He only shared his stories with me

I Remember Grandpa



By James McConnell

James H. Dowd
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   My research for this began many years ago with Grandpa advising me how to properly deploy my green plastic army men on a round marble table. It continued by asking for and listening to Grandpa’s stories.  It now includes not only his stories but internet research, books, his World War Two papers and an interview with Warren Reiter, a lieutenant who served with and shared a tent with him from Louisiana to New Guinea.   I have included Grandpa’s statements where possible.  Most of these statements are from my memory but some are from his actual words that were documented by the Army.  The introduction will give an outline of Grandpa’s service and put it alongside historical dates.


  Grandpa’s military career began in 1936 and ended with his discharge in 1946.  He went from the regular Army to the Wisconsin National Guard to being inducted into Federal service for World War Two.  During World War Two he served in the 32nd Division.  This Division was known as the Red Arrow Division.  The Red Arrow Division dated back to World War One and were named “Les Terribles” by the French.    He rose from a lowly private to the rank of Captain in the span of five years.  His military service took him from Wisconsin to New Guinea and practically every place in between.    He spent 32 months overseas in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines.  In New Guinea he served under General Douglas MacArthur and fought the Japanese 18th Army under General Adachi.  It was General MacArthur’s leapfrog tactics that led to some of the fiercest fighting of the South Pacific at Aitape.  It is here that 15,000 Japanese who had been cutoff at Wewak counterattacked along the Driniumor River.  It is also here where Grandpa was wounded.  Grandpa and the 32nd Division obtained many firsts during the war.  He was one of the first soldiers to have live ammunition fired over his head during training.  The 32nd Division was the first U.S. Division to embark for overseas combat in one convoy after Pearl Harbor.  It was the first to fight an offensive action against the Japanese in the Southwest Pacific.  It was also the first to employ General MacArthur’s strategy of leapfrogging.  The convoy he embarked in from San Francisco was escorted by the cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35). [1]   The convoy was scheduled to land on the north coast of Australia but was diverted to the south of Australia by the Battle of the Coral Sea.  This was the first naval battle where the enemy ships never saw each other.


Grandpa engaged in combat operations against the Japanese and was wounded in battle.  He returned to the United States after being wounded.  He was transferred to different hospitals as he recovered and was qualified as an escort officer for convoy duty.  He spent the last days of World War Two transporting fresh troops to the Philippines. 


Grandpa originally joined the regular Army in 1936.  He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Records show that Grandpa attended classes such as Infantry signal communications, Combat intelligence, Organization of the Army and Organization of the Infantry.  He completed the Post Communication School with an average score of 96.2.  Field training was done at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.    Grandpa attained the rank of Private First Class.  He stayed with the 3rd Infantry until he was discharged on January 20, 1939. 

in the 1930s
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On November 2, 1939 Grandpa enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard.  He was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 120th Field Artillery Battalion (FA BN) of the 32nd Division.  The Division was made up of the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard.  On October 15, 1940 the 32nd Infantry Division was called to active duty and federalized.  Grandpa was promoted to Tech Sergeant. During 1940 the 32nd Division was transferred to Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, Louisiana. [2]    Due to the lousy conditions, soldiers nicknamed it “Camp Disregard.”  Here at Camp Beauregard Grandpa continually trained for the war in Europe.  On February 1,

1941 Grandpa was promoted to Master Sergeant.  During the same month Grandpa and the 32nd Division were relocated to Camp Livingston, Louisiana. Here Grandpa and Lt. Reiter were part of the basic training cadre for the new recruits of the 32nd Division.  It was at Camp Livingston that Grandpa received word he was going to be promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.  Grandpa realized that when he promoted to Lieutenant he would lose all of his enlisted leave time and not get any more.  With the Army preparing for war Grandpa knew there would be no leave time for officers.  Grandpa finagled a ten day pass to go home to Superior and “skipped” out before he promoted.  Lt. Reiter stated that Grandpa’s Commanding Officer was so mad at Grandpa that when Grandpa returned to base he made him wait in the hallway for an hour. Grandpa was finally brought into the office and it was here at Camp Livingston that Grandpa was commissioned as an officer and promoted to 2nd Lt. on May 28, 1941. 

