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Sometimes From Little Things, Big Things Come

Last week I posted to a Facebook thread about a Company H 505th Parachute Infantryman who was at the 75th Anniversary in Normandy.  His name is Forrest Huff (Huffstetler).  This was posted by Siebe Postma‎ to Leslie Cruise’s timeline.

I’ve known Les for a bit and went to find a Morning Report with Mr. Huffstetler name on it.  Came across a Company H Morning Report with both Huffstetler and Cruise on furlough near the end of July 1944.

Last night on the thread I saw that a son of Jack Gividen mentioned that his father was also on the Morning Report.  I located a Morning Report that also included the Record of Events for Company H between June 11, 1944 and June 25, 1944.  Was able located a Morning Report showing when his father was wounded.

Located both Mr. Cruise’s and Gividen’s Combat Infantryman Badge General Order.  I went back to the Record of Events and scrolled down a bit further and found that Technical Five Daniel Lei was killed on June 22, 1944.  It spoke of what happened that day to Technical Five Lei.  He was the Company Mail Orderly and the Battalion Runner for Company H.

Technical Five Lei was killed by artillery fire moving between Battalion Command Post and the Company Command Post.  Then I went out and found the Morning Reports for Technical Five Lei death and his Medical Record as well, which backed up that he had been hit in the chest by artillery fire. 

Being the Company Mail Orderly that means he would have known everyone in the Company.  Think Radar O’Reilly from Mash.  Being the Company Runner as well Lei knew the Headquarters Section of Company H along with the 3rd Bn Headquarters men as well.

Then on June 24, 1944 it said that Technical Five Kenneth E. Geiler went Missing in Action after the Battalion Ammunition Dump exploded.  Geiler was attached to Company H from Headquarters Company Third Battalion.  Geiler was the Supply Clerk.  His job was to resupply everything needed.  In this case Geiler went to the Ammo Dump to retrieve more bullets and Grenades. 

Technical Five Geiler was identified but it took a bit as he had been badly burned from the explosion.  He was another man that would have known the men from both Headquarters Company Third Battalion and Company H. 

Both of these men, Lei and Geiler, were in Sicily and Italy as well.  I went to look for the General Order showing their Combat Infantryman Badge.  Neither Lei or Geiler was listed.  I then went out and looked for another Veteran from Company H who was killed in Normandy. 

I then located the Morning Report for the death of Private Richard A. Vargas.  Private Vargas was killed June 7, 1944 defending St. Mere Eglise.  Private Cruise was good friends with Vargas.  They were both on the line June 7, 1944 when artillery came in.  Vargas was hit in the leg and was bleeding badly.  Private Cruise tried to stench the bleeding but it was no use as Vargas bled out shortly after he had been wounded.     

I went searching for Private Vargas’ Combat Infantryman Badge as well and once again nothing on the 505th Parachutes Infantry General Order 12 1944 that mentioned Vargas, Lei or Geiler.  Since they were all Veterans they should have been there but they were not on General Order 12 1944 for the three Campaigns, Sicily, Italy and Normandy.  Then went to Brandon Weigand’s Index to the General Orders for the 505th Parachute Infantry book and the same thing, nothing there.

General #12 Orders was created August 15, 1944 and that means that the 505th didn’t award the Combat Infantryman Badge to the men who were killed in Normandy.  At the end of WWII both the 507th and 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment Awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge posthumous.  No General Orders have been located yet for those men in the 505th Parachute Infantry men.

The photos for this article are in this order, Cruise, Gividen, Geiler, Lei and Vargas.  These men were all part of Company H of the 505th Parachute Infantry but only the first two, Cruise and Gividen have received the Combat Infantryman Badge.  Hopefully I will be able to locate some record showing that the remaining three men have received the Combat Infantryman Badge.  Maybe a family member received the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Purple Heart.  Time will tell.

I do find it interesting that I looked for this information almost 75 Years to the day of T/5 Geiler’s death in Normandy.

 

Brian N. Siddall
June 24, 2019 

 


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