Non Commissioned Officers in the Army

With the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the United States found itself in another major war. Mobilization greatly increased the numbers of Army non-commissioned officers. Ironically, mobilization, combined with other factors, created a staggering growth in the percentage of non-commissioned officers to total forces.
The proportion of non-commissioned officers in the Army increased from 20 percent of the enlisted ranks in 1941, to nearly 50 percent in 1945, resulting in reduced prestige for many non-commissioned officer ranks. Coupled with this growth in numbers, the eight-man infantry squad increased to twelve, with the sergeant then staff sergeant, replacing the corporal as its leader. The rank of corporal came to mean very little, even though he was in theory and by tradition a combat leader.
Basic training in World War II focused on hands-on experience instead of the classroom. NCOs conducted all training for soldiers. After basic training, a soldier went to his unit where his individual training continued. The major problem was that the rapid expansion of the Army had led to a proportionate decrease in experienced men in the non-commissioned officer ranks. Making this condition worse was the practice of quickly advancing in rank soldiers who showed potential while combat losses reduced the number of experienced NCOs.

Fighting in the Pacific and Europe required large numbers of men. Millions of men enlisted and America drafted millions more. Still the Army suffered from manpower shortages. In 1942 the Army formally added women to its ranks. By 1945 over 90,000 women had enlisted in the Army. Women served in administrative, technical, motor vehicle, food, supply, and communications, mechanical and electrical
Positions during the war.
World war II made more demands on non commissioned officers corp. and had a greater impact upon the NCOs role and status than any previous conflict in American history. By the end of the war, there were 23,328 infantry squads in 288 active infantry regiments. More than seventy separate battalions, including armoured infantry and rangers, raised the total number of such squads to over 25,000, all needing non-commissioned leaders.
Drafted, trained, and promoted during the hectic months of 1942 and 1943, these citizen soldiers carried our their duties as non commissioned officers superbly, in countless engagements on every front during WWII, but especially those where small unit leadership was at a premium, such as jungle warfare of new guinea in the pacific and the Hurtgeen forest battle in Europe. There were many Heroes of WWII and you could choose any one of them but here we have the first secret hero America had in World War II.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 29, 2005) — Fifty years ago an Army Reserve non-commissioned officer performed an act of heroism that led to him becoming America’s first secret hero. Manning a hilltop position near Taejon-ni, Korea, Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura, formerly of the Enlisted Reserve Corps, was a long way from his home in Gallup, N.M. on the night of April 24, 1951. A major Chinese Communist offensive had been launched against the United Nations line. Miyamura, a machine gun squad leader in Company H, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division, was
Ordered by his platoon sergeant to take 15 men — machine gunners, riflemen and ammo carriers — to a hill south of the Imjin River and hold the position against the Advancing Chinese Communists as long as possible. He did exactly that throughout the night, Miyamura directed the heavy and light machine guns of his squad as they held off repeated attacks by the Chinese. The combat was savage. Miyamura kept yelling at his gunners to use short bursts. He joined in with automatic fire from his carbine and threw grenades at the enemy, whose attacks were accompanied by bugles, whistles, flares, and supporting mortar bursts.
At one critical point, he charged the enemy with his bayoneted carbine and killed ten of them in close-in-combat, breaking up the attack. Finally, it was time for those Americans still alive to fall back. Miyamura slid into the heavy machine gun position and told the unwounded members of the crew and two riflemen to help the injured soldiers away; he would cover them.
They moved out and Miyamura was alone, waiting. Then the bugles and whistles sounded again. The Chinese were coming up the hill again. Miyamura fired his machine gun until it ran out of ammunition. He then threw grenades towards the advancing Chinese. With his final grenade, he destroyed the machine gun and took off for a nearby trench, where he literally ran into a Chinese soldier.
Despite the surprise encounter, he shot the Chinese and wounded him. The Chinese got off a grenade, which Miyamura kicked away. It exploded, killing its thrower and wounding Miyamura in the leg. As enemy soldiers poured up the hill, Miyamura tried to get away but stumbled into American barbed wire in the dark, causing him further injury. Freeing himself, Miyamura dropped into a hole playing dead while the Chinese swarmed over the area. One Chinese soldier was not fooled and he pointed a pistol at the young corporal, telling him to get up. Four days later, a task force from
Chinese around Miyamura’s machine gun position. There was no Trace the 3rd Division recaptured the hill. There were more than 50 dead of Miyamura among the dead G.I.s of his section. The man who so fiercely defended that hill joined the Army during World War II and became part of one of the most famous units in American military history, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit, composed entirely of Americans of Japanese Ancestry, except for some white officers, was — for its size and length of service — the most decorated unit in the Army.
Along with the attached 100th Infantry Battalion, its members earned more than 18,000 individual decorations, to include one wartime Medal of Honour, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars, 5,200 Bronze Stars and more than 9,480 Purple Hearts. We cannot of course forget Ira Hayes the hero, On February 19, 1945, Hayes took part in the landing on Iwo Jima. He then participated in the battle for the island and was among the group of Marines that took Mount Suribachi four days later, on February 23, 1945.
The raising of the second American flag on Suribachi by five Marines, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Mike Strank, and a Navy Corpsman, John Bradley, was immortalized by photographer Joe Rosenthal and became an icon of the war. Overnight, Hayes (on the far left of the photograph) became a national hero, along with the two other survivors of the famous photograph, Rene Gagnon and John Bradley. Hayes’s story drew particular attention because he was Native American.
Hayes was promoted to the rank of corporal before being discharged from the Marine Corps. His decorations and medals include the following:
Commendation medal with “V” combat device,
Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima),
American Campaign Medal,
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Vella Lavella, Bougainville,
Consolidation of the Northern Solomons, and Iwo Jima) and the
World War II Victory Medal This then is the Heroes, now we will have a look at the weapons. The total allied forces in the Second World War were, Tanks 210,950 added to this vast number of fighting machines we had the help of Merchant Shipping, which totalled 44,431,300, and of course the Warships of which there was a grand total of 10,853,200 in the allied forces. Of course you also need to mention the warplanes that numbered 582,500.
But the biggest weapon that we used and is still not recognised as such is the terrific amount of manpower that was needed, 109,705,100 men fought in the war and they above the weapons need to be mentioned, yes the weapons helped but it is the sheer blood and guts of the men and women that fought so bravely that got us all through. Part of the creed of NCOs is as follows and tells us what his duties are. Competence is my watchword; my two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind.
Accomplishment of my mission, and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain tactically and technically proficient, all soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership and I will provide that leadership, I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both reward and punishment. Officers of my unit will have ample time to fulfil their duties.
They will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my soldiers. I will be loyal to those I serve, seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative, by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity. Nor my moral courage, I will not forget nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals. Non-commissioned officers, and leaders.
Throughout history, training noncommissioned officers of the United States Army had been accomplished using on-the-job training (OJT) in the unit, and many believed that is where it should stay. Training noncommissioned officers was conducted by officers in the regiment and was the commanding officer’s responsibility. It was accepted that unit training was the best means of developing noncommissioned officers and potential noncommissioned officers. In most early writings the NCO was regarded with the
Enlisted man and as such received little interest.
They should teach the soldiers of their squad how to dress with a soldier like air, how to clean their arms, accoutrements, etc and how to mount and dismount their Firelocks. {Instructions for the Sergeant and corporal Von Steubens 1779 Blue Book}
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