OCTOBER 1943

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3 to 9 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

3 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

Capt. Greco died at 1745.  The loss to this Bn is unmeasurable.  We might as well have lost any other officer (other than Lt. Col. Jones whom we are liable to lose any day through promotion to regtl cmdr.)  Capt. Greco was the only potential Bn Cmdr in the Bn.

(Note:  Several sentences have been omitted here because they evaluate other officers weaknesses of command.  Such evaluations do not fall within the scope of the battalion S-1’s duties.  To include them would bring criticism of an excellent journal as well as cast doubts about good officers.) 
 

Capt. Greco was the logical bn commander, seeing the best in men and officers and recognizing their native weaknesses, he was an uncanny judge of human nature and men.  Take the case of Pvt. Roberts.  Roberts was one of the only three men to quit jumping in Co F.  He was made a cook.  A jumper who quits is sort of like a mulatto bastard.  The jumpers won’t have anything to do with him and the non-jumpers look down on him because they have all (after making damn sure that the request won’t be approved) at one time or another requested to be made jumping cooks.  Anyway, Capt. Greco kept saying to me “that boy Roberts isn’t a coward, he just got peeved at the regtl.”  Then after we had got to Moresby he said “I’m going to send Roberts back to F Co.  I’m not even asking him.  He’s going back there and I think when the time comes he’ll jump.”  So Roberts trained w/Co F and Sept 5, he jumped at Nadzab, no longer a coward.  It might have been a little thing to the govt, one man saved but that man was redeemed in his own eyes.  He no longer had to say to himself “I am a coward.”  Capt. Greco knew how he wanted things run and he ran them that way.  He commanded Co F before he became executive officer.  Co F would have followed Capt. Greco anywhere, any time.  Those boys looked at him as a great officer.
 

 

Then they got on trucks and went in toward Port Moresby where the cemetery is.  It’s a smoothed off grassy area with rows of white crosses, each with a name painted in black and a dog tag nailed up at the top and there is an American flag flying at half mast.  Then the big govt hearse drove up.  The graves registration officers and his sergeant handled it like experienced funeral directors.

  The pall bearers were Capt. Padgett, Lt. Parks, Lt. McRoberts, Lt. Fishburn, Lt. Risely, and Lt. Bradbury, they held the flag over the casket while Father Powers said his mass over the remains of Capt. Greco.  Then Lt. LaVanchure firing squad fired the salute.  The graves registration sergeant presented the flag to Col. Kinsler, who will send it to Mrs. Greco.  Thus did Capt. Greco perform his last act for the government. 

And the battalion goes on just like it will when everybody present today is gone and dead.  Just like when a civilian dies, some unreasonable people blame the doctor.  But there wasn’t anything he could do, he knew Capt. Greco would either get well or he wouldn’t.  But you can’t expect some people to have much sense.  The almighty gave them a head to think with but he couldn’t work out a way to make them think.  So they go along right smug and don’t do much thinking except about themselves and how good they are.  And they are happy so I guess thats all that matters.  They’re easy enough to get along with and it sort of irritates at time to hear some officer blowing about what hot stuff they are when you know from sad experience just how stupid they’ve been on occasion.  Take the rank conscious 1st Lt. _______ from Georgia.  He doesn’t know it but when he took that patrol out toward the Erap River for over night (Markam Valley Operation) his whole platoon came back and made it a point to report to the Sgt. Major that the braggart Lt. and his more than braggart assistant from Texas, the smart boy that can find time to criticize everyone, particularly his brothers, were scared silly all the way and so over cautious and outwardly frightened that the platoon was disgusted with them.  And by telling the Sgt. major hoped that it would get higher.

It’s discouraging to have the regimental adjutant call up and tell you that the Officer whom you put on OD, (the mess officer) a stuttering 1st Lt. of over 10 years commissioned service, had his guard sleep in their own tents instead of the guard house.  You sort of feel sorry for the dumb son of a bitch which sorrow is soon lost when he tells the Battalion Commander, the staff, and every officer in the battalion that the adjutant didn’t send an officers orderly to the mess this morning.  Especially when you check up and find that the boy was there at 0630 but the Mess Sergeant put him on KP.  All in a days work I guess.

