134th Infantry Regiment Crest

134th Infantry Regiment

"All Hell Can't Stop Us"

35th Infantry Division emblem

Combat History of World War II

By Major General Butler B. Miltonberger, Former Commanding Officer, 134th Infantry Regiment
and Major James A. Huston, Assistant Professor of History, Purdue University

Transcribed by Roberta V. Russo, Palatine, Illinois

Chapter II

Into World War II

General Truman inspects the 134th Infantry Regiment at Camp Robinson

General Truman Inspects the Regiment at Camp Robinson

War has been declared on this Country by the AXIS POWERS.

The 35th Infantry Division stationed at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas will move by rail, destination unknown.

This Regimental combat team will move at once by rail with all personnel, equipment, and transportation, except as indicated below, destination unknown, and duration of movement unknown.

- Field Order No. 1

Christmas week, 1940, meant mobilization for the 134th Infantry. While people sang of peace on earth and good will toward men, National Guardsmen began assembling to prepare for war. War itself had no attraction for those men, and they held no enthusiasm for it. But they did hold an enthusiasm - not often expressed - for the things which they associated with freedom - the things which they regarded as "America". Now each new success of Nazism in Europe and of Japanese expansion in Asia made more apparent the impending danger to those things which the American held dear.

The men were glad, however, that mobilization was not so rapid as to take them from their communities before Christmas Day. In Christmas celebrations that year there was something of a mingling of over-played enthusiasm and of melancholy - the over enthusiasm for the holiday growing out of a determination to make every moment count in what might be the last Christmas with families for a long time, and the melancholy growing out of the irrepressible awareness that separation, perhaps of long duration, possibly of permanence, lay ahead.

While National Guard units in some states had become seized with a growing peace-time lethargy, interest and morale in the 134th had been maintained to such an extent that it was - and had been for some time - at authorized strength, with a waiting list of applicants, when the President's call came on December 23. By now, numbers of the outstanding enlisted men who had been at Ashland a year and a half earlier held commissions - Second Lieutenants Dan E. Craig, Dale M. Godwin, Harlan B. Heffelfinger, Carlyle F. McDannel, Richard D. Melcher, Robert E. Moline, Albert B. Osborne, Paul H. Weihenkamp were some of those who had been wearing their gold bars for some time; some of the others were brand new - Garold A. Gormley, Virgil E. Hyde, Peter Larson, Leroy O. Littell, Francis C. Mason, Milton H. Maurer. . . .

Initially men of the 134th Infantry gathered at their local armories. Perhaps it was the attractive two-story brick Memorial Building which Company A shared with the American Legion and other organizations in Nebraska City; perhaps it was the low silhouetted stone building of Company B at Falls City; maybe it was the trim, one-story brick armory of Company G - and Company F, 110th Medical Regiment - at Hastings. In any case, it was the place which had been home to the particular unit concerned during the years of weekly drill and domestic duty. Here it took several days to perfect the organization and complete preparation for movement. Here the soldier of the 134th encountered the first of a long series of inoculations, the first of repeated lectures on the Article of War, the first of many preparations for movement and change of stations.

It was hardly more than two weeks after the President's call for mobilization that the 134th Infantry closed in at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, on January 8, 1941. The newly-constructed camp was not yet finished to the satisfaction of its newly-arrived occupants, however, and the first days were taken up largely in building walks, in developing facilities which would make the stay - it looked like it would be a long one - more comfortable, in introducing measures of traditional Army "eye-wash." Then came the weeks of training. It was progressive training, which began with several weeks of basic training of the individual soldier - military courtesy and discipline, first aid and hygiene, physical training, Articles of War, weapons. There were squad problems and combat field firing - with such weapons as the 60mm mortar and the light machine guns usually simulated. Rapid-fire exercises involved some time and effort at mastering the bolt manipulation of the Springfield rifle. Then followed platoon and company problems with blackout conditions prevailing. Finally there were regimental problems - some of the most interesting being against and "enemy" made up of the 137th Infantry, sister regiment to the 134th in Colonel Per Ramee's 69th Brigade. Colonel Miltonberger became regimental commander on 6 May. But this was only the beginning. More serious tests of ingenuity and physical endurance lay ahead - in the direction of Louisiana.

During the weeks at Camp Robinson, the 134th Infantry had been finding its place as a part of the team of Major General Ralph E. Truman's 35th ("Santa Fe") Division. Organized then as a "square" division, the Santa Fe - made up of National Guardsmen of Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, - included four infantry regiments, the 134th, 137th, 138th and 140th. On their shoulders, men of the 134th wore the blue and white Santa Fe insignia. The division insignia represented a white Santa Fe cross upon a wagon wheel with four quadrant projections, the whole on a blue field. The cross was taken from the crosses used to mark the Santa Fe Trail on dusty plains in the West. The men who wore it carried a symbol of the courage, hardiness, self-reliance, and pioneering spirit which characterized their forbears who opened up the lands west of the Mississippi.

