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ITEM Company


The record of no other Company in the 385th is more impressive than that of Company "I" of the 3rd Battalion. Commanded by Capt. Vernon Massey, they braved all the discomforts and hardships of combat with a fire and determination which meant only one thing: eventual victory at the end of the road.

The Company crossed the Sauer at Echternach on the 12th of February, relieving units of the 417th.  At this time the situation above the banks of the Sauer was chaotic.  Third Battalion and Item succeeded quickly in straightening things up, driving a blazing wedge into the Siegfried pillboxes.  One of the most difficult tasks in those days was the supplying of advanced elements, who were often all but surrounded by Nazi held bunkers.  But night after night, Sgt. James Beatom made trips through a defile commanded by two very active Nazi forts to get vital supplies to the men.  The defile soon became known as "Death Valley" and there are few men in the Third Battalion who weren't intimately acquainted with it.  Finally, Lt. John A. Daisy led an attack on these two fortifications, and aided by TD's succeeded in knocking them out.

Beyond Irrel and the Siegfried line, all roads led to the Rhine, and Berlin.  And as the Doughs trudged along they would find grim little signs painted on buildings or fences.  Scenery Beautiful but Dangerous."  "Many Roads lead to the Rhine, but More Roads Lead to Death."  See the Rhine and leave your Skull There."  The Doughs merely laughed and went on about their business.  And when Item finally did pull up to the banks of the fabled water barrier, they found that the scenery was indeed beautiful and considerably less dangerous than advertised.

With the Rhine behind them, the men of the Company felt that the toughest part of the job was done.  And so it was, with a few exceptions, such as the fight at Usingen, where a well-garrisoned town attempted to hold up the Yank advance.  Company "I" and attached TD's turned loose everything they had, and eventually the town fell.  But fell with heavy casualties, and the prisoner total for the engagement was 581, not including more than 400 Krauts in hospitals in the town, and a huge hospital train which hadn't had time to pull out before the Yanks arrived.  Capt. Massey was later awarded a Bronze Star for his leadership in the taking of the town.

In the zone of action east of Kassel, Item climbed on board TD's and Tanks like the other rifle outfits of the Regiment, and blitzed along, easily taking care of the slight opposition left in the wake of the mighty swath the Armor was making out front.  Prisoner counts lengthened daily. and hundreds of Displaced Persons thronged the roads, smiling at their liberators.  For the riflemen the smiles of the liberated were a wonderful sight, and an incentive for an even more aggressive spirit.

Yes, "I" Company did more than its share of liberating.  Was constantly out in front taking it and giving it, but always giving more than they took.  For that is how battles are won.  And "Item" never lost any.

Capt. Vernon Massey






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