Reason my Father Robert E Davidson serving with Co "A" 194th Tank Bn. 47th Inf Div. Camp Rucker, Ala. received a Bronze Star during the Korean war. Records were lost in 1973 fire. Is there any way to get anymore information?

How can I find any information about why my Father received the Bronze Star in Korea? 

Parents
  •  

    Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!

    The Textual Reference Archives II Branch (RR2RR) has custody of the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917- (Record Group 407), U.S. Army Command Reports, 1949-54, and the Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter) (Record Group 338). Command reports among these records consist mostly of narrative historical and after action reports as well as unit journals and other supporting documents. We reviewed these records but unfortunately we were not able to locate general orders or award information for the 194th Tank Battalion or the 47th Infantry Division that include information on Robert E. Davidson. 
    We additionally reviewed Eighth Army Award Case Files within Record Group 338 but again were not able to locate records for Robert E. Davidson. If you are able to identify who issued the Bronze Star, date of issue, and general orders number please let us know and we will gladly continue searching our records for you. 

    We invite you to continue the conversation with community members on History Hub, but should you have follow up questions for the staff at Archives II, please email us at archives2reference@nara.gov so that we can assist you further.

    We hope this assists you with your research!

    Sincerely,

    Textual Reference Archives II Branch (RR2RR)
    [RR2RR 23-56394-SZ]
  • Unfortunately I don't have any information. He never told my mother when or why he got the medal. The only thing she remembered was that she knew he was a 'forward observer". We have some pictures of him and some of his comrades but only one has a name on it and I can't find any information searching his name. I was young when my father passed away so I didn't think to ask any questions. I never even saw the medal until I was a teen. I was depending on his military records not ever thinking about them being destroyed in a 1973 fire. I will continue to search and keep up with these posts. Maybe I will get lucky some day.  Thank you so much for trying to help. 

  • Is a shoulder patch or other unit insignia visible in any of the photos? Maybe painted on the front or side of a helmet? Or on a sign in the background? If so, and you can post a high-resolution copy, someone might be able to recognize it and help identify the unit, helping narrow down your search. Even the shape can be distinctive. Each of the divisions that fought in Korea, and the Corps, had distinctive shapes to their shoulder patches.

  • The pictures are very small and even enlarged they don’t show any detail enough to see their uniforms. I do remember the mention of him being on Kojedo Island (not how it’s spelled now) at some point. On his dress uniform in the newspaper clip of the medal pinning there is a patch that is kinda leaf shaped with a lightening bolt inside it and on the other side and on the helmet is a round patch in blue and red with a Viking pictured in it. Also the stripes of Sargent with a T. The combat pictures I can’t see any last names. Only one has the name Pap Nolen. I have the Sargent stripes patch but don’t know what happened to the Viking or the lightening patch. 

  • In the Army, Soldiers wear patches on their shoulders for specific reasons. The patch on their left shoulder is for their current unit of assignment. That is the Viking patch, and is the 47th Infantry Division, which was mobilized at Camp Rucker, to which the 194th Tank Battalion was assigned.

    47th Infantry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

    On their right shoulder, Soldiers who have been to war wear what is known as a "Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, Former Wartime Service," more informally known as a "Combat Patch."

    The patch you have described is the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 25th Infantry Division. It is a Taro Leaf with a lightning bolt, since the division was originally raised in Hawaii. It's pretty distinctive, and your description is spot-on. It's official nickname is "Tropic Lightning," but in Vietnam, soldiers referred to it as "The Electric Strawberry."

    25th Infantry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

    Assuming your father didn't serve in World War II, we can conclude he was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division when he was in Korea.

    The Division does have an association, and it looks like they have an archive of donated records at the Marshall Center at the Virginia Military Institute.

    25th Infantry Division Association – Welcome, Tropic Lightning Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers (25thida.org)

  • Oh, my! I am so thankful for your continued effort to help me gain a little understanding of things military. Any knowledge is a blessing to me. I have sent an email to the website you attached here but haven't heard from them as of yet. The medal, his Sargent stripes and dog tags are all I have had over the years which is something. My mother doesn't know what happened to these two patches. Again so appreciate you taking time to respond and help! 

Reply
  • Oh, my! I am so thankful for your continued effort to help me gain a little understanding of things military. Any knowledge is a blessing to me. I have sent an email to the website you attached here but haven't heard from them as of yet. The medal, his Sargent stripes and dog tags are all I have had over the years which is something. My mother doesn't know what happened to these two patches. Again so appreciate you taking time to respond and help! 

Children
  • The patches are actually pretty easy to get online. Just type in "25th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch" or "47th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch" in Google search, then choose the "shop" option, and they should pop up. eBay also has them. If you want period-authentic, you want "cut-edge" on a khaki or dark green background--or one that says vintage late 1940s or early 1950s. The "merrowed edge" patch didn't come into use until later. Although for a shadow box, the merrowed edge, where the embroidery wraps around the edge of the patch, actually looks better, so is just as good. And don't get any subdued (camouflage) patches--they didn't start using them until the late 1960s, so your dad never wore one.

