I requested Dadís World War II military records from the National Military Records Center, St. Louis, MO. (Request your records here.) In February 2007 they arrived. Included among the details of Dadís training and places he was stationed were his medical records and the list of awards and decorations. The documents were in pretty good shape considering the facility that stored them experienced a fire in July, 1973, which resulted in the loss of 16 to 18 million personnel records. Dadís at least were still intact except for burn marks around the edges. This makes it difficult to ascertain some details. The summary below is only slightly hampered by the fire damage. Most of the information is quite readable, with only a few guesses as to unit numbers, etc.
I probably have made some errors in recording the details of this summary, considering the plethora of acronyms and dates in scattered location throughout these documents. I can be reached for any corrections at <email@example.com> and would appreciate any notification. I am updating this document and these pages constantly.
The 33 pages of documents of his military personnel file are here. (Note: the images average around 160kb each.)
John Schneider, March 19, 2007 [updated September 23, 2007]
Ten years before I was born Dad graduated from the University of Detroit High School, the 63rd graduating class, of 1942. (Here is his class photo (middle row, 4th from the left), and the cover of the commencement.) A few months later, the Fall of 1942, Louis John Schneider started his Freshman year of college at the University of Detroit with an interest in electrical engineering. The war in Europe had been raging since 1939, and with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, drawing the United States into World War II, perhaps he felt it would soon catch up with him. On October 17, 1942, at the age of 18 years and 7 months, Lou talked with Detroit area Army Recruiter Lt. Selden S. Smith, 1st Inf., and not withstanding a reported "brain concussion in auto accident 1940" (Mom told me on July 19, 2007 he nearly died in this accident), he was accepted and signed up for service in the Enlisted Reserve Corps, Army Unassigned, with his activation deferred until June of 1946 for "Pre-induction college training." But college would soon be put on hold, though he would finally graduate with the U of D class of 1950 earning a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Five months after his October 17 enlistment, Lou was mustered for active duty March 12, 1943, reporting to HQ 1609th SU (Service Unit), Fort Custer (named for General George Armstrong Custer) near Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Here he was given a physical exam with results that mirrored one accompanying his enlistment: "Qualified under MR-1-9 1." All was nominal but for his eyesight, which was listed as 20/50, corrected to 20/30 and 20/40 with glasses, for his right and left eye respectively. (I don't ever recall Dad wearing glasses, but this week (7/19/07) I saw a picture of him bowling with a group of friends around 1970 or so, and he was wearing glasses!) His eyesight would later cause him to be "Disqualified Physically for Combat Crew Training," and also on December 13, 1943, ruled "Physically Disqualified Aerial Gunner (eyes)." Perhaps the glasses he was issued then helped improve his eyesight, because his separation physical in December of 1945 shows his eyesight as 20/25 right and 20/20 left!
After almost two weeks at Ft. Custer, on March 23rd, Dad was sent to the Basic Training Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he remained until April 13, 1943. He was promoted to Private First Class April 12, 1943, one day before he left for Aircraft Mechanic School in Gulfport Field, Mississippi.
At Gulfport Field he received advanced training and "Graduated Airplane Mechanic Course TS, AAFTTC . . . 9/2/43, 1st and 2nd echelon Maintenance and repair, Cargo and Engines-General." [TS: possibly Troop School, Training School or Training Squadron; AAFTTC: Army Air Forces Technical Training Command] There he also had a familiarization on the 50 caliber machine gun (8/5/43), firing 40 rounds. On the same day he qualified as Marksman with the Springfield rifle with a score of 144. He would depart for his next training assignment on September 5, 1943, but not before being "favorably Considered for Good Conduct Medal." Also, upon his departure he would receive his first rating for his character and efficiency as a soldier. Prior to this, he was rated at his departure from duty stations as "unknown." Leaving Gulfport his character is rated Excellent, and his efficiency rating is Very Satisfactory. During his time in Mississippi he received a visit from his mother, Evelyn Marie Schneider.
His next training occurred at Douglas Aircraft, Long Beach, California where he would arrived about September 10 until October, 1943 learning about the B-17 bomber. Other areas of training consisted of an 8 hour Camouflage course, and First Aid and Malaria Instruction. The record shows he had a furlough from October 18 to October 27, 1943.
The next duty station his military records state he is attached to the Army Air Field in Salt Lake City, Utah, for training at the Boeing Aircraft School. He is attached to the 13th AAF TNG DETAAF WTTC, from November 12, 1943, to February 4, 1944, where he trained at the Boeing plant in Seattle, Washington with the 27th HQ AAFTD BAF (Boeing Air Field) graduating in "AM course, TNG Det. AAFTTC, Boeing Acft, Seattle, WA., 1st & 2nd Ech. Maint B-29 Ap" on January 28, 1944. It was this Christmas of 1943 that his father visited him and both stayed in the Hotel Olympic. (I have a DVD of home movies of the Schneider family with footage of Dad and his father in Seattle outside of this hotel, made available upon request.) In a letter home to his mother shortly before Christmas, Lou mentions he was on the firing range getting familiar with a machine gun and qualified on the carbine with a score of 176, Expert. His personnel records do show that on 12/15/43 he was familiarized on the Tommy Gun (TSMG) firing 25 rounds of ammunition. At that time he probably qualified again with the carbine this time scoring Expert, as he indicates. He was able to replace his "Marksman" badge with the "Expert" that he says he bought after this visit to the range. He added the 3 bars to it, the Carbine bar, the Marksman bar, and the Rifle bar, as seen in the display I made for Mom in July, 2007. This would date the letter written home as December 16, 1943.