It was reported in the 32nd Division newsletter dated June 2, 1942 that Master Sergeant James H. Dowd was promoted from Master Sergeant to 2nd Lt. [3]    During August and September of 1941 Grandpa and the 32nd Division participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers.  Grandpa was part of Blue team.  These were the greatest peacetime maneuvers in U.S. Army history.  The “Big One” as it was called encompassed a maneuver area of over 3400 square miles and involved over approximately 500,000 soldiers.  These maneuvers were to be a trial run for the war in Europe. The 3rd Army under General Krueger was on the offensive against the 2nd Army.  The 32nd Division part of Blue Team and the 3rd Army under General Krueger were declared the winner.

in 1941
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Having accepted commission as an officer, Grandpa was selected to attend the 3rd Army Junior Officer Training Center, Field Artillery at Camp Bullis [4] in San Antonio Texas.  Grandpa attended school here from November 10, 1941 till December 20, 1941.  Grandpa called it, “General Krueger’s School of Killer Knowledge.”  It was the first time that American troops fired live ammunition over the heads of each other in training.  Grandpa took courses in leadership and field tactics.  Close order drill and or calisthenics began each day except Saturday.  Tactical problems lasted a full five days.  Saturday was not a day off.  It was used for inspections and preparing for the following week. It was here on December 7, 1941 Grandpa learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.  On Monday December 8, 1941 at 12:29 PM, President Roosevelt at a joint meeting of the House and Senate, asked for and received a declaration of war against Japan. 

Grandpa rejoined the 32nd Division at Camp Livingston, still assigned to the 120th  FA BN.  In February 1942 the Division moved to Fort Devens, Mass. in preparation to be shipped to Northern Ireland to join the war in Europe. At Fort Devens replacement soldiers from all over the United States brought the Division up to full combat strength.  With the armed forces of Japan driving towards Australia and New Zealand, the decision was made to send the Division to the South Pacific.  The Division was being sent to defend these countries whose troops were fighting the Germans in the Middle East.     On March 25, 1942 the Division was notified it was being sent to Australia. Grandpa and the rest of the soldiers loaded up on trains and were rushed “high priority” across the United States to San Francisco. 

During February of 1942 General Edwin F. Harding took command of the 32nd Division.  The Division would become part of I Corps in Australia under General Robert Eichelberger.  General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia March 17, 1942 and on the orders of President Roosevelt took over the newly created Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), which included I Corps.  The 32nd Division would soon come under the control of General MacArthur.

On April 22, 1942 the Division departed San Francisco as an eight ship convoy in route   to Brisbane Australia.  Leaving San Francisco was an area called the “Potato Patch.”  This area had such rough seas that ninety percent of the soldiers became sick.  The convoy was escorted by the lone cruiser USS Indianapolis.  Grandpa was on board the USS Ancon (AP-66). The Ancon was one of the smaller ships in the convoy and the soldiers called it a “raft with portholes.” 

USS Ancon
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  During the convoy Grandpa stated that it seemed like every man aboard was seasick.  Grandpa stated that breakfast would be served and the vomiting would begin.  Lunch and more vomit.  Dinner and more vomit. To make matters worse the soldiers had to pass through the latrine to get to the mess hall.  To get away from the stench Grandpa stated that he spent a majority of his time on the deck.  On April 30th, 1942 Grandpa and the convoy
crossed the equator. As the convoy neared Australia, the escort ship USS Indianapolis left the convoy to assist in the Battle of the Coral Sea.  The convoy was rerouted to the south to avoid the battle of the Coral Sea and escorted to Australia by several frigates of the Royal Australian Navy.    The convoy arrived at Adelaide Australia on May 14, 1942.  Grandpa and the Division established themselves at Camps Woodside and Sandy Creek.  In July of 1942 Grandpa traveled by rail to Camp Cable which was located south of Brisbane Australia..
Once at Camp Cable Grandpa and the 32nd Division spent a majority of their time training for the coming invasion of New Guinea.  Grandpa was assigned to Battery B of the 120th Field Artillery battalion.   The training focused on, marksmanship, tactical field artillery training and beach landings with artillery pieces.  These beach landings were conducted with Navy LSTs (Landing ship tank) in preparation for the upcoming landings in New Guinea.  Grandpa had some time for relaxation.  Lt. Reiter stated that while on pass Grandpa spent a
Camp Cable located near Brisbane.  Note location of 120th F.A. BN.
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majority of his free time at the beaches of Australia.  They would rent a beach house in the area of Coolangatta Australia [5] for the weekend with three or four guys and spend their time drinking, swimming in the ocean and going to the movies He stated Grandpa’s favorite activity was swimming in the ocean.  He said on Saturday nights at Camp Cable they would get a case of Australian beer.  The Australian beer was packed in straw and it took two men to carry a case.  At Camp Cable they would watch movies in an outdoor theater.  If it rained the projector was put in a tent and the soldiers would put on their helmets and rain gear and watch the movie in the rain.   Being Catholic Grandpa and Lt. Reiter also went to church.  Grandpa also took sightseeing trips into Brisbane.  Grandpa took a great number of pictures in Australia.  Lt. Reiter stated that the officers in the 120th FA BN were all very friendly.  He stated they liked to have fun and found it wherever they could, even later in New Guinea.