With the other units of the 35th Division, the 134th Infantry moved in August to the vicinity of Prescott, Arkansas, to join the concentration of Lt. Gen. Ben Lear's Second Army. It was preliminary to participation in the biggest peace-time maneuvers scheduled in the country. The very evening of arrival, an 11-piece band, made up of musicians from the Regimental Band, played for a downtown street dance in Prescott given in honor of the 134th Infantry. Twenty men from each company of the Regiment rode the motor convoy into town for the affair, and Miss Verna Marie Porter, Chamber of Commerce representative in charge of arrangements - particularly of arrangements for a corps of southern belles to be on hand - became first of "Sweethearts of the 134th."

There were a few days for adjusting mosquito nets, shelter tents, and hammocks, and for reconnoitering the dense timberland - and of course, for additional company and regimental training - prior to the opening of the official exercises on Monday, August 18. There was particular interest during this preliminary training - and marksmanship was a favored and well-developed subject with Colonel Per Ramee - in becoming aquatinted with the new Garand M-1 rifle, the semi-automatic successor to the old Springfield which had replaced the bolt-operated weapon in the regiment just prior to the departure to Camp Robinson.

Maneuvers extended through the "Corps Phase," "Army Phase," and "GHQ," in which the headquarters concerned directed the exercises, but it made little difference to a regiment and its individual soldiers whether they were participating in division or corps or army exercises. The marches were as difficult, the mosquitoes as persistent, the chiggers as itch-worthy , the darkness as complete. A squad's problems or a company's frontage did not vary necessarily with the number of such units involved.

In the "Corps Phase," the 35th Division was joined with the 27th and 33rd Divisions in the VII Corps, under command of Maj. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, Jr., whose chief of staff was Col. J. Lawton Collins. After eight days of make-believe war between the "states" of "Almat" and "Kotmk," this phase came to a close with a final success of the 134th Infantry at the end of a 60-mile night move of the 69th Brigade. A Second Army press release noted:

The last problem in the "Corps Phase" of the Arkansas-Louisiana maneuvers came to a close at 8:00 A. M. Thursday after the invading Kotmk forces had accomplished their mission, that of destroying the Missouri-Pacific Railroad between Camden and the Little Missouri River. The unit that did the job was the 134th Infantry, composed entirely of Nebraskans and led by Lieut. Col. Butler B. Miltonberger, of North Platte, Nebr.

In these and succeeding exercises the men of the 134th learned to apply field expedients and to improvise in every kind of situation. Supply personnel encountered the difficulties of moving up chow in blackout - of difficult roads and tactical conditions, of timing to get supper up after darkness and breakfast, and prepared dinners, before daylight. Men learned to maintain contact at night through the dark timberland by forming columns of files in which each man grasped the belt of the man ahead. There were the skirmishes and rapid movements and night withdrawals which became a part of training and a parcel of memory. There were the rapid thrusts of the supporting dust-swirling tanks of Maj. Gen. George S. Patton JR's 2nd Armored Division; the 2nd Cavalry Division's crossing of the Ouachita River two days sooner than the Second Army staff thought possible, and its attack straight into the 134th Infantry; rest days and the quest for relief from the sultry heat of summer in the South in the old swimming holes.

In the main event, the operations in which General Lear's Second Army of 130,000 men faced Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger's Third Army of 330,000 men, it was more of the same for the 134th Infantry. But the men had something to look forward to on completion of maneuvers when they heard that members of the 35th Division had been adopted as "foster sons of Arkansas" in a proclamation by Governor Homer M. Adkins, and a big "Military Mardi Gras" was being planned to welcome them back to Little Rock.

Attached to the 5th Division, a unit which carried the tradition of the Regular Army, for a particular operation, the 134th Infantry was able to demonstrate a versatility and cooperativeness which won for it a commendation from that division:

APO #5
Camp Robinson, Arkansas

21 September, 1941

SUBJECT: Services of the 134th Inf. Reg. With the 5th Inf. Div.
TO: Commanding General, 35th Infantry Division

1. I desire to express my appreciation of the highly effective services of the 134th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division during the period of its attachment to the 5th Infantry Division, September 16 to 18, 1941.
2. Sent as a temporary reinforcement to the 5th Division, the 134th Infantry, Lt. Col. Butler B. Miltonberger, commanding, arrived promptly in the area of the 5th Division. Its elements then participated most effectively in the assault on and encirclement and capture of 150 officers and 2,200 men of the Blue Forces. The spirit of co-operation, readiness for action, and the aggressive performance of this fine Regiment are greatly appreciated.

