Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 25, 1996, Page 36

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days     

By Dee Zimmerman 


History of the Service Company


The Service Company 128th Infantry history includes that of the 32nd (Red Arrow) Infantry Division, the 128th Infantry Regimental Insignia or crest.


Dating back to 1879-80, there was no organized National Guard Unit.  Cities had militia units that were uniformed according to local judgment, and the cost of the uniforms were borne by the members that made up the militia companies.  There were some weapons and equipment provided but it seems that most units were more or less social groups rather than strictly military as the guard units are today.


The first State militia was formed in 1853 and consisted of four companies in Milwaukee.  From 1853 to 1861 there was no great advancement made with the militia, but in 1861 when President Lincoln called for troops, ten companies were formed in Wisconsin, with strength of 810 men.  This unit was called the 8th Wisconsin Volunteers and was a part of the Iron Brigade.


History reveals that in 1876 an independent company organized in Neillsville and was called the Clark County Zouaves.  In 1878 the company was reorganized and named the Sherman Guards.  History data makes no mention of the existence of a militia company in Neillsville earlier than 1876; however there are records naming Clark County residents who had participated in the Civil War.


In 1881, the Sherman Guards were designated Company A, 3rd Battalion, and in 1883 as Company A, 3rd Regiment.  The designation of Company A, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry remained with the Company through the Spanish-American War and until after mobilization in World War I.  The 3rd Regiment then formed the nucleus of the 128th Regiment and the member-ship transferred to other companies in the Regiment.


During World War I, Neillsville had a State Guard unit and that unit served as a framework for the formation of the Service Company 128th Infantry Regiment in 1920.


From 1920 to 1940, the Service Company progressed from a horse-drawn outfit to a partially motorized unit.


The Service Company attended summer encampments at Camp Douglas, Camp McCoy, Michigan maneuvers in 1936, the winter in encampment of 1939, and the 1940 Wisconsin Maneuvers at Camp McCoy.


On October 15, 1940, the Service Company was inducted into federal Service with Approximately 118 men.  At the time, the understanding was that   the men were entering a one year training stint, but most of them came back five years later.  The Service Company participated in World War II.  In 1940, they were sent to Camp Douglas to lead supply trains.  Next, they went to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana where they trained until Camp Livingston was built and completed.  They moved into Camp Livingston, participating in Louisiana and Carolina maneuvers.  In early 1942 the men were transported by trucks and trains to Fort Devens, Massachusetts where they waited for shipment to Europe.  They were there for a month when orders came through to transport them to Fort Ord, California and seven days later all were aboard ship on the Pacific Ocean, bound for Australia.


Arriving in Adelaide, Australia, 25 days at Camp Woodside and remainder went to another Australian Camp.  A few months later they moved to Camp Cable near Brisbane.  After a time, some of the Service Company, along with other parts of the 128th Infantry was flown to New Guinea.  The balance of the Regiment and company soon followed.  Landing in Port Moresby, New Guinea, they spent five months participating in the battle for Buna in the Papuan Campaign.


After the Campaign, remaining members of the 128th Infantry returned to Camp Cable to train and rebuild their strength.  Five months later, they sailed from Australia to Good Enough Island for thirty days before returning to New Guinea where they fought in Saidor, Aitape and Drinumor River Campaigns.  They then went on to Hollandia, to Leyte in Philippines, and Luzon, Japan – then back to U.S.A.


The Service Company along with the rest of the Division was inactivated on Feb. 28, 1946.  It was again organized as a Wisconsin Nation Guard unit in Neillsville on Sept. 16, 1947.  Starting in the summer of 1948, it has attended summer encampments at Camp McCoy, WI; Camp Ripley, MN; then back to Camp McCoy.


32nd (Red Arrow) Infantry Division Combat Chronicle – World War II


The 32nd Infantry Division arrived in Australia on May 14, 1942.  After a training period, it moved to New Guinea by air and sea on Sept. 12 & 13.  Fighting along the Goldie River to protect the Australian left flank, the 32nd drove the enemy back along the Kokda Trail and stopped the enemy threat to Port Moresby.