  • I did go to online shop page for this site. I don't think my Dad's patch was green/khaki and black. On his dress uniform picture although it's black and white The outline and the lightening bolt shows up light colored and the inside of the leaf dark. Mother says thinks it was yellow and red.  The lightening patch was on his right sleeve and the Viking patch just above his Sargent stripes on his left. there is some kind of pin on his headpiece. I wish I could get pictures to up load on this site but can't get them to from my phone. I hope that I am not bothering you with all these questions but I have known so little about what these things mean and about what his time was like. I am just grateful for your help. 

  • I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't clear. In the 1940s to the 1960s or early 1970s, you could see the background material on the shoulder patches. They refer to that style as a "cut edge." The background material at the time your father was in would be either khaki or olive drab; later in the 1950s it would change to Army green.

    Here are examples of cut edged patches:

    47th Infantry Division cut-edge shoulder patch 25th Infantry Division cut edge patch

    Later on, they went to a merrowed-edge patch, where the embroidery wrapped around the edge of the patch. It looks neater. This is the current style, in use today:

    47th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch, Merrowed Edge25th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch Merrowed Edge

    Your father would have worn color, cut-edge patches. If you are doing a display box, you can either chose to go with period-appropriate, or for the aesthetics.

    He never would have worn a subdued (olive drab and black) shoulder patch. He was in about 15 years too early.

    As for the crest on his cap, I wouldn't put too much effort into figuring out what it is. It most likely is the 194th Tank Battalion or, if they weren't authorized a crest, one assigned to a higher echelon unit.

    This is the Distinctive Unit Insignia authorized for the 194th Tank Battalion (now the 194th Armored Regiment) in 1952:

    194th Tank Battalion DUICoat of Arms (army.mil)

    You've only mentioned his Bronze Star Medal. He should be authorized three additional medals for sure--the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal. And probably a Good Conduct Medal, as well. Do you have his DD-214?

  • I hope those photos went through. There is another patch under the lightening bolt one that only the pointed top portion is showing in the photo. I don't know what it looks like. The reason I haven't mentioned anything but the bronze star is because that's all we still have. I do have the DD214. The two photos are different so I don't know when or where each was taken. There was a house fire at my grandmothers (his mother) and we think the other bars and medals were there at her home. the Bronze Star my Mother had. It looks like the tropic thunder patch has the hewn khaki color border it's barely visible on the Khaki uniform. My Brother and I are thrilled to learn this much. Thank you so much!

  • The pictures do come through, and they tell us a lot.

    We'll start with the patches, which we've already discussed. He's wearing a 25th Infantry Division Combat Patch, and a 47th Infantry Division shoulder patch designating his current unit of assignment.

    He's wearing Staff Sergeant chevrons on both sleeves--that's the "pointy patch" you can't make out on the right sleeve. It's the same on both sleeves.

    Now let's look at the crest--Distinctive Unit Insignia--on his shoulders and hat. It took me some digging, but I believe it's the 135th Infantry Regiment, which was assigned to the 47th Infantry Division. I base this on the shape, the saltire (the "X," and the scroll on the bottom.

    This is the 135th Infantry Regiment's crest:

    135th Infantry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia

    The 135th Infantry was originally formed in 1861 as the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and has a long and distinguished history. The crest is described as follows:

    Description/Blazon
    A Silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches (2.86 cm) in height overall consisting of a shield blazoned:  Argent, on a saltire Azure between in chief a fleur-de-lis Gules, in fess the Corps badge of the 2d Division, 8th Army Corps during the Spanish War Proper (two Silver circles overlapping each other one-third radius, resembling the figure "8") fringed of the third and two bolos saltirewise and in base a bull's skull of the like, the 2d Division, 2d Corps badge of the Civil War of the fourth (a Silver three-leaf clover with stem, voided).  Attached below and to the sides of the shield a Silver scroll inscribed "TO THE LAST MAN" in Blue letters.

    Symbolism

    The shield is white (silver), the old Infantry colors.  The blue saltire is taken from the Confederate flag - for Civil War service.  At the battle of Gettysburg the 1st Minnesota Infantry Volunteers were in the 2d Division, 2d Corps (Hancock's), whose badge was the three-leaf clover.  The figure "8" represents the Spanish War service and the crossed bolos the Philippine Insurrection service, while the fleur-de-lis represents World War I service of the 135th Infantry.  The bull's skull (shoulder sleeve insignia of the 34th Division) indicates service with this Division during the period of peace and through World War II.

    Background

    The distinctive unit insignia was approved for the 135th Infantry Regiment on 18 June 1926.  It was amended to show additional war service on 19 December 1951.

    Now, let's talk about the pieces of felt underneath the crests on his shoulders. They are called "Combat Leader Identification Tabs." They indicate individuals assigned to combat units who were in leadership positions, to make them stand out--squad leaders, platoon leaders, company commanders and first sergeants, etc.

