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12th Armored Division >> General Discussion >> SGT MAJ John R. Symons BN HQ 119th ARMD ENGR BN
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Author Topic:  SGT MAJ John R. Symons BN HQ 119th ARMD ENGR BN
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posted 10/26/2018 2:13:43 PM  Reply w/Quote
I am John's grandson and looking for information regarding my grandfathers service, thank you!

MikeWoldenberg
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Member # 16

Posts: 1001
From: University at Buffalo (NY)
Registered: 6/1/2004
posted 10/27/2018 10:35:36 AM    Click here to view the profile for MikeWoldenberg  Click here to email MikeWoldenberg  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
Hello, I have looked in the Archives for information
on your Grandfather. (I checked the scrap books and also past issues of the Hellcat News. I found that for a time he was a very active member of the Association.
He may have become a member in the early 1980s.
I have not yet checked old photos.
The companies of the Engineers were assigned as follows: Co A was assigned to Combat Command A,
which had the 66th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 43rd tank batt. and the 493rd Armored Field artillery. Co. B was assigned to Combat Command B, with its battalions of infantry, tanks and artillery.
Co. C was with Combat Command R. At the moment I do not know where the 119th Battalion HQ was assigned. I will try and find out whether they were assigned to Division HQ ???? or elsewhere. In the meantime, please contact the Unit Representative, Mary Anne Delker, perhaps she will know: mdelker@att.net

Mike W.


MikeWoldenberg
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Member # 16

Posts: 1001
From: University at Buffalo (NY)
Registered: 6/1/2004
posted 10/27/2018 10:38:54 AM    Click here to view the profile for MikeWoldenberg  Click here to email MikeWoldenberg  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
One more thing. The Engineers had to provide bridges and had to clear mines, among other duties.
When a combat command took a lot of casualties
in their infantry battalion, the engineers were used as regular infantry soldiers. Being an engineer was not
a safe job.

Mike W.

Bob Scherer
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Member # 119

Posts: 67
From: Yardley, PA
Registered: 10/11/2005
posted 10/27/2018 4:12:52 PM    Click here to view the profile for Bob Scherer  Click here to email Bob Scherer  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
Hello.
I'd like to help you learn more about your grandfather. You list his rank as Sergeant Major (SGM). The SGM rank (E-9) was not used until 1959 (it had been used before 1920 but was discontinued in that year). Soldiers in that grade were not addressed as Sergeant Major until the early 1960s. Do you have any more information about your grandfather's service? Do you have his discharge/ retirement papers?

Bob Scherer
12th AD Assn historian


Bob Scherer
Junior Member
Member # 119

Posts: 67
From: Yardley, PA
Registered: 10/11/2005
posted 10/28/2018 7:04:04 AM    Click here to view the profile for Bob Scherer  Click here to email Bob Scherer  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
Well, it looks like I don't know everything, although that's hard for me to swallow. I located an award of the Certificate of Merit to John and although his rank is listed as Master Sergeant, he is referred to in the award as Battalion Sergeant Major. If you email me at rwscherer@verizon.net I will email you the document.
Bob

Garandomatic
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posted 10/28/2018 9:51:02 PM    Click here to view the profile for Garandomatic  Click here to email Garandomatic  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
It wasn't a rank, but was a somewhat official job title from the 1920s until it was made an official rank. In all my collecting, I have never come across a WWII Sgt. Major, they are pretty scarce!

Bob Scherer
Junior Member
Member # 119

Posts: 67
From: Yardley, PA
Registered: 10/11/2005
posted 10/30/2018 10:59:52 AM    Click here to view the profile for Bob Scherer  Click here to email Bob Scherer  edit/delete post  Reply w/Quote
Yes, I've since come across references to a man being the Battalion Sergeant Major in award citations and historical narratives. After the rank was done away with when the Army went to an E-1 to E-7 rank system as a cost saving measure, Sergeant Major was retained as a sort of honorific for the senior Master Sergeant in a battalion or higher unit.