Brigadier General, U. S. Army,

While, from the soldier's point of view, maneuvers had their points - an escape from camp routine and Saturday morning inspections and the monotony of drill, most hard-bitten (i.e., chigger-bitten) veterans of the 134th Infantry were ready to exchange the long quack grass and hammocks of Louisiana for the tents and cots of Camp Robinson, the dust and mud for refreshing showers, the irregular meals in blackout for chow lines, the constant moving about in the vast timberland for the visits with friends in Little Rock.

It was a royal welcome which greeted these "adopted sons of Arkansas" on their return. A full-dress parade before the governor touched off the two-day festivities of the Military Mardis Gras. Under the slogan, "A Chicken Dinner for Every Soldier," men by two, threes, fours, and scores were invited into private homes for southern fried chicken. Closed to traffic, Fifth Street became one long dance pavilion - and there was a dance partner for every man.

Whether this tour of duty in the Federal service for the 134th Infantry would be limited to the one year's duration anticipated in the original act had been made clear to the contrary. Not so clear, however, was how world events were moving to sweep up the Regiment. The Regiment was ready, however, to meet whatever tasks might confront it. On return from maneuvers, the regimental commander was well pleased with the state of training demonstrated by his command. According to the recorder of the Daily Log, his comment was, "This regiment is now ready for war."

Another interlude in the routine of life in Camp Robinson came with orders for the Regiment's participation in a great Armistice Day parade in Memphis. The 134th executed its role, in the rather quaint uniform combination of blouses and leggings and World War I type steel helmets, but, with bayonets fixed and smart alignments, the massed battalions presented a striking appearance and won the plaudits of the enthusiastic crowd which gathered to watch. More than that, it won for the Regiment the personal commendation of Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, a second commendation from the Second Army Headquarters for the police of the buildings and the area which the 134th occupied at the Memphis Fairgrounds, and the additional commendation of Maj. Gen. William H. Simpson, who had just recently succeeded General Truman as 35th Division commander, "for the progress shown in . . .training for combat efficiency, and for the splendid appearance and conduct of the troops who participated in the Memphis Armistice celebration."

Duty of a more serious nature loomed as a definite possibility when, on November 13, all leaves were canceled, and orders came to prepare for immediate movement with full equipment and to maintain an alert status, ready to move on two-hour notice. There was no general answer for the big question in all men's minds - WHERE? Naturally such an order generated a series of rumors and speculation. Was the Regiment destined for Africa, or Iceland, or strike duty. Actually, the last possibility was the real reason for the alert. Training in aid to civil authorities during domestic disturbances began the next day. The alert for possible movement to the coal fields - growing out of disturbances brought to a head by the efforts of John L. Lewis . chief of the United Mine Workers, to extend the closed shop to certain additional mines, and by his ignoring of three requests from President Roosevelt for a return to work - remained for two weeks. Finally the mine workers' dispute was settled by an arbital board, and men of the 134th once more could concentrate their attention on preparing to repel external enemies of the Republic.

It was not many days afterward that it appeared that this too might be an immediate possibility. Just a week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Regiment was completing its packing for movement. (On Saturday the marriage licenses in Pulaski County hit a new high.) The latest development had caught the regimental commander (it had been Colonel Miltonberger for four weeks now) on leave, but he was hurrying to rejoin the Regiment as it moved out - "destination unknown." Lt. Col. Edward J. Geesen issued the movement order - Field Order No. 1 - that Sunday (it became a tradition to move on Sunday) in December, 1941:

