The WWII 300th Combat Engineers

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The 300th at war.

Newsletters: Spring 2012

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Dallas Reunion

The 300th Reunion will be held in Dallas, Texas June 7-10. See the enclosed flyer for details. Everyone is invited and we hope to see you there.

New Material for the 300th Web Site

At the Dallas Reunion in June of 2010, Chuck Hodge, a World War II researcher, interviewed on video some of the men of the 300th. He gave permission to transcribe portions of the interviews for inclusion on the 300th web site. Interviewed at the reunion were: Juke Burnham, Warren Chancellor, “Cowboy” Morris, Don Richter and Norman Webb. In addition, George Garrison was interviewed in his home in Hillsboro, Texas. There are now 42 new stories added to the site. They are in the appropriate chapters in the History portion of the site and in Recollections for each man. This is the most significant addition of recollections to the site in several years. The greatest addition is that from the interview of George Garrison who had not been previously interviewed. One of his stories follows.

George Garrison and Hersey Bars

I pulled a stunt one time there in Normandy. When some of the trucks were coming off the beach and somebody told me that there were Tropical Hershey Bars in the boxes on one of the trucks. Those Tropical Hershey Bars were real big about 6 inches long and about 2 inches thick. I was on my motorcycle as the trucks with the supplies came up to an intersection in Carentan. You could turn right or left and all the supplies were supposed to go to the right to go to Ste.-Mere-Eglise. There was an MP there at the intersection and he stopped every one of the trucks. I was there with the MP and I thought I knew which boxes were the Hershey Bars so I took one of the boxes off and pitched it off the truck and it went down an embankment. I didn't think much about it.

The next morning I had orders to report to Col. Spengler. His Group Headquarters was on the right at that intersection. He was in a six-man tent and so I reported to him. And he said, “You are doing real well. Do you ride a motorcycle?” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “You want to tell me what you thought was in that box you threw off the truck?”And I said, “Yes sir. I threw one off.” He said, “Would you like to see what you could get court-martialed over? You don't fool with those trucks coming off the beach and what did you think you were getting?” I told him I thought it was Tropical Hershey Bars. So he said, “I want you to look over there by the desk.” And there was a box with tin cans in it. He said, “You know what that is?” I said, “No.” “That's the box you threw off. It's dehydrated potatoes. Would you like to go to the stockade for stealing dehydrated potatoes?” I said, “Sir, I don't even want to eat them.” So he gave me a little lecture and he was very nice and he let me go.

From Normandy

Hello, I'm a French girl from Normandy.
I'm sponsoring a grave and put down flowers on it at the Cemetery of Colleville. For me it's important to honor the men who gave their life for freedom. As I say, I lay down a flower for them, they gave their life for us. So I would like to know if you have any information about Bernardo M. Barraza. Your website is a very good job. Thank you.  Marie

(If anyone has any information about Bernardo Barraza please forward it to the editors and we will pass it on to Marie. Bernardo was in A Company and was killed on LST 523.)

Want to buy a bridge?

Dear manager
We are bailey bridge, temporary bridge from China manufacture in China. We know you company in internet, if you are interested in our products, all the inquiry will be appreciated

Zhenjiang Voton Machinery Co., Ltd.
Address: NO.101 Jingkou Road Zhenjiang Jiangsu P.R. China
(We thought a Bailey Bridge in our front yard would be a little much so we did not buy one.)

Goliath

World War II was a time of change and new ideas in military technology. The German Army developed a version of guided munitions for use in World War II. The Goliath or more specifically, Leichter Ladungstrager Goliath, was a tracked vehicle that was self-propelled and delivered 200 pounds of explosives to a target destroying the target and itself.

About 5 feet in length and looking like a miniature tank, the German Army contracted with a German automaker to develop and produce the vehicles in the early 1940's.

The original design had battery-powered electric motors and later was powered with a gasoline motor. The original took about 650 feet of wire spooled off the vehicle to guide it. It was guided by a control box at the end of the wire. The gasoline version was radio controlled without the wire because could be damaged or cut before reaching its target.

Actually, the Goliath did not perform well. It had little armor and could be put out of commission by small arms fire. The Goliath was used on the landing beaches by the defending Germans in camouflaged bunkers to be sent out to destroy Allied landing crafts but they were often damaged before the invasion by Allied bombardment.

Update on Leonard Burke

The following article was forwarded to the editors: Leonard Burke is used to wearing green. After all, his parents were Irish. And, he just celebrated his 93rd St. Patrick's Day. Leonard wore the olive drab uniform of his country for six years. He served in the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion. Leonard Burke bleeds red, white, and blue. So, at this Saturday's St. Patrick's Parade, look for this passionately patriotic veteran, one of the many grand marshals we salute for their service to our nation.

After the war, Burke married the love of his life, his wife Thelma, and moved to Florida. Eventually, Leonard and Thelma moved to Moultrie, Georgia, where he lived and worked until he recently retired. Yes, Leonard worked up until the age of ninety. Burke began working at Lear-Signer in Moultrie in 1951 and kept on working full time in the aviation industry. At the age of seventy-three, when most people his age have already retired, Leonard took a new job at Maule Air, Inc. He would work there for almost 17 years. At the age of 89, Leonard was honored for his work as a quality control inspector as the Older Worker of the Year in Southwest Georgia.

Did You Know Warren Spahn Was a Combat Engineer?

Warren Spahn was the Hall of Fame pitcher who won more games (363) than any left-hander ever. His lifetime ERA was 3.09. In his first big league stint he was sent down to the minor leagues from the Boston Braves after only pitching 15 innings by manager Casey Stengel because he would not hit Dodger batter Pee Wee Reese in an exhibition game. That was why Spahn was pitching for Hartford, CT in the minor leagues when he, like many other baseball players, enlisted for military service in 1943. He trained as an engineer with the 276th Engineer Combat Battalion. It was there that he socialized with Cecil Milliner who had transferred there to the 276th from the 300th and later remembered Spahn as a pitcher who never lost a game he pitched for the battalion team.

Spahn reached Europe with the 276th in December of 1944 arriving just in time for the Allied final push through France and Belgium and into Germany. He was wounded at the Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen, Germany in March of 1945 and was awarded a Purple Heart. Casey Stengel later said, “I said to him when I sent him down that he had no guts and he goes on to become a war hero and the best left-handed pitcher of all time. I really missed that one.”

After Germany's surrender, Spahn received a battlefield commission to a Second Lieutenant in June of 1945. He then pitched for the 115th Engineers and in a four-game series allowed only one run while striking out 75. Spahn went on to join the Boston Braves and later Milwaukee Braves where he became the winningest left-handed pitched of all time. He won the Cy Young in 1957 and was runner-up three times. He pitched two no-hitters, won 20 games eleven times and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

Spahn later looked back on his three years of military experience as an engineer saying, "Some say my absence from the big leagues may have cost me winning 400 games. Maybe not — because I matured a lot in three years and was better able to handle big league hitters. After what I went through overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. You learn that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy threatened territory. The Army taught me something about challenges, and about what's important and what isn't. Everything I tackle in baseball and in life I take as a challenge rather than work." (Portions from Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield.)