I heard the guns of the 143d
Some e-mails I received from Korean War veterans .
The 143rd FA Battalion was in the 40th Division which also was the California National Guard, which as I have been told was sent to Japan for training prior to going to Korea. They spent (now I am repeating what was told to me) a year in training in Japan supposedly, whether that was a political expedience for the people at home in California so that their boys were not subjected to combat so that when they were finally shipped to Korea they were due to be individually rotated home, so as a result they did not suffer much in the way of casualties. I believe they went to Korea about January, 52. I came into Korea in February, 52 and was assigned to "B" Battery as a Forward Observer for 3 months. I was then assigned as the 143d's Air Observer and Hdqrtr's Section. I flew 60 missions in one of those L-19 Cessna plane for 3 months. At the end of that time they brought me back to "B" battery as Executive Officer which put me in charge of the firing of the guns. 6 months later, I got my 33 points which made me eligible for rotation and they sent me home in February, 53. I believe the 40th Division stayed there until the war ended sometime around May or June of 53.
Sincerely, George F Foy
I have been to your web site and read about the 143 FA 40th Div. in Korea. I was in the 160th Inf. Reg. We were doing the same thing at that time. I have heard the guns of the 143. Sometimes all night long. You have a neat web site. Keep up the good work.
Sincerely, Earl Bates
Bob Sherwood was a classmate of mine at OCS, he also was assigned to B Btry, 143rd FA Bn. He was a forward Observer and a LT. He lives close to me and we get together periodically for dinner or something, I know he has sent you some info on Barber who also was from our class in OCS and assigned to B Btry. He is listed on that list of personnel from our Btry. Hope this answers your query, Sincerely, Geo
I was regular army assigned to the 40th at Camp Cook in march of 1951 for basic training and then to Japan in about July, and to Camp McNair at Mt. Fuji for further training. We shipped out of Yokohama in Dec. 1951 aboard LST's and landed at Inchon near New Years 1952. I was assigned to HQ Battery 143 Field Artillery Bn in the fire direction unit. Stayed until late Dec 1952 and returned to the states. I enjoyed the site and I will try and write a little more about my trip from Inchon to the MLR one of these days.
Harold R. Ruffin
Thank you for your very nice newsletter, I found it very interesting. I was drafted in Oct. 1950 the same time that your Father was. We draftees brought the 40th division up to full strength after they were activated. I remember a person by the name of LaRosa but don't have any further information about him. The artillery piece in the picture is a 105mm howitzer. The person to the right in the picture looks something like Tom Lawson (I think that was his first name) from NC. I don't know a Lt. Baker nor a Sgt. Bost. Most al the names that you have listed were inductees that were drafted in Oct. 1950 and do not include any of the replacements that came in the outfit as the draftees were being rotated home in Oct. of 1952. It is possible that Baker and Bost were some of these late arrivals especially when Baker served from 1952 and 1953. The Best to you and your efforts, it is appreciated.
Great site! I signed your guest book, looked at the pics, read the stories. Very interesting and brings back memories from long ago. I'm in the Btry B photo 4th from the left, 1st row, according to your legend. My last name is Stubchaer. I would appreciate receiving (via e-mail) a larger version of the photo, if you have one. As some of the "stories" state, the 143d was a California National Guard unit of the 40th Infantry Division. We and a division from Pennsylvania had the honor of being the first two Guard divisions called to active duty -- our proficiency scores were quite high compared with others. The 49th Infantry Division was in northern California at the time -- their scores were so low they never were activated. We reopened Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg AFB) in Sept 1950. It had been closed since the end of WW2 and was in bad shape. After mobilization our misfits were weeded out (we had a 15 year old in our unit) and we were brought up to wartime strength with draftees. Many of them were from the midwest and were almost old enough (25 years approx.) to avoid the draft and were older than many of us 19 and 20 year old lower grade NCOs who trained them. They were good soldiers. After reading Cold War history recently, I realized that the 40th was sent to Japan because the was a real fear that the Soviets might invade Japan from the north. A popular rumor at the time, which is cited in one of the stories on your site, was that the 40th ws a bunch of Momma's boys who should be protected from combat. I recognize many of the names on the roster for the photo and even after 50 years can remember quite a few details of individuals. One who's name I won't mention couldn't read, but he was an expert marksman using "Kentucky windage". After the Articles of War were read to us, he understood one wasn't a deserter until absent more than 30 days, so he took off and stayed with a woman in Pismo Beach until the 29th day when he returned. He didn't know about being AWOL. He just got company (battery) punishment, as I recall. Attached are scans of three photos. One is a Btry B 105 at Hunter Liggett in 1949 -- I'm the #2 man with the dented helmet and my back to the camera. The second is the Btry B photo. Lt. Blanton was the Btry Commander -- the caption "Division" is at hit leg. I'm immediately behind him. The last is my cap, etc.
