Under the provisions of letter, the Adjutant General's Office, file AG 322, (12 August 1943) OB - I - SPMOU - M, dated 13 August 1943, and General Order No. 132, Headquarters, Eight Service Command, ASF, dated 17 August 1943, the 789th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company was officially activated.

    The date and place of official activation was 20 August 1943 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Captain Troy E. Peterson, 0-342089, CE, was assigned to the 789th Engr Pet Dist Co per memorandum No. S805-20-43, WD, Washington, DC, dated 1 August 1943, and para 1, SO 195, Hq, WD, ASF, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington, DC. Captain Peterson officially assumed his command on 20 August 1943.

    The organization was set up and governed under the provisions of T/O 5-327 with an authorized strength of 7 officers and 221 enlisted men.


    At the start of the New Year 1944, the 789th Engr Pet Dist Company was actively engaged in a field problem of bivouac three miles WSW of Hineston, Louisiana, USA. As a practical demonstration of the training and theories taught by the Pipeline School, Camp Claiborne, the company constructed and operated 40 miles of pipeline. This pipeline was constructed and operated under adverse weather conditions and the unit was out in the field for almost three weeks. The problem was thought a huge success by all inspecting officers from high headquarters and the experience gained was almost invaluable for both the officers and enlisted men.

    Through the months of February and March the organization made intense preparations for the coming overseas movement that everyone was waiting for and hoped would come real soon. During this period the unit was given almost every type of GI - Inspection of which ratings of "Excellent" and "Superior" were received.


    On the 1st of April the company received the overseas movement orders that everyone was waiting for. The movement was number "2602 - F" and an advanced party consisting of 1st Lt. Bob T. Blackwood, 0-1116204, CE, and Tec 4 Gr. James A. Simmons, 3268496, departed from Camp Claiborne for the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation to accompany the unit supplies overseas.

    The company itself departed Camp Claiborne for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on the 11th of April with a full authorized strength of personnel and arrived thereat on the 14th. The troop movement was accomplished efficiently and the condition and morale of the men were excellent.

    After a week or so of the necessary lectures, inspections and injections, the Company departed Camp Patrick Henry on April the 22nd arriving at the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation on the same date and embarked aboard the U.S. Navy Transport HR #175.

"H" HOUR - 1700

23 APRIL 1943

    On the 23rd of April the unit aboard HR #175 sailed for that great land beyond. While aboard the transport the company carried the guard detail of being the ship's MPs. HR #175 arrived at the Port of Debarkation, Bombay, India, on the 25th day of May. The voyage was made without any casualties and other than the fact that the men looked a little thinner their spirit and morale was still exceedingly high.


    At 0900 hours on the 26th of May the unit entrained at Bombay for Calcutta and arrived at Kanchrapara Staging Area on the 31st. On the morning of June the 2nd the organization moved from Kanchrapara and set up a temporary camp approximately five miles east of Budge Budge, India. The 14th day of June marked the long awaited day when the officers and enlisted men moved out to their 15 pump stations spread out over a 420 mile area to start the initial operation of the Bengal - Assam Pipeline. Six days after the men moved out to their stations the 789 Headquarters moved from the temporary camp to a permanent camp at Budge Budge designated as "Camp No. 1" in District Order #27, Hq, Engr Dist #12. The 789 advanced party arrived in Calcutta on June the 30th and it was then learned that they departed from the west coast on the same day in which the unit left the east coast.


    On the 2nd day of July the company was hit very hard by the death of 1st Lt. Robert E. Parsons, 0-921954, CE, as the result of a jeep accident. At the time the unit was right in the beginning stages of its operation and the busiest it could possibly be. Some trouble arose up the line and Lt. Parsons along with 1st Lt. Eugene G. Heiman, 0-1112210, CE, were sent out to supervise and correct the situation. They were riding in a jeep and Lt. Heiman was driving. Both officers had driven the road a number of times before and knew it fairly well. However, while driving at 30 miles per hour, and trying to make an easy turn to the right, the jeep hit a soft wet spot in the road and skidded into a tree. The top of the jeep down and Lt. Parsons was thrown over the windshield and evidently hit the tree himself for he was found right across the right fender and windshield of the jeep.

    Two more men of the company were following closely behind in another vehicle and saw the whole thing. While one man stretched Lt. Parsons out on the pavement the other went to a nearby British Hospital for help. The doctor soon arrived and he said Lt. Parsons had already passed on. As a matter of fact, he never did regain consciousness.