 

 

4 OCTOBER 1943

 

Today we buried Capt. Greco.  They had a mass down in the regtl chapel, which is nothing but a few branches and an altar which is protected by a small fly.  Most of Co F was there and maybe a hundred and fifty of the rest of the bn and all of the bn officers who had clean clothes.  A lot of officers from the rest of the regiment were there.  Chaplain Powers said the mass.  He said it wasn’t customary for a Catholic ceremony to eulogize their dead because such things usually weren’t so.  But anyway he said “I have never heard anyone say anything against Capt. Greco which is more than I could say about anyone else in the regiment.”  That’s right too.  This regiment is full of hate and ambitious Brutuses (Brut).  Most of the officers have forgotten any concepts of honor whatever.  Capt. Greco wasn’t one of these.  When you look at it, the condition does seem sort of odd.  But it’s so.  The term  “nothing sacred” well applies.  And it’s probably a natural thing, brought on by living and thinking as machines of war.

 

Then they got on trucks and went in toward Port Moresby where the cemetery is.  It’s a smoothed off grassy area with rows of white crosses, each with a name painted in black and a dog tag nailed up at the top and there is an American flag flying at half mast.  Then the big govt hearse drove up.  The graves registration officers and his sergeant handled it like experienced funeral directors.  The pall bearers were Capt. Padgett, Lt. Parks, Lt. McRoberts, Lt. Fishburn, Lt. Risely, and Lt. Bradbury, they held the flag over the casket while Father Powers said his mass over the remains of Capt. Greco.  Then Lt. LaVanchure firing squad fired the salute.  The graves registration sergeant presented the flag to Col. Kinsler, who will send it to Mrs. Greco.  Thus did Capt. Greco perform his last act for the government.  And the battalion goes on just like it will when everybody present today is gone and dead.  Just like when a civilian dies, some unreasonable people blame the doctor.  But there wasn’t anything he could do, he knew Capt. Greco would either get well or he wouldn’t.  But you can’t expect some people to have much sense.  The almighty gave them a head to think with but he couldn’t work out a way to make them think.  So they go along right smug and don’t do much thinking except about themselves and how good they are.  And they are happy so I guess thats all that matters.  They’re easy enough to get along with and it sort of irritates at time to hear some officer blowing about what hot stuff they are when you know from sad experience just how stupid they’ve been on occasion.  Take the rank conscious 1st Lt. _______ from Georgia.  He doesn’t know it but when he took that patrol out toward the Erap River for over night (Markam Valley Operation) his whole platoon came back and made it a point to report to the Sgt. Major that the braggart Lt. and his more than braggart assistant from Texas, the smart boy that can find time to criticize everyone, particularly his brothers, were scared silly all the way and so over cautious and outwardly frightened that the platoon was disgusted with them.  And by telling the Sgt. major hoped that it would get higher.

It’s discouraging to have the regimental adjutant call up and tell you that the Officer whom you put on OD, (the mess officer) a stuttering 1st Lt. of over 10 years commissioned service, had his guard sleep in their own tents instead of the guard house.  You sort of feel sorry for the dumb son of a bitch which sorrow is soon lost when he tells the Battalion Commander, the staff, and every officer in the battalion that the adjutant didn’t send an officers orderly to the mess this morning.  Especially when you check up and find that the boy was there at 0630 but the Mess Sergeant put him on KP.  All in a days work I guess.

 

 

5 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

 

Work proceeds on the camp.  Hot dope:  Capt. Haedecke, Lt. Fife (1st Bn) convicted before a B board and shipped for sometime.  According to sworn statements the Capt (1) was a bad administrator (which could be said of a lot of Co Cmdrs) (2) let his men take musette bags, pistols, tennis shoes to Markam Valley.  (as did every Co Cmdr in this bn)  (3)  Let Lt. Fife, who was Regular Army, permit his platoon to go wild firing and injuring one, kill another.  (But who shot Westberry, killed Millikin, injured Coluff etc?)  Unofficially their big error was getting in bad with the P.T.B.

