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1st Sergeant James Underwood-37th Infantry, 145th Regiment, Company E, 3rd Platoon


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#1 rkline56

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:53 PM

Attached File  J Underwood _dist_svc_cross_army.jpg   2.94KB   4 downloads
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: First Sergeant James D. Underwood, United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company E, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces near Malabon, Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 11 February 1945. At daybreak, Company E, 145th Infantry, prepared to make an assault crossing of the Dampalit River east of Malabon to seize a strategic crossroads. The enemy, 500 in number, delivered intense mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire on our troops as they forced the crossing, causing such heavy casualties that a withdrawal was ordered. First Sergeant Underwood three volunteers in the evacuation of the casualties, all of whom were exposed to hostile fire. Using native dugouts and litters, he and his men made repeated trips under constant, intense fire from the enemy positions, wading through mud and water to load the wounded and dead on the dugouts, and then dragged and pushed them across the river through the deadly fire to safety. Working over a period of two and one half hours, First Sergeant Underwood eight times crossed the treacherous river and, by his complete disregard for safety and heroic determination in the face of grave danger, saved many lives and furnished a shining example of high courage. His intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 37th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Forces-Pacific, General Orders No. 162 (1945)
Action Date: 11-Feb-45
Service: Army
Rank: First Sergeant
Company: Company E
Regiment: 145th Infantry Regiment
Division: 37th Infantry Division Valor awards for James D. Underwood | Military Times Hall of Valor

Mr. James Underwood is a true American hero. He served with my Grand Uncle, Corporal, Paul Glasgo, (Assistant Squad Leader, 3rd Platoon, 3rd Squad, Co.E, 145th of the 37th I.D.) from Nashville, Ohio on Bougainville. Paul rotated home prior to The Manila / Fort Stotsenberg Operations but I am sure he learned of Jim's heroism and was fittingly proud of his valor.

I have had the good fortune to correspond with Mr. Underwood several times and will continue to listen in awe of this great man's achievements. He is truly an American to be treasured throughout the generations. I have Mr. Underwood's permission to post his letters here for your review and will do so after checking with the moderator of this forum. I was able to contact Mr. Underwood through the 37th I.D. Veterans Association (Thank you - Mandy!!) and I encourage others to contact similar organizations. Many of the Organizations have newsletters that will post private messages for you and this was most helpful in my research.

James has been interviewed for the Library of Congress Veterans Project and his recollections should be posted there sometime this summer. Another important act of World History will now be preserved for future generations.

Edited by rkline56, 31 January 2012 - 12:36 AM.
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" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#2 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 01:35 AM

Thanks for posting this account of 1st Sgt Underwood's bravery under fire to save his fellow soldiers. I don't know if he will ever see this, but I salute him for his service and valor. :S!

I look forward to seeing his letters posted here. It will be a great addition to the forum. BTW, Rick, was his interview for the Library of Congress Veterans Project an audio or video interview? I look forward to watching/listening to that as well.

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


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#3 rkline56

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 02:51 AM

Thanks for your kind words, Tom. I will ask Mr. Underwood in my next letter if the interview was in video format. That letter is going out today - 1-30-12.

His daughter has looked at the 37th Thread and the forum. She checked that out prior to him graciously authorizing me to post his letters among the great posts in this forum.

Edited by rkline56, 30 January 2012 - 03:30 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#4 rkline56

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 06:42 PM

Here is the second letter I received from DSC and Bronze Star recipient 1st Sgt. James Underwood. His letters are very respectful. He does use a common slang expression from the time of his service to our country to describe our bitter enemies. This is in no way meant to offend any of our Japanese allies and friends today. The letter is posted in its entirety for historical purposes and has been cleared by WW 2F Admin. It is a treasured possesion, as is this Great Man's friendship.

I believe it would have been ultimately hairy crossing the Dampalit River one time on that day. And for him to do it eight times - well there are no words to describe the devotion to duty and his fellow soldiers he exemplified on that day. The file is pretty large so it will follow in two posts.
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" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#5 rkline56

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:00 PM

Attached File  Oct 26, 2011 P_1 James Underwood DSC Recipient.jpg   105.85KB   74 downloads

Edited by rkline56, 31 January 2012 - 11:50 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#6 rkline56

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:04 PM

Attached File  Oct 26, 2011 P_2 James Underwood DSC Recipient.jpg   114.15KB   73 downloads

Edited by rkline56, 31 January 2012 - 11:51 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#7 rkline56

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:48 PM

Attached File  Jan 9, 2012 P_2 James Underwood, DSC Recipient.pdf   500.4KB   8 downloads

Attached Files


Edited by rkline56, 31 January 2012 - 11:58 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#8 rkline56

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:56 PM

[ATTACH=CONFIG]25090[/ATTACH]

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" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#9 rkline56

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:41 AM

Attached File  1st_Sgt_James Underwood Letter of 8-29-2011 P_1.jpg   116.52KB   64 downloads
" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#10 rkline56

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:45 AM

Attached File  1st_Sgt_James Underwood Letter of 8-29-2011 P_2.jpg   121.73KB   63 downloads
" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#11 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 03:00 AM

Thanks for posting the letters, Rick. It is great to read what this amazing hero has to say!

