Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Sgt. E-6 1
Birth:
1918 2
Indiana 2
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Personal Details

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Person:
Paul Marks 2
Level of Education: 4 years of high school 2
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 2
Birth:
1918 2
Indiana 2
Residence:
Place: Tippecanoe County, Indiana 2
Edit

World War II 1

Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Sgt. E-6 1

World War II 2

Branch:
Army 2
Enlistment Date:
30 Sep 1941 2
Army Branch:
None 2
Army Component:
Selectees (Enlisted Men) 2
Army Serial Number:
35168048 2
Enlistment Place:
Ft Benjamin Harrison Indiana 2
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 2
Rank:
Sgt. E-6 1
Edit
Occupation:
Sales clerks 2
Race or Ethnicity:
White 2
Source Information:
Box Number: 0904 2
Film Reel Number: 3.326 2

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Stories

Student Project - Veteran Interview

Lafayette, Indiana

 

Brian Chelius

 

War Veteran Interview Summary

 

5-19-07

 

 

 

Staff Sergeant Paul Marks

 

C - Battery, 83rd Field Artillery Battalion

 

 

 

            Paul Marks was born on a farm in Clinton County, Perry Township, in the New Hope area, on June 5, 1918. He spent the first 19 years of his life there. He attended Colfax High School, graduating in 1935 at the age of 16. His older brother bought a grocery store in Clarks Hill in 1937 and asked Paul to run the Huckster truck to farms around the town. He did this for four years until he was drafted on September 30, 1941. He was one of 71 men in the second group drafted from Lafayette, Indiana. They were taken to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, to be assigned to their outfits and duties in the United States Army.

 

            Paul Marks was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to an artillery training school for officers. The artillery they used was horse-drawn, and they needed someone to ride and take care of the horses. "America at the time did not have much of any equipment, and only what was left from World War I." Paul's job was just that. He rode the wheel team pulling the 75mm guns and also attended basic training at Fort Sill (consisting of foot drills and rifle training).

 

            After a month the army changed to using trucks to pull the artillery, and the guns were upgraded to 105mm. Paul was chosen as a truck driver because of the experience he had from driving the Huckster truck for his brother. His name appeared on a board to go to truck mechanic school where he learned the specifics of how trucks work, what their engines were like, and how to care for them.

 

            When basic training ended, around the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, the army assigned Paul to the 83rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion (83rd AFA Battalion). The battalion consisted of three batteries: A Battery (codenamed Able), B Battery (codenamed Baker) and C Battery (codenamed Charlie), which Paul was assigned to as a truck mechanic. Each battery had six guns for a total of eighteen guns in the battalion.

 

            Around this time the 1st Sergeant had heard that Paul had taken bugle lessons at Fort Sill (The 1st Sergeant was good friends with the battalion bugler, who hated his job). Marks hadn't enjoyed those bugle lessons and did not want to take them "any more than the man on the moon." But the 1st Sergeant came up and told Marks he was to be the battalion's new bugler, and Marks refused. Paul was sent to the battalion commander and was "scared to death." He knocked on the door, and the voice said,

 

"Come in. (Paul enters). You are Private Marks?"

 

"Yes Sir."

 

"I heard you refused to blow the bugle."

 

{Paul Marks - 'I didn't know what to say so I just blurted it all out'}

 

"Sir, I was drafted in this man's army to do more for my country than to blow a damn horn."

 

(The battalion commander turns his head and snickers - he then composes himself)

 

"Private Marks