On September 13, 1942 General MacArthur announced he was sending the 32nd Division to New Guinea.  When a portion of the Division shipped out for the invasion of Buna, New Guinea, Grandpa and Lt. Reiter stayed behind in Australia and continued training.  During January of 1943 the United States 6th Army was created in Australia under the command of General Walter Krueger as part of SWPA.  The 6th Army, under the command of General Krueger included the 32nd Division.

In late September of 1943 Grandpa and Battery B along with additional elements of the Division were sent to Milne Bay located at the southern tip of New Guinea. They stayed and trained at Milne Bay

Having fun in Australia Click image for a larger view

for a month before going to Goodenough Island New Guinea in preparation for another landing on New Guinea.  On Goodenough Island Grandpa and the rest of the soldiers suffered sporadic bombing by Japanese aircraft including being bombed on Christmas Eve.  It was probably at Milne Bay and here on Goodenough Island that Grandpa learned a great respect for the natives of New Guinea.  Grandpa called them the “Fuzzy Wuzzies” and respected them greatly for their work ethic.  Grandpa stated they did everything, native police, scouts, carried ammunition, equipment and the wounded.

At Saidor
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On December 17, 1943 the Sixth Army was tasked with the invasion of Saidor, New Guinea.  This landing at Saidor was named the Michaelmas Task Force.  The capture of Saidor would provide a blocking force from Japanese troops retreating from Finchaven and trap an entire Japanese Division at Sio New Guinea.  The 32nd Division was ordered to capture Saidor to provide this blocking force.  D-Day was January 2, 1944.  The invasion was preceded by strong naval gunfire that softened the Japanese defenses.  Grandpa was among the first wave of soldiers who landed that day.  Grandpa arrived on the beach of Saidor in a LST.  Thanks to the naval gunfire the landing at Saidor was virtually unopposed by the Japanese.  Once in Saidor
Grandpa and the 120th Field Artillery supported the infantry with blocking the Japanese retreat.  Once Japanese positions were known Grandpa and the artillery would fire their 105mm howitzers.  During his time in Saidor Grandpa lived and slept in a variety of locations.  Some nights he was able to sleep in a squad tent or a pup tent and some nights it was on the ground in a foxhole.  Grandpa ate C-rations and occasionally fresh fruit.  Grandpa and the rest of the soldiers were allocated 3 cans of “C-Rats” a day.  Grandpa also contracted Dengue

After the beach landing
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Fever while at Saidor.  Lt. Reiter stated that Dengue Fever was called the bone creaky disease and when you got it you knew you had it.  He stated he felt stiff and weak until the medicine took effect.   No movement was allowed during the night.  Grandpa stated that while in his foxhole at night he would focus on a particular star in the sky.  If Grandpa observed a person move in front of that star, he would shoot.  During his time at Saidor, Grandpa would often go out with reconnaissance platoon in order to direct artillery fire upon the Japanese.  Grandpa would act as a forward observer for the artillery to assist the infantry.  He would also go up in an airplane called a Cub, look for the Japanese and direct artillery fire.

