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Follies of a Navy Chaplain

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Tanks for the Memories

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They were all young kids

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Love Company

A Mile in Their Shoes

A Mile in Their Shoes

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Nine Lives

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©2014, Aaron Elson

   

Love Company

By John M. Khoury

online edition

©2014, John M. Khoury

Chapter 1

Love Company

    At the time I was assigned to an infantry regiment in May 1944, I learned that each rifle company and heavy weapons company had a name besides a letter. This was important when communicating by field telephone, radio, or walkie-talkie, because A Company could be confused with K Company and B Company with D Company.

    The names assigned to the 1st Battalionís three rifle companies and the heavy weapons company were as follows:

    A was Able Company, a proud name.

    B was Baker Company, a masculine name.

    C was Charlie Company - it had a swagger to it.

    D was Dog Company. This heavy weapons company had a growl to it.

    For the 2nd Battalion, the three rifle companies and heavy weapons company were:

    Easy for E Company, which had a cocky flair.

    Fox for F Company, a sly outfit, of course.

    George for G Company, a serious group.

    Hypo for H Company, the heavy weapons company, maybe named for its sting.

    In the 3rd Battalion, the three rifle companies and heavy weapons company were:

    Item for I Company, which may have been named for newsworthiness.

    There was no J Company in the infantry. (According to a story I have heard, General George Armstrong Custerís unit that was destroyed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn was J Company. Because of that, there is no J Company, but I donít know for sure.)

    King for K Company, which is a name to respect.

    Love for L Company. Love? For tough, hardened, fearless front-line warriors! Couldnít the Army call us Lion or Leopard Company? Probably Lion would not be good because it would sound like Line and all infantry rifle companies are line companies. Nevertheless, we were Love Company and we loved the irony of the name.

    Mike for M Company, a masculine name for the heavy weapons company.

    One particular Saturday, in the summer of 1944, a review of the entire 100th Infantry Division was held for Secretary of War Henry Stimson and high-ranking officials from England. The 15,000 men of the division were assembled on the parade grounds of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Each soldier was checked from head to toe for perfect dress, posture, and alignment by his company commander. We stood in the bright, hot, summer sun at parade rest during the formal exchange of greetings between the officers on the field and the officials in the reviewing stand. We were in full battle gear with full field packs, helmets, and rifles. The division band started to play, and then the command came to "Pass in Review!"

    From my position way in the back of the formation, I could hear "397th Regiment! A Company! Right face! Forward march!" A Company was followed by 11 more companies in the regiment, 12 more companies in the 398th Regiment and 10 more companies in the 399th Regiment until we were called to parade before the reviewing stand. Since I was in the 3rd squad of the 3rd platoon of the last rifle company of the last battalion of the last regiment of the division, I think I was the last rifleman in the parade.

    We were proud to strut in perfect precision as a unit to a military march and to line up as we passed the reviewing stand when the command was given "Eyes right!" At the same time, fighter planes swooped in low over the field in perfect formation. Of course, we were not the last to leave the field. The men of M Company followed us. Other soldiers of artillery, anti-tank, ordnance, engineer, and other units followed in vehicles.

    By September, the division was at full strength and fully trained for combat. All leaves were cancelled and preparations were made to move out. Nevertheless, I reviewed the situation with my buddy, Skull (Pfc. Alexander J. Lapa), so-named because he always had the shortest possible GI haircut, and decided that we could use additional training before facing the enemy. We went to see our 1st Sgt. Roy Simmons about a transfer to the Rangers, but he refused to give us an application. Several days later, we suggested that the paratroopers could use our services, but again we were rebuffed and told "No transfers and donít come back."

    The roster of L Company, 399th Infantry Regiment, dated 8 September 1944 is in Appendix A. These are the men who comprised the original unit to be sent overseas.

Contents                       Chapter 2

    (If you would like to order an autographed copy of "Love Company," please contact the author, John M. Khoury)