Camp Joseph T. Robinson
Little Rock, Arkansas

14 December, 1941

Field Order
No. 1

Maps: None available

1. a. War has been declared on this country by the AXIS POWERS.
b. The 35th Infantry Division stationed at Camp Joseph T. Arkansas, will move by rail, destination unknown.
2. This regimental combat team will move at once by rail with all personnel, equipment, and transportation, except as indicated below, destination unknown, and duration of movement unknown.
3. Troops: Commander, Lt. Col. Edward J. Geesen.
a. All officers except those over age, all enlisted men except sick in hospital and on D-S., will move with this RCT.
b. Organization: The Personnel Adjutant will make a special strength report showing effective strength of all officers and men and will forward same to the G-1, 35th Infantry Division, at once. Strength returns will be forwarded by train commanders immediately upon arrival at destination.
c. Equipment: Full Field with gas masks. All units will take WD T/BA (War Department, Table of Basic Allowances) Col. 2, Mobilization Tables, except add one trunk locker. Individual equipment for all those present and all organizational equipment will be taken based on strength as per existing T/O (Table of Organization). Helmets in barracks bags.
d. Uniform: Field Service, overcoat, field jacket, field cap, woolen shirt, woolen O. D. trousers, leggings, belt, pack, arms, gas masks.
e. For time of entraining, composition of trains and groupings, and time of departure, see Entraining Table attached hereto. Trains will be spotted in camp area as indicated in table.
f. Battalion commanders, surgeon, commanding officer of Hq. Co., Ser. Co, AT Co., will notify the Regimental S-3 when their respective organizations are ready for inspection, and then again when organizations are ready for loading.
g. Records: Strength Return: Company commanders will immediately report the number of officers and enlisted men present and absent through the Pers. Adj., and individual records, service records, allied papers of enlisted men not moving out with the Regiment will be left behind. The records will be kept on forms provided by this Hqs. and on the original AGO Form 33. Temporary mimeographed forms will be prepared anticipating the changes to be made. If a man will remain behind, a return of his records will be forwarded to his unit, and the mimeographed form destroyed. The following records will be immediately brought up to date if not already in such conditions: Service records of individuals, extract from AGO Form 25, individual equipment records, AGO Form 33.
h. Property will be disposed of as follows: camp, post, and station property will be placed on memo receipts and submitted to Major Wm. G. Utterback who is in command of the area. All personal equipment and furniture will be crated, boxed, and inventoried, and tagged. Such property will be left in day rooms, packed for shipping. Individual property of men who are expected to join their organizations en route or after arrival at destination will be taken with the units.
i. Police of buildings and areas: All mess halls, latrines, day rooms, and store houses will be thoroughly policed and when given a clearance by the inspector in charge, the buildings will be locked and keys delivered to the officer in charge of the area. Officers in charge of the areas are: Major Wm. G. Utterback, entire regimental area; Capt. Myers, 1st Bn.; Capt. Peterson, 2nd Bn.; Capt. Yager, 3rd Bn.; Capt. Thurman, Sp. Troops; Capt. Kimmell, Brigade Hq. and Brigade area.
j. Ammunition: The ammunition officer will immediately draw one day's mobilization supply of ammunition and same will be issued as follows: 10 rds. to each rifleman, and one clip of .45 Am. for each pistolman. Balance to be equally distributed within the Regiment according to the firepower of the weapons.
3. a. All leaves, furloughs, and passes are canceled and officers and men are directed to report to their units.
b. Laundry now at laundries will be secured if possible and returned to units.
c. Steel cots will be left in tents or in mess halls, Sheets, pillow cases, mattresses , pillows, will be piled and stored neatly either in mess halls or in tents. Memo receipts will be prepared in triplicate for same.
d. Personnel in stockade will be returned to their units.
e. Tentage: All heavy tentage will be taken.
f. No public address systems will be taken.
g. Transportation: Canvas on vehicles will be down and securely lashed.
h. Trains must be loaded within four hours from time spotted in yards. The S-4 will cause consolidated shipping tickets for all baggage and vehicles by type and amount that are to go on trains.
i. Train commanders will order periodic halts for exercise.
j. Safety precautions: Extreme precautions will be taken in the handling of gasoline in the kitchen cars.
k. Train commanders will appoint water details ahead of detraining time, who will be ready to expedite its collection.
l. Troops on the train will not detrain without specific authority and will not ride on platform or steps of cars. Commanders of trains will take such other necessary measures including the establishment and maintenance of guards as may be necessary to prevent such practices.
m. Detraining en route will be permitted only by details or individuals under proper orders.
4. a. Supply: 7 days rations will be drawn and issued. Two weeks supply of staples, soap, toilet paper, will be drawn and issued. For further details, see Administrative Order, 35th Infantry Division.
b. White gasoline will be drawn for entire movement.
5. a. Regt. CP closes at this address H hour 14 December, 1941. Opened on train H hour 14 December, 1941.
b. Axis of signal communications, route of march.

By order of LT. COL. GEESSEN:
Major, 134th Inf.,

Capt. 134th Inf,.

The direction of movement was west. The itinerary of Train No. 1 assumed this form:

1. Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, entrained 5:55 P. M. , 14 December, 1941. Train made up and pulled out at 6:50 P. M.
2. Uneventful night, 14 December and 15 December.
3. Stopped at Coffeyville, Kans., 9 A. M. , 15 December. Troops detrained and exercised for 30 minutes. Train pulled at 9:35 A. M.
4. Officers' meeting, 11:25 A. M. Capt. Bradley discussing train discipline.
5. Arrived at Kansas City, Mo., 4:35 P. M., 15 December. Detrained for exercise 25 minutes, switched from Missouri Pacific to Santa Fe Road. Pulled at 7:45 P. M. Delayed at Kansas City due to light failure in two troop cars and poor brake shoes on two cars. Also some time lost on switch over from M. P. to Santa Fe, and remaking of train.
6. Emporia, Kans., 11:35 P. M., 15 December All cars serviced, lanterns placed in two cars without lights.
7. Arrived Higgins, Tex., 9:30 A. M. 16th December. First town in Texas.
8. 10:30 A. M., 16 December, train commander gives conductor telegram to be dropped at Miami, Tex.
9. Arrived Amarillo, Tex., 1:25 P. M. Mess kits were washed and troops had some leg stretching in the warm Texas sunshine.
10. Pulled at 2:12 P. M., 16 December.
11. Officers' meeting, 2:21 p. m.
12. Lost 45 minutes, Clovis, New Mexico.
13. Arrived at Belden, New Mexico, 11:59 P. M. Left 12:30 A. M. , 17 December, Service Stop.
14. Arrived Holbrook, Ariz., 8:40 A. M., left 8:50 A. M., Service and water.
15. Arrived at Winslow, Ariz., 9:35 A. M., 17 December. Troops were exercised in warm sunshine. Pulled at 10:05 A. M.
16. Arrived Needles, California, 9:00 P. M. Troops exercised. Warm. Pulled 9:40 P. M., 17 December, 1941.
17. Arrived San Beradino, California, 9:10 A. M., 18 December, 1941. Warm, clear weather, pulled at 10:58 A. M.
18. Arrived Los Angeles, 1:20 P. M., 18 December, 1941. Clear, hot weather. Pulled at 3:30 P. M.
19. Officers' meeting 3:35 P. M.
20. Struck a truck, 7:40 P. M., 18 December, driver possible skull fracture. Simple fracture upper leg. Pulled 8:10 P. M.
21. 7:00 A. M., 19 December, 1941, uneventful night. Weather fair with some fog.
22. Arrived at Fort Ord, California, at 11:55 A. M., 19 December, detrained and made camp.

As a matter of fact there had been a corps forming earlier that year, a corps to include the 35th and 30th Divisions, among other troops, to reinforce American forces in the Philippines. This was a part of that movement. Upon arrival at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, however, there was found to be an acute shortage of shipping. Pending the availability of suitable vessels, then, men of the Regiment and the Division were assigned to temporary duty on nearby installations while Fort Ord remained the "home station." Christmas Day was spent in pup tents in the cold rain.

The appearance of a Japanese submarine near Santa Barbara, and its shelling of the coast, emphasized the possible danger to the California coast. There was a real need for well-trained organizations to take over responsibility for the defense of California. There was need for the discipline and efficiency which would restore confidence to a disturbed civil population, and for the skill and self-confidence which would be effective in the face of a real threat. Fresh from Louisiana maneuvers, and already in the area, the 35th Division was one assigned to the task, relieving local units of the National Guard which had been distributed initially along the coast. The only unit of the 134th to walk up a gangplank during this time was Company E which boarded the liner Aquatania in order to settle a strike among crewmen which threatened to delay her sailing.

The result was that by the time ships were available, the 35th Division was on other duty, and the 32nd Division, then awaiting ships at the New York Port of Embarkation for movement to England, was brought all the way across the continent to take over the transports which had been intended for the 35th; thus it was the 32nd Division which was destined for the long fight against Japanese from the Southwest Pacific to the Philippines.

While at Fort Ord the 35th Division went through the "streamlining" process of reorganizing as a triangular division. This meant that one of the four infantry regiments - the 138th - was lost, brigades were abolished, and there was considerable reorganization of the division artillery and special troops. Most of the excess units then were ear-marked for eventual movement to Alaska.

Successive moves took the Regiment to Camp San Luis Obispo - where a big beach defense problem and demonstration was the feature of the training, back up to the Presidio of San Francisco, then down to Centinela Park, in Inglewood, just outside Los Angeles. The concentration at Inglewood was temporary, however, pending the location of a suitable headquarters and training area farther north. Assigned to the Southern California Sector of the Western Defense Command, the 35th Division had deployed to carry out its defensive mission. May 21 Regimental Headquarters and the 2nd Battalion moved to scenic Ojai Valley Country Club, while the 1st Battalion remained in Inglewood with an anti-sabotage mission, and the 3rd was deployed along the coast on either side of Ventura. This was the beginning of the war's golden era for the self-styled "Hollywood Commandos" of the 134th Infantry.

For some time now, additional officers had been joining the Regiment to replace those being transferred from time to time to fill vacancies created in the adoption of new tables of organization. At this particular period, most of these were reserve officers who had just finished the basic course in The Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Undoubtedly one of the great institutions of the war, The Infantry School provided a common background for every infantry officer commissioned in the United States. National Guard and Reserve officers followed the basic course, and the Officer Candidates' course, for men working toward a commission, was of similar content. A fresh group of officers arrived now in May. They were second lieutenants all - Ray Carroll went to Company K, Robert Lio went to Company B, Romer went to Regimental Headquarters, Malowney went to Company D. . . . One of the group had undertaken to keep a diary of his days as a member of Basic Class 28, Company N, 1st Student Training Regiment:

February 22 - Sunday - The war takes a new turn as men report for Basic Class 28 in the Infantry School. Lines form for processing. Equipment is drawn, including haversacks, cleaning rods, combination tools, and 27 Field Manuals.
February 23 - Monday - Free time to purchase uniforms and equipment. Those days are gone forever.
February 24 - Tuesday -

And then one officer who had been left behind as over-age in grade rejoined the Regiment, much to the satisfaction of all concerned. Major William G. Utterback - he was Lt. Col. very shortly thereafter - arrived and took command of the 3rd Battalion at Ventura.

