628th Medical Detachment History
Francis T. England
Herman A. Fittery
When the Medical Detachment was formed at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania in July, 1941, it consisted of nineteen men
and two officers, Capt. Donaldson, the Medical Detachment Commander, and Lt. Hodgson. Estadish, Fittery, Kauffman
and Youngs were among the "old timers" in the Medical Detachment. On Augst 4th of that year the Detachment left for
six weeks of maneuvers at AP Hill, Virginia, then returned to the Gap for a brief stay and then went on to the Carolina
maneuvers. It was during the Carolina meneuvers that Lt. Perelman joined the organization. The return to the Gap
followed after which came Camp Livingston, Louisiana. While at Livingston, Lt. Perelman left the organization. During
January, 1942, Captain Hodgson became the Medical Detachment Commander. Lt. England joined the Detachment in August, 1942,
while the unit was still at Camp Livingston, La. In September, 1942, came the movement to Camp Hood, Texas, and it was here
that the strength of the Detachment was brought up to 33 men and two officers. Camp Bowie,
Texas, Camp Gordon Johnston, Fla., and Camp Rucker, Ala.
followed in that order. While at Rucker in May, 1943, Capt Hedgson left the Detachment to join an Engineer's Group and
Capt. England became the Battalion Surgeon. The ten week Tennessee maneuvers followed in July, 1943, and it was during
these maenuvers that Lt. Arendt joined the organization. The mountains of West Virginia, the staging area at Fort Dix,
New Jersey, and final processing at Camp Shanks, New York, preceeded the unit's leaving for overseas. Throughout their
stay in the States, the men of the Medical Detachment were trained in all branches of first aid, in all phases of treatment
and care of the wounded, in map reading, and in the firing of small arms.
During their stay in England, the unit stayed at Packington Park some eight miles from Birmingham and from there moved on to
Wales for a pleasant two week stay. While here the medics underwent additional training. The unit then returned to Packington
Park for two weeks prior to moving to Dorchester in April, 1944, where the Battalion was in charge of Marshalling Area "D",
servicing those troops that had been selected to take part in the invasion across the Channel in Jun, 1944. Lt. Arendt
trasferred to 6th TD Group. While the unit was at Dorchester, Capt. England was Medical Officer and Sanitary Engineer for the
the camps in Area "D", Sub Area "X". Barnes and Baker stationed with a Quatermaster Unit outside Dorchester had a First Aid
Station. Burden, Edlin and McCall acted in the capacity of Sanitary Engineers at D-7 Marabout. During the last days of the
stay in England, the Medical Detachment attended the third anniversary Battalion banquet held in Bournemouth on July 10, 1944.
Prior to embarking across the Channel for France on July 28, 1944, the personnel of the Medical Detachment were detached
from the Battalion and assigned to the companies as follows: Burden, Deam, and McCall were assigned to Company "A"; Claycomb,
Coschignano and Edlin were assigned to Company "B"; Davidson, Dewey, and Gura were assigned to Company "C"; Barnes, McCann and
Elmore were assigned to the Reconnaissance Company; Youngs was assigned to Headquarters Company. The Battalion Aid Station was
manned by Captain England, S/Sgt. Fittery, T/3 Estanish, Dittmeier, Kauffman, and Baker.
On August 14, 1944, the first casualty within the Medical Detachment was Captain England who was injured when the Commanding
Officer's vehicle struck a mine. The wound was slight and Captain England remained on duty.
Throughout their travels in the States and later in England the men of the Medical Detachment were on the receiving end
of many gags, jokes, and puns directed at them because they were "medics". "Nothing to be afraid of", the men in the firing
companies often remarked with a broad grin, "the medics will be there...behind us"! Or on other occassions, "They don't do
detail duty...they're medics!" But when combat came, when the chips were down and the stakes were high, the men of the Medical
Detachment showed the stuff of which they were really made, and none sang the praises of the "medics" more loudly than did
the men of the firing companies. Nothing speaks more eloquently of the gallant and noble work performed by the "medics"
throughout France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, and Germany than the fact that from among the relatively samll number of men
within the Medical Detachment, Burden, Beam, and Claycomb were awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action: Captain
England, Barnes, Edlin, Fittery, and Youngs were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service; Coschignano, Davidson,
and Dewey were awarded the Bronze Star medal for heroic service; Captain England, Barnes, Beams, Claycomb, Coschignano,
Davidson, Edlin, Kauffman, McCann, and Youngs received Purple Hearts for wounds received in action.
