Monday, June 13, 2011

Military Monday - Oliver H. Ross

T/5 Oliver H. Ross, US Army
A few months ago I found out that my great grand uncle, Oliver H. Ross (1906 - 1988), was in the US Army during World War II. Unfortunately, my immediate family did not have a lot of detail on his service and they indicated that he didn't talk much about it. I checked the usual spots online and came up empty. I wrote to the National Personnel Records Center, but as most people in genealogy know, the records for WWII veterans were destroyed in a major fire in 1973. They did have access to his discharge record which was on file with the Calhoun County, Iowa court recorder and they sent me a copy of that document. What follows, is a summary of the information contained on that document and a brief analysis.

Oliver H. Ross was inducted and entered active service in the US Army on June 5, 1942 at Ft. Crook, Nebraska. The document actually says, Ft. Cook, but this appears to be a typo. He attended "B & C QM Corp" service school at Camp Pickett, Virginia and graduated August 22, 1942. This is a school for the Quartermaster Corps, which is logistics branch of the Army. Oliver eventually became a Mess Sergeant, MOS 824, so he was probably trained in food service skills at Camp Pickett. His civilian occupation was listed as Salesman Motor Vehicles 1-85.11

79th Infantry Division SSI
Insignia of the 79th Infantry Division

Not much else is listed until April 7, 1944, when he departed the United States bound for the European, African, Middle Eastern Theater of Operations (EAMETO). He arrived April 16, 1944. When he was discharged, he was in Company A of the 2nd Armored Medical Battalion, which was part of the 9th Armored Division. I don't know if he was part of that organization the entire time he was in Europe. If he was in the 9th AD, than that tells a lot about his activities during the war. Update: In the comments below, it sounds like he was discharged from the 9thAD, but served most of his time in Company B, 304th Medical Battalion, 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division

However, I found a photo of him that conflicts with this information. Instead he is wearing the insignia of the 79th Infantry Division. His date of departure for Europe matches the date Wikipedia lists for the 79th ID's arrival in Europe so it seems logical that he might have been with that division at that time. The 79th ID arrived at Utah Beach, Normandy, 12–14 June, 1944, 6 days after D-day. Unfortunately the discharge document only lists the unit he was in at the time of his discharge ("Co. A, 2nd Armd. Med. Bn."). Since there is conflicting information, I can only speculate about his activities since I don't know when or why he transferred from the 79th ID to the 2nd Armored Medical Battalion.
Oliver, "Somewhere in France"

According to his separation document, he was involved in the Normandy, North France, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns.

Oliver left the EAMETO September 28, 1945 and arrived in the United States October 9, 1945. He was discharged as a Staff Sergeant on October 14, 1945 at Camp Blanding Florida. He received the EAMETO Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. Total foreign service, 1 year, 6 months and 3 days. Total Continental service, 1 year 10 months and 7 days.

Update: Sounds like he was not in the 9th AD except to be discharged, so I've lined out the following section to avoid confusing the issue. I'd delete it completely, but that's considered trying to "cover-up" a mistake in the blogging world. If he was in the 9th AD here are a few tidbits about that division: The 9th Armored Division didn't participate directly in the D-day invasion, but they served as a distraction, remaining in Britain across from Calais to make Germany believe the invasion would occur there, not Normandy. In September 1944, the 9th landed in Normandy. By December 1944, they ended up in the Battle of the Bulge. I found an after action report for the Battle of the Bulge and it describes what Oliver's Company A was doing that December 1944. They were in a position to assist and treat casualties from the battle that was raging around them. However, they were also in the position to be strafed by enemy aircraft a number of times and the report said "our aid men and ambulances [were] continually sniped at by the enemy."

In March 1945, the 9th A.D. was involved in the action that captured the Ludendorff Bridge, which was featured in the film The Bridge at Remagen. The war in Europe ended May 8, 1945.

That's pretty much all I know about Oliver H. Ross's WWII Army service, but I'll keep an eye open if I find anything else.