Friday, September 23, 2011

Tribute to Sgt Harold Messerschmidt, 3rd Infantry Division Schuylkill County MOH Holder WW2

This is a recent tribute to Sgt. Messerschmidt who was KIA at Raddon, France.

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The Vosges Mountains are located in the northeast portion of France. Heavy fighting took place there in August and September of 1944. The fighting there would terminate the foot hold German troops had on France. Fighting in this area was the famous 3rd Infantry Division. Because of their fierce fighting methods the Germans still held a portion of the Belfort Gap in the Vosges. On the 15th of September the 3rd ID was on the move marching north toward the French town of Faucogney.

Fighting with the 3rd ID was Schuylkill Countian Sgt. Harold O. Messerschmidt born in Grier City, Schuylkill County. Sgt. Messerschmidt enlisted in the U.S. Army at Chester, Pa. On the 17th of September Messerschmidt’s unit, Company L 30th Infantry Regt. was in the process of trying to capture a small village west of Faucogney named Raddon. Company L had just taken a heavily forested ridge that dominated an important and strategic road. About mid day a heavy tank and artillery fire swept the ridge immediately followed by advancing German infantry over 200 strong. One member of the unit stated” They rushed into our fire in an insane manner, as if they had been given liquor or drugs.” For six hours Sgt. Messerschmidt and the men of his squad held the right flank of the company and resisted wave after wave of the fanatical German troops. Sgt. Messerschmidt ran out of ammunition and was the only member of his squad still standing, he used his Tommy gun as a club to kill as many Germans as he could. A last ditch charge by the enemy came rushing up the slope and caught Sgt. Messerschmidt still wielding his empty weapon were upon he was killed. At the end of this engagement Company L was down to only four squads and very nearly out of ammunition, but they held the ridge.

Sgt. Harold Messerschmidt was awarded the Medal Of Honor posthumously on 17 July 1946.

The Citation:

Sergeant Messerschmidt, Harold O. Army
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Radden, France, 17 September 1944. Entered service at: Chester, Pa. Birth: Grier City, Pa. G.O. No.: 71, 17 July 1946.

Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Braving machinegun, machine pistol, and rifle fire, he moved fearlessly and calmly from man to man along his 40-yard squad front, encouraging each to hold against the overwhelming assault of a fanatical foe surging up the hillside. Knocked to the ground by a burst from an enemy automatic weapon, he immediately jumped to his feet, and ignoring his grave wounds, fired his submachine gun at the enemy that was now upon them, killing 5 and wounding many others before his ammunition was spent. Virtually surrounded by a frenzied foe and all of his squad now casualties, he elected to fight alone, using his empty submachine gun as a bludgeon against his assailants. Spotting 1 of the enemy about to kill a wounded comrade, he felled the German with a blow of his weapon. Seeing friendly reinforcements running up the hill, he continued furiously to wield his empty gun against the foe in a new attack, and it was thus that he made the supreme sacrifice. Sgt. Messerschmidt's sustained heroism in hand-to-hand combat with superior enemy forces was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service .

Sgt. Harold O. Messershmidt is buried in the:
Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery
Schuylkill County

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A Wired Hair Terrier The Type Jack Was



United Press.
Philadelphia Jan 27, 1930

This is a great story about a dog, a mascot of the 109th Infantry regiment, 28th Division during WW1. Jack a little wired haired fox terrier will be buried near Radnor today with all the honors of a warrior. His broken little body will rest in a flag draped casket. At least one squad from Company C, 109th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard, will be in attendance and a regular bugler will blow taps on a silver tongued coronet. Twelve years ago Jack was a precious little puppy who didn’t understand a word of the very expressive English used by the members of Company C, when their dust coated hobnailed boots awakened the echoes in a little battle scared village in the Condrecourt area. The language of bones, nice juicy bones with meat attached is universal, however and Jack permanently attached himself to the company and to Corporal James C. McCool, of Mahanoy City, Pa. in particular. Following the soul stirring months of the summer of 1918 with fighting everywhere from Flanders to the Vosges and the 28th Division in the thick of it. So was McCool and Company C and his buddy Jack, dodging across a machine gun swept wheat field one sunny morning in July, Jack got his “Blighty” It resulted in the amputation of his right foreleg. Regimental surgeons fixed him up. Two months latter at St. Mihiel, cool was seriously wounded. Before being evacuated he gave strict orders to his squad to take care of Jack.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The 213th Coast Artillery Schuylkill County Men During the Years of Peace. 1922-1941

