CHAPTER 1
 

 

Arnold E. Harjehausen

 
MEMOIRS OF .................

A SOLDIER

with the 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mecz) in World War II

 
 

MOBILIZATION

 

When I was a junior in high school, the older boys were always trying to get me to join the Iowa Army National Guard. Though the ideal appealed to me, I always told them that I couldn't, as I was only 16 years old. They indicated that they could take care of that, so I enlisted. I was in Company E, 136th Medical Regiment, and 34th Infantry Division. My primary motive was the $ 1.00 per drill and the two-week paid field training. My first check was for $ 36.00, and I immediately bought myself a new suit from Miller's Clothing Store, the best store in town.

 

During the summer of 1937, the unit boarded a train in Sibley for our two weeks field training camp at Ripley, Minnesota. After arrival, we walked to our eight man tents with wooden floors. I was an assistant ambulance driver. Our first call was to pick up a wounded man down in the infantry area. When we arrived, they said he was in the kitchen, so we took our stretcher and went in. One cook had stabbed another three times. When he breathed, you could see the blood bubbling out of the wound. We loaded him in the ambulance and took him to a civilian hospital in Little Falls, MN. I often wondered if he survived his injuries.

 

In the evenings, we had outdoor movies. The movies, usually didn't amount to much , but the comments made by the audience, made it interesting. There was a refreshment stand in the area that sold beer and cheese popcorn. They did a brisk business. One evening, on the way back to our tents, one of the Dykstra boys ( two brothers and a couple of their cousins who had enlisted in the Guard together ) made some sarcastic remarks to me. They, for reason unknown enjoyed tormenting me. I swung my fist and caught him on the corner of his jaw. He went sailing back into the tent and I kept on walking. Needless to say that ended my troubles with the Dykstra boys.

 

After returning, I enrolled at the American Institute of business in Des Moines, Iowa. I completed the Accounting Course in 1938, and took a job in Waterloo, Iowa, with the Rath Packing Company.  I was on the night shift and never to did get used to it. In the fall of 1940, they were talking of starting a draft. Because I was twenty years old now, and was sure to be drafted in the next year or so, I decided to ask for a raise and a day job. I met with the boss and I told him what I wanted, indicating to him that if i couldn't get it I would quit. He told me that they couldn't give me the things I wanted, so I held up my end of the bargain, and ended our working relationship.

 

My cousin, Charles Kudrle, belonged to the 113th Cavalry Regiment, Iowa Army National Guard, in Des Moines, and they were to be mobilized on 13th of January, 1941. I decided that it made sense to get my one-year of service over with before I started to look for a new job, so I enlisted. Because I had prior service, I was immediately promoted from Private First Class, Specialist 1st Class, as a Secretary. It was a big deal for me because the pay was just below that of a Corporal's rank. On the 23rd of January, 1941, we loaded 500 horses into boxcars, and we in the coaches, and departed from Des Moines to Camp Bowie, Texas. We stopped, just across the Texas border, unloaded the horses and exercised them. It was a beautiful day when we arrived. the next day it rained. We had no sidewalks, so it was a sea of mud.

 

Private Bill Cooper had been a reporter for The Des Moines Tribute and wrote a column entitled "Dear Boss" for the paper. In his column of February 10th, 1941, he wrote "We almost lost one guy when Arnold Harjehausen, sometimes known as the Sibley, Iowa Cyclone, stepped into a ditch. We told him that we'd get a horse to pull him out, but he said he'd rather stay there than see another horse".

 

I worked in the Regimental Headquarters building, doing administrative work. In the spring of 1941, a flyer came through requesting volunteers for flight training. You would be promoted to a Staff Sergeant, upon graduation, and would fly the piper cubs used to spot enemy artillery fire. This sounded good to me, so I told our Adjutant that I was going to apply. He asked me if they promoted me, would I consider staying. I said sure I would, and was promptly promoted to Staff Sergeant, with the job of Personnel Sergeant.

 

On December 7th, 1941, several officers and I were walking back from church, when we met some trooper who told us that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed. The war was on. Shortly after that, I was given two weeks leave and returned to Sibley.

 

When I returned from leave, the Adjutant told me that the 2nd Squadron had been sent to Fort Clark, Texas, to protect the Southern Pacific Railway, from Sanderson to Uvalde, Texas. He sent me to Fort Clark to handle the administration.

 

All troops were required for good reason, to unload all weapons before they returned to Fort Clark. Some of the troopers from Troop F, did no do so. Private Nick E. Hanian was cleaning his weapon when it accidentally fired through the side of the tent and struck Corporal Glenn V. Loose in the side, killing him instantly.

