Heroes: the Army
"...During this attack we lost 9 men and about 20 wounded over Thanksgiving Day in the battle for Beeck. Among those killed were Danny Neukam, Willy Wilcox, PFC Lapersohn and our squad leader -- Sgt. Sequiros. PFC Black from El Paso was shot twice thru the chest and in one leg..."
Odra W. Callaway
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. F., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1943-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Eudora, AR
Odra W. Callaway: My War!
From: Odra W. Callaway.
27 January 1988
MY WAR -- submitted by Odra W. Callaway Co.F 405th Reg --102 Division
[219-01] I don't remember the date when we of Co. F -- 405th infantry left the staging area outside Cherbourge, France -- and loaded on the 40 and 8's rail cars for a ride of 8 days across France. We were told that these cars were built for 40 men or 8 horses but a platoon of 42 men with equipment was loaded on each car.
From there we went to a place in Holland near the German boarder. Here we were under our first gun fire and some german planes came over and dropped some anti-personel bombs -- but nobody was hurt -- but were plenty scared.
We next relieved a part of the 84th Division who were in a holding position outside of Geilenkirchen, Germany. We stayed in the fox holes a week. There was a german machine gun about 500-600 yards away that would fire on us every morning and again at night. We would always be in our holes and he would start at the left end of our line and go to the right end and so -- my fox hole buddy -- H.V. Richards from Abilene, Tx and I desided to locate him the next morning. And so we located him in a corner of the orchard and put 20 rounds in his pocket while Richards spotted for me. I guess that was a mistake because we got a big barrage of artillery and a scolding from Lt. Huff ( P-38) - However -- we didn't have much more trouble with the machine gun.
While in this holding position we got 2 hours of sleep a night except when we were called for patrol duty. When this happened -- the one in the foxhole pulled guard all night alone. The 334th Reg. of the 84th Div. Attacked thru us on Sunday morning and took Geilenkirchen. This was the first time in 7 days we looked out and got out of our holes in daylight. We found 4 dead germans no mere than 20 yards from my foxhole. They looked just like us except for their uniforms. We went back off the line for a day and a night and had a bath and some rest. Someone located two cows in a barn that the artillery hadn't killed and fastened them up. Sgt. Kusak sent Richards and Toomey ever to get one of them and kill it. Andy messed up the shot and didn't hit her in the head to stun her. So she broke loose of the rusty wire we had tied her with and she headed for Germany. Andy told Toemey to shoot her and this time he gut shot her. 2 days later as were advancing -- we found her just outside of town dead. We got the other cow and shot her in the living room of the house and that was real good steak and so we had a relief from the K and C rations while up front.
Now we got orders to attack Beeck, Germany. This was a bad situation from the start as PFC Wyatt was shot thru the head by one of our own tanks by a 50 caliber round while we were under a smoke screen. I guess he was our 1st casualty and we lost a good man. During this attack we lost 9 men and about 20 wounded over Thanksgiving Day in the battle for Beeck. Among those killed were Danny Neukam, Willy Wilcox, PFC Lapersohn and our squad leader -- Sgt. Sequiros. PFC Black from El Paso was shot twice thru the chest and in one leg. Volk Richards, Wojniah and I evacuated him and 2 more men that night. I don't remember their name now. -- We did advance and took a small apple orchard and captured 26 germans and sent them back to the rear. To Battalion. We had to get in their foxholes quickly as the germans opened up on us. Our first scout, Ed Eberling jumped in a hole and a wounded german was also in the hole. We later sent the german back to the hospital. We had to retreat so Lt. Huff left Volk and Me as a rear guard. We waited until the other men were l00 yards away and started crawling. The germans snipers saw us and spattered mud in our faces. We got up and ran and passed up some of the men who [220-12] had left earlier. The snipers didnt get either of us. We were pinned down the rest of the day and that night we evacuated all we could.
Thanksgiving Day when we had so many casualties and so many wounded -- a new medic was hit about 50 feet from my foxhole and about the same distance from Eddy Berg's hole. We went out to rescue the medic and the sniper that hit him tried to also hit us. He didn't tho. He did hit the canteen on my belt. We pulled the medic into my foxhole and used up his morphine and then bandaged him and put sulfa powder on his wounds as best we could. He was hit in the lower right rib and the bullet came out his left leg -- below the thigh. I have always wondered who he was and if he lived. We got a shower and clean clothes the next day. The following day we moved out enroute to Puffendorf. We were in open marching formation and the germans had their machine guns firing at us. I saw a tracer bullet go thru the throat of PFC Mezzaway. I think we all wanted to hit the ground -- but nobody did. We were finally pinned down in a sugar beet field and I started to dig a foxhole when a bullet hit the handle of the shovel. It didn't take me long to get under ground. When dark came we enlarged the hole a lot. Richards was with me then. Next morning Richards said &emdash; "Peck -- your pack strap is cut. So I took it off and it was riddled with bullet holes. I had to discard it.
On Nov. 29th we were in the outskirts of Geronsweiller and had to dig in again. We were under bad artillery fire I was a road guard next to a big hiway and Richards was closest and Wojniak was next. Another barrage came in and l was told later that one of the 88 rounds hit real close to my hole and all I remember was all of a sudden all the air was pulled out of my hole and the pressure pushed me down into the ground. I was pulled out covered with mud -- and taken to an aid station by Richards and Wojniak and Sgt. Kusek. The first I knew I was in a field hospital in Aachen, germany and on christmas day flown to England, Here I was checked for ear trouble and had my stomach checked. And I stayed until about Feb. 1st 1945.
When l got back to my squad l was given a new BAR and my war started all over again. On Feb 21st -- Sgt. Tom Brown, Richards, Kinchelee and I went out to test fire our new rifles and found a white phosphoris shell grenade that had not fully exploded. Tom Brown shot at it and we were far enough away so as not to be hurt. But it burned out again we walked up to it and the primer went off again l got most of that load in my right calf of the leg and the head of the grenade went in my left hip. Tom was burned and so was Kinchekoe but not too bad. Richards pushed me into a mud hole close by and the fire went out. He got a rocket box for water for me-on the trip to the aid station. I never saw tom Brown again afeter that nor did I see Kinchelee altho l am sure we all went to the same aid station. At the aid station the Doctor put copper sulfate solution on the phosphoris to counter act the burning and he also pilled the steel out of my hip. l was evacuated to Paris -- back to Kidderminster, England and after my skin graft was safe l was returned to Bruns General Hospital outside of San Antonio, (Sante Fay) NM. I was discharged from the hospital in September of 1945 but I have fond memories of other buddys no longer here.
----- Odra W. Callaway, January 27, 1988.
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
The SS hideous Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
Information and photographs were generously provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by Mr. Edward L. Souder of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The subjects of these essays are all members of Co. F., 405th Regiment.Our sincerest THANKS for allowing us to share their stories!
Original Story submitted on 19 September 2002.
Story added to website on 1 October 2002.
September 5, 2002.
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