709th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company

709th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
“Always Able”

The 709th Ordnance Company was activated on the 22nd of September, 1942. It was made up of six officers and 150 enlisted men from the Ordnance Section, 9th Division and the Ordnance Maintenance Platoon of the Ninth Quartermaster Company, both at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Trained as specialists, the company furnished a detachment to take part in the initial amphibious landing in French Morocco in late 1942. The unit left the United States on December 12th and arrived at Casablanca on December 24th. They moved across Algeria and Tunisia with the Division, hitting Port Lyautey, Tiemcen, Relizane, Orleansville, L’Arba, Tebessa, Gafsa Gare, Sedjedane and Bizerte, formerly occupied by the German Afrika Corps.

At Tebessa, men of the 709th took a 10-ton wrecker to a point on the infantry lines and “stole” an eight wheeled German scout car in plain view of the enemy. Again at Gafsa Gare, Tunisia, men of the 709th took their wreckers to points sometimes as much as 600 yards in front of the German lines to retrieve half tracks under aerial and artillery bombardment.

A detachment of the company accompanied the 39th Infantry into Sicily, where they were subjected to sniping and enemy air raids at night and during the early morning. In July, the rest of the company sailed into Palermo Harbor, just in time to be caught in a German air raid on harbor installations.

After Italy, the group went into England.

Five small detachments fought their way onto Utah Beach with five Division units and the main part of the company followed them up in landing boats and barges. Once in Europe, they set about capturing the Germans who straggled in the retreat, repaired, refitted and salvaged war-damaged vehicles. At Roetgen, Germany, three men of the Ordnance Company won the Silver Star when they battled flames in the Division gasoline punk, which been set on fire by enemy strafing action. By carrying puffing cans of gasoline out of the way of the flames and scattering and extinguishing the fire, they saved 12000 gallons of very vital gasoline. At that time, fuel, ammunition, ordnance repair parts and other supplies were exceedingly scarce.

As the war ended, the 709th was quartered at Kothen Airport. Almost as soon as the war was over, the company collecting point reported 2000 enemy artillery pieces, 475 enemy vehicles, 15000 bayonets, 10000 rifles, 1000 machine guns and over 60 enemy ammunition dumps that hey had taken custody of.

Moving into permanent quarters at the Special Troop Kaserne, Sheridan Barracks, Augsburg, the company opened shops which qualified them for any repairs the Division might need.

Since their activation in World War II, they have done everything from repairing tanks and artillery under fire to making coat hangers and celluloid tooth picks!