 

We also had the duty of stopping all the trains crossing the Pecos High Bridge removing all the hobos and interrogating them. They were a motley crew!

 

Fort Clark was a beautiful little post for one Cavalry Regiment. The 112th Cavalry Regiment, formerly Texas Army National Guard, occupied it. They were not about to loose their post to the 113th, so they made things as tough for us as they could.

 

One day the Post Adjutant called and said that they wanted to declare a post-boxing champion. They had already determined the champion, but now that the 113th was on post, they would have to arrange a match with our champion. I told him that we didn't really have a champion. He said that surely we had someone who could box?  I assured him that I would try to find someone.

 

We had a punch-drunk boxer that had fought professionally and we quietly brought him to Fort Clark. The fight was arranged for one evening. The boxer got into the ring and the boxer from the 112th came charging our boxer. Our boxer stood up caught this kids with an uppercut that floored him. That was the end of the fight. The Post Adjutant asked if we were sure that our man had not fought before and we assured him that he was an amateur.

 

We had a multitude of military police reports on our guys for various infractions. One day the Provost Marshall called and irately said that the troopers from the 113th were a bunch of pigs. Colonel Maxwel O'Brien had just been  promoted to Brigadier General and was replaced by Colonel William C. Chase.  General O'Brien came down to see us and say good-by, so I mentioned to him what the Provost had said. He was furious and said "let's go down and talk to him", which we did. General O'Brien said to the Provost "I hear that you called the 113th a bunch of dirty pigs. You know that this includes me". The Provost Marshall's face turned red as he admitted it. I'm sure that he would have liked to crawled under the desk about that time.  

 

We were relieved from duty at Fort Clark, Texas on February 17th, 1942, and returned to Camp Bowie, Texas. When I reported to the Adjutant after returning, I noticed that most of the non-commissioned officers, who worked in the Regimental Headquarters, were gone, including my cousin M/Sgt Kudrle. The Adjutant told me that they had all gone to Fort Knox, Kentucky to the Army Officer Candidate School. There were papers all over the place, so I collected all of them and tried to decide what to do with them. We located some files to sort out the papers at VIII Corps. We found some clerks in the regiment and transferred them to the headquarters. One day in March, Colonel Chase came out of his office and asked the Adjutant "Why isn't that man (pointing to me) a Master Sergeant"?  Captain Hollowell explained to him that I could not be promoted until Sergeant Kudrle was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.  The Colonel said, "Make that man a Master Sergeant" That's how I got promoted from Staff Sergeant to a Master!

 

In 1942, the Army authorized a number of Warrant Officers positions in the various organizations. VIII Corps, up on the hill, just outside of Camp Bowie, had a number of old regular army Sergeants. Anyway, they seemed old to us. They all took the test for appointment to warrant officer and failed. The table of organization for the 113th had been changed to authorize a Warrant Officer in administration, communication and supply. To be appointed, you had to pass a written test and appear before a board of officers. Our Adjutant said, "Why don't you take the test?" I didn't think that I had much chance of passing it, if the old Sergeants at VIII Corps couldn't, but I made the application. I was notified while on Louisiana Maneuvers to report to Shreveport, Louisiana, to take the test. I did just that, passed the written test, appeared before the board, and they approved the promotion. On September 17th, 1942, I was discharged as a Master Sergeant and appointed a Warrant Officer, Junior Grade, with pay of one dollar more that a 2nd Lieutenant. On the 28th of April 1943, I was appointed a Chief Warrant Officer as an Administrative Specialist, with pay just below that of a Major.

 

While on Louisiana Maneuvers in August 1943, we were ordered to prepare for overseas shipment and move to Camp Livingston, Louisiana. We were there until September 13th and then moved to Camp Polk, Louisiana, which was the primary staging area. On the 22nd of December 1943, shortly after returning from leave in Sibley, Major Fred Shaffer, S/Sgt Delbert E. Lerche, Pfc Maurice O. van Houtte, and I were issued secret orders to proceed to Fort Hamilton, New York, so as to arrive not later than noon December 28th, 1943. We were the advance party for the 113th Cavalry being shipped to Gloucester, Jack's Bush, Camp Lobscombe, England, located in the Salisbury Plains. Our shipment number was O412BX. Our rail transportation required us to change trains in Kansas City, where we ran into Captain Everett E. Orman, of Ottumwa, Iowa and Captain Harold S. Brunsell, Burlington, Iowa, in the railway station. They were curious as to what we were doing there, but unfortunately, we could not tell them. I'm sure it was not hard to form them to guess.

 
 

Chapter 2

 

 

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