Lou would report to Salina, Kansas, to the 26 Bomber Maintenance Squadron, SHAAF [Smoky Hill Army Air Field] on February 22, 1944 where it appears he remained until April 22. But not before he enjoyed a leave to travel home, as I have a copy of a telegram dated February 6, 1944 to his parents telling them he would be arriving home that night on the train from Chicago.
He is reported "qualified for foreign service SHAAF, Salina Kansas" on June 24, 1944 and had "two pairs glasses provided." (His prescription is included in his records.) Thus he was sent to the Pacific Theater of War, departing from "MP ANZA," on August 13, 1944, (referring to Camp Anza, Riverside, California, the staging area for the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation, possibly the MP refers to "Military Post") aboard a troop ship, arriving in Saipan on September 18. Here he would remain a part of a B-29 ground crew for bombers making runs on Japan and other targets (picture of him and crew). Lou was promoted from PFC to Corporal shortly after his arrival, September 26, 1944.
The Air Offensive Japan Campaign was initiated January 23, 1945, and on November 13, 1945, three units (including Lou's 499th Bombardment Group) received the Distinguished Unit Citation for their participation. Cited for "outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy . . . ground crews worked steadily and untiringly throughout the day and night to have their B-29's in perfect operating condition for this important strike." The target was a Mitsubishi Aircraft Engine Plant, Nagoya, Japan.
On August 11, 1945, General Order 43 was created awarding Lou his second of three Bronze Battle Stars (see footnote 2 below for all three), for the Air Offensive Japan Campaign. The other two were for Eastern Mandates and Ryukyus campaigns. Bronze Battle Stars are not to be confused with the very prestigious award named the Bronze Star, which is awarded for individual heroism. Battle stars were awarded individuals participating in a number of military campaigns and were 1/8 inch size to be displayed within a ribbon decoration (see Lou's as an example).
On August 14, 1945 the Japanese surrendered. Lou's foreign service ended October 24, 1945 when he departed Saipan, stopping in Iwo Jima on October 26th and departing on December 3rd for Los Angeles, finally arriving there on December 15. He was mustered out of the military with an Honorable Discharge at the Separation Center, Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, on December 24, Christmas Eve, 1945. His father drove out to pick him up, bringing him home along with some of his buddies, arriving home in time for Christmas dinner. Dad wrote about it in the December 1996 edition of the California Breeze (a family newsletter):
One of my most memorable Christmases was in 1945. My dad drove to Chicago to pick me up after I received my honorable discharge from the Army Air Force. It was December 24th, and we expected to be home that evening [in Detroit]. But snow and icy conditions and finally a defective generator on the car caused us to barely make it to Coldwater [Michigan], about halfway home. It was way after dark, but we got a room at the hotel. We went to Midnight Mass and spent the night in Coldwater. In the morning, the hotel manager found a mechanic who graciously agreed to replace the generator, and we were finally on our way again. Luckily, the weather warmed enough to make the roads safe once more. We arrived home late Christmas afternoon, just as Christmas dinner was being served. WOW!
Dad resumed college where he met Mom on a blind date, and they married when she graduated from Marygrove College in 1948. He would graduate in 1950 from the University of Detroit nearby.
Dad was laid to rest in the South Lyon Cemetery on an overcast cold Michigan winter's day, Wednesday, March 8, 2006. Present was an Air Force Honor Guard from Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Master Sergeant James Hudson, and Master Sergeant (Ret.) Gary Mattiacci, 927th OG, performed the mission. Taps was beautifully played and Mom was presented with the American flag that had draped the casket during the funeral.Ribbons and Decorations (See Medals Display here)
1 MR 1-9 refers to the Mobilization Regulations. MR 1-9, dated 31 August 1940, established the physical criteria to be used by Selective Service. See the publication of PREVENTIVE MEDICINE IN WORLD WAR II, Volume III, PERSONAL HEALTH MEASURES AND IMMUNIZATION, Chapter I, Manpower Selection and the Preventative Medicine Program, page 3.
2 Lou's Military Personnel Records list the Battle Stars awarded as:
"Battle Star Wes-Pac Camp, GO 37 HQ 499 B Gp, 10 July 1945." This is the Ryukyus (Okinawa) Campaign, award authorized by General Order 37, from the Headquarters of the 499th Bombardment Group, dated July 10, 1945. The Ryukyus Campaign dates are 26 March - 2 July 1945 (see http://www.army.mil/cmh/reference/apcmp.htm for all campaign dates, Asiatic-Pacific Theater).
"Auth Battle Star-Asia Pac Rib Per GO 43 HQ 499 BGp dd 11 Aug/45 For Air Off Jap Camp." This is the Air Offensive, Japan Campaign, authorized by General Order 43, HQ 499th Bombardment Group, dated August 11, 1945. The Air Offensive, Japan Campaign dates are 17 April 1942 - 2 September 1945.
"Auth Battle Star-Asia Pac Rib Per GO 3 HQ 499 BGp dd 27 Sep/ 45 For eastern Mandate Isle Camp." This is for the Eastern Mandate Campaign authorized by General Order 3, by the Headquarters of the 499th Bombardment Group, dated September 27, 1945. The Eastern Mandates Campaign 31 January - 14 June 1944
4 On the copy I obtained from the National Military Records Center the spelling, smudged on the copy, looks like Ryukuus. However, on the copy in my Dad's records recently discovered, clearly this is a typo which is corrected to read Ryukyus.
Okinawa is the largest island in the chain known as The Ryukyu Islands, immediately south of the Japanese mainland. See this Description of the Ryukyus Campaign.
5 The designation "(VH)" refers to Very Heavy, which the B-29 Superfortress and the B-32 Dominator were classed. See the listing of military groups here. The five classes of bomb groups were: Very Heavy (VH), Heavy (H), Medium (M), Light (L), and Composite, which combined bombers of differing categories.