(above picture)462nd PFAB
Silver Star Recipients
2/Lt Joseph J Parme
Capt Emmet R Spicer
The 462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
he 462nd Field Artillery Battalion was constituted on 25 February,1943.
On 15 June 1943, the 462nd was activated by General Order No. 44 Headquarters Airborne Command at Camp Mackall, NC.
The activation order did not designate parachute but under TO&E it was essentially the same as the one developed
by experimentation in the Parachute Test Battery under the Airborne Command. This remained the same for all PFA battalions
throughout WW II with only one small change in 1945.
The cadre for the 462nd, including the original Commander, Lt Col Forrest R. Armstrong,
came from the 458th PFAB which had been activated at Fort Bragg only four months previously.
There were originally 55 officers and 285 enlisted men assigned to the 462nd PFAB. The surplus officers were
formed into a "pool" of parachute qualified Artillery officers who subsequently were used in the activation of
several new Battalions. For a period of over 4 months, Lt Col Armstrong and his personnel officers screened the records
and chose those that Lt Col Armstrong wanted from over 200 officers and several hundred enlisted men. Armstrong
placed heavy emphasis on experience and attitude and, as a result, the 462nd went overseas with a disproportionate
number of regular army enlisted men "old soldiers". This included over 30 of the original test battery who were
experienced paratroopers with a year and a half of jump and heavy drop experience.
Eventually, Armstrong was relieved from jump status due to a physical problem in October 43, and was
replaced by Major Donald F. Madigan.
Replacement personnel came from many sources including recruiting and induction stations.
These men were given basic training in the Battalion then escorted through jump school by our officers.
Among the officers originally assigned to form the battalion from the 458th was a 1st Lt. Wm. E. Colby.
In September '43 he was recruited by the OSS. He subsequently was selected to jump into Norway to destroy the
German "heavy water" plant which Hitler was using in an attempt to develop an atomic bomb. He stayed with OSS
throughout the war and later joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and became its director under two
The 462nd was alerted for overseas in mid-February 1944. On Monday,
28 February 1944 the battalion, with equipment, loaded abroad a troop train on the siding of Camp Mackall.
After the journey west the battalion arrived at Camp Stoneman, CA outside San Francisco on Sunday March 5th.
On Saturday March 11th, the 462nd boarded the ferry boat at Camp Stoneman and proceeded to
the ferry building at the Port San Francisco. There the battalion boarded the SEACAT, a fast C-4 type,
Victory cargo ship just recently converted to a troop transport. After 22 days at sea the cargo ship arrived in
Brisbane, Australia on April 2nd.
In early July, 1944 the 462nd loaded out of the Brisbane on a small Dutch Inter-Island
Trader for Noemfoor. Most of the trip was unescorted usually within sight of the North Coast of the New Guinea.
The battalion arrived off Noemfoor on 7 August, 1944, joining the 503rd PIR and the newly arrived Company C,
161st Parachute Engineers as the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team.
Arriving too late to lend much support to the reduction of enemy forces
on the island the 462nd did support patrols and conduct some training. During this training Lt Col. Donald Madigan
was with an Infantry Patrol acting as a forward observer. While trying to adjust fire into a canyon a round hit in
a palm tree directly over him, and put a large fragment into his left chest. He survived and with the fragment
lodged next to his heart was evacuated to Hollandia, then Walter Reed in Washington, D.C.
During the Corregidor Operation Major Arlis E. Kline, the 462d PFAB Commander landed
in the rubble of the long barracks on TOPSIDE. He sustained severe injuries to his face and body. Despite these
injuries he remained on the island until he could be safely evacuated. Major Melvin R. Knudson assumed command of
The battalion Surgeon, Capt Emmet R. Spicer, also distinguished himself during this
operation. Early in the operation, after he had established the Battalion Aid Station, Capt Spicer heard from
the wounded coming in that many troopers were wounded in a deep ravine full of enemy soldiers. Without regard for
his personal safety, he picked up his aid kit and headed for the ravine. Several troopers on the outposts warned
him not to go into the ravine but he only smiled and said he had to help the wounded. He did not return.
A few days later when the ravine was cleared of enemy forces, Capt Spicer was found propped up against tree.
Several wounded troopers nearby were tagged and treated by the officer. Capt Spicer was killed by an enemy sniper
in site of being unarmed and displaying a Red Cross armband and emblem on his helmet. He had diagnosed his
wounds and tagged himself before he died.
( Source: "A Short History of the
462nd PFA Bn" by Lt. Plemmons)
R E L A T E D B O O K S
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