The History of the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Training and Combat, Prepared by and for the Men who saw Action with the Battalion in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany.
Headquarters – 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion – APO No 758 US Army – 9 May, 1945
To all the Members of the Battalion
As I write this little message to you, my comrades of the 628th, the war in Europe has just ended; and in my heart there is both joy and sadness. There is great joy for those of you who have gotten through this hell, sound of mind and body; but there is a deep sadness for our men and officers who have fallen. In all humility, I salute our lads who are no longer with us. In all instances they died willingly as do men for a cause that is just and right : and they died bravely as can only an American soldier. We, their buddies who served by their side shall always remember them with a sweet reverence which can be felt only by comrades in arms. It is my earnest prayer that the peace, for which the Conference at San Francisco strives, will be so lasting and honest, that none of our splendid men shall have died in vain. And I salute, too, those of you who have gone through the many strenuous months of combat with this Battalion. The amazing amount of enemy material and men which you blasted out of the war is but a tribute to your courage and skill at arms. The break-through in Normandy, the Falaise Gap, the Eure and Seine Pockets, the Compeigne Forest, Sedan, Wallendorg and the Huertgen Forest till the Ardennes Battle, the Rhineland, Germany’s Heart and then the crashing offensive to the very banks of the Elbe River, all these duel countless minor battles and campaigns you can, in the years to come remember with a quiet pride. Whether it is your destiny soon to return to civilian life, or to help finish off our one remaining enemy, the Jap, I wish you luck and Godspeed. Believe me, it has been a grand privilege and an honor to have commanded such a fine Battalion in combat. Again, I salute you all, and I shall never forget you.
William J. Gallagher
Lt Col, F. A.
Lest We Forget
… The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full assault of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom … – and that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln’ Gettysburg Address
KIA (Killed in Action) DOW (Died of Wounds) DOI (Died of Injuries). Towns given are approximate location of where casualty occurred.
Lt Col William M. Hernandez, 0-191305, KIA, Douains, France, Aug 20, 1944
Pfc Samuel A. Augustine, 33028869, A Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, T/5 William Mayers, 34385822, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Cpl Herman Barth, 20315041, C Co, KIA, Huertgen, Germany, Nov 30 1944
T/4 Donald F. Beck, 36400303 A Co, KIA, Simmerath, Germany, Jan 30 1945, T/4 William L. Boswell, 34173763 HQ Co, KIA, Wallendorf, Germany, Sept 19 1944, Pvt Thomas W. Bowman, 34371375, A Co, KIA, Osteraht, Germany, Mar 15 1945
T/5 Clyde C. Broom, 34386824, A Co, DOW, Douains, France, Aug 26 1944, Pvt Wellington E. Brundage, 36400080, B Co, KIA, Conde, France, Sept 4 1944, Cpl Floyd E. Burge, 33034922, A Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945
Pfc Tandy B. Carpenter, 34425461, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Sgt George A. De Lia, 33161296, B Co, KIA, Haute-Bodeux, Jan 7 1945, 2/Lt John J. Devine, Jr., 0-1822679, A Co, DOW, Argentan, France, Aug 13 1944
T/5 Louis P. Di Orio, 20315035, C Co, KIA, Huertgen, Germany, Dec 11 1944, Sgt Lawerence W. Elmore, 20315803, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Cpl Henry Goffart, 33161233, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944
Pvt Willie B. Greene, 34371005, C Co, KIA, Hommerdingen, Germany, Sept 19 1944, Pfc Earl F. Higley, 33161282, C Co, KIA, Horsdorf, Luxembourg, Sept 23 1944, Pvt Charles W. Hill, KIA, 33161172, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945