The approach of a Japanese fleet toward Midway Island brought alerts and dawn and dusk "stand-to's" and more patrolling for the 134th Infantry.

Patrols covered the waterfront: Malibu . . . Point Magu . . . Oxnard . . . Elwood Oil Fields . . . Carpenteria . . . Santa Barbara . . . Gaviota . . . Surf. Those were days of bulky S-2 journals filled with notes on alleged submarines (which frequently turned out to be sea lions) and on mysterious lights which were observed along the blacked-out coast. Those were nights of "pounding the sands" as two-man patrols tramped up and down the beaches in a darkness broken only by the phosphorescent glow of breakers and by the signals of blue-covered flashlights which they carried so that their officers could find them. Later, mounted and foot patrols from the Coast Guard had taken over much of the sector and sometimes their untrained recruits were accused of shooting horses and cows when they failed to heed the challenge, "Halt!"

Lt. Col. Dean E. Coonley's 1st Battalion, remaining in the Los Angeles area, had local readjustments to make from time to time. Battalion Headquarters moved to Mines Field, and there men posted to guard the North American aircraft factory watched the new B-25 "Mitchells" and P-51 "Mustangs" go through their tests. One reinforced company moved into newly-constructed barracks at Hawthorne, and it had the responsibility of operating motor patrols through the Torrance oil fields and of maintaining guards around the Northrop Aircraft plant. There they admired the new XP-61 night fighter, the "Black Widow," and the curious little experimental plane, the "Flying Wing."

For Lt. Col.Frank Dunkley's 2nd Battalion, it was training during these first few weeks at "Camp Lah Wee Lah His" - otherwise known as the Sun Valley or Ojai Country Club. Here, there were squad problems and rifle and machine gun field firing with 60mm and 81mm mortars, (which frequently amounted to a few minutes of firing the weapon and then spending the remainder of the day in fighting brush and grass fires).

And Ojai was the scene of the inevitable formal guard mounts, and battalion and regimental parades. The Regimental Band, in white leggings and cross belts and shiny helmets, always put on a good show for those dress occasions. At guard mount the spic and span members of the guard would execute their movements in precision; the commander of the guard would inspect the guard and arouse the admiration of numerous spectators with his skillful spinning of the rifles as he stepped from one man to another while the band carried on with the "Missouri Waltz." Regimental parades on Sunday afternoon always were an attraction for hundreds of California friends and wives and sweethearts. It was a thrilling sight to stand on a hill in front of the clubhouse and watch the companies march onto the golf course; to see the platoons simultaneously break out of the column as the company commander shouted "Company mass, left, march!" - and the band would play the "Viking March" or "Washington Post" - officers would march smartly to the front and center with company guidons following the commanders - and the band would change to a pepped-up version of "There Is No Place Like Nebraska" while out-of-state (Nebraska, that is) spectators would mutter a good-natured "Thank God," and Cornhusker sympathizers would cheer - and then the band would lead off the "march in review" with "El Captain," and would execute its tricky, unorthodox column left at each turn.

Loss of the Regimental Band by a revision of the tables of organization subsequently was a real blow to unit morale. In the 134th skilled musicians became company buglers, and eventually were reassembled in a "drum and bugle corps" to furnish music for special occasions.

Rotation of the battalions permitted a few weeks at each type of duty - beach patrol out of Ventura, anti-sabotage in Los Angeles area, and training in Ojai.

There was an interruption to the planned rotation, however, before it could complete one round. The Regiment had been called upon to furnish on battalion for a special mission - a mission to Alaska. There had been a high command decision to retake the islands of the Aleutian chain which the Japanese had occupied, and the first necessity was to acquire an advance base. For this task the commanding general of the Fourth Army was given the mission to organize a task force around an infantry battalion. The size was given as that of a battalion because it was considered that no larger force would be required, and because the shortage of shipping continued. When Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, Fourth Army Commander, called upon Maj. Gen. Maxwell Murray, now commanding the 35th Division, to name a regiment to furnish such a battalion, General Murray named the 134th Infantry Regiment. Time was short, but choosing a battalion was not as difficult a decision as it might have been under different circumstances. The choice fell upon the 2nd Battalion because that unit had completed its period of training at Ojai. The prospect of losing a battalion, of impairing the regimental team, was a little disappointing. At the same time, however, there was a justified pride to be felt in having the 134th Infantry singled out to furnish the battalion. Moreover, the higher commanders had intimated that the battalion, once its mission were accomplished, would be returned to the Regiment.

