World War II veterans recalled serving in the historic 10th Mountain Force | Articles | US Army

2021-12-16 08:01:54 By : Mr. Vic Wang

Written by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs Department December 15, 2021

Fort Drum, New York (December 15, 2021)-For decades, Earl Siebert has never spoken of serving in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

Although his favorite TV show is about the military, he is tight-lipped about sharing any of his experiences in the military. He didn't start mentioning this until his two grandsons became commissioned officers.

One of his grandsons, Major Malcolm Wilson III, said that he will travel to Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 2007 to complete the second phase of the basic officer leadership course.

"This is the first time Grandpa mentioned his service to me," Wilson said. "He said he had also been stationed there for a while, receiving some field artillery training."

In 2015, Wilson was assigned to the U.S. Army Sustainment Command at the Rock Island Arsenal and led a team to Europe for on-site surveys. There, he was able to visit a World War II museum in Belgium. Later, he showed his grandparents photos of his travels-one of them was a 75mm howitzer made at the Rock Island Armory.

"It's almost like opening a bottle," Wilson said. "Grandpa recognized this cannon immediately and said that it was assigned and trained for use during his service. This led to several stories about his service in Italy."

Today, surrounded by his family during the holidays, he tends to share an army story or two when asked.

"When I was growing up, my father didn't even talk about the military," said his daughter Earlene Siebert. "If someone asks him about it, he will say it now."

Sibert grew up on a farm in Midland County, Michigan, and he knew the value of a hard day's work when he grew up. When he and his father were plowing with a team of horses, he was less than 10 years old. If the plow is broken, Sibert will run home to get spare parts. Once, when he drove a tractor down a steep and rugged hillside, the hay cart came loose and almost crushed him.

After finishing eighth grade, Sibert stayed at home and farmed with his father. This work hardly left time for hobbies or pastimes, but he got the harmonica and learned to play with his ears.

When the United States entered World War II, the 20-year-old Siebert had no intention of joining the army. His mother had severe tuberculosis, and one of his younger sisters had polio, so Siebert's first task was to take care of his relatives and the family farm.

However, the draft had other plans for him. He received an order for basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

"I didn't want to join the army, but they were drafting, and I finally went," Sibert said. "I thought I had to go."

Sibert was assigned to a battery in the 605th Field Artillery Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division, and he went to Camp Swift in Texas for field artillery training. He proficiently fired a 75mm howitzer and learned how to disassemble it, then load the fragments on the mule.

The mule can carry heavy loads on different terrains. Sibert recalled the situation where four or five mules were needed to transport a 75mm howitzer.

"We can put the barrel on one mule, and on the other mule, there is a wheel on each side of the saddle," he said. "But we have never used them overseas."

Sibert said that sometimes the mule would be frightened by the loud noise, and then fled with part of the howitzer. Soldiers will eventually hang howitzers on military trucks instead of mules to move them.

"Where we go to Italy, the terrain is perfect for dragging a gun behind a truck," he said. "So this is the way we go."

Siebert said they also had to deal with cannons that could break easily.

"It's not bad at all to launch it," he said. "But the 75 howitzer is a very delicate piece of equipment. You dare not follow those vehicles with a car behind because it can easily be damaged in some way, like a wheel falling off. It is not always built correctly, but We still used them."

By July 1944, troops from the 10th Mountain Division had arrived at Camp Swift from Camp Carson and Camp Hale in Colorado. While adapting to the hot weather in Texas, the soldiers continued their infantry training, walking 10 to 25 miles on a regular basis.

Three artillery units—the 604th, 605 and 616th field artillery battalions—were commanded by brigs. General David L. Lavner. On November 23, 1944, Major General George P. Hayes took over as the commander of the division.

Sibert and the 605th Field Artillery Battalion boarded the United States Air Force General Megs just after the New Year in 1945 and arrived in Naples on January 18.