During the years of Peace
The 213th Coast Artillery

In 1922, both Pottsville’s companies were reorganized, Co. C and D of the 103rd Engineers, The old First Defender Company the Washington Artillery of 1861 became the service battery of the 213th Coast Artillery, And Company H of the 112th Infantry Regiment of WW 1 fame, the old National Light Infantry of 1861 another of the famed First Defenders, became the Headquarters Battery, 213th Coast Artillery. Again August of 1924 they were reorganized to arm the 213th Coast Artillery. During the years that followed the units became highly proficient in there new roll as anti aircraft artillery, with its intricate problems of three dimensional gunnery, tactical organization, material and fire control instruments. Adapting itself to its new assignment and concentrating on training, the companies and regiment soon attained a technique and tactical proficiency which made it second to none and which placed it high among the vital instruments essential to the National Defense of the Nation and State.
The companies along with the regiment followed an intensive training program which include annual field training camps at stations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey. It participated in the III Corps maneuvers at Heuvelton, New York, near Ogdensburg, and conducted firing practice from Fort Ontario New York. It received a citation from headquarters 28th Division, during the First Army Maneuvers for its High Spirit and usual initiative” and for “the efferent manner in which the regiment gave anti aircraft protection.”
In early December 1942, the 213th Coast Artillery moved from Camp Stewart into the New York Metropolitan area for the defense of the Coast Line. In April 1942 the 213th was split up, many men moved into different branches of the Army; some went into the Engineers, Infantry and other branches. Some cadre stayed behind and rebuilt the 213th coast Artillery. It is hard to trace the men or unit at this point. We know the 213th served in Northern Ireland, Scotland, North Africa, Italy and France. They also participated in the following campaigners: Tunisia, Naples, Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po valley Rhineland, Algeria, French Morocco. Eventually the unit was inactivated in 1944 after being in the service of our country for four years. We are quite sure, even though the unit and men from Schuylkill County went in different directions during the war; they served their country and state with dignity and honor, as did their forefathers.

From A History of Pottsville’s National Guard Units.

HQ Battery, Schuylkill Haven Pud Fager 1st Sgt. In Front.

213th Coast Arty Band From Pottsville, Pa.

Machine Gun Battery Firing at Balloons Grand View Beach, Va.

Gun ready for action 213th CA.

Front Row Left to right Irvin MArtin, Ed Armbuster, Norman Golden Francis Francis,unknown , Bob Rowe Vaughan Hipple. 213th

The Boat that took the 213th from Phila, to Fort Monroe Va.

On Board the Chateau Thierry

F.W.D. Trucks taking the boys to the pistol range Ft. Monroe, Va.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Ted Williams

Red Sox’s Ted Williams Escorted By Schuylkill County Flier.

The Article in the February 19, 1953 Issue of the Pottsville Republican stated: Ted Williams Escorted By County Flier.

A Pine Grove boy piloted a jet fighter bomber that escorted Ted Williams back to an advanced Korean Base after the ball Player’s fighter plane began to burn after participating in a recent raid against an enemy base in North Korea.
He is 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Hawkins, 75 east Pottsville St. Lt. Hawkins marked his 22nd birthday last Thursday.
News of Lt. Hawkins feat in escorting Williams to safety was contained in a news dispatch from the war area.
Hawkins a graduate of Pine grove High School, class of 1948 enlisted in the Marine Corps following his graduation from High School. He served in the Marines for 21 months and was stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. He then switched to the naval air arm and took flight training at Pensacola Fla. Where he received his wings early 1952. He went to Korea last November and in the last letter received by his family he related he had completed 44 missions, had two air medals and a rest leave in Japan.
From Ted Williams Book ,”My Turn At Bat The story of My Life ” he relates the story of his rescue.

Somebody wrote one time that I had privately resigned myself to my fate, that I thought I was going to Korea to die. That’s not true. The thing that always brought me to my senses about relative danger was the F9. When I flew it, I always marveled at how good a plane it was and how much better I had it than some of the guys in the South Pacific who flew over water al the time ad in equipment that wasn’t as good.

After about eight or ten missins, I began to get real sick. The weather was miserable, cold, foggy, misty. My ears and nose plugged up. I was going to the infirmary every other day. Well, I was out on this one mission, far above thirty-eight Parallel. Our target was an encampment a large troop concentration. We were nearing the target when I lost visual reference with the fellow in front of me. I swung out to pick him up, and when I got back on target I was too low.
We were supposed to be pretty low anyway, using daisy cutters that day, anti personnel bombs that hit and spread out. But now I was a target for I don’t know how many thousands of gooks in that encampment, and sure as hell I got hit with small arms fire. When I pulled up out of my run, all the red lights were on in the plane and the damn thing started to shake. I knew I had a hydraulic leak. Fuel warning light, there are so many lights on a jet that when anything serious goes wrong the lights almost blind you. I was in serious trouble.
I started to call right away, I had a plane in front and one to the side, but I couldn’t pick anybody up. All of a sudden this plane was right behind me. The pilot was a young sandy haired lieutenant named Larry Hawkins, from Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. He could see I was calling, nodding my head, and the last I heard was, “I can barely read your transmission,” and the radio pooped out. Later he told me he was yelling for me to shoot the canopy and bail out, and if I‘d known I was on fire I probably would have. He came up close and I saw he was pointing like mad, trying to show me I was leaking fuel or something. He signaled with his thumb: “Let’s get up,” So we climbed. Altitude is a safety factor. The thinner air helps in case of fire, and if you get another 10,000 feet you can glide thirty five to forty miles if the engine fails.
Meantime, I had taken off my leg strap which holds the data for the trip, I was sure I was going to have to bail out. I’d gone off my hydraulic system. (When it’s damaged it is safer to fly without hydraulics, even though you really have to wrestle the stick.) I got up to 18,000 feet and I could see the frozen water on my right. Any minute I expected I’d have to bail out, and I always dreaded the prospect. It was the only real fear I had flying a plane, that if I had to bail out I wouldn’t make it. Among other things, the cockpit is small. For a big guy, crammed in like I was, I thought I’d surely leave my knee cap right there.
Lieutenant Hawkins did a great job. He led me back to the field and called in to warn them. From the target to the base, flying time was about fifteen minutes. All of a sudden I was over the field. Not the same field I had taken off from but one nearer the target. It was a mad house.

Williams landed successfully at the base, thanks to Schuylkill countian Lt. Larry Hawkins.