Nearly all the junior officers and numbers of enlisted men were transferred from the 1st and 3rd Battalions to bring the 2nd up to full strength. In addition there were attached a cannon platoon, and anti-tank platoon, a mine squad, a chaplain and Service Company personnel. There was a rapid exchange of stations as the 1st Battalion, then at Ojai, moved on about four hours notice to relieve the 3rd along the coast, the 3rd moved to Los Angeles to relieve the 2nd, and the 2nd returned to Ojai to begin processing for its special expedition. Most of its supplying, its record checking, its inoculations were accomplished there before moving to the port at San Francisco. On August 13, the first of the units of the 134th Infantry to leave for an overseas station sailed through the Golden Gate. Combat loaded in San Francisco, the task force arrived at Kodiak a week later, and, after five days of practice beach landings, set sail for Adak, a small island of the Andreanoff Group which was the objective. The 2nd Battalion hit the beaches of Adak at 0630 on August 30. There was all the tenseness and wonder that goes with uncertainty, and it was a great relief when the landings were completed without opposition. The job at hand then was the building of an Army post to support the bigger attacks to come. It required an organization, a discipline, a leadership of the highest order to make effective the difficult tasks involved in unloading the ships, constructing the airfield, erecting quarters, on that bleak, northern island. Its accomplishments brought a commendation from General DeWitt. Senator Harry S. Truman of Missouri obtained unanimous consent to have the correspondence concerning the commendation inserted in the Congressional Record. It contained the information:

That Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, commanding general, Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, had informed (General Murray) that the operation participated in by the 2nd Battalion, One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Infantry, in the north had been highly successful and was carried out in a most excellent manner and that the 2nd Battalion of the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Infantry was to be highly commended for it exemplary action in this operation.

Already a number of former soldiers of the 134th Infantry had been in action in various operations against the enemy, and several received individual commendations. Noteworthy among these were the anti-tank gun crews who were transferred from the Anti-tank Company for duty aboard armed transports. Second Lieutenant Donald C. Sherrets and each of the eleven enlisted men who had gone with him for service on U. S. Army Transport President Johnson received individual commendations for their attention to duty, their appreciation of the importance of their mission and their actions in hostile waters.

Late that autumn it became clear that the old 2nd Battalion was lost to the Regiment for the duration, and orders came to organize a new battalion to take its place. The replacements arrived at Ojai during Christmas week. It was a tremendous job to build a new battalion from scratch. Cadres from the old battalion, of course, were transferred to the new unit, but it took time for such a large group of replacements to be assimilated, for the new 2nd Battalion to feel its place in the tradition of the 134th Infantry. The difficult job of building the new unit proceeded under the command of Lt. Col. A. D. Sheppard, regimental executive officer. Later, Major Denver W. Wilson returned from the assignment as assistant division G-3 to take command of the new battalion.

In January, 1943, the 35th Division reverted to the direct control of the Army Ground Forces, and, less the 140th Infantry, left the Southern California Sector to re-assemble at Camp St. Luis Obispo. General Murray remained in control of the Southern California Sector, and Brig. Gen. Paul Baade, assistant division commander, succeeded to the command of the division.

At San Luis there had been the California winter rains and marches and range-firing of all weapons and field exercises for squads and platoons. The primary mission now had become training again rather than security. Emphasis on discipline always had to be maintained. In the course of one of his talks the regimental commander was quoted as saying words to the effect that Any member of the Regiment found dead in battle will be found properly dressed.

But there were more changes, and more training, coming. Shortly after trainloads of men had arrived from Fort Dix, New Jersey, and from Georgia to fill newly-activated regiment - the 320th - the whole division moved back to Camp Rucker, Alabama. (Previously the 134th's new battalion had become officially the 2nd Battalion when the 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry was transferred from the Alaska command to Camp San Luis Obispo, "less personnel and equipment," and the old 2nd was redesigned the 2nd Battalion, 197th Infantry per letter AGO 320.2 [I-15-43] OB-I-GN-M.)

This move involved almost a transcontinental rail movement. As always with troop trains there were incidents on each which would become indelible in the memories of the soldiers: the train which, stopping for a period of exercise, pulled out before one of the platoons got back, and then had to back up a mile or so to pick up the lost platoon - Major Thompsen, energetic executive officer of the 1st Battalion, and one time Union Pacific employee, riding in the cab - the pathetic chase of the lovable little black dog which had been the mascot of Company C when the train pulled out after a rest stop before he could get back on, and then his running down the track after the train until it was out of sight.

Camp Rucker meant excessive heat and rigorous physical tests; it was intensive training all the way, from April to November 1943. In order to equalize the state of training of the three regiments of the division, the commanding general ordered a sweeping exchange of personnel between the old regiments, on one hand, and the newly-activated 320th on the other. Obviously such a move was necessary to make the division a well-balanced team. But the order hit the 134th especially hard because of the very similar problem which it had in its own organization in building up the new 2nd Battalion. The regimental commander, in view of the difficulties, was able to save the original old members - the Nebraskans who had been with the 134th when it was called into Federal Service. Those men - those 2072 men (from the first four digits of their serial numbers) - were men who had volunteered for this particular regiment, and they, more than anyone else, carried its tradition. The need for this core around which to build up an esprit de corps was more urgent now than ever.