A Cub airplane used by Grandpa and the 120th FA BN to direct artillery fire is unloaded
June 2, 1944 at the Saidor beachhead.
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During the early days of March a task force was being formed to make a landing at the Yalau Plantation which was located about 30 miles west of Saidor.  This landing and occupation of the area would provide a base to intercept the enemy stragglers trying to escape from Finschaven and avoid the Saidor area.  Grandpa, Lt. Reiter and Battery B along with additional forces of the 32nd made an unopposed landing at the Yalau Plantation at 0735 Hrs on March 5, 1944.    Lt. Reiter stated that the plantation was “Headhunter territory.”  Lt. Reiter

stated that the Headhunters kept their distance from the armed U.S. troops.  On April 14th troops of the United States and Australia made contact at Bogadjim, about 30 miles west of Yalau.  This contact put the surrounding area firmly in the hands of Allied control. 

On April 18, 1944 the 32nd Division, as part of the Persecution Task Force under the command of General Jens Doe departed Finschaven for Aitape.  The first landing at Aitape took place on April 22.  Grandpa and Battery B followed on May 1.  The landing was unopposed by the Japanese. This landing effectively trapped the Japanese 18th Army at Wewak, cutting them off from supplies.  On May 4th General Gill took command of Persecution Task Force and the Aitape area.   Once in Aitape Grandpa and the rest were busy building defensive positions along the Driniumor River.  General Gill commanded the Eastern Defense Area and General Clarence Martin commanded the Persecution Covering Force, designated the Eastern

At Saidor
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Defense Command, which covered the line of defense along the west bank of the River.  American ULTRA intelligence sources put the Japanese 18th Army under General Adachi attacking the American positions along the Driniumor River in an attempt to break out from Wewak.  The 18th Army had approximately 55,000 personnel of which about 15,000 were in the forward combat area with approximately 5,000 front line troops. What intelligence could not tell them was where the Japanese had begun to form along the Driniumor River.  Additional American troops were brought into the area. This brought the troop level in the Aitape area to more than two divisions.  General Krueger formed the XI Corps under General Hall to take command of the Aitape area.  General Krueger ordered several reconnaissance missions in an attempt to locate the Japanese troops. During the month of June 1944 Grandpa was promoted to Commander of Battery B.  Warren Reiter was promoted to Grandpa’s Executive Officer (XO).

Lt. Reiter
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During the first part of July Grandpa was once again out with a reconnaissance patrol with members of the 128th Infantry.  Grandpa and the squad set out across the Driniumor River to try and find the Japanese.  Grandpa and his squad quickly found themselves behind enemy lines.  The squad had two choices, the mountains of New Guinea or the coastline.  They fought their way to the coast for 2 days.  Grandpa stated, “We got down pretty close to the tail end our rations and we were drinking some pretty slimy water doctored up with purification tablets to make a nauseating but safe drink.  On the third day as Grandpa and the squad were walking on a beach trying to get back through enemy lines they were able to make contact with a  U.S. Navy gunboat, who plucked them off the beach behind enemy lines.  (Warren Reiter recalled that in Battery B and the 120th FA,

Grandpa and the squad getting caught behind enemy lines was a “big deal.”   He stated that nobody was sure where they were or what had happened to them.  Grandpa recalled that is was like the Japanese lines had opened up and let them pass so as not to give away their positions and then closed behind them.

Once he got back Grandpa and Battery B and were put into defensive positions along the Driniumor River near Afua.  It is here along the Driniumor River that Grandpa experienced the determined and ferocious attack of the Japanese 18th Army.  The Japanese began their attack of the American lines along the River at about 10:00PM on the night of July 10th.  The Americans were able to repulse the first two waves of Japanese troops.  Once alerted to enemy positions, Grandpa and the artillery began firing on the Japanese troops.  The American artillery was fired so close to American troops that they would duck their heads as the artillery passed over them.  American artillery then began firing on the Japanese troops trying to get across the Driniumor.  It was told that, “The River flowed red from the blood of soldiers.”  The Japanese continued their attack and finally broke through the center of the American lines.  General Martin ordered a night retreat from the River.  General Krueger believed the retreat was unnecessary and on the morning of July 12th ordered General Hall to push the Japanese eastward back across the Driniumor.  General Hall in turn ordered General Martin to retreat no further and forbade the withdrawal of any unit except in the face of overwhelming forces.  General Hall relived Martin of his command and placed General Gill in charge of the Persecution Covering force and the Driniumor lines.  Gill’s first order was a counter attack on July 13th to restore the Driniumor line.  The counterattack succeeded and the Americans again established a line along the Driniumor.   One of the stories Grandpa told was that he and another soldier were trying to direct artillery fire against enemy positions from a foxhole.  Japanese machinegun fire kept them in the foxhole.  Grandpa recalled that the other soldier decided to stand up to try and getter a better view of the target. The soldier was immediately hit by machinegun fire and fell back into the foxhole.  Grandpa stayed low and was able to drag the soldier back to the aid station.  By the time Grandpa and the soldier made it back to the aid station Grandpa was covered in the soldier’s blood.  Once at the aid station medics began working on the soldier.  One of the medics grabbed Grandpa and began to try and provide him with medical assistance.   Grandpa tried to explain that he was not hit.  The medic told Grandpa that he was in shock and did not know he was hit.   The medics then proceeded to strip Grandpa naked, only to tell him that he was not hit.  Grandpa later heard that the soldier lived and was returned to the United States.  Grandpa stated that when the artillery would explode along the river, he would have to open his mouth so that his eardrums would not explode.  Grandpa stated he got a lot of dirt in his mouth this way. 