Cpl John A. IIydu, 33028902, C Co, KIA, Horsdorf, Luxembourg, Sept 23 1944, Sgt Gerald W. Joner, 39396408, Ren. Co, KIA, Wallendorf, Germany, Sept 19 1944, Sgt John Kalis, 36015718, B Co, KIA, Stockem, Germany, Sept 17 1944
T/5 Peter Kowalchik, 33161252, C Co, DOW, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944, Cpl Chester W. Kuta, 36016238, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Sgt Stanley J. Lada, 32071189, A Co, DOW, Kalterherberg, Germany, Nov 3 1944
Sgt Martin P. Lally, 32084601, C Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Pvt John I. J. Lawler, 33028880, C Co, DOW, Huertgen, Germany, Dec 10 1944, Sgt Charles A. Leo, 35020246, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944
Pvt John P. Loncaric, 33161105, Ren Co, DOW, Stokem, Germany, Sept 17 1944, Cpl Ashley C. Long, 34386198, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944, Sgt Tames W. Luvender, 20317374, C Co, KIA, Huertgen, Germany, Dec 6 1944
Pfc Mario A. Mastro, 33029156, B Co, DOW, Odrimont, Belgium, Jan 4 1946, Pfc James A. McClintock, Jr., 34386127, B Co, KIA, Bigelbach, Luxemburg, Sept 21 1944, Pfc Edward Mickacinich, 33035715, H Co, Sedan, France, Sept 6 1944
T/4 George F. Morgan, 34110685, B Co, DOW, France, Aug 4 1944, Pfc Frank L. Mozina, 33161228, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944, Pfc William Nicholson, 33161356, Ren Co, KIA, Stoekigt, Germany, Sept 16 1944
T/5 Jesse A. Pannell, 34425825, A Co, KIA, 0sterath, Germany, Mar 15 1945, T/5 Floyd J. Robinson, 32046621, A Co, KIA, Hrefeld, Germany, Mar 3 1945, 1/Lt Ben J. Smith, 0-1824384, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944
Pfc Theodore Spalte, 32065342, B Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Sgt Doyle E. Swilley, 36014268, A Co, KIA, Tangermünde, Germany, April 12 1945, Pvt Leo Tovar, 39564912, A Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945
T/5 Thomas Vander Veen, 36400270, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944, T/Sgt Nicholas Van Handell, 32154633, A Co, KIA, Krefeld, Germany, March 3 1945, Pvt William T. Walden, 34370625, Ren Co, DOW, Odrimont, Belgium, Jan 4 1945
T/5 William J. Walter, 34386105, B Co, KIA, Manhay, Belgium, Jan 7 1945, Pfc Earl V. Ward, 34071761, C Co, KIA, Hommerdingen, Germany, Sept 19 1944, Pfc Michael H. Welsh, 33161369, Ren Co, KIA, Neukirchfeld, Germany, March 4 1945
Pfc Cecil Wilson, 34707801, A Co, KIA, Osterath, Germany, March 15 1945, Sgt Woodrow W. Woods, 34071626, C Co, KIA, Bergstein, Germany, Dec 6 1944, Cpl Casimer A. Wydrzenski, 33161329, C Co, KIA, Huertgen, Germany, Nov 26 1944
Pfc Joseph G. Yakaitus Jr., 31038937, C Co, DOW, Bergstein, Germany, December 6 1944, T/5 Arnold B. Zeigler, 34425469, A Co, KIA, Werbomont, Belgium, Jan 7 1945
History of the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania
In 1941 General Drum, then Commanding General, First United States Army, decided to form six provisional anti-tank battalions for experimental purposes to be tested in the First Army Maneuvers held in North and South Carolina in October and November 1941. The 28th Infantry Division Pennsylvania’s National Guard, Keystone Division, which had been federalized and on active service at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation since February 17 1941, was one of the six divisions ordered to form a provisional anti-tank battalion. General Martin, Commanding General, 28th Infantry Division, issued orders whereby the personnel of the 53rd Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters, 107th Field Artillery Regiment, 108th Field Artillery Regiment, 109th Field Artillery Regiment, 109th Infantry Regiment, 110th Infantry Regiment, 111th Infantry Regiment, 112th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Engineer Regiment and 103rd Medical Regiment were transferred for this purpose.
