John B. Hale started service on October 19, 1939 under the new designation (October 16, 1939) 5th Quartermaster Battalion as a Private in Company A (photo CCI05262014_0012.jpg); however, his discharge papers list “Co A 2d Inf”. The only match that I can make to “Co A 2d Inf” is the 5th Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, "A" Rifle Company.
He was wounded on July 16, 1944 during close combat when a German grenade landed out of his reach and then exploded as he had his hands clutched over his helmet. Before burying his head and helmet into what he always remarked as “rather tall grass”, he had noticed that the shrapnel shroud was missing from the grenade. Not sure how common occurrence that was but it was a very fortunate break for him.
The 5th Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Regiment was detached to the 7th Armored Division from Sep 10, 1944 to Sep 15, 1944 (http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/7AD-ETO.htm).
Less than a week before he was wounded on September 20, 1944 (second time) he said that he was near Metz, France, when he was battle field promoted to Staff Sergeant. He said that his unit had suffered heavy losses (p. 170 Lorraine Campaign footnote 46 mentions that the 10th Infantry within the 5th Infantry Division already had lost 24 officers and 674 men). Not sure what his rank was before the battlefield promotion to Staff Sergeant.
On September 20, 1944 the 5th Division 2d Infantry Company A (1st Battalion) would have completed the objective for Pournoy and Sillegny that started September 18 1944, specifically Coin-sur-Seille (photo "Map 4 The Fight for Pournoy and Sillegny 18 - 20 September 1944.jpg"). Page 112 from the book The Fifth Infantry Division in the ETO explains the situation that day: “At 1100 hours on the 20th of September the First Battalion Second Infantry passed through the Third Battalion and attacked Coin-sur-Seille. Although the artillery fire was fairly heavy the attack progressed well and by 1800 hours the battalion was in position beyond the objective and digging in.”
He was wounded when a bullet from a concealed German machine gun pillbox sprayed a stream of bullets that struck the butt stock of his M1 Garand in his right hand as he was running his squad up a hill. The 11.5 pound rifle twisted his arm with such force that when the next bullet struck it was the mid bicep and bone of his right arm that it went through. The combined momentum flipped him into a nearby row of rutabagas until medics could evacuate him out.