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Medical Detachment, 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion, 9 September 1945

2D Ranger Infantry Battalion

MEDICAL

DETACHMENT

2ND

RANGER INFANTRY BATTALION

9 September 1945

SUBJECT: Medical Unit History

TO:  Chief Surgeon, Communications Zone, APO 871 (Thru Channels)

1.    Transmitted herewith is the history of the Medical Detachment of the 2nd Ranger Battalion from its date of activation, 1 April 1943, to the present date, 9 September 1945.

[signed]

MAX FOX
Captain, M.C.
Commanding


MEDICAL DETACHMENT

2ND RANGER INFANTRY BATTALION

9 September 1945 

MEDICAL DETACHMENT HISTORY  

The Medical Detachment of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion was activated 1 April 1943 at Cup Forrest, Tennessee . At that time it as comprised of 7 EM. 1st Lt Goldstein was the Medica1 Officer on Detached Service from the 65th Medical Regiment to act as C. O. of the detachment and as the battalion surgeon. The first regularly assigned medical officer, Captain Charles H. Collins, joined the unit the latter part of April 1943. Due to ill health he as forced to leave the battalion only after being in it for a period of two weeks. Again Lt. Goldstein  come to the battalion an D. S. until Capt John D. Dzienis was assigned and joined in May 1943. During the period spent in Camp Forrest the battalion was engaged in a very strenuous training program involving long and fast marches, weapon's training, and physical conditioning. The Medical Detachment took an active part in this schedule. During the months of July and August 1943 10 EM were assigned and joined to the Medical Detachment and 2 EM were transferred out, bringing its strength is 15 EM and 1 Officer. In early September 1943 the battalion left Camp Forrest for an 11 day amphibious training program at Ft Pierce, Florida , at the U.S. Navy Scouts and Raiders School . At the conclusion of this training the battalion departed for Ft Dix, N.J., for another training schedule consisting largely of company and battal­ion problems. For these problems the Medical Detachment had 1 EM assigned to each of the six different line companies as a company aid man, with the remainder of the detachment functioning as a battalion aid station. Because of ill health Capt Dzienis left the unit and his place was taken by Capt Walter E. Block. Departure for overseas being imminent the Medical Detachment as forced to transfer 4 EM in order to get down to the T/O allotment of 11 EM and 1 Officer. On 11 November 1943 the battalion departed for Camp Shanks , N. Y., and embarked for the ETO, landing at Greenock, Scot­land an 1 December 1943. The first station for the unit was Bude, Cornwall , England . Here the Medical Detachment, along with the battalion engaged largely in cliff scaling training. 2 EM were assigned to the detachment and 1 EM transferred out, making the strength 12 EM and 1 Officer. The T/E allowing just 1 ¼ ton W. C., but in Jan­uary 1944 a cross-country 4x4 ambulance was assigned to take care of the evacuation of training casualties. From January 1944 until 6 June 1944 the battalion was located in various parts of the U.K. undergoing extensive boat and cliff scaling training in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

In the invasion of France the battalion touched down in three separate task forces. Force "A", Companies D, E, & F, had the impor­tant task of destroying the coastal battery located at Pointe du Hoc. The carefully laid naval fire planning worked to the units


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advantage when the LCA borne group was brought in forty minutes late due to a navigational error. Overcoming ready, stubborn resistance this force gained their objectives and by aggressive patrolling, located and destroyed the 6 155-mm guns. Casualties were severe as the assault troops had first to conquer the steep, slippery, 100 foot cliff before they could effectively answer the enemy's fire. This force was cut off from outside help until D plus 2 days, and the casualties, the majority of which incurred the first few hours of the assault, could not be evacuated until H plus 36 hours. Captain Block and two technicians accompanied this force as the aid station personnel, and each line company were allotted 1 aid man. The aid station was initially set up on the beach under cover of the overhanging cliff to take care of the immediate wounded. At noon the aid station was moved topside into a captured bunker. One medic was SWA by sniper fire while rendering first aid at the beach. Captain Block received the Silver Star Medal and one company aid man received the Bronze Star Meda1 for their work on this mission.

Force "B", consisting of Company C, was in at H hour to destroy the installations to the right of the Vierville Exit. The company received the brunt of the enemy's fire, losing 50% of its strength in the beach crossing alone. The remaining, however, successfully neutralized an enemy island of resistance defending the beach. The aid man for the Company received the Bronze Star Medal for his work an this mission.

Force "C", consisting of Companies A & came ashore at Omaha Dog Green with the mission of passing through the beach defenses to lead the 5th Ranger Bn to Pointe du Hoc. Enemy fire was terrific and heavy losses were sustained. Four medics landed with this force and three were hospitalized by serious wounds in this action. 1 EM received the Silver Star Medal and 1 EM received the Bronze Star Medal for their part of the engagement. The ambulance driver landed with the first vehicles and for his excellent work to the evacuation of casualties was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

Force "C", joined by Force "B", advanced to within 1000 yards of Pointe du Hoc on D plus 1. Contact was established with Force "A" at noon, D plus 2, and all casualties were permitted evacuation. The battalion was then placed in Group reserve.

The battalion being in Corps and Army reserve during the period of 9 June 1944 - 3 July 1944, the Medical Detachment preformed normal dispensary duties. Closing into the Beaumonte-Hague Peninsula on 4 July 1944, the battalion, upon the completion of an extensive mopping up mission, began comprehensive training of the newly arrived reinforcements. Three additional men were assigned to and 1 transferred from the Medical Detachment, and with 1 man returning from the hospital brought the strength to 15 EM and 1 Officer.

