2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 16, 2021 11:19 PM by Donald Hall

    Seeking duties of uncle in 497th Medical Collecting Company

    Shannon Bruce Newbie

      My great uncle was a Technician Fourth Grade in the U.S. Army 497th Medical Collecting Company.  What did that entail? Note: He died in France in July, 1944.

        • Re: Seeking duties of uncle in 497th Medical Collecting Company
          Jason Atkinson Guide

          Dear Shannon Bruce,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          Technician Fourth Grade was a military rank, like captain, sergeant or private.  There was no one set of duties associated with persons who held that rank. His duties would have been determined by his Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). If you have a copy of his discharge papers, it may list his MOS.


          If you do not have this information already, we suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. If there is any information requested by the form that you do not know, you may omit it or provide estimates (such as for dates), but the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate the correct file if it survived the fire. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.


          Additionally, you may be interested in his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). IDPFs from 1940-1976 for U.S. Army personnel with surnames that begin with A-L are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For more information about these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov.


          For the IDPFs from 1940-1976 of personnel with surnames that begin with M-Z, please write to U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Casualty & Memorial Affairs Operations Division, ATTN: AHRC-PDC, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Department 450, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5405. They are being scanned by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in order to properly identify remains of those still listed as missing


          In regards to the unit records, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located Unit Annual Reports, 1940 - 1949 in the Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (Record Group 112) that includes a file for the 497th Medical Collecting Co. We also located World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917-1985 (Record Group 407) that includes records of the 497th Medical Collecting Company under MDCO-427.For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at Archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL and RDT2.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.  Also, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter, and those involving the VA Home Loan program. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels.  Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          The roles of medical collecting companies are described on the web pages Brief Overview of the Medical Department, The WW2 Medical Battalion, Infantry Division, Organization – Medical Department Units (Personnel & Vehicles), and From the Roer to the Elbe with the 1st Medical Group:  Medical Support of the Deliberate River Crossing. The 497th was a separate medical company rather than one permanently assigned to a division. In brief, the mission of the separate medical collecting company was to collect patients by litter or ambulance from first-echelon treatment facilities, provide them with needed stabilizing treatment at the collecting station, and then transport them by ambulance to a supporting clearing company. In addition to collecting patients in the corps or army area, the company could also be used to support a divisional medical battalion with additional collecting assets.


          The American Battle Monuments Commission lists three soldiers buried in overseas cemeteries that died while serving in the 497th. There may have been additional casualties not listed on their website because they were returned to the United States for burial in national or private cemeteries.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


          • Re: Seeking duties of uncle in 497th Medical Collecting Company
            Donald Hall Adventurer

            OK, let's look at collecting companies in general, and what we can tell about your great uncle from the unit's mission and organization.


            A Collecting Company was responsible for establishing what was known as a "collecting station."  This is a point to which casualties would be brought--either by the company's own litter bearers or by their ambulances--from the units they supported.


            This is an important point--since the AMerican Civil War, the US Army--and most western armies--have adopted a system developed by Major Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, where higher level medical units go forward to collect casualties from lower-level units.


            So, an infantry battalion would go forward to the point of injury, collect its wounded, and move them to their battalion aid station.  The men (and in World War II it was all men at this level) would go forward and collect those patients, now treated, and move them to the collection station for further care until they could be evacuated by a higher echelon headquarters to a hospital or other treatment facility for further care.


            In an Army Division, there would be a medical battalion providing this care, and the collecting companies would be lettered--Company A, 1st Medical Battalion, Company B, 1st Medical Battalion, etc.


            But we know your great uncle didn't work in a divisional clearing company.  Why?  Because he was in a separate, numbered company.  In World War II, casualties would happen in all areas, for all kinds of reasons--air raids, artillery fire, stove malfunctions, traffic accidents, the flu, you name it.


            To meet this need behind the divisions, the Army Medical Department fielded separate, numbered companies--including the 497th Medical Company (Collecting), your great uncle's company.


            The 497th supported the Ninth United States Army for at least part of its time in Europe, according to "Conquer: The Story of the Ninth Army," published in 1947.  But they took a casualty in July, so they likely belonged to the First US Army initially, and may have belonged to the Third Army at some time in between.  Why the Army, and not a lower echelon, lie the Corps?  Because the Corps didn't have any medical support of their own, it was all supplied by the field army through the end of the Vietnam War.


            As to what he did, it really depends on his Military Occupational Specialty--it should be listed on his discharge papers.  He could have been a mechanic, or a cook, or a clerk-typist, or any number of other specialties required to make a unit operate.


            But just based on sheer numbers, I'd bet that your great uncle was a Medical Corpsman, MOS 657.


            If you are interested in going into the archives and looking, the Army Medical Department Historical Unit required units to submit annual reports of their activities to the Surgeon General. These are located in Record Group 112, Entry 54A.  which is mentioned by the archivist, above.  And, as they mentioned, Record Group 407 has the records that were retained by the unit during the war.


            If I can answer any other questions, feel free to reach out to me and I'll see what I can dig up.  I went into a bit more detail then you may have wanted/needed, but it's for others who may have had similar questions.

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