACCOUNT 5
The 462d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion distinguished itself in this airborne operation. They delivered accurate and devastating close-in artillery support to the infantry units. The anti-aircraft machine gun units from Battery ‘D’ quickly reverted to a ground support role, delivering heavy machine gun fire where needed. Individual members of the battalion distinguished themselves by acts of heroism and participation and hand to hand combat with the enemy. The howitzer crews delivered direct fire into caves and bunkers from positions in the open and exposed to hostile enemy fire.
During the airborne landing, Major Arlis E. Kline, the 462d FA Bn Commander landed in the rubble of the long barracks on TOPSIDE. He sustained severe injuries to his face and body. Despite these injuries he remained on the island until he could be safely evacuated. Major Melvin R. Knudson assumed command of the battalion.
Capt Emmet R. Spicer, the battalion Surgeon also distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty. Early in the operation, after he had established the Bn Aid Station, Capt Spicer heard from the wounded coming in that many troopers were wounded in a deep ravine full of enemy soldiers. Without regard for his personal safety, he picked up his aid kit and headed for the ravine. Several troopers on the outposts warned him not to go into the ravine but he only smiled and said he had to help the wounded.
He did not return. A few days later when the ravine was cleared of enemy forces, Capt Spicer was found propped up against tree. Several wounded troopers nearby were tagged and treated by the officer. Capt Spicer was killed by an enemy sniper in site of being unarmed and displaying a Red Cross armband and emblem on his helmet. He had diagnosed his wounds and tagged himself before he died. He was truly a gallant trooper who gave his own life to save others.
Further Reading: "A Short History of the 462d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion"
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