You might contact the paper and see if they can provide some names from the reunion. (??)
Posted: Thursday, October 4th 2007 at 6:45am The 431st: A Front Line Support Group By Gordon Sawyer EmailContact EditorPrint
Gordon Sawyer The ranks of our World War II GI's are thinning now, and as we leave the stage so go a lot of memories ... a lot of history. The big battles of World War II are well chronicled, but what about the day-to-day life of the GI's who may, or may not, have been part of D-Day or Iwo Jima, and yet who were literally on the front line for the entire war? The reason this comes to mind is because the 431st Signal Heavy Construction Battalion is holding a reunion in Gainesville this week, and it gives we historians, and the GI's families, a reminder to gather the stories of units like the 431st in the European Theater, or the Mediterranean, or of units like the Seabees in the South Pacific. These were the so-called support units that were often on the front lines with the first wave of troops, and sometimes before the infantry. The 431st crossed the Atlantic on the troop packed and fast running Queen Mary in the fall of 1942 ... landing in England just in time to experience German air raids. By Christmas they were in North Africa, and as the Allies won on that continent, they moved on to Italy as the American Army pushed its way north toward Germany. They were shipped briefly to France, to the French Riviera no less, and then back to the grinding battles up the Italian boot. The primary duty of this unit was to keep communications lines in operation, which in World War II usually meant telephone lines, and nothing pleased the enemy more than tearing them down. They were overseas and in combat for 32 months before VE Day. For those who read history and assume units like the 431st had a safe and comfortable job, consider that the entire unit was awarded the Meritorious Service Award, that there were medals from the Silver Star to the Bronze Star and the Soldier's Medal, not to mention seven Purple Hearts.