The battalion departed from Beaumonte-Hague on 7 August 1944 to participate in an uneventful defensive mission in the Mortain-Mayenne area. On 28 August 2944, as part of VIII Corps, the battalion was moved


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to assist in the assault on Brest . The full scale attack on the city was launched at 1300 hours, 25 August 1944, prior to this time the battalion had probed the enemy defences by patrols. Cutting the Brest - Le Conquet escape road on 27 August 1944 the battalion continued to advance against stubborn resistance and on 7 September 1944 the initial mission of securing the right flank of the29th Division was accomplished and the battalion was now in position to sweep through the Le Conquet Peninsula. The battalion continued fighting until the final capitulation of Brest on 20 September 1944. The Medical Detachment had 2 EM SWA and 2 EM LWA hospitalized, with 2 EM LWA remaining on duty. Evacuation of the wounded was easily accomplished as the high hedge rows permitted the ambulance and litter jeep to go almost into the front line positions. Aid station personnel were engaged principally in the rapid evacuation of the wounded to the close by collecting stations. 1 Silver Star and three Bronze Star Medals were awarded members of the Detachment during this campaign. With the addition of 3 reinforcements the strength of  the Detachment was 13 EM and 1 Officer.

The month of October 1944 was spent as a training period in Arlon , Belgium , and Esch , Luxembourg . The battalion entered the Hurtgen Forest on 14 November 1944 to relieve elements of the 28th Division in the Vossenack area. The action was purely of a defensive nature, with mines and artillery causing heavy casualties. The aid station personnel performed a three-fold task, the evacuation of the wounded via litter carry and litter jeep from the Company CPs to the aid station, treating the casualties at the aid station, and evacuating them via ambulance to the collecting station.  1 EM was hospitalized being SWA and 5 EM were LWA, all remaining on duty. 1 EM was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his work in this action.

On the night of 6-7 December 1944 the battalion was moved to relieve elements of CCR/5th Armd Division in Bergstein. Companies A, B, & C were charged with the defense of the South and South East section of the town. Companies D, E, & F assaulted Hill 400 at dawn on 7 December 1944 and successfully captured it and withheld five fanatical counter attacks during the 40 hour period of occupation of the hill. Terrific artillery and mortar fire caused extreme casualties. Evacuation of the wounded from an aid station set up in the captured pill‑box on top of the hill could only be carried on under the cover of darkness by litter bearers taken from the line companies. The wounded were taken to the battalion collecting  point located in the town church, the solid masonry of this structure withstood a total of 80 direct hits. From this post the casualties were taken by litter Jeep to the ambulance point, located to the west of Bergstein, and from there they were taken to a collecting station. Award of the Silver Star Medal testifies to the intrepid courage of the litter jeep driver who,  notwithstanding the fact he had two vehicles smashed by enemy shell fire, continued the evacuation until all the wounded had been properly cared for. One other EM received the Silver Star Medal and 1 EM received the Bronze Star Medal. The detachment suffered a total of 7 casualties, 3 LWA who remained in duty, 3 SWA who were hospitalized, and the Medical Officer, Captain Walter E. Block, who was Killed In Action. 1 Medic was a member


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of the initial group to receive rotation furloughs to the United States , departing 8 December 1944. The battalion was withdrawn and placed in reserve on the night of 8 - 9 December 1944.

Captain Alexander W. Magocsi, M.C., was assigned and joined the Detachment on 13 December 1944. The battalion was placed in a defensive position in the Simmerath area on 16 December 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. The anticipated enemy drive failed to materialize through that sector and the two weeks stay in that location was purely of a defensive nature, augmented by nightly patrolling. Evacuation of the wounded to and from the battalion aid station was very rapid despite accurate intermittent shelling of the town. Upon being relieved by elements of the 78th Division the battalion entered a period reinforcement receiving and training. During the months of November and December 1944 four EM of the detachment were hospitalized and 1 EM rejoined from the hospital, making the detachment strength of 12 EM and 1 Officer.

On 7 February 1945 while the battalion was engaged in preparation for the crossing of the Roer River one aid station medic was LWA and hospitalized for wounds caused by mortar fire. On 1 March 1945 the detachment, accompanying the battalion, transported medical  supplies and equipment across the waist deep Roer River . Medical pack carriers were utilized for this mission. Before vehicle transportation was available casualties were evacuated by a 2500 yard litter haul back to the limits of the vehicular advance. 

In the race across Germany until VE day the battalion worked with a Cavalry Group  and casualties were handled by the company aid men and the squadron aid stations.  On 10 April 1945 Captain Magocsi was relieved from assignment and his place as taken by Captain Max Fox. During the above periods of time 1 EM was SWA and hospitalized, 1 EM was LWA, remaining on duty, and 1 company aid man was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal. Since 1 January 1945 6 EM were assigned to the detachment, 3 EM rejoined from the hospital, 1 EM was transferred, 4 EM were hospitalized, and 2 EM were returned to the United States on the Rotation System, making a detachment strength of 14 EM and 1 officer.

After V-E Day the battalion was stationed in Czechoslovakia where the main function of the Medical Detachment was to operate a dispensary and pro station. 1 EM was sent to the United States on the Point System, 2 EM were assigned to the detachment, making present day  strength 15 EM and 1 Officer.

The Medical Detachment of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion, with a T/O of 11 EM and 1 Officer has been awarded a total of 26 Purple Heart Medals, 6 Silver Star Medals, and 9 Bronze Star Medals.

At the present date the detachment, as part of he 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion, is stationed at a Rheims assembly area undergoing processing in preparation for return to the United States and disbandment.

- finis - 

SOURCE: National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 407, Records of the U.S. Army Adjutant General, World War II Records, 2d Ranger Battalion.