While in the Aitape area Grandpa was often out on patrol as a forward observer or artillery liaison officer with one of the infantry battalions.  It was on one of these patrols that Grandpa shot a Japanese Officer.  Grandpa stated that he saw an enemy Japanese soldier crawling up a tree to an advanced observation post.  Grandpa stated, “I let him have two or three shots from ‘Little Betsy” my carbine and that was all there was to it.”  Grandpa knew it was an officer because when he started to fall from the tree he saw the Officer’s sword.


General Adachi realized that the Americans had reformed their lines and had begun to reinforce the Afua area.  General Adachi ordered his 20th Division to annihilate the enemy at Afua.  The attack began on July 18th and raged for two days.  Both sides regrouped on July 20th.   It was here along the Driniumor River at Afua that Grandpa was injured. (Map Below)  On July 21, 1944 Grandpa was once again on the front lines as the artillery liaison officer with Troop C of the 112th Cavalry.  Troop C occupied the west flank of the American lines at a place called “Tsuru” by the Japanese. Here the entire Japanese 79th Infantry numbering seven hundred men

and a sixty-man artillery company with a single artillery piece would attack at 1600HRS.  The Japanese lone artillery gun began firing at Troop C. Grandpa positioned himself under the root of a large tree (more than likely a mangrove tree) near the headquarters tent of Troop C in attempt to direct artillery fire at the attacking Japanese forces.  The Japanese began firing point blank at the headquarters tent.  One the rounds landed in the tree branches above Grandpa.  A piece of shrapnel struck Grandpa in the left foot severing his three middle toes.   Grandpa stated that when he was hit, he felt a sharp pain in his foot.  He looked down and saw blood on his boot.  Grandpa attempted to stand up but fell down.  By this time the Japanese 79th Infantry was inside Troop C’s perimeter.  However, due to the fog of war soldiers of both sides did not fire.  The Japanese because they assumed it was already under Japanese control and the Americans did not fire because an American observation

Driniumor River at Afua
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plane reported that the Japanese were American soldiers entering their perimeter.  Heavy firing would soon break out between Japanese and American forces, but this temporary lull in the firing allowed Grandpa to make his way back to squadron headquarters to receive medical treatment.  The Japanese continued their attack and encircled Troop C.  Heavy fighting would last four days until Troop C was relieved and able to break out of the Japanese encirclement on July 25th. An estimated 9,300 Japanese troops had lost their lives in the Aitape area. While receiving medical treatment at the aid station Grandpa contacted Warren Reiter and advised him of his injuries.  This is the last time the two would speak.