    Although they could be worn on the battlefield, normally you'd see them worn in garrison, as your father is. They were made of felt, didn't hold up very well, and invited sniper fire. 

    Given your father's rank, he was probably a squad leader.

    Above his ribbons, he is wearing the Combat Infantry Badge. This tells us a lot. To be awarded the CIB, you had to be an infantryman, assigned to an infantry unit, in combat. It, and the companion Combat Medic Badge, are considered to be the two most prestigious badges you can be awarded in the Army, because there are no shortcuts to being awarded it--you have to engage the enemy in combat.

    Combat Infantryman Badge

    Now, if you look at the insignia on his left collar, you'll see that it has something crossed on it--it should be crossed rifles, because that's what personnel in the infantry wear. On his other collar is the initials U.S. Currently they are flat, but during the Korean War they would have been domed, which is why they look curved.

    Now for his ribbons. First, he put them on upside down. Oops. He wouldn't be the first person to do so.

    The one with the thin stripes is the United Nations Service Medal Korea. It was awarded by the United Nations for service in Korea and is, technically, a foreign award. And it actually was produced in seven different languages.

    The other ribbon he's wearing is for the Korean Service Medal. It has two Bronze Service Stars on it (NOT to be confused with the Bronze Star Medal), meaning he participated in two different campaigns during the war. Which two? Well, we know he returned to San Francisco on June 16th, 1952. So those were probably for the Second Korean Winter campaign and the Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952.

    Although he's not wearing it, he also would have been authorized the National Defense Service Medal. It wasn't authorized until April 1953, but was authorized for everyone who served on active duty (other than active duty for training) for more than 30 days between 1950 and 1954 (and during Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terror). Most likely, this picture was taken before it was authorized.

    In all likelihood, your father was never issued any of these medals, only the ribbons. Most people weren't--you had to ask.

    Now, to complicate things . . . in 1950, the Republic of Korea offered a medal to all who participated in the defense of Korea. At the time the Department of Defense couldn't accept it, so basically forgot about it. The law/regulations were changed in 1954, but nobody remembered it had been offered until 1996. So in 1999 the Department of Defense authorized the wear of the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. But DoD doesn't issue it; you have to buy it from a private vendor.

    And he probably received a Good Conduct Medal when he was discharged, since he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. But the only way to know that is to get his records and check.

    His ribbon rack would have looked like this, with all of his known ribbons:

    If you find out he had a Good Conduct Medal (again, you can only find out by checking his record), then his ribbon rack would have looked like this:

    Now, I said before he was probably assigned to an artillery unit. But he's clearly an Infantryman.

    The picture you posted today clears that up.

    You show him standing with his battalion's mortars. Or the regiment's heavy mortar company. Most likely he was a forward observer for the mortar platoon in the battalion's heavy weapons company, or the regiment's heavy mortars, or both. Either that, or they found out he was REALLY GOOD with a map, and made him a forward observer, because he could call in fire accurately.

    So what does this tell us about his service in the 25th Infantry Division?

    In Korea, they had three infantry regiments assigned to it--the 14th, 27th, and 35th Infantry Regiments. Each regiment had three battalions and a heavy mortar company (plus some other stuff); each battalion had a heavy weapons company with a mortar platoon.

    There was also a medium tank battalion that may have had a mortar platoon, but your father wouldn't have been eligible for a Combat Infantryman's Badge if he wasn't assigned to one of the Infantry Regiments.

    You can request that the Army issue a replacement set of your father's medals. You use the same form that you use to request a copy of his records, just put "request replacement set of any medals, decorations, or unit citations. Originals never issued or destroyed in house fire." It may take a while.

    Military Awards and Decorations | National Archives

    And that's just about all I can squeeze out of those photographs. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Smile

  • Oh, also--look in block 27 of his DD-214 and see what it lists for awards.

    It should say, as a minimum:

    Combat Infantryman Badge

    Bronze Star Medal

    National Defense Service Medal

    Korean Service Medal w/ 2 Bronze Service Stars

    United Nations Service Medal

    Does it mention any unit awards? Or the good conduct medal? Also, the awards may use abbreviations, or be continued in block 38, Remarks.

    Also, see what it says in Block 28, "Most Significant Duty Assignment." My father's lists the unit he was in when he was discharged. But if you're lucky, maybe it will mention his Korean service. My dad was on a three-year enlistment, so he had some time to kill after he got back . . . 

  • Goodness. This is just incredible stuff we would never decipher on our own. You have been invaluable to us in this journey to find out how special a man our Dad was during his 18 months in Korea. He was a simple country boy but very smart. Except for putting his pin on backwards! Those domed collar pins I do recall seeing years ago we don’t have them now. My mom says he definitely was Forward Observer and he served with another one who was black. She recalls seeing blue on that hat pin. These other pictures are part of the group with nothing written on them. Again I hope I haven’t bothered you too much but I’m so happy you have been willing to help. I guess I should have started this quest a long time ago but life flys by!