CASUALTIES AND AWARDS
The 86TH received its share of honors for its accomplishments.
Troops A and D were awarded Distinguished Unit Citations for their gallantry at the Prum and Eder Rivers, respectively. Individually, 117 troopers received the Silver Star Medal, 401 were awarded the Bronze Star Medal, two (T5 Mark H. Doren and T5 Ralph W. Wheeler of Troop A) received the Soldier's Medal and 171 were awarded the Purple Heart. T5s Doren and Wheeler received their Soldier's Medals for entering a crashed, burning plane and removing the pilot from the wreckage. They were thwarted in their attempts to rescue a second person when the plane exploded.
It must be remembered, however, that these awards are only those cited in General Orders of the 6th Armored Division, and that many others were made to individuals in hospitals. A man evacuated to the hospital who did not return to the squadron could only have gotten his award from the hospital. For instance, while only 171 troopers received the Purple Heart through division General Orders, more than twice that number had to have received the award through hospitals.
Capt. Frederick H. Eickhoff of Troop A-Headquarters, Capt. Jimmie H. Bridges, 1st Lt. Deforest Sweeney and 2nd Lt. Elroy W. Lesher of Troop D and First Sgt. Knox C. Bellingham each received an Oak Leaf Cluster to go with his Silver Star Medal.
Sgt. Anton Geiger of Troop D received the Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and 2nd Lt. Joseph J. Policastro of Troop B, Sgt. Charlie Cole of Troop A and T4 Robert W. Thoms and T5 John L. Craven of Troop D received two Oak Leaf Clusters with their Bronze Stars.
Overall, Headquarters Troop received nine Silver Stars and 36 Bronze Stars, Troop A received 27 and 82, Troop B received 17 and 59, Troop C received 12 and 25;4 Troop D received 22 and 119, Troop E received 14 and 54, Company F received 8 and 24 and the Medical Detachment received 8 and 8.
Nine enlisted men received battlefield commissions as second lieutenants: First Sergeant Lowell Cornelius and Staff Sergeant Casey J. Rodgers from Troop A, Staff Sergeant Joseph J. Policastro from Troop B, Staff Sergeant Roy L. Ryse from Troop C, First Sergeant William M. Johnson and Staff Sergeant Elroy W. Lesher from Troop D, Staff Sergeant Bert H. Emerson from Troop E, and Staff Sergeant Harold Weeks and Staff Sergeant William J. Speckerman from Company F.
Capt. Delaney of Troop E and Capt. Hughes of Company F firmly believe that their commands were short-changed in both recognition and awards because of the support roles to which they were relegated.
"Company F had the thankless mission to support the recon troops, usually on a piecemeal basis," Capt. Hughes said. "We were rarely mentioned in Troop After Action Reports except as an afterthought. As an example, did you know that a platoon from Company F was with Troop D when it received a unit citation?
"My comments are not written in bitterness, but with regret that so many fine, dedicated men served so well and received so little recognition."
"Because of the constant assignments and reassignments with the Troops of the 86th, the combat commands, even outside Infantry and other operations--and these fluctuated on almost a daily basis--we in Troop E, and I'm sure the same thing applies to Company F, really did not get full accreditation for things we were involved in because we were attached troops," Capt. Delaney said.
"When we did work as a unit on several occasions, especially after we started operating as Artillery, in support of whomever, I think the accreditation was fine. But it was when we were bouncing around constantly and the Task Force commander was the CO of whatever unit we were attached to that we were considered as a secondary rather than a primary part of that particular unit. Of course, this was just a simple fact of life."
Neither Capt. Delaney nor Capt. Hughes begrudges the units they supported any of the recognition they received. They just feel that their commands deserved a fair share of the credit and that when a unit received a special citation the attached troops should have been included.
The squadron also had its share of casualties. Battle casualties included eight officers and 101 enlisted men killed in action, 18 officers and 301 enlisted men wounded in action and four enlisted men missing in action. Non-battle casualties, including only men evacuated from the squadron, numbered 28 officers and 355 enlisted men. Total casualties, battle and non-battle, were 54 officers and 759 enlisted men. Of that number, 236 returned to duty and 573 were replaced by reinforcements.
On the following pages are listed the names of the 109 - 86thers killed in action, copies of the Distinguished Unit Citations awarded to Troops A and D, and squadron members who received the Silver Star Medal or the Bronze Star Medal through General Orders of the 6th Armored Division, with the GO number and year of award.
Go to "Killed in Action" or "Table of Contents" page.