CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE
To begin with the history of company "F", it is necessary to go back to the records of company "B", 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion. This Company was organized on the 8th of November, 1940 with 2nd Lt. B. M. Vandervoort as Company Commander. The company strength at that time was one officer and one-hundred and eleven enlisted men.
Their purpose in training was to pick up where the test platoon left off. Lt. Vandervoort was relieved from command and Captain B. F. Sink assumed command. The training consisted of rigorous physical exercises with emphasis on tumbling and gymnastics. It was at Ft. Benning that this initial parachute training was first offered.
Staff-Sergeant Lloyd McCullough was appointed first-sergeant and the toughening process went on. Captain Cotts relieved Captain Sink on the 4th of January, 1941. The month of January 1941 was significant in that the company made their first spot-jumps. Plans for aerial re-supply were designed and experimented with at that time. Equipment bundles were satisfactory to a certain extent but the foul coffee containers managed to be broken open. Inspections were stiff and often as these groups were constantly in the eyes of Ft. Benning personnel. Lt. Schauel and Lt. Pierson joined "B" company making a total of six officers and nine enlisted men.
The months of March, April, May and June consisted of group qualifications, qualifying replacements and experiments with the thirty-two foot canopy. All officers and enlisted men of company "B" were disrated as specialists and rated as parachutists under the direction of the Secretary of War. This period was marked by the death of Sgt. Finley on April 1st who was hung on the tail of the leading plane. the tragedy was off-set by the making of the motion picture, "parachute battalion". Hollywood did its best to keep the men supplied with liquid refreshments on off-duty hours.
Staff-Sergeant M. A. Hostinsky was appointed first-sergeant of Company "B". First-Sergeant McCullough transferred to the 502nd Parachute Battalion. Practice jumping continued on Lawson (Cactus) Field. Sprains,' broken legs and torn muscles were the order of the day. On August 14th, 1941, the company went to Atlanta, Georgia, for a world's premier of RKO motion picture "Parachute Battalion". Buffet suppers, dances, and the key to the city was enjoyed by all.
Preparations for a change of station were completed on the 4th day of September and entraining from Ft. Benning began on the 5th of the same month. One captain, seven lieutenants arrived at Pt. Moultrie, South Carolina, on the 6th of September and boarded U.S.A.T. "SIBONEY" at Charleston, S. Carolina on the 8th of the same month. Hoisted anchor at Charleston and sailed for destination unknown at 0702 pm on the 8th of September 1941.
The boat voyage was uneventful and Cristopal, Canal Zone was sighted on the 12th of September, and anchor dropped at night. The ship left Cristopal early the next morning and docked at Balboa, Canal Zone. The troops arrived at Fort Kobbe 0630 pm. They occupied new concrete barracks. Shore leave was granted and our men made the most of it.
September, October, and November were spent in such usual garrison duties with good "spit and polish' thrown in. Captain Michaelis assumed command on the 30th November 1941. A practice jump was made at Rio Hato, Canal Zone, 21 November.
The company maneuvered against the 5th Infantry, 2nd Field Artillery, and the 33rd Infantry. It was captured and took over Pedro Migol locks. A reception was tendered and the battalion taken by the opposing units.
The 8th of December, 1941, the United States of America declared war on Japan and the battalion was engaged in repairing the defensive positions and outposted Kobbs Beach. Antiaircraft guns were manned continually.
From the first to the 28th of January the company participated in maneuvers. A practice Jump was made on Howard Field with a cavalry unit in oppositions. Fifty caliber gun carriages arrived on the field before the jump and coupled with huge winds, created serious hazards to the parachutists.
Captain Michaelis was relieved from command and Lt. Schauer assumed command, the company maneuvered in Chare and Charroera, rough areas. Two practice jumps were made successfully. Again the 1st of April marked the advent of another tragedy.
Private Delia was killed when the parachute failed to open. Private Bill Gibson experienced a close malfunction. This took place at Pacora R. De, P. Captain Shanley relieved Lt. Schauer and jump training went on.
The company jumped on Rio Hato, Canal Zone and maneuvered during the months of May, June, July, and August.
The month of September was highlighted by three tactical night jumps at La Hoya Field. Captain Shanley, during his command, wrote a manual on parachute troop jungle tactics. This was the basis of further studies on jungle warfare.
First Lt. McRoberts assumed command of Company"B" on the 22nd of September, 1941, carrying out the usual garrison duties. On the 17th of October, 1942, Captain Greco assumed command and preparations were made for a change of station. Six officers and one-hundred enlisted men embarked on the U.S.A.T. "POELAU LAUT" on November 1, 1942, for destination unknown. The international date-line was crossed on the 21st of Nov., 1942. The next day she hoisted anchor and sailed from Brisbane to Townsville, Australia, docking at 1130 pm, 1st December 1942. Anchor was again hoisted and on December 2nd arrived at Cairns, Australia, at 0845. Camp Gordonvale was the next destination. Troops arriving late at night.
From the third to the 31st of December, 1942, usual camp duties prevailed. The glorious battle records of returning Guadalcanal marines was somewhat dimmed by a chance to encounter with Company "F" Braves on the streets of Gordonvale. Thereafter, a city guard was necessary.
On the 31st of December, 1941, secret letter, WDAGO, file number AG 320-2-11-3-42 OB-1-E-M-1 dated November 8, 1941, Subject: Transfer of Certain Parachute Infantry Units, as amended by secret letter WDAGO file number AG 570-5 (11-16-42) OB-1-G-N-M, dated November 17, 1942, Subject; Transfer of Certain Parachute Infantry Units, designated Company "B", 501st Parachute Battalion as Company "F", 503rd Parachute Infantry, effective November 3, 1942. We have come into our own.
