September 25, 2010

Johnny Boyd



  I just became familiar with the blog.
Thanks for the information and the videos posted there.
My Dad, Johnny Boyd, was mentioned on the blog and video by Vernon Jackson. He also was mentioned in video by Clair Brich.
My Dad grew up in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, was drafted and for some reason placed in this unit. After the war he returned to the farm he was raised on and that is where I grew up as well.


My Dad passed away in 1991.
I had not thought about these stories my Dad used to share for some time.

Just wondering if either Vernon Jackson or Clair Brich are still alive and if so, do you have any contact information for them.

Thanks.

Stanley Clair Boyd


s.c.boyd@charter.net

________

Glad to hear from you. I forwarded this email to Vernon Jackson and my father Clif Hullinger. Vernon was at the last 109th reunion in September 2010 in Rapid City.

I will post this email on the blog.  If you would like to write some more about your Dad or send some photos I would be glad to post them.

Same holds true for any member of relative of a member of the 109th from World War II

Craig Hullinger

craighullinger@gmail.com

http://craighullinger.com
___



Holy mollie I'm excited! And I'm beginning to appreciate your blog, Craig.
 
Much to our regret after Johnny died we lost contact completely with the Boyd's. Clair and I felt very close to Johnny and via two visits I made to them in North Carolina, Pine Level, I believe as I recall, and their visits to a couple of 109th reunions and once here to California. I called Johnny, Clair and I the Three Musketeers. Johnny's influence on both Clair and I kept us out of a lot of trouble during the war and Clair even credits me with influencing him to go to college after the war.
 
At the reunion I learned that Clair's life expectancy now is about 3-6 months with cancer. It's a real heartbreak to me. Please, Stanley Clair, update me on the Boyds. I'll communicate with your namesake, the other Clair, Clair Brich. I suspect your name was chosen because of your folks regard for Clair.
 
Except for the bad news about Clair Brich, the reunion was wonderful. Eight of us made it, last year only four, plus mates and families, of course.
 
Apparently you, Stanley, must have access to my autobiography which includes some detail about Johnny. But I would be very happy to have a personal contact with you via email or phone number 805-550-3119. This is a happy day for me.
 
Vern

To: s.c.boyd@charter.net; Clif Hullinger <clifhul@gmail.com>; Vernon Jackson <varj@sbcglobal.net>



September 21, 2010

Committee for the Recognition of US Actions on Mount Pantano







Hi,

I am the chairman and founder of C.R.A.M.P (The Committee for the Recognition of US Actions on Mount Pantano), the committee was formed in 2004 to inform, educate and advance the knowledge of this forgotten battle. We are currently lobbying for a substantial and permanent monument site to be placed at the foot of Mount Pantano honoring the 34th Division on the 70th anniversary of the battle in 2013.

Three weeks ago, a climbing team of committee members climbed Mount Pantano in southern Italy. Our mission, to place a small granite memorial plaque to honor the men of the 168th Regiment, 34th Division. 

The announcement below details the outcome of this endeavor.

Many thanks,

Committee Chairman

Emilio Menchini (UK)


The Committee for the Recognition of US Actions on Mount Pantano would like to announce the placing of a memorial plaque on the summit of Mount Pantano (Knob 1) to honor the brave men of the 168th Regimental Combat Team (34th Division) who fought and died defending this peak from November 29th - December 4th 1943.
The mountain was climbed on August 14th. 2010 by Bill & Anita Mckinley (Madison WI) and Gino Valerio (Glasgow Scotland) on behalf of C.R.A.M.P.

Chairman Emilio Menchini (Wales UK) coordinated the attempt from the Valley floor via radio communication from the nearby villages of Filignano & Cerasuolo.   

Bill Mckinley (vice chairman of CRAMP) read a poem on the mountain top written and published by his late father, Phil Mckinley (B company, 168th Regt.)  

Mount Pantano
(by Phil Mckinley)

 White clouds grazed like sheep across Pantano’s jagged crest,

Herded by the sheperd wind, nor did they wander,

For each kept his appointed course.  Abreast

They nibbled at the Alpine peak, bleak and somber.


But that was yesterday.


Today, a regiment holds the rocky peak,

A battered regiment – bleeding and weak

But to Hitler’s bastards – defiant still.

The orders read: “ Take, secure, and hold this hill.”

Tonight the regiment lies cursing, dying

In mud and snow, but still defying.


Mount Pantano, this battle streamer reads.

To the battle flag, attach it well!

It represents four days in hell.


The C.R.A.M.P committee will continue to lobby and petition for a substantial and permanent monument honouring the 168th & 135th Regiments of the 34th Division for their actions on Mount Pantano in 1943. For further information contact C.R.A.M.P at:


The Committee for the Recognition of US Actions on Mount Pantano
2010



September 18, 2010

Ben Kaiser

Vernon Jackson called me last night while on his way back west after the 109th reunion in 2010.  He said there were about 10 guys at the reunion which is pretty good considering their ages!  

He had stopped at the State Representatives office in Rapid City with your suggested write up and his story of the explosion and got the medal stuff started.  He then drove to Huron to see Helseth and get his story and talk over the incident.  He then passed that along to the Rep and says it is now "out of our hands". 

There are a lot of amazing coincidents in this case.  First Craig got the blog going on the 109th, then Al Kaiser read it and asked about Ben Kaiser which you passed along to me.  I was able to find the death report on Ben which includes Helseth's  name and his address from 3 years ago and he is still living.  

Then Vern sent his story in to you and got into your blog and I read it and saw his reference to Ben Kaiser and was able pass it on.  Craig said it deserved a medal and Vern got the process started.  Hope it works out OK but if not, some of us a least now know the story. The guys at the reunion know it too.