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


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#12 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

Here is a link to an interview with James Underwood by the Woodford Times. It has a great photo of Mr. Underwood with his DSC medal.

I wish I had come across this a day earlier as yesterday was the 67th anniversary of Mr. Underwood's heroic actions to save the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
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Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


halvorsonpto129ir37id3.jpg

PFC Glenn W. Halvorson

bannereto776tdv2.png

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#13 Biak

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 07:17 PM

This is great! I just read the article and was floored that Mr. Underwood lives in Metamora, Illinois. I've been through there many times and my Grandmother was born in a log cabin (1900) not far down the road. Rick, could you ask Mr Underwood if he had any relatives that worked at Caterpillar Tractor company? I worked with a Bill Underwood and he once mentioned a relative that was in WW2. Small World.

Happiness is nice but it can't buy money.

 

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#14 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 08:17 PM

That is pretty cool, Biak. What an incredible coincidence to have that connection.

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


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#15 rkline56

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:25 AM

This is great! I just read the article and was floored that Mr. Underwood lives in Metamora, Illinois. I've been through there many times and my Grandmother was born in a log cabin (1900) not far down the road. Rick, could you ask Mr Underwood if he had any relatives that worked at Caterpillar Tractor company? I worked with a Bill Underwood and he once mentioned a relative that was in WW2. Small World.


Be glad to Ask Mr. Underwood for you, Biak. I hope to receive a letter from him this week. Still have one more to post too. That would be great if there is a connection at CAT. Indeed it is a small world.
Please see letter 5 at post 19 for the information on Bill. Thanks for asking, my friend.

Edited by rkline56, 28 March 2012 - 08:08 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#16 rkline56

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:34 AM

Attached File  2-6-12 1st Sgt. James Underwood, 145 Infantry Regiment P_2.jpg   120.53KB   8 downloads:salute: Continued - post 17.

Edited by rkline56, 22 February 2012 - 02:43 AM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#17 rkline56

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:42 AM

Attached File  2-6-12 1st Sgt. James Underwood, 145th Infantry Regiment P_3.jpg   129.21KB   9 downloads:flag_USAwave:

The great thing about this post is that my father was born in Wooster, Ohio where Platoon Sgt. Hawkins operated one of his markets. Earl and his wife also had a nice diner inside the store. I had lunch there with my Grandparents when I was 12. They (Grandpa Jim and Grandma Marjorie) frequented the store and diner regularly. My Aunt and Uncle and Cousins still see Mr. Hawkins around town now and then as they live in the area and own several businesses in Wooster, they have the privilege of knowing him as well. Mr. Hawkins and his wife built a golf course near town and Mrs. Hawkins operated it throughout the years. When her health began to decline she donated the course and country club to the town of Wooster. What fantastic people IMHO! I salute you, Mr. Hawkins, and your wife.

Edited by rkline56, 22 February 2012 - 04:34 AM.

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" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#18 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 04:46 AM

Very fascinating letters, Rick. It's quite refreshing after reading official reports and journals.

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


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#19 rkline56

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:03 PM

Thank you for your interest, Tom. I am sure his LOC interview will be fascinating. The more I read about Hill 700 the tougher the battle seems to have been. Especially about how the two guys in an OP from Company E killed 9 inside the OP and shot the heck out of several squads or a platoon before being overrun and KIA. They had to call in the 105's to a near broken arrow scenario right outside their own wire (what was left of it). If the hill was lost, the Piva airstrips and the Torokina fighter strip airfield would have been severely threatened or lost outright (the ultimate objective of the attacks on hills 260, 309, 608 and 700). There are also accounts of platoons crawling up steep sections of the hill under intense fire to regain seven firing positions and foxholes and two pill boxes that were lost during the attack. Thought I saw a picture of some 155's somewhere but it is not in the data here.

Attached File  Jim Underwood_5 3-9-2012.pdf   701.79KB   20 downloads

During the period 8-13 March the 37th Division lost five officers and seventy-three enlisted men killed.14 The artillery expended a considerable amount of ammunition in defense of Hill 700: 20,802 105-mm. rounds; about 10,000 75mm. rounds; 13,000 81-mm. and 811 4.2-inch mortar shells.15 (Source: ibiblio hyperwar)
Attached File  60 mm mortar emplacement 145th Infantry Bougainville.jpg   117.09KB   5 downloads I sent a few pictures to Mr. Underwood along with one of the letters he requested.

Edited by rkline56, 28 March 2012 - 11:40 PM.
Update from hyperwar with thanks to OP and Patrick Clancy.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#20 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:49 PM

I agree with you, Rick. It was a very bitterly fought battle. Unfortunately, some consider that it was strategically less important than other battles, so not as much has been written on it as compared to some others. However, for those men at that time, it was the most important battle of their lives. Like virtually every other soldier in the War, they were doing their part to win the War. God bless them all for what they did and what they sacrificed.

On a lighter note, what a great story from Mr. Underwood! I nearly laughed out loud. I'm glad he got his wish in the end and returned to E Company -- stripes intact. :D

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


halvorsonpto129ir37id3.jpg

PFC Glenn W. Halvorson

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PFC Norman L. Halvorson


#21 Biak

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 12:25 AM

These are great! I hope you and Mr. Underwood can continue this for a long time.

Happiness is nice but it can't buy money.

 

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#22 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 12:59 AM

These are great! I hope you and Mr. Underwood can continue this for a long time.


Amen to that, Biak.

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

Cecil Earl Workman, WWII Veteran, "L" Co., 129th Inf. Regt., 37th Inf. Div.


halvorsonpto129ir37id3.jpg

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#23 rkline56

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 03:01 PM

Tom,
Biak

Thanks for your kind comments regarding Mr. Underwood. I have mentioned to him that the division's actions in WW II are interesting to a great many of our forum members and I've thanked him profusely many, many times for his service and for watching out for my Grand Uncle Paul Glasgo. Take care and have a great weekend, gentlemen.

Forum,
I hope many of the esteemed members, visitors and researchers to this forum have found these letters valuable, informative and thought provoking. If anyone has any specific questions regarding the history of the 37th I.D. or wants to clear up any detail of campaign life in Munda Point, Bougainville or Luzon please let me know here or by PM. I would be happy to submit any request for information to Mr. Underwood. I am planning to ask for more detailed recollections of the battles but have tread lightly in order to avoid bringing too many painful memories to the forefront for Jim (again). If anyone has any thoughts on whether or not to do this; or if you have a technique that has worked well for you, by all means let me know. I have seen how we worked with Brian Guy and have read with interest - Jeff's Old Hickory posts. Your interview as well Poppy, buddy. Anyway, thanks again to all forum contributors for their important work.

Thanks for taking the time to read the words of this True American Hero from the "Greatest Generation".:aa_usa::salute:
Rick

I was able to find the reference to the 155 Howitzers used to break up the IJA Bougainville counterattacks here:

Artillery support for the perimeter, though below American standards, was stronger than the enemy's supporting artillery. The XIV Corps still had neither organic artillery nor an artillery commander. Serving as corps artillery commander was General Kreber, artillery commander of the 37th Division. Under General Kreber's command were the eight (six 105-mm. and two 155-mm.) howitzer battalions organic to the two divisions, plus the provisional corps artillery. This consisted of two 155-mm. gun batteries of the 3d Marine Defense Battalion; four 90-mm. antiaircraft batteries of the 251st Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment; and four 90-mm. antiaircraft batteries of the 3d Marine Defense Battalion, of which one, D Battery, 70th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Battalion, was attached from the Army. Gun power of the XIV Corps units was augmented on 3 March when six cannon companies, with 75-mm. pack howitzers, reached Bougainville and joined the infantry regiments.

The XIV Corps' positions were strong, and since he possessed interior lines General Griswold could easily switch his reserve units back and forth. But the positions were not ideal. The corps lacked enough men, by American standards, to hold all the high ground in the vicinity. Beyond the coastal plain the ground rises abruptly from ridge to ridge, each higher than the preceding one, up to the summits of the Crown Prince Range. Thus the Americans on Hills 608 and 700 held positions that were dominated by the higher ground in Japanese hands--Blue Ridge, three thousand yards north of Hill 700, and Hills 1000 and 1111, just southeast of Blue Ridge. These hills gave the enemy an excellent view over all the perimeter except the reverse slopes of the American-held hills. By 1 March, however,
General Griswold was sure that "the perimeter was as well organized as the personnel and the terrain would permit."5 P 355 Ibiblio Hyperwar: Cartwheel - The Reduction of Rabaul



http://www.ww2f.com/...AAAAElFTkSuQmCC Buckeye Divison

Edited by rkline56, 29 March 2012 - 03:07 PM.

" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#24 rkline56

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:24 PM

Today I received the letter that I hoped would not come for many more years. I was notified by James son that his father had passed, at home on April 15th, 2012. No illness preceded his passing and the official report stated that his heart stopped unexpectedly. I will post an article and his obituary at a later date.

James, sir, you will be sorely missed by many friends and family. You lived your life as a larger than life hero and our country is much stronger and wiser for your efforts. I will miss you, my dear friend. I salute your life and your service.
" I have heard. You are the grey rider. You would not make peace with the Bluecoats. You may go in peace." Chief Ten Bears

#25 LRusso216

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:33 PM

I'm sorry to hear it, too. We are losing these men quicker than any of us would wish. It's up to us to preserve their memories and thei stories. Thanks for doing your part.

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Lou





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