    Lt. Heiman, however, was much more fortunate. He escaped with a good cut over his right eye, a sprained wrist and chipped knee cap. After the doctor had examined Lt. Heiman and found nothing too serious he was sent along with the body of Lt. parsons to the 112th Station Hospital, Calcutta.

    Within a few days the 112th Station Hospital sent the company an autopsy report which stated that the cause of Lt. Parson's death was, "Intrathoracic hemorrhage, massive, into left pleural cavity and mediastinum, with collapse of the left lung and pulmonary of the right lung."

    The body of Lt. Parsons was laid to rest in the U.S. Army Cemetery at Barrackpore, India. All of 789 Headquarters and Colonel W. C. Kinsolving and Engineer District #12 Headquarters were honorary pall bearers. 1st Lt. Bob T. Blackwood, 1st Lt. Roy W. Shearer, 1st Sgt. Harry S. Berman, M/Sgt. Glen W. Brewer, M/Sgt. Norman C. Maino and S/Sgt. William C. Joiner served as pall bearers.


    On the 10th day of July with the memory of Lt. Parsons still fresh in the minds of all the officers and enlisted men, and a prayer on their lips that such an occurrence wouldn't happen again, the 789th Engr Pet Dist Co fulfilled the first part of its mission by pumping gasoline instead of water. On or about 1620 hours of that same day the gasoline was on its way up to Tinsukia, and from that date until the end of the year the company has been incessantly engaged in the operation and maintenance of the B and A Pipeline to keep the flow of gasoline going to Burma and China.

    From the 10th day of July to 2359 hours on the 31st of December, the 789th Engr Pet Dist Co, operating as the near terminal company for the B and A Pipeline, pumped out of the near terminal to stations up the line, 1,640,000 barrels of 100 octane gasoline amounting to 68,880,000 gallons.


    Though the going was rough and the bitching plentiful, the sweat that was shed by 789 and the other units actively engaged in the operation of the 6" Pipeline was rewarded on the 2nd of October in a letter by Lt. Gen. Dan I. Sultan, the Deputy Theater Commander to Maj. Gen. W. E. R. Covell, Commanding General, Services of Supply. (Copy of commendation attached.)

    A copy of the commendation received along with congratulations and additional commendations from Maj. Gen. W. E. R. Covell, Colonel Philip F. Kromer, Division Engineer, Engr Div #1 and Colonel W. C. Kinsolving, District Engineer, Engr Dist #12, was reproduced and sent to all stations of our line and every officer and enlisted man in this organization felt proud to be just a small cog in the wheel that is helping Bataan, Corregidor, Wake Island and Guam.


    On the 23rd of October the unit received the third strike on 1st Lt. Roy W. Shearer, 0-1115787, CE, a Section Engineer of the organization. Lt. Shearer was transferred in grade to Hq, Engr Div #2, per para 6, SO 107, Hq, Cons Sv, SOS, USAF, CBI, APO 885. Even though the unit knew Lt. Shearer's transfer offered him new opportunities and advancements, everyone felt badly about it. It is imagined that other units feel the same way about losing their officers and enlisted men after they have been with them for so long.


    On the 28th of December, and in commemoration of the death of 1st Lt. Robert E. Parsons, the Headquarters camp site was redesignated from "Camp No. 1" to "Camp Robert E. Parsons." The redesignation was made official by District Order #7, Hq, Engr Dist #12, APO 465, dated 28 December 1944.


    The 789th Engr Pet Dist Company owes a debt of thanks to Colonel W. C. Kinsolving, District Engineer, Engr Dist #12, and to all the others who had an understanding nature of our situation when the going was rough. And also for their untiring efforts in helping us get the supplies we so badly needed at the beginning.

    At the present time this unit and other units working as a team on our all-important assignment have been meeting the quota expected, and a little extra as an added good measure.

    As the year of 1944 drew to a close and 1945 came upon us it was the hope of every officer and enlisted man of this command that we would be able to pump twice as much gas per day in 1945 than we did in 1944, thus helping to make our inevitable victory a reality, and with the thought, well, maybe we might be able to spend next Christmas at home with the ones we love.



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Provided by Tom Foltz - CBI veteran of the 789th E.P.D.






Copyright © 2006 Carl Warren Weidenburner