..... "Old soldiers never die - they just fade away."

................................. ......General Douglas Mac Arthur

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(above picture)
462nd PFAB
Pocket Patch

Silver Star Recipients
2/Lt Joseph J Parme
Capt Emmet R Spicer

The Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal
The 462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
Unit History

he 462nd Field Artillery Battalion was constituted on 25 February,1943. On 15 June 1943, the 462nd was activated by General Order No. 44 Headquarters Airborne Command at Camp Mackall, NC. The activation order did not designate parachute but under TO&E it was essentially the same as the one developed by experimentation in the Parachute Test Battery under the Airborne Command. This remained the same for all PFA battalions throughout WW II with only one small change in 1945.

The cadre for the 462nd, including the original Commander, Lt Col Forrest R. Armstrong, came from the 458th PFAB which had been activated at Fort Bragg only four months previously. There were originally 55 officers and 285 enlisted men assigned to the 462nd PFAB. The surplus officers were formed into a "pool" of parachute qualified Artillery officers who subsequently were used in the activation of several new Battalions. For a period of over 4 months, Lt Col Armstrong and his personnel officers screened the records and chose those that Lt Col Armstrong wanted from over 200 officers and several hundred enlisted men. Armstrong placed heavy emphasis on experience and attitude and, as a result, the 462nd went overseas with a disproportionate number of regular army enlisted men "old soldiers". This included over 30 of the original test battery who were experienced paratroopers with a year and a half of jump and heavy drop experience. Eventually, Armstrong was relieved from jump status due to a physical problem in October 43, and was replaced by Major Donald F. Madigan.

Replacement personnel came from many sources including recruiting and induction stations. These men were given basic training in the Battalion then escorted through jump school by our officers. Among the officers originally assigned to form the battalion from the 458th was a 1st Lt. Wm. E. Colby. In September '43 he was recruited by the OSS. He subsequently was selected to jump into Norway to destroy the German "heavy water" plant which Hitler was using in an attempt to develop an atomic bomb. He stayed with OSS throughout the war and later joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and became its director under two Presidents.

The 462nd was alerted for overseas in mid-February 1944. On Monday, 28 February 1944 the battalion, with equipment, loaded abroad a troop train on the siding of Camp Mackall. After the journey west the battalion arrived at Camp Stoneman, CA outside San Francisco on Sunday March 5th. On Saturday March 11th, the 462nd boarded the ferry boat at Camp Stoneman and proceeded to the ferry building at the Port San Francisco. There the battalion boarded the SEACAT, a fast C-4 type, Victory cargo ship just recently converted to a troop transport. After 22 days at sea the cargo ship arrived in Brisbane, Australia on April 2nd.

In early July, 1944 the 462nd loaded out of the Brisbane on a small Dutch Inter-Island Trader for Noemfoor. Most of the trip was unescorted usually within sight of the North Coast of the New Guinea. The battalion arrived off Noemfoor on 7 August, 1944, joining the 503rd PIR and the newly arrived Company C, 161st Parachute Engineers as the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team.

Arriving too late to lend much support to the reduction of enemy forces on the island the 462nd did support patrols and conduct some training. During this training Lt Col. Donald Madigan was with an Infantry Patrol acting as a forward observer. While trying to adjust fire into a canyon a round hit in a palm tree directly over him, and put a large fragment into his left chest. He survived and with the fragment lodged next to his heart was evacuated to Hollandia, then Walter Reed in Washington, D.C.

During the Corregidor Operation Major Arlis E. Kline, the 462d PFAB Commander landed in the rubble of the long barracks on TOPSIDE. He sustained severe injuries to his face and body. Despite these injuries he remained on the island until he could be safely evacuated. Major Melvin R. Knudson assumed command of the battalion.

The battalion Surgeon, Capt Emmet R. Spicer, also distinguished himself during this operation. Early in the operation, after he had established the Battalion Aid Station, Capt Spicer heard from the wounded coming in that many troopers were wounded in a deep ravine full of enemy soldiers. Without regard for his personal safety, he picked up his aid kit and headed for the ravine. Several troopers on the outposts warned him not to go into the ravine but he only smiled and said he had to help the wounded. He did not return. A few days later when the ravine was cleared of enemy forces, Capt Spicer was found propped up against tree. Several wounded troopers nearby were tagged and treated by the officer. Capt Spicer was killed by an enemy sniper in site of being unarmed and displaying a Red Cross armband and emblem on his helmet. He had diagnosed his wounds and tagged himself before he died.

( Source: "A Short History of the 462nd PFA Bn" by Lt. Plemmons)

R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944: The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Archer, Clark Paratroopers Odyssey : A History of the 517th Parachute Combat Team. 266p., 1985, ISBN: 0961601507
Astor, Gerald 'Battling Buzzards': The Odyssey of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team 1943-1945. 338p., 7/93, Donald I Fine Pub, ISBN: 0440236932
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Davis, Donald A Lightning Strike: The Secret Mission to Kill Admiral Yamamoto and Avenge Pearl Harbor. New York: St. Martin Press, (March, 2005) 400 p. ISBN: 0-312-30906-6
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
De Trez, Michel  At the Point of No Return : Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the Invasion of Normandy 7/98, D-Day Pub, 200 p. ISBN: 2960017617
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin ISBN: 0718305213
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor  Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Into the Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II's Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat  Free Press, 3/13/2002, 320 p. ISBN: 0743214803
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007
The Center of Military History The War in the Mediterranean: A WWII Pictorial History Brasseys, Inc., 465 p. ISBN:1574881302

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