This post first appeared on my Blog February 12, 2013. It was part of a series of Guest Posts written by gpcox concerning areas of interest during the War.
I’m pleased to present this Guest Post from gpcox addressing how the Technical and Ground Forces all worked together to create success in their endeavors, which ultimately won the war. Without cooperation between all seven departments, nothing could have been accomplished.
As readers of my blog, pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com are aware, my father, Everett “Smitty” Smith was a sharpshooter trained as a paratrooper and gliderman with the 11th Airborne Division in WWII, this put him in the Ground Force. But, neither he nor the rest of the soldiers would have gotten very far without the Technical services as each department of the Army worked to support the other. Should one fail in the chain, a devastating domino effect might hinder or stop the rest.
The Technical Services of the Army Service Force during WWII was comprised of seven departments: The Corps of Engineers, The Signal Corps, Ordnance Dept., Quartermaster Corps, Chemical Corps, Medical Corps and as of 1942 the Transportation Corps. These operated either behind the scenes or in unison with the 91 divisions of Ground Forces that were designated as: infantry, armored mountain, cavalry and airborne. In this article I hope to explain how the Guion brothers you have come to know on this site aided soldiers like my father.
Alfred (Lad) Guion was a sergeant, Chief of Section, with the Ordnance Department. He was an instructor in California and Texas and then on assignment in France. The technicians, both automotive mechanics and small arms experts worked diligently to solve the problems which had not been foreseen in Aberdeen or Flora. Equipment was fiercely battered and the need for repairs was imperative; supply problems alone kept these men busy. Ernie Pyle once wrote, “This is not a war of ammunition, tanks, guns and trucks alone. It is a war of replenishing spare parts to keep them in combat…” The smallest nut or bolt missing could keep a G.I. from accomplishing his task. In the Third Army alone, maintenance crews put back into action more guns and vehicles than were lost by four entire armies in one month. According to Lt. Gen. Levin Campbell, Jr., “Collectively they [Ordnance Crews] turned out a mechanical and technical superiority for American troops which no other Army in the history of the world has ever equaled.” Therefore, as you can see, I have not exaggerated my praise of their contributions.
Daniel Guion was a Field Surveyor and as such would be required to record field data, prepare sketches, determine angles for targets and/or develop accurate maps. Without these men, the soldiers would be unable to acquaint themselves with the terrain the enemy was in and ammunition would be wasted while attempting to target enemy fortifications. Engineers used the surveyor’s knowledge to construct roads and airfields. Although photogrammetry was being used for aerial maps, accuracy still required points on the ground and creating grids.
Richard (Dick) Guion was a linguist and acted as a liaison with Brazil. Many are unaware of that country’s involvement, but Dick’s fluency in Portuguese and Spanish was very useful to the U.S. government. Brazil originally dealt with both the Axis and Allied powers, but declared war against the Axis on 22 August 1942. The United States built air bases to support aerial runs over North Africa as well as the China-Burma-India Theater. The Brazilians also sent 25,000 men to fight fascism under the command of the Fifth Army and their air force flew American P-47 Thunderbolts. One of the main reasons that Brazil entered the war was the diplomatic actions of the American liaisons. The country was an important strategic point for the Allies and was considered “The Springboard for Victory” for the fighting troops in North Africa. This was one more service working behind the scenes and whose efforts saved countless lives.
Dave Guion was in the Signal Corps and very adept in Morse Code, radar and trained as a radioman. His primary mission would be to provide communication for the scattered elements of an operation and headquarters. To keep everyone coordinated as to the on-going events as they unfolded. There would be equipment with a command company, field operations and headquarters. Whether it was a stationary complex or mobile radio, each unit found contact essential. The maintenance of this equipment was their responsibility. When you read in my blog of smoke and wig-wag signals, it was these men indicating the proper target for a jump or bomb; whatever was needed. By 1942, signal communications had expanded into large networks of telephone, teletype, radio and messenger services that produced results 24/7 wherever the battles raged or lines formed. They dug holes, laid wire, planted poles and repaired damaged areas of wire. It would not have fared well for the fighting units to be without these men.
Cedric Guion was an airplane mechanic in Alaska. As a bush pilot, he was capable of locating downed planes and bringing them in for repairs. As of 22 May 1942, Intelligence knew Japan was about to attack Midway and the Aleutian Islands. Within ten days, Kiska and Attu were occupied by the enemy. Ced’s position was crucial. The air war increasingly grew well into 1943. After consistent air and naval bombardment, the U.S. and Canadian troops finally found the Aleutians deserted by Japan. Although he remained a civilian employee, he operated on a military airfield. His technical expertise kept the American pilots in the air which was their essential mission.
There was also the Medical Corps, the 221st operated with the 11th Airborne Division and other positions of the technical branch, but perhaps we will discussed them at a future date. For right now, I sincerely hope you enjoy both this blog and mine. Thank you for taking the time to read.
References and photos:
U.S. Army, “The Pacific War” by John Davison, National WWII Museum, HyperWar Federal Records, fold3.com and numerous Technical Service Associations
I am continually surprised by the detail and research that gpcox does before posting on pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com and guest posting on my blog. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of this post and previous posts by gpcox.
Tomorrow, I will begin posting another week of the early childhood memories of Grandma and Grandpa Guion’s children in a series I call “The Beginning”.