(P.T.B. = Powers that be).

Awards of Purple Heart for wounds received in action at Nadzab Strip near Lae, New Guinea 5 Sept 43:  Marion P. Synkowski- 35119981, Pfc, Co F; Randolph A. Carter, 33131017, Pfc, Co D; Paul J. Baltvik- 6900985, Pfc, Co F; Hubert L. Meeks- 14022998, Cpl, Co F;  Martin Seal- 32212684, Cpl,  Co D; Albert W. Westberry- 6926108, Cpl, Hq 2nd Bn; Victor S. Coluff- 16055449, Pvt., Co D; Hertbert G. Elmore- 38090421. Pfc, Co D; 8 Sept 43:

 

Killed in Action:  Pvt. Parker, John M. 6399671- Hq 2nd, chute didn’t open; Died of Wounds:  1st Lt. Millikin, Lindsay B. 0-387344, Co E.  Booby trap.”

 

 

6 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

 

 This page is deliberately blank

 

 

7 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

 

 This page is deliberately blank

 

 

8 OCTOBER 1943

 

Just one big happy family.  That’s the battalion.  Everyone loves everyone and no one would think of knifing anyone.  Not unless they thought it would do the victim some harm.  The rest of the regiment, they think, is going to the dogs.  Except that when comparing other regiments to this one, they cannot understand how those regiments can even function --  after all, they have no training like us.

 Still forgotten is the spectacle of Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger at Gordonvale.  His sad voice, “Take a kindly interest in the welfare of the men.”  “Morale is that hidden spirit.”

 

This is not a part of the original journal.

 

(By the way,  soldiers, I, Riseley, the Adjutant whose Journal this is, kept as required by Army Regulations, have a disclosure to make as to how I arrived at the important job of Battalion Adjutant.  But before  I was battalion Adjutant, back there in Gordonvale days, I was an officer in Lt. Cole’s Headquarter’s Company.  His First Sergeant was the wonderful Eddie T. Bright.  But while the Table of Organization said the Executive Officer of Headquarter’s Company should be the Battalion Mess Officer, I was the Battalion Mess Officer, and the Assistant Platoon Leader of the Machine Gun Platoon.  I spent much more time Mess Officering than Machine Gunning.  But there came a time when we did a jump up on the Atherton Table lands, at a place called Mareeba.  So my mess hall was left down of Gordonvale, and I went off on the Mareeba problem. 

We had scarcely gotten back from the Mareeba problem, when there was a call that General Krueger was in the area on an inspection.  I followed him, General Krueger, and Colonel Jones, then the Battalion Commander, through the mess hall.  At length, General Krueger turned to me.  My hero.  I had first seen him when I was with the 23d Infantry at Fort Sam Houston.  That day at Fort Sam Houston, he spoke to an officers’ meeting.  “There are two things I want to leave with you,” he said, “two of the most important things I can say to you.  First, when there comes a time when it is a choice between doing your duty and saving your life, you will always choose the alternative of doing your duty.  Second, when GI web equipment is being washed, make sure that it is carefully rinsed so as to get rid of all the GI soap.  Because if it isn’t, the equipment will turn yellow.”

“Riseley,” said General Krueger, the greatest Prussian of them all,  “This mess hall looks like a pig sty.”

 “Yes, Sir,” I said.  And, of course, those are the two words that win wars.

 The “Guinea Gold”, an Army house organ, issued 2000 copies of the issue showing the picture of the jump.  How do the men know this?  Some of them worked at the Gold office.  But not one copy has been issued to this battalion.  A little thing, perhaps, but where is the “kindly interest”?  Maybe a younger regiment has it.

 

 

 

9 OCTOBER 1943

 

A cadre of enlisted men and one officer (Lt. Meade) will be selected to go to Gordonvale to train recruits.  Much bucking and speculation on who will get to go.  Much exciting news, Capt. Lamar, our Battalion Surgeon, is going to give physical examinations for Flying Cadets.  Three 2d Lts have been promoted, two of them over every 501st Prcht Bn 2d Lt.  (Meaning Riseley, for one.)  Much happiness about this.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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