At first it was basic training all over again at Camp Rucker. It was necessary to stress the necessity of making full use of this training opportunity; to an assembled meeting of regimental officers, the commander could say, I can tell you frankly that I think this is the last time we will train a regiment before going overseas. There was training in scouting and patrolling, first aid, military courtesy and discipline, there were Saturday morning inspections, and reviews of weapons training. Ranger training and realistic combat training were the fashion, and that had meant many a weary mile over dusty roads in the extreme heat of the Alabama sun when each mile thinned the ranks of marching columns. There were obstacle courses . . . platoon proficiency tests . . . battalion proficiency tests . . . regimental combat problems . . . the infiltration course . . . the combat reaction course . . . the attack of a Nazi village . . . the attack of a fortified position . . . a week s exacting regimental combat team exercises in the Conecuh National Forest, south of Andalusia, on the Alabama-Florida state line. Men were able to find some relief from the exertions of training in week-end passes to Dothan and in occasional furloughs - or in going over to the hot, crowded PX to sit and drink beer (3.2) or soda pop, or to get paper cups filled with ice cream and then push their way out through the banging screen door while the juke box blared out Rosalita or Pistol Packin Mamma. One of the most severe tests was the required march of 25 miles in eight hours with full field equipment, a march which the battalion made at night in order to escape some of the punishing heat.

During a meeting of the entire Regiment in the Camp Rucker Bowl, it was suggested that the famous remarks of General Hale during the Philippine Insurrection - "There goes the First Nebraska, and all hell can't stop them!" - might furnish a battle cry for the present-day Regiment. Within a month there appeared the legend "All Hell Can't Stop Us" - white on blue - over the door of every orderly room in the regimental area.

All of those weeks at Camp Rucker had been leading up to the next phase of training: maneuvers in Tennessee. There, over battlefields made famous in engagements of the Civil War, modern troops participated in war games as nearly like the real thing as could be devised. Foxholes and pup tents afforded little comfort in that cold and wet winter from mid-November to mid-January. This had led to the authorization of small fires ("no higher than six inches") during combat problems; arrival of the ice cream and doughnut man would herald the end of a problem, and then the fires would grow to a height of nearer six feet (in any kind of weather) and then some men could get showers at some schoolhouse or in some improvised arrangement, and some could go on pass and help to swell the throngs in Nashville; and sometimes there would be a great vocal outburst when a cottontail rabbit happened to jump up form the brush and men would take up the chase as cries of "Get that rabbit" carried quickly down the line in the direction the animal was running.

Again there had been river crossings (it was the deep Cumberland this time) and night withdrawals and attacks.

Throughout the maneuver period groups of replacements - both officers and enlisted men - were being received to maintain the Regiment at near its full authorized strength. Many of the replacements were of the highest caliber and soon made themselves highly valued assets of the 134th. There was for example, the group of "brand new" second lieutenants which reported on November 29 and 30, which proved to be a peculiarly significant group of officers: Michael Hanna, Company C; Constant J. Kjems, Company A; James B. Curran, Company G; Clarence L. Evans, Company H; Chauncey M. Erickson, Company M; Halley K. Dickey, Jr., Company M; Clarence C. Bartsch, 1st Battalion (soon to Company A); John Campbell Jr., 1st Battalion (soon to Company L); Kenneth W. Bush, 2nd Battalion, and Charles N. Cummins, 3rd Battalion.

After maneuvers such as those in Tennessee, the prospect of clean barracks and camp routine - to say nothing of furloughs for everybody - loomed more attractive than ever for the soldiers of the 134th Infantry.

List of Illustrations (click on description to view photograph then click the BACK button to return to this page):

* "There were hikes and field training at Robinson"
* "At Camp Robinson: champions at baseball too"
* "Col. Per Ramee (seated left) was commanding the 69th Brigade during the Louisiana maneuvers"
* "Brig. Gen. Benjamin Lockwood (left foreground) with Col. Miltonberger while a motor convoy prepares at Camp Robinson"
* "The Colonel and his staff (left to right: Capt. Morton, Lt. Col. Geesen, Maj. VanKirk, Maj. Dunkley, Capt. McGill, Capt. Wilson)"
* "and the Regimental Band"
* "led the great Armistice Day parade at Memphis"
* "On the anti-tank range at Ojai"
* "Preparing to leave Seaside Park, Ventura"
* "The 2nd Battalion hit the beaches of Adak at 0630 on 30 August"
* Officers of the 2nd Battalion in the Aleutians"
* Bandsmen re-appeared as drummers and buglers (Ozark, Alabama)

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