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Grandpa was evacuated to the 5th Portable Hospital at Aitape where he stayed for two days while receiving treatment for wounds to his left foot.  He was then transferred to the 237th Station Hospital at Finschaven, New Guinea. [6]   On July 24th while in Ward 4, he was awarded the Purple Heart for his injury.  Here on August 8, 1944 Grandpa had surgery to amputate the 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes on his left foot.  Grandpa was then transferred to the 4th General Hospital at Finschaven.  Grandpa was promoted to Captain on August 16, 1944.   On October 27 Grandpa was sent home to the
United States for medical treatment.  He arrived at Madigan eneral Hospital in Tacoma Washington and remained here for ten days receiving further treatment.  On November 28, 1944 he was transferred to Percy Jones General Hospital in Battle Creek Michigan. [7]    Grandpa received a thirty day pass and on Sunday December 24, 1944 Grandpa arrived home in Superior (1508 Thirteenth St) for the first time in 3 years.    Once his thirty day pass was over he reported back to Percy Jones Hospital for further treatment.    On January 30th, 1945 Grandpa appeared before the Disposition Board at Percy Jones and was placed on permanent light duty.  Grandpa was transferred to the Army Ground Force Replacement Depot at Fort Meade, Maryland. [8]   On April 30th, 1945 Grandpa was qualified as an escort officer for convoy duty.


Grandpa was transferred to Fort Adair Oregon on July 5 1945 and given what Grandpa called one of his greatest problems of the war.  Grandpa had to escort 100 18 year old fresh recruits from Brooklyn, New York to the Philippines.  On August 3rd Grandpa and the new recruits departed Adair Oregon by train and on August 5th arrived at Camp Anza [9] near Riverside CA.  Camp Anza was the staging area for the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation (LAPE).  Grandpa stated the troops were always getting into trouble.  Grandpa stated he organized boxing tournaments to keep the troops busy.  Grandpa stated that by the time he got the troops on board the ship, 35 of them had court-martials. (Once on board ship he dismissed all the charges.)    Grandpa was here on August 6th when Hiroshima was bombed and on August 9th when Nagasaki was bombed.  Grandpa stated he was in Los Angeles on August 14th when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito ended the War by accepting the Allies’ terms of surrender. 


Grandpa still had a job to do and on August 25th he along with the New York recruits departed Long Beach, CA (LAPE) on board the USS Broadwater (APA-139).  Grandpa was on board the Broadwater on September 2, 1945.  That morning in Tokyo Bay on the decks of the USS Missouri, Japan and the United States formally signed the Instruments of Surrender ending World War II. [10]   Grandpa arrived in the Philippines with the fresh troops on August 25th.  These troops would go on to become part of the Japanese occupation force.

On September 9th Grandpa departed the Philippines and arrived in San Francisco on September 26th.  Grandpa stated while in San Francisco he and a couple other officers decided to celebrate by going to a nice restaurant for dinner and a good steak.  He said during dinner one of the employees dropped some dishes making a loud noise and he and the other officers “hit the deck”.  He said the other customers were staring at them as they were laughing and getting back into their seats.


Grandpa returned to Fort Adair until October 13, 1945 then transferred to Camp Beale Separation Center in Northern California.  On December 8, 1945 Grandpa had a physical examination at Oakland Regional Station Hospital in preparation for retirement from the service.  Grandpa was 28 years old and reported as being 69 ½ inches tall and 169lbs.  The report stated a deformity to left foot, amputation middle 3 toes.


On December 10 Grandpa appeared before the Army Retiring Board for Officers also at Oakland Hospital.  In the proceeding which lasted 20 minutes two doctors testified to Grandpa’s injury.  Grandpa first testified that he desired to be relieved from active duty.  Grandpa stated his reason, “I feel that I can make a better living for myself on the outside and that my service in the Army has gone as far as I care to take it.”   Dr. Kahlstrom testified that Grandpa was permanently incapacitated for active service due to his injury incurred against enemy action.  Dr. Gaiser then testified that he agreed with Dr. Kahlstrom.  When asked if he knew what civilian occupation Grandpa intended to enter Dr Gaiser stated, “On leaving the Army, he anticipates going into a business of his own, preferably a dry-cleaning establishment.”  The board found that, “Captain James H. Dowd is permanently incapacitated for active service.”


Grandpa was granted leave time and went back home to Superior.  Grandpa had served almost 10 years in the Army and 2 ½ years overseas.   He was formally discharged from the Army on April 14, 1946.  When he discharged be began receiving his retirement pay of $172.50 a month.  Seven months later on November 28, 1946, Grandpa and Grandma were married in Superior.  



This work could not have even started were it not for Grandpa.  He saved everything from his time in the military.  He saved every scrap of paper, certificate and notebook.  You name it and he saved it from this period.  Grandpa also took and had a lot of pictures taken of him and where he had been.  By piecing together the different reports, dispatches and military forms I was able to track Grandpa’s movements to the day and in some cases down to the hour.  Grandpa was also kind enough to tell me his stories around the kitchen table whenever I asked.  Grandpa’s statements were from these stories, newspaper articles and official Army documents.