On July 10, the 28th Division Anti-tank Battalion (provisional) was formed under the command of the then Maj Carl L. Peter on, and moved into its first quarters at Tent City, Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. In addition to Major, now Col Carl Peterson, 112th Infantry, as Battalion Commander, the original Battalion Staff was composed of Capt, now Lt Col William P. Davis, l08th Field Artillery, Battalion Executive Officer and S-3; 1/Lt, now Lt Col, Thomas B. Roelofs, 112th Infantry, Adjutant and S-l; Capt now Lt Col John J. Gilfilan, Headquarters 28th Infantry Division Intelligence Officer and S-2; and 2/Lt, now Capt William Young, 107th Field Artillery, Supply Officer and S-4.
Headquarters Battery was commanded by 1/Lt, now Maj Joseph A. Patalive 108th Field Artillery, who was both Battery Commander and Battalion Communications Officer. Other officers were 2/Lt, now Capt Richard H. Reeve, 108th Field Artillery, Battalion Motor Officer, and 2/Lt, now Capt Robert H. Meisenbelter, 108th Field Artillery, Battalion Personnel Officer. A Battery had 1/Lt, now Maj Marcus L. Hoover, 111th Infantry, a Battery Commander, with 2/Lt, now Capt Eugene Swanheart, 109th Field Artillery, 2/Lt Robert L. Ivey, 107th Field Artillery and 2/Lt Richard J. Fitzgerald, 111th Infantry, as Battery Officers. B Battery was formed with 1/Lt, now Lt Col Charles A. Corcoran, l07th Field Artillery, as Battery Commander, assisted by 1/Lt, now retired Leonard Dotson, l08th Field Artillery, 2/Lt, now Capt Daniel L. Thomas, l09th Field Artillery, and 2/Lt, now Capt Jessie B. Schooley, 109th Field Artillery. C Battery had 1/Lt, now Maj Robert Gaynor, l09th Infantry, as Battery Commander with 1/Lt, now Capt Thomas W. Scott Jr., 110th Infantry, and 2/Lt, now Capt John S. Wright, 55th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, as Battery Officer.
D Battery included Capt, now Maj Harry A. Overholtzer, 108th Field Artillery, as Battery Commander, and 1/Lt, now Lt Col William J. Gallagher, 108th Field Artillery, 2/Lt, now Capt James H. Lloyd, 108th Field Artillery, and 2/Lt, now Capt John B. Stokes, l08th Field Artillery. E Battery had Capt, now Maj William B. Munhall, 107th Field Artillery, as Battery Commander, assisted by 2/Lt, now Maj Hampton C. Randolph, 108th Field Artillery, and 2/Lt, now Capt James Clement, l08th Field Artillery. Medical Detachment included Capt Donaldson, 103rd Medical Regiment as initial Detachment Commander, assisted by 1/Lt, now Maj Eugene W. Hodgson, 103rd Medical Regiment, who later became Battalion Surgeon, and 1/Lt Charles Perleman, l03rd Medical Regiment, as Battalion Dentist.
Early in the Battalion’s history B Co, l03rd Engineer Regiment under Capt Maurada, assisted by 1/Lt Forrest Bocock and 2/Lt, now Capt Stanislas Starzinski, were attached to the Battalion in January 1942. Headquarters Battery, 109th Field Artillery was transferred to the Battalion and formed the original Pioneer Company which ultimately was redesignated as Reconnaissance Company. Lt Bocock and Lt Starzinski were also transferred to the Battalion in January 1942 and became Pioneer Co Commander and Co Executive Officer respectively. Other officers who joined the Battalion shortly after it was formed were 2/Lt, now Maj Paul L. McPherran and 2/Lt, now Capt Lawrence W. Merz, both Reserve Corps Officers, who were initially assigned as liaison Officers, Headquarters Battery. Also transfered were, 2/Lt Benjamin C. Manderville, 112th Infantry, initially assigned to C Battery, and 2/Lt Nathan N. Tyson, l08th Field Artillery, who replaced 2/Lt Meisenhelter as Battalion Personnel Officer when Lt Meisenhelter was transferred back to the 108th Field Artillery.