"There is a big pier and we can see some ships sinking in the port," he said. "From there, we continued to use the LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) about 100 feet long."

LCI is a type of assault ship used in World War II to land a large number of troops on shore. The soldiers could feel every wave of the steel flat-bottom hull, which caused seasickness.

"We had a convoy driving up the coastline, and I remember the weather was terrible," Sibert said. "The situation at LCI is so difficult, ups and downs. Some people are sick and they have to cheer up-it's a bad experience."

This is his first time abroad by boat. When he landed, Sibert remembered seeing an Italian sitting on the dock fishing.

The soldiers who looked at this man were stunned. He bit into the flesh of the live fish, and then took a bite of the bread from his pocket.

"This is what I call hard life," Sibert said.

Field artillery units of the 10th Mountain Division participated in the attack on Riva Ridge and Belvedere Mountain, blowing up enemy fortifications from the valley below. In order to remain abrupt, they were ordered not to fire until the infantry reached the target.

During the Battle of Trough, Sibert experienced several months of fighting and won the Bronze Star Award for his actions near Torbole. The division suffered 506 casualties in order to complete this task, of which 91 were killed in action.

"His military experience was not pleasant, and until recently did he tell us how many of his friends did not go home," Erin Sibert said.

Wilson said that when he asked his grandfather about the Bronze Star, he attributed his actions to others.

"It's kind of humorous to hear him describe his efforts not so influential, but everyone around him did all the work," Wilson said. "He is rather humble, but doesn't want to be recognized for anything. He believes he is just doing his job."

In his acceptance speech on June 17, 1945, he wrote:

"For the first time using a howitzer as an offensive weapon, First Class Sibert participated in an amphibious landing to support a mountain infantry regiment to attack the enemy. He showed great bravery and helped push the weapon onto the road, always at the enemy’s Under direct observation, fire directly at chance targets and targets recalled by the infantry."

The artillery company fired and advanced along the road several times, fighting back all day long, until they finally stifled the enemy's resistance. The quotation concludes:

"His great courage, teamwork, and boldness are exemplary, and he has made a great contribution to maintaining the highest traditions of the U.S. Army."

Sibert did not elaborate on the battles or battles during the war.

"In any case, it was a good experience," he said. "As long as you don't get hit. But we have had this experience. We have set up the guns, and when you hear the noise overhead, you fucking know they are shooting at you. They will be behind us. Shot in the small town of, and we will hear those roaring shells coming in."

"I will tell you, well, I'm too old to really remember some of these things," he added. "But I'm glad I'm in an artillery battalion. We are very safe in most anti-battery fires. We are not directly fired like infantrymen."

Sibert still remembers what American air superiority was like during the war.

"I have never seen so many bombers flying overhead in my life," he said. "In any case, they flew over the Brenner Pass and bombed the Germans who were trying to return to Germany or leave Italy. This is something worth seeing-car after car."

At the end of the Italian election, Sibert has a chance to see more countries.

"We will travel by truck, and I remember the Italians will hand each of us large bottles of wine," he said. "The war had already been won, so we had a great time."

After the European War officially ended, Sibert took a vacation to return home, but it is almost certain that his troops will be sent to Japan.

When the movie was interrupted by the announcement that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he was sitting in the movie theater. On August 15, 1945, President Truman announced the unconditional surrender of Japan. Sibert will not return to work overseas after all. Three months later, the 10th Mountain Division was disbanded.

"After that, I withdrew from the army," he said. "I just want to go back to agriculture."

Siebert eventually went to work for The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, and performed maintenance work on the company's first railroad. In July 1948, he married his wife Rosemary. They raised three daughters together, and they are fortunate enough to have 8 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Sibert recently celebrated his 97th birthday; his wife will turn 95 this month. He said that they maintain a good mental state through healthy eating and prayer.

"You have to conquer life in some way," he said.

World War II veterans recalled serving in the historic 10th Mountain Force