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. 

  • 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! 

  • I know what you mean about life flying. In the one picture he's carrying a mortar round. And wearing his Combat Infantryman's Badge. It's a big mortar round, so probably with the Regimental Heavy Mortar Company.

    In the second picture, with the tank, there's not much to be discerned. Tanks often accompanied infantry in combat (indeed, it's poor tactics to employ tanks without accompanying infantry--they're too vulnerable otherwise). But other than that it doesn't tell us much. Now if you had a picture of the front or back of a vehicle, I could tell you a lot based on the "bumper numbers" painted on it. 

    For example, in this picture, my dad is driving a jeep assigned to the 148th QM Company (Graves Registration), assigned too the 23d Quartermaster Group. It's also vehicle number 1, as the company numbered them.

    And I wouldn't worry about the ribbon bar being upside down. You see a lot of people putting ribbons in the wrong order. And I once stooped a Sergeant Major who had his patches sewn on the wrong shoulders . . .

  • I love it ! Thanks for sharing. This is the only one of the pictures that has anything on the back. He almost got the front bumper but all it’s got is Jeep HM-9. Skeet (my father’s nickname) is driving I tried to google the name but it’s Pop or Pap probably a nickname too. Looks like two wolf heads on either side of the windshield. I really wish the front bumper was shown. 

Reply
  • I love it ! Thanks for sharing. This is the only one of the pictures that has anything on the back. He almost got the front bumper but all it’s got is Jeep HM-9. Skeet (my father’s nickname) is driving I tried to google the name but it’s Pop or Pap probably a nickname too. Looks like two wolf heads on either side of the windshield. I really wish the front bumper was shown. 

Children
  • You are making this entirely too easy.

    Your father was assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment.

    Their nickname was the "Wolfhounds," which is what is written in the middle of the bumper.

    Their unit crest had a wolf on it and is one of the few that was "mirrored, meaning that the right and left shoulder crests were different, so that the wolf's head would always look forward, when you wore them on your shoulders.

    You'll notice that they look just like the ones painted on the jeep, too.

    The crest is described as follows:

    Description/Blazon
    Left: On a black oblong a wolf's head erased facing to the left in gold above the motto "NEC ASPERA TERRENT" in gold letters. Right: On a black oblong a wolf's head erased facing to the right in gold above the motto "NEC ASPERA TERRENT" in gold letters. The insignia is 1 inch (2.54 cm) in height.

    Symbolism

    The wolf's head is a glorified design developed as a result of the nickname "Wolfhounds" for the 27th Infantry. The nickname "Wolfhounds" was adopted by the organization due to its service in Siberia during World War I. The motto has been in use by the Regiment since its activation and translates to "Frightened By No Difficulties."

    Background

    The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 1 May 1931.
    If the letters on the right side do say "HM9," it would further support the idea that he was assigned to the Heavy Mortar Company of the Regiment. If it said "HW9," it would support him being in the Heavy Weapons Company of one of the battalions.
    Either way, I'd say it's a pretty sure bet he was a Wolfhound of the 27th Infantry Regiment.
    There is a 27th Infantry Regiment Historical Society, their website is here:
  • I'm actually shedding tears. I have looked at these little two inch square black and white pictures a thousand times over the years. I could not have guessed there could be that much information in them that I did not see. And getting a response from you was heaven sent. I may never know exactly why my Father got the bronze star but I now know some things about him I couldn't have ever known. I have come to realize he actually was a BADASS! Which I knew anyway. Now I am determined to keep digging and maybe I will get lucky. I love all things military my great-great grandfather were Civil war Vets. One Confederate (pictured) the other a Union Soldier commander of a black regiment born in New York City. History and ancestry are addicting. I hope to keep communicating with you it's been a pleasure and an honor. 

  • Ha! My great grandfather was a Union Infantryman, his father-in law was a Confederate Cavalryman. Must have made for some interesting holiday dinners.

    The Army used to have a TV Show called "The Big Picture." They had an episode called "The 25th Infantry Division in Korea."

    It is available on YouTube here:

    www.youtube.com/watch

  • I watched this video it was very informative and a little scary. There is one picture of my Dad's that has some children playing, a couple with mountains and one of what looks like its from inside a cave. It's crazy that I can find out more about my Civil War G-G Grandfathers from Muster Rolls and such found in my ancestors possessions than I can about my Dad. I filled out the form for replacement medals maybe I will get lucky. Since records were burned how did they issue a DD214? Maybe I don't know what the initials in box 27 mean. I know you do. Will they only replace the medals shown on the DD214? 

  • As with everything in the military, "it depends." The abbreviations say

    Combat Infantryman's Badge

    Korean Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star (your father was wearing two)

    United Nations Service Medal

    Overseas Service Bars-1

    The overseas Service Bar is a cloth (embroidered) bar, roughly 1/4 by 1 1/4 inch that was sewn on the right sleeve of the uniform coat that represented six months in combat. And there was no rounding up. So, if your father spent 11 months in Combat, he got 1 bar.

    As for the two service stars he wore versus the one shown on his DD-214, it's POSSIBLE that the second star was authorized after he was discharged. In that case it wouldn't have shown up on the DD-214, which is a snapshot on the day he left active duty. Do you know if he spent any time in the Army Reserve after he was discharged? That could explain both the 2nd bronze service star and the infantry regimental crests versus the armor battalion listed on his discharge papers as a unit of assignment. OF course, he also could have been cross-leveled while still on active duty to fill a key position, so maybe not.

    As to the National Defense Service Medal, they should issue that automatically. It wasn't an existing award when he was discharged, but he was authorized it once it was authorized, based on his dates of service.

    Depending on if they do any digging, you may also receive some unit awards. They are ribbons enclosed in gold frames that are awarded to every member of the unit. If you're in the unit during the period the award covered, then it's awarded to you. When we wrote for my dad's awards, they included a Korean Presidential Unit Citation that he wasn't aware his unit had been awarded, and which wasn't on his DD-214.

    The Bronze Star will be more interesting, since it's not listed on his DD-214. We'll have to see on that one. If it's not, we may have to find a copy of the orders to send in and request a replacement medal set. Unless you have a copy of the citation or orders in your possession, but I'm gathering you don't.

    As to how the DD-214 survived--The DD-214 is a separation document. It's prepared as you're leaving the service. In fact, your father should have signed it someplace on the form. And my understanding is that copies were filed in several places within the government--in the individual's personnel file (which was in the fire) and with the VA, for example. And they can access the alternate copies. Since yours is a reverse image, if it was received from the Archives, I'd suspect it was an alternate copy obtained from a roll of microfilm that wasn't stored at the NPRC when the fire occurred. Or at least, it was stored in a different part of the building.

  • I sent a request to the archives and received a letter stating that they would send the National Defense Service Medal but would require a copy of the DD214 before any others could be issued. I will mail or Fax if I can. The military is complicated when records are destroyed. The pictures I sent are all we have besides those few Korea pictures. Her entered in March 1951 and was discharged December 1952 he returned from Korea in June of 1952 on the W.F. Hase to San Francisco. The bronze Star was pinned at Camp Rucker in November 1952. All I have to go on are these dates and the DD214 which does bear his signature. We got the copy I have when my Mother filed for burial and a marker. I can't explain the awards that show in the picture of him in uniform unless they were awarded after his return and will at Camp Rucker waiting to be discharged. I guess what is shown on him that isn't listed on the DD214 I won't be able to get replaced. I would like to get them all and see how he got them but that fire erased that. Without your help I wouldn't have as much as I do. If these current pictures give any it will help.