A. P. Hill Military Reservation, Virginia
At the end of Jul 1941, the AT Battalion moved to AP Hill Military Reservation near Fredericksburg, Virginia, for its first tactical field training which was a two week problem conducted by the entire 28th Infantry Division. Equipment at that time consisted of 3/4 ton weapons carriers as prime movers, with towed guns made out of miscellaneous pieces of pipe, wood, and other materials to represent an AT gun. No ammunition was expended, but the Battalion did raise a lot of dust on the back roads of Virginia, and soon became known as an up and coming organization that was going places, a prophecy, which was fu1filled as time marched on. After Labor Day, 1941, the Battalion returned to Indiantown Gap, and then in the latter part of September 1941, moved with the entire 28th Infantry Division to the Carolina Maneuver Area, establishing a base camp near Wadesboro, North Carolina.
Early in November 1941, Maj Peterson left the Battalion, and Maj William M. Hernandez, 108th Field Artillery, assumed command. Carolina Maneuvers ended after two active months, and the Battalion was on its way back to the Gap when word was received on Sunday December 7 1941 near South Boston, Virginia, that the Japs had attacked Pearl Harbor and that War had been declared. After returning to Indiantown Gap and enjoying a period of furloughs and leaves, orders were received to reorganize the provisional 28th Division AT Battalion as of December 15 1941, into a permanent organization officially designated as the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The reorganization involved absorbing D and F Batteries into A, B, and C Batteries, and redesignating all Batteries as Companies, effective January 3 1942.
Camp Livingston, Louisiana
Shortly after the first of the year 1942, the entire 28th Infantry Division moved by motor convoy from Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, to Camp Livingston, near Alexandria, Louisiana, which at that time was regarded as one of the longest motor convoy movements undertaken by the Army. In March 1942, the first group of new men totaling approximately 240 arrived direct from induction stations and were welcomed to the Battalion by the 300 old men. A basic training program was established, and the work of whipping the Battalion in to shape for combat began in earnest. Twenty-five mile hikes in the boiling Louisana sun were merely a part of this training.
Camp Hood & Camp Bowie, Texas
In September 1942, the entire Battalion was moved by rail to the newly formed Tank Destroyer Center at Camp Hood, Texas, to undergo advanced unit training in Tank Destroyer tactics. After progressing through the infiltration course, street and village fighting to platoon and company tactics, a Battalion field problem was finally held and successfully passed. It was here in November 1942, after fifteen months of diligent training with dummy guns, that the Battalion gun crews had their first opportunity to fire live ammunition, using borrowed 75-MM guns on half tracks, the original TD Vehicle and weapon. It was here also that the Battalion received its last large group of inductees, over 300 in all, for basic training and assignment in the Battalion. Early in December 1942, the Battalion moved to Camp Bowie, Texas, for additional tactical training and for completion of the First Army Ground Force test. It was successfully passed after the most complicated dead reckoning motor march through Texas sage brush ever experienced by the Battalion. On January 3 1943, the Battalion furnished a complete officer and enlisted cadre of about 85 men who later formed the 648th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
On January 3 1943, the Battalion entrained at Camp Bowie, Texas, and after one of its most enjoyable train trips, arrived three days later at Camp Carrabelle, sixty miles southwest of Tallahassee, Florida, later designated as Camp Gordon Johnston. Here the Battalion returned once again to the control of the 28th Infantry Division for intensive Amphibious Training in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Amphibious training was successfully completed by the end of March 1943, and after a period of leaves and furloughs, during which time the Battalion received its first combat vehicles, 36 M-10 Tank Destroyers. The entire Battalion moved to Camp Rucker, Alabama, in May 1943. Just prior to moving, however, the Battalion furnished a small cadre of eight men to the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion an volunteers, who immediately left for over seas duty, the first members of the Battalion to enter combat.
At Camp Rucker an intensive period of M-10 driver training was initiated for all officers and enlisted men, and preparations commenced for the impending Tennessee Maneuver period which commenced July 4 1943.
(Photo : Mike Horvath – USA)