The months of January, February and March were ones long to be remembered. The company underwent its most rigorous training of all. Its first jump in Australia was made with an 18 mile an hour wind and a fast forced march followed. Company and regimental problems continually with the. usual garrison action. Lt. LaVancher and 2 non-coms, went with the Australian 7th division to Markham Valley and brought back valuable training information.
April 1st, 1943: Private Gibson was outstanding as he again experienced another malfunction and suffered only minor bruises. The month of April was otherwise uneventful.
From May 31, through July 24th, 1943, the non-commissioned officers and members of the company took up jump-master training. The company spot-jumped on White Field, Gordonvale, Queensland, Australia.
First Lt. Parks assumed command on 2nd August, 1943 and preparations for change of station commenced. On the 19th of August the Company traveled by air from Cairns to (Wards Landing Strip), Port Moresby, New Guinea.
Six officers and one-hundred and ten enlisted men made their first combat jump in the Southwest Pacific area on the 5th of September, 1943, in the vicinity of Nadzab, New Guinea (Markham Valley). Three men were injured as a result of the jump. The companies first mission was accomplished by capturing GABSENKEK, native village . Company "F" was the first company to capture Japanese equipment. No enemy opposition was met on company patrols.
Six officers and one hundred and ten enlisted men traveled by air from Nadzab, New Guinea to Port Moresby, New Guinea, on September 16, 1943.
First Sergeant Hostinsky transferred and Sgt. Wilson was appointed in his place. Company and regimental problems and practice marches. with intensive training filled October, November, and December. Lt. Parks was promoted to Captain in the month of December. Preparation for a change of station occupied the month of January.
On February 1st, 1944, camp was broken at 1480 hours and the troops went aboard the S.S. ROBERT J. WALKER at 1605 hr, hoisted anchor at 1740 hr and sailed for unknown destination. The ship arrived at Brisbane, Australia on the 17th of February, traveling a distance of 1256 miles. On the 28th of February, 1944, First Lt. McRobert assumed command of the company. The troops arrived at Camp Cable on the 29th of February and there joined first sergeant Baldwin. The first batch of replacements of Brisbane had arrived two weeks earlier and had the camp ready for the old soldiers.
The month of March brought more hard training and preparation for a change of station. Twelve men from Company "B" underwent stiff training at the Australian Commando School. The men made the best of the short four weeks at Cable by visiting such places as Logan Village, Santoy's, Queen St. and Beaudesert and the. beer call formations.
Once again the troops embarked on the U.S.S. SEA-CAT, left Brisbane 5th April, 1944. On April 13th they disembarked at DOBODURA, (Oro Bay), New Guinea. The remainder of April was spent in building up a 503 camp.
Overnight bivouacs and company training marked the month of May. During this time one practice jump was made.
On June 4, 1944, the troops traveled by air to Cape Cassoe, Hollandia, New Guinea. Company "F" then patrolled and hunted souvenirs in Hollekang area.
On the 4th of July, Company "F" left Hollandia, D.G. and traveled by air (C-47) to Biak Island, DNG. On July 10th they boarded LCI's and arrived at Noemfoor Island the following day, disembarking at 1030 hour, to be greeted by an air raid necessitating foxhole digging in the hard coral in the rain. On July 12th, company consisting of nine officers and 120 enlisted men trained in the Noemfoor Island operations. From the 12th to the 31st of July, the company patrolled and held defensive positions and killed 64 Japanese, capturing 5. Sergeant Watson was wounded on July 24 and received the purple heart award on August 1, 1944. The company returned to the Namber air strip and Lt. Clyde assumed command. Lt. McCaffery assumed command August 4. In the vicinity of the company positions captured 11 Japanese and killed 5. On company patrols from the 11th to the 18th of August, the company killed 4 Japs and returned, setting up a defensive position on Namber strip. "Rabbit" hauled us around Noomfoor looking for the moveable Hill 390. Lt. Calhoun was wounded and received the purple heart award at this time. On the 21st of September the enlisted man, Private Hart was wounded in action on a patrol, and he too received a purple heart award. On the 21st of August, 1944, the company moved from the Namber strip to Kamiri, Noemfoor Island. On August 27th to the 17th of September, company "F" performed port battalion duty with its customary aggressiveness. The Hart patrol killed four Japanese and one Formosan. General Krueger and General Eichelberger and staff inspected the battalion. On October 20th, Warning Order Number One was received to prepare for the next mission. On the 28th, a supply meeting was held concerning the proposed movement. Lt. William T. Bailey assumed command 13 Sept., 1944 and until the present date has prepared the company for its next mission.
: For detailed report on Company "F"'s splendid record, the Noemfoor Island operations consult the morning reports of July and August, 1944.
November 1 to 6th, company made preparations to go on an unknown mission.
November 7, 1944, 1st and 2nd platoons departed camp at 1145 hr. and arrived at Kamiri jetty at 1200 hr. Boarded LCM and sailed to an ocean going ship, USS CUSTER. Boarded the Custer at 1509. These platoons were to act as a loading party for the 2nd Bn, 503d Parachute Infantry. The remainder of the company less one NCO and 8 EM, these men were left to guard company equipment. November 8, the company equipment was loaded and the rest of the men boarded the ship at noon.