We had a lot of casualties that spring and summer. "A" Company had lost all our officers and got new ones in the weeks before moving to Anzio. 1st Sgt Hollister left and I moved up to his spot on Anzio and then go had my appendix out and didn't come back until after Leghorn.  By then all of our staff Sgts. Haug, Culver and Harding had been wounded and when I made 2nd Lt., all the non-coms were new at their jobs. I talked to  Buster Nelson, Ist Sgt of B company, about what a 1st. Sgt should do when we were at Anzio but he was gone when got my commission so I don't know who would have made out 'B' Company reports of the mine explosion.   
   
-- 

Clif Hullinger
2320 W 113th Place
Chicago, IL 60643
773 253 5426

clifhul@gmail.com

September 5, 2010

Medal Request PFC Benjamin Kaiser WW II

 September 6, 2010

The Honorable Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
343 Quincy Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

                               Re: Medal Request PFC Benjamin Kaiser WW II

Dear Congresswoman Sandlin:


          I respectfully request your assistance in recognizing the heroism of PFC Benjamin Kaiser during World War II in Italy.  After his untimely death In the course of heavy action north of Rome no one had the time to recognize and document his heroism.

          I served with the South Dakota National Guard 109th Combat Engineers during World War II. I have attached a proposed citation. The following is excerpted from my memoirs as I remember the action.

          " A Lieutenant took Joe Pauley and me to a beach somewhere north of Rome. It was a lovely sand beach a hundred or so yards long, with trees at the north end and buildings and a long pier at the south end.

     The trouble with the beach was a continuous series of tank mine patterns for its full length. Each pattern was about 30 yards long by 10 yards deep. They were Italian mines — wooden, canvas and with mostly plastic detonators and probably sixty mines in each pattern, four rows with mines six feet apart.

     They were not hard to find because some were exposed by blown away sand. By noon Joe and I had exploded probably three hundred mines, ten at a time with a block of TNT on each with detonators wired in series. Then the pattern changed and between each anti tank mine was an anti personnel mine — the dreaded “Bouncing Betty” S mines.

     We had gotten well into one such pattern when the Lt. came back, I guess to see if we’d blown ourselves up. His reaction was, “This job is too big for two men. I’ll get a line platoon out to help.” Forty men to replace two men!

     The Lt. left and when the platoon (about forty men) arrived we introduced two key GIs, Ben Kaiser and John Machnic, to the mine pattern where we had been working. Both were fully capable and experienced with mines, so Joe and I left and went to the far end of the beach and started working back, leaving them and their NCOs to plan their work.

     In about thirty minutes we heard a big bang and saw body parts flying. Something had triggered an S mine. I suspect it was booby trapped or a “hang fire” (partially activated detonator).

     In the four to seven seconds that Ben Kaiser had to think — between the detonator activation “pop” and the S mine coming out of the ground — he must have decided to try to keep the mine in the ground with his own body.

     It cost Ben his life. John Machnic was also killed.  Two other men were wounded by S mine pellets. We had a 4 x 4 weapons carrier (pickup truck) and hauled the two wounded, Ken Helseth and Ray Franz, to a field hospital. We returned to find we still had the job of reassembling Ben and taking his and John’s bodies to grave registration.

     Somehow even death can seem routine in some circumstances. At the time, his heroism wasn’t obvious. Decades later, when I was reviewing explosions that contributed to my hearing loss, I finally recognized the heroic act by Ben. He spared his platoon buddies from many casualties. If his platoon hadn’t taken over, Joe and I perhaps would have been the casualties.

     Since recognizing his very heroic action I’ve contacted Benny’s relatives in South Dakota and a brother and nephew in California who were most thankful to have knowledge beyond the simple military notice and especially of the almost certain act of heroism."

     I appreciate your effort to recognize the heroism of Benjamin Kaiser. Thank you for your consideration.


Sincerely,



Vernon Jackson






PFC BENJAMIN KAISER
109th ENGINEERS, 34th INFANTRY DIVISION
 SOUTH DAKOTA NATIONAL GUARD WW II
Citation to accompany the award of the Bronze Star Medal with V Device

FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION AGAINST AN ARMED ENEMY, WHILE SERVING AS A COMBAT ENGINEER DURING OPERATIONS NORTH OF ROME, ITALY IN WORLD WAR II WITH THE 109TH ENGINEER BATTALION OF THE 34TH INFANTRY DIVISION. PFC KAISER WAS CLEARING A LARGE MINE FIELD NORTH OF ROME, ITALY.  THE WOODEN ITALIAN MINES WERE BOOBY TRAPPED WITH THE “BOUNCING BETTY S MINES, MAKING THE MINE CLEARING OPERATION VERY HAZARDOUS. IN THE FOUR TO SEVEN SECONDS THAT BEN KAISER HAD TO THINK FROM THE DETONATOR ACTIVATION “POP”AND THE S MINE COMING OUT OF THE GROUND PFC KAISER DECIDED TO KEEP THE MINE TO THE GROUND WITH HIS OWN BODY. HE THUS GAVE HIS LIFE TO SAVE THE LIVES OF HIS COMRADES. PFC KAISER'S PERSONAL COURAGE, TACTICAL EXPERTISE, AND PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE WAS DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS PLATOON’S OVERALL SUCCESS AND SURVIVAL AND FOR THE SURVIVAL OF OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS PLATOON. HIS LEADERSHIP AND BRAVERY REFLECTED GREAT CREDIT UPON HIMSELF, THE 109TH COMBAT ENGINEERS, AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY.