Heroes: the Army
"...You will be attached to the 379th, 380th, 381st and 927th Field Artillery Battalions of the 102nd Infantry Division. Where they go you will go. You will protect them from strafing planes at all times..."
Harry W. Morris
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: 548th AAA AW Btn.,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Kalamazoo, MI
548th On Stage: European Theatre
by Harry W. Morris
"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances and one man in his time plays many parts." That is one of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare. Keep those words in mind.
When most of you men were in high school there was a great drama playing in many locales in the world called World War II, with a cast of millions. If you faced North, stage left and stage right were being won by the bad guys in Act. 1. During Act 2, the good guys were holding their own on stage left but the black shirts were still winning on stage right.
By the time most of you graduated, the playwright decided to add several parts to the drama and you were called in to practice these parts in case you were needed. You still had no idea what those parts would be, though there were plenty of rumors. Finally, in august 1944, you were asked to travel to location on stage right. The trip was quite eventful. Some of you liked the cuisine off the beaches of Normandy they called Omaha and Utah. You liked it so well you were reluctant to leave for a couple of weeks. Others opted for the comforts of the apple orchard at St. Pierre Eglise.
Finally in Nov. 1944 we went to where the drama was being staged &emdash; the Panhandle of Holland. For the first time we learned the parts we were to play in Act 3: "Able, Baker, Charley, Dog. You will be attached to the 379th, 380th, 381st and 927th Field Artillery Battalions of the 102nd Infantry Division. Where they go you will go. You will protect them from strafing planes at all times. Headquarters, you will supply them with their props, wardrobe, and food. You will repair and replace anything necessary. If any of the players are unable to appear on stage you will furnish them with their understudies. You will live up to that part of your name " mobile" so you may want to ditch any unnecessary equipment." (Remember that mine in Holland? Does anybody know what happened to those "props" we left there?)
Did we play our parts well? Ask the Field Artillery and Infantrymen if they appreciated our Battalion shooting down six planes that started strafing them on January 1, 1945. Ask the Division if they appreciated our Battalion providing an umbrella of cover for the Roer river crossing at Linnich and Rurdorf, an umbrella so effective that it exploded an incoming bomb in midair. Ask the 380th Field Artillery if they appreciated Pfc Arthur Smith shooting down three planes out of four that tried to strafe the convoy while on the move. There were many more incidents where our mission was carried out but what I do want you to carry away from this meeting is a feeling of pride. Of course we cannot take credit for being the stars of the drama, but we played the role that was given us to the best of our ability and in some scenes got outstanding ovations. Not bad for a bunch of Zoot-Suiters from Detroit. (The author of an article in the "Ozark Notes" reported having such a first impression of us. He changed his mind real quick once he saw what we could do.) We exited stage left and went back to our homes quietly to get ready for the next play.
Tom Brokaw calls us "The Greatest Generation" having born witness to the "Roaring Twenties", "The Great Depression", "WWII" and others. All of you had many other parts to play in life. Husbands, fathers, breadwinners, etc. As we ride off into the sunset of our lives, I would ask one thing of you. Do not let your experiences die with you. Many of you have already written some account of your life. The rest of you &emdash; do it! Get it down in writing so your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews can share your experiences. Tell them of your entrances and exits in life whether it be two pages or 102. You will be glad that you did.
----- Harry Morris
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
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
Gardelegen War Crime
The above story, "548th On State: European Theatre", by Harry Morris, 548th AAA AW Btn., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 53, No. 4, July/Sept. 2001, pp. 10-11.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 28 October 2003.
Story added to website on 26 November 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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Updated on 17 February 2012...1351:05 CST