438th Commendation

APO 307, United States Army

2 May 1945

SUBJECT:  Commendation.

TO:              Lt. Col. John J. Lane, 438th AAA AW Bn (M), APO 399, U. S. Army.

1. I am very pleased to commend you, the officers, and the enlisted personnel of our battalion, for outstanding performance of duty during the period 16 June 1944 to 2 May 1945.

2. Landing on Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on D Day plus 9 (16 June 1944) you assumed immediate defense of two vital bridges on the main supply line at St. Sauveur and defense of VII Corps Artillery for the cutting of German forces on Cherbourg Peninsula and attack on Cherbourg. From that time, the Battalion fulfilled continuous missions of this and similar type until the cessation of hostilities in Europe. At no time throughout this period were the military installations and positions defended by your organization damaged or hampered in their mission as the result of enemy air action. On 2 August 1944 a part of your battalion participated in the defense against the enemy attempt with all the forces at his disposal, to cut our forces by a drive from north of Mortain to Avranches, France. Placed in a ground defense role by direct command of Major General Barton, commanding the Fourth Infantry Division, and given the mission of helping stem the enemy tide until sufficient infantry could be brought into place, this unit successfully carried out its role until personally relieved by Major General Barton the following day when the immediate emergency had been overcome. In August the 438th proved capable of functioning with customary maximum efficiency while giving the preponderance of its trucks to the moving of troops and supplies of Divisional units to strategically important positions along the border between France and Belgium, infantry action by your Battalion resulted in the taking of some one hundred fifty prisoners, including a full colonel, John Pentelo, of the German artillery. At St. Girard, Belgium, from 6 to 9 September, one unit of the 438th engaged in ground action expending approximately two thousand rounds of .50 caliber ammunition. By vigorous daylight patrolling and defense of strategic positions on a main enemy escape route at night, enemy troops, cut off by the rapid advance of our forces, were prevented by death or capture from returning to their lines. At Huy and Liege, Belgium, from 10-15 September, units of your Battalion successfully completed the mission of defending bridges across the Meuse River on the vital Divisional and Corps supply lines against persistent attempts by the enemy to destroy these bridges. In November and December, the 438th, by careful use of its remaining equipment, was able, without sacrifice to its primary mission, to assume charge of a provisional trucking company, using its trucks and personnel in a highly successful manner, to haul replacement personnel and required supplies for First United States Army and VII Corps. In protection of VII Corps Field artillery, your Battalion took part in the reduction of the Ardennes salient. Units of this Battalion moved searchlights to the Remagen Bridgehead the day after it was founded to aid in the setting up of a searchlight defense. Units of the 438th, with the mission of protecting the 188th Field Artillery Battalion, traveled in the advance column of TF "R", CC "B", 3d Armored Division from the Remagen Bridgehead to Marsburg and north to Paderborn to meet troops of the Ninth Unites States Army and help complete the greatest double envelopment movement in military history. While so engaged, these units, in column, destroyed two lanes and drove off others that were trying desperately to halt the advance of our forces.

During the period 30 March to 5 April 1945, and again from 20 to 29 April 1945, this battalion operated prisoner of war collecting points and assisted in transporting to the rear a total of approximately sixty-five thousand German prisoners, with the result that the advances of VII Corps units were not impeded by the processing of prisoners. From 17 April to 2 May 1945, your Battalion handled approximately thirty thousand allied former prisoners of war, including their collection, feeding, housing, administration and evacuation. During the same period units of the 438th fulfilled the mission of air and close in ground defense of VII Corps headquarters. During the period 16 June 1944 to 2 May 1945, the 438th AAA AW Bn (M) has been officially credited with the destruction of 12 enemy aircraft and the probable destruction of eight others. It has captured over two hundred and fifty prisoners of war. It has completed without fail and with maximum efficiency all of its forty-five antiaircraft missions, as well as those of Corps security, trucking, operation and evacuation of prisoners of war enclosures, and operation of allied prisoner of war exchange camps. The Battalion has fired eleven thousand rounds of forty millimeter ammunition and one hundred ninety seven thousand and six hundred and thirty-one rounds of .50 caliber ammunition in both antiaircraft and ground roles.

The assigned antiaircraft missions of the Battalion have been the protection of VII Corps Field Artillery, protection of ammunition and supply dumps; protection of towns and installations; protection of vital bridges; protection of main routes of supply; protection of rear area installations by firing on V-1 flying bombs. It has received seven direct commendations for its work, including one from the Commanding General of VII Corps. The missions of the 438th AAA AW Bn (M), while keeping it always in a forward role where its personnel were subject to enemy artillery and mortar fire and aerial bombardment, have not placed it in positions where the heaviest enemy air attacks at low altitude have been made. Nevertheless it has established an enviable record of fulfilling its missions at all times with utmost efficiency. For its success in preventing enemy aircraft from accomplishing their missions, the excellent discipline and cooperative spirit of its officers and men, its adaptability, leadership and over-all efficiency, this Battalion has received constant praise. Through its protection, both from ground and air forces, and in many subsidiary capacities it has done much to promote the rapid and successful prosecution of the war in Europe.

3. At all times your Battalion has been characterized by these extremely desirable military qualities: high morale, a keen desire to serve regardless of dangers involved, quick efficiency, and complete dependability. Such an organization can only be made up of the finest officers and men. You and your officers have shown yourselves to be capable leaders; your men to be capable soldiers.

4. Not only am I proud that you were member of this command because of your unique record of results attained, but also because it was a real pleasure to work with you. Showing not the slightest temperament, your organization was always cooperative, always willing.

5. Your duties could only have been accomplished in such outstanding manner by a truly superior organization and under a superior leadership which you have repeatedly demonstrated. Such qualifications and continued performance of duty are meritorious and worthy of the highest tradition of the service.

      /s/ Fred B. Waters
Colonel, 109th AAA Group

A True Copy:  N.C. Bowman
1st Lt., 438th AAA AW Bn (M)