Warren Reiter brought life to this project and it all came together with one phone call during the summer of 2005.  I had placed an advertisement in the 32nd Division newsletter and like a gift Colonel Warren Reiter called.  His first words were,” I served with Jim, your Grandfather.”  Warren went on to tell me countless stories about Grandpa.  I called him numerous times and continue to call him.  Each time I call him he is always helpful and remembers new stories.  His memories of Grandpa and the little things Grandpa did during this time are incredible.  When Grandpa was wounded Warren Reiter became Commanding Officer of Battery B, 120th FA Battalion.  He served in New Guinea, the Philippines and became part of the Japanese Occupation Force.  He made the military a career and retired after 35 years with the Regular Army and the Wisconsin National Guard as a Colonel.  Today Colonel Reiter lives in Colorado Springs with his wife     





Grandpa’s Army Serial #0 411 577


- Purple Heart

- Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon

- Victory Medal WWII

- American Defense Medal

- American Theater Ribbon


Service outside US:  Served 32 months overseas in Pacific Theater


4-22-42 Departed San Francisco.  Arrived Adelaide Australia 5-14-42

10-27-44 Departed 4th General Hospital New Guinea.  Arrived United States 11-16-44

8-25-45 Departed Long Beach.  Arrived Philippines 9-15-45

9-22-45 Departed Philippines.  Arrived San Francisco 9-26-45



New Guinea GO 33 WD 1945


11-2-39 Grandpa enlisted in the HQS Battery 120th Field Artillery, Wisconsin National Guard.


3-16-40 promoted to Corporal.


7-20-40 promoted to Sgt.


10-15-40 Grandpa promoted to Tech Sgt.  The 32nd Division was inducted into Federal Service under order of President Roosevelt.


2-1-41 promoted to Master Sgt.


5-28-41 promoted to 2nd Lieutenant while at Camp Livingston, LA.


11-10-41 through 12-20-41 attended the 3rd Army Jr. Officers Training Center Field Artillery Camp Bullis, Texas


4-30-42 11:32AM crossed the Equator on board the U.S.S. Ancon


7-16-42 Qualified as 120th FA BN 32nd Infantry Division Unit Gas Officer


1-15-43 Promoted to 1st Lieutenant


7-21-44 Injured at Afua, New Guinea.


8-16-44 Promoted to Captain.


4-14-46 Discharged from the Army.



Sources of Interest




Kahn, E.J.  G.I. Jungle.   New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943.


Drea, Edward.  Leavenworth Papers Defending the Driniumor.  Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute, 1984.




“The 32nd Red Arrow Veterans Association”



Camp Cable.”



Garbo, Bill.  “Dog Platoon at Driniumor River



McCracken, Jim.  “Return to Driniumor”



Wallesch, Shayne.  “1942 Troop Ship Crossings.”





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[1] The Indianapolis later delivered the first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian.  The ship was tragically sunk by a Japanese submarine after delivering the bomb.

[2]   Camp Beauregard still exists today as a training center for the Louisiana National Guard.

[3] The newsletter also listed “off limit” areas for the soldiers. A few of these were the property of Mrs. Belle Easterbrook, The Industrial School for Girls, Wilks Bar and the Jungle Inn.

[4] Camp Bullis still exists today as an Army Training Center.

[5] This area is now called Australia’s Gold Coast. 

[6] While at the 237th a merchant marine began asking if anyone knew Warren Reiter.  Grandpa stated he did.  The man was Lt. Reiter’s Uncle.  It was the first news he had received that his nephew was safe.

[7] Percy Jones Hospital closed in 1953.  Madigan Hospital still exists and is known today as the Madigan Army Medical Center.

[8] From a photo, I know Grandpa had dinner at the Casino Royal in Washington D.C. on March 16, 1945.

[9] Camp Anza was deactivated in 1946

[10] The USS Ancon, which carried Grandpa to the War in 1942, was in Tokyo Bay on September 2 carrying members of the press reporting on the surrender.  The Ancon was also at D-Day at Omaha Beach off the coast of France June, 1944.


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