Thanks for your fine work. I''ll visit again from time to time.
Santa Barbara, CA
143 "WAR STORIES"
The first two 143rd casualties in Korea were Cpl. Uharriet and Cpl. Painter, both of whom were from "C" Btry.
Uharriet was hit by mortar fragments as he was using a slit trench one –20 F. January morning. (Got caught with his pants down . . . literally!) He bemoaned this fact to us back in Charlie Btry as he wrote from his hospital bed in the U.S. that he would not even be able to show his grandchildren any hole in his trousers!
Painter was one of about 12 men quartered in a squad tent directly in front of our howitzers. (Don't ask me why they were there!) A few days after Uharriet was hit, I was firing night H&I (Harassing & Interdicting) at the Chinese when we had a VT (Proximity) fused round detonate right over their tent. Painter, the only casualty, lost one of his buttocks! (Luckily he was turned away from the "Intruder!") – And, Oh, yes! – We moved that tent behind the guns!
Next day, as I was walking through the crunching snow on the way to Bn Hq, I met and saluted our CO, Lt. Col. Art Read. We stopped to talk a bit. As we parted, Art said: "Well, Reiland, one thing we can say about Charlie Battery. – They are not sitting on their butts! – (BEST JOKE I EVER HEARD IN COMBAT -- IN ANY WAR!!!)
I have just about finished making copies of the photos involving the 143rd B Battery during the period of 1953 to 1954 at which time the 40th Division was dissolved. I wish I could remember all the names involved. If anyone remembers any of the guys not identified, I would really appreciate having the names.
I am including some information from the basic artillery training at Fort Sill Oklahoma. I owe a debt of thanks to the professionals involved in our training. They gave me the knowledge to advance rather rapidly to the rank of SFC within about 13 months from the time I entered the service. The photo is of a number of persons from Fort Sill. Identified by number in the second row is Sgt. Funk, First Sgt. Albert Crawford, Battery Commander Billy G.Seale and Sgt. Sanders. Funk and Crawford are from Texas and Lt. Seale from Alabama. Both Funk and Crawford had served in Korea.
I was in Korea from early 1953 to the Summer of 1954. I was fortunate to have gone from a Gunner in a Gun Section to the Chief of Firing Battery of "Baker the Best". This was due largely in part of Lt. Webb our Executive Officer. He was from Texas and a cousin of Audie Murphy.
During the war we were in an area called "Smoke Valley" near Kumwha and the Iron Triangle. We supported the 12th ROK Division. The 143rd received the Syngman Rhee citation and another from the commanding General of the 12th ROK Division. After the cease fire we moved several times before ending up in the Chorwon Valley. This is where a lot of the photos were taken.
The photos will be in several sections. 1. Fort Sill, 2.Smoke Valley, 3. Chorwon Valley and several from my tour with the 145th 155 Gun Field Artillery which lasted only a few months. This was after the 40th was dissolved.
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to your excellent web site. I am very proud to have served the143rd and the 145th Artillery Units as their Chief of Firing Battery.
The photos will be on photo paper. Hopefully they will scan ok.
Morris R. Casey
The following is excerpted from "THE FIRE BALL" newspaper, dated April 10, 1953. (Not very GI)
FIREBALL, THE BEST OF ALL
From the shores of the South Pacific, To the rocky Korean hills, The fame of the 40th Division, Pride in our hearts instills. The artillery, the mortars, the engineers, The riflemen medics and tanks, All work together in peace or in war, With a union found rarely in ranks. The 40th is a fighting Division, Wherever may be the call, The boys to the left and the boys to the right, Know the Fireball's best of all.
From: PFC. Francis Robert Ericson Med. Co. 160th Regt.