On August 20, 1944, one of Company "A's" Tank Destroyers received a direct hit from enemy artillery fire, with the result that
three of the crew were seriously wounded. Despite the intense enemy artillery and machine gun fire, Beam and Burden advanced
along the ground so that they might administer first aid to the wounded men. While attempting to load the men on a 1/4 ton
ambulance a nearby artillery burst wounded Beam and rendered Burden unconscious. Unable to be of any further assistance, Beam
worked his way back on foot to the Platoon Command Post where he was able to secure additional help. When the additional
help arrived. Burden recovered consciousness and helped evacuate the wounded to safety. For this action, Beam and Burden
were awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action.
Throughout the remainder of the French Campaign and the liberation of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland that followed, the
"medics" came through without a casualty. However, the initial penetration of the Siegfried Line in September 1944, was a
costly one for the Detachment. On September 16, while on a road block with the Reconnaissance Platoon, McCann was wounded
during a mortar barrage. A few hours later Davidson was wounded during an enemy artillery barrage.
On that same day, Claycomb was serving as company aid man when Company "B" came under fire. Although the intense artillery
fire resulted in many casualties and caused the unit to withdraw, Claycomb remained in the area under constant fire, treating
the wounded and supervising their evacuation. On the following day, when the company was again subjected to intense enemy
artillery, mortar, and small arms fire, Claycomb, without regard for his personal safety moved from wounded man to wounded
man giving each fist aid tratment and then moving the wounded men to a safe position. For this action, Claycomb was awarded
the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
On September 19, Coschignano was wounded during an artillery barrage and on the following day was wounded again. The wounds
were slight and he was able to continue as an aid man at the Battalion Aid Station. When the withdrawal became necessary the
"medics" together with the unit pulled out, but there was no doubt that the work of the "medics" had been worthy of the highest
traditions of the service.
The Medical Detachment received its first replacements on October 18, 1944, when Mackey and Muto were assigned to the Medical
Detachment. Early December, 1944, saw the intense fighting that was characteristic of the Hurtgen Forest battles, and here
again the "medics" showed their mettle. Company "C" of this Battalion was attached to Combat Command "R", which had the
mission of taking Bergstein, Germany. Dewey, Edlin, Mackey, and Youngs were the "medics" assigned to Company "C". The Company
moved in on the night of December 4th and set up road blocks in the area. The medics set up their Aid STation in the basement
of a nearby building. One 30 Cal. machine gun manned by three infantrymen was all that stood between the "medics" and the
Germans some three hundred yards away. The next morning the Germans counter-attacked. Heavy enemy artillery and small arms
fire came pouring into the area. Casualties resulting from shrapnel wounds and from exploding mines were many. Within a three
day period the "medics" treated an estimated 500 casualties, including men from the 28th Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Ranger
Battalion, the 17th Infantry, and the 10th Tank Battalion as well as men from this unit. The medics were able to leave the
area on the 8th after two Sherman tanks crossed the outer defenses of the German lines which enabled the "medics" to make
On December 11, 1944, T/3 Defibaugh became the third replacement to join the Detachment and he took over the job as Detachment
Clerk. Rhoades, the fourth and last replacement, joined the Detachment on January 16, 1945.
In late February, 1945, the "medics" together with the companies to which they were assigned crossed the Roer River. Approximatley
one month later, came the long awaited crossing of the Rhine River.
During the march from the Wesser to the Elbe, pocketed resistance was sometimes encountered. In mid-April, 1945, on one such
occasion the 47th Infantry and the 10th Tank Battalion were among the units engaged in mopping up one such pocket. Word came
down that one of the tanks of the 10th Tank Battalion had run into trouble with the result that the "medics" were badly
needed. Barnes got behind the wheel of his jeep, and with Edlin riding on the hood they proceeded to the spot where they were
needed. They saw the tank which had been hit and drove up behind it. Sniper fire could be clearly heard throughout the are and
had already been responsible for some twelve casualties. There was an inured man atop the tank, and Edlin and Barnes set
about the task of getting him down. Barnes got the stretcher while Edline climbed atop the tank. No sooner had Edline done so
when he was hit by sniper fire. It now became necessary for Barnes to get the injured man down from the tank so that he might be
treated and then evacuated and at the same time treat Edlin. Barnes treated and personally evacuated both men. For this
action, both Barnes and Edlin received the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service.
Shortly after VE Day, on May 10, 1945, the "medics" were recalled from the respective companies to which they had been
assigned and they reported back to the Battalion Aid Station. When the Battalion moved to Heiligenstadt, Germany, only the
Reconnaissance Company was separated from the Battalion and Estadish and Baker were assigned to the company as aid men.
During the entire course of combat, the Medical Detachment treated an estimated 1000 casualties including wounded men from
other units as well as our own. The Detachment used an estimated 2000 three inch bandages, an estimated 3000 yards of both
three inch and one inch tape and 300 morphine syretts were used in treatment of the wounded.