Elements were flown to the Buna area where they were joined on November 15, 1942 by the 2nd Battalion of the 126th Infantry which had trekked over the Owen Stanley Mountains.  The difficult struggle for Buna-Scanananda was completed on January 22, 1943 and the 32nd returned to Australia for rest and training.  On Jan. 2, 1944 elements landed at Saidor and helped to end enemy resistance by April 14, 1944.  On April 23 elements took part in the landing a Aitape, with the Division arriving on May 3.  After meeting slight initial resistance, the 32nd had to withstand savage counter-attacks in the Drinumor River area.  By August 31 Aitape was secured and the Division rested.  Elements landed on Morotai on Sept. 15.  The 3 C.P.s (representing the 126th, 127th, and 128th Command Posts) opened at Hollandia on Oct. 10 to stage for the Philippines.  It landed on Leyte on Nov. 14 and went into action along the Pinamopoan-Ormoc highway, taking Limon and smashing the Yamashita Line by bitter hand-to-hand combat.  From Leyte, the Division moved to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon on Jan. 27, 1945.  It pushed up the Villa Verde Trail on Jan. 30 and after 100 days of fighting, took Imugan and met the 25th Infantry Division near Santa Fe on May 28, securing Balete Pass, the gateway to the Cagavan Valley.  While elements continued mopping up activities near Imugan, other units moved to rest and rehabilitation centers.  Active elements secured the Baguio area, wiped out enemy groups in the Ango River Valley area, and opened Highway 11 as a supply route.  Operations ceased on Aug. 15, 1945 and the Division moved to Japan for occupation duty on Oct. 20.  It was inactivated at Fukuoka Feb. 28, 1946.


Combat Time


During 654 days of combat, there were 15, 694 hours of action (more than any U. S. Division in any war), with 6 major engagements in 4 campaigns!!


Decorations and Awards


Congressional Medals of Honor – 6


Distinguished Service Crosses – 157


Legion of Merit – 49


Silver Stars – 845


Bronze Stars – 1, 854


Air Medals – 98


Soldier’s Medals – 78


Purple Hearts – 11,500


Division Firsts


The first U. S. Division to fight an offensive action against the Japanese in the Southwest Pacific (Papuan Campaign).


The first U. S. Division to be airborne into combat (Papuan Campaign)


The first U. S. Division to make a beach landing in New Guinea Campaign (Saidor)


The first U. S. Division to embark for overseas in one convoy after Dec. 7, 1941.


Close-ups [Full] [Left] [Center] [Right]

SERVICE COMPANY, 128TH Infantry Picture taken Feb. 1941 at Camp Livingston, Louisiana USA


Front Row – Left to Right: Theodore W. Viergutz, Jesse A. Mike, William Neville, Jr., Louis A. Zschernitz, Arthur R. Wagner, Ernest M. Fremstad, Robert E. Lindahl, Elmer R. Barr, Harley F. Jake, Francis R. Welsh, Earl L. Darling, 2nd Lt. Homer E. Wright, 1st Lt. Archie H. Van Gorden, Capt. William B. Tufts, Capt. Marvin A Eide, 1st Lt. Robert W. Schiller, 2nd Lt. Mack J. Fradette, Eugene J. Heintz, Sheridan T. Flynn, Kenneth M. Wagner, Harold D. Gault, Norman C. Lynch, Jacob A. Sonnentag, LaVerne C. Gaier, Charles W. Schweindler, George H. Campbell, Frank Wucki.


Second Row – Left to Right: Emanuel Thundercloud, Frank M. Matas, Eugene L. Cooper, George Green, Elwood N. Sellers, Selmer C. Larson, James France, Fred Stamper, Frank J. Anding, Glen R. Zickert, Wilbert J. Sell, Benjamin T. Salzwedel, Clinton W. Radke, Willard L. Green, Donald J. Whaley, Raymond E. Bock, William C. Westphal, Leonard G. Rupprecht, Robert M. Zschernitz, Marvin G. Radke, Gerold O. Janke, Delbert C. Struble, Gale J. Hetzel, Roy G. West, Joseph Schaub, Myron M. Zielke, Bernard J. Schaub, Benjamin W. Winneshiek, Carl E. Nauertz, Samuel H. Neuhaus, Clifford Blackdeer, Andrew Rosenburger.


Back Row – Left to Right: Clyde W. Schwellenbach, Clarence R. Bremer, Donald J. Paulus, Irvin Blackdeer, John Hildebrandt Jr., Raymond Kaddatz, John F. Haberman, Royce Hoard, Raymond J. Gradel, Wilbur Blackdeer, Howard Canfield, Ralph G. Leigh, Arnold J. Schwellenbach, Orville R. Jake, William White, Dwayne J. Felser, Clarence Shaw, Harley L. Payne, Forrest W. Selves, Delmar Weber, Eugene B. Carteron, Robert W. Teeples, George H. Florence, Clifford M. Winter, Fred R. Marty, Herman C. Moen, Norman O. Decremer, Edwin H. Bruhn, Leander S. Merkel, Wilfred S. Evans, Clarence L. Koffarnus.  (All, except 23 of these men, were Clark County residents.  Photo courtesy of Herman Moen)


(This weekend, some of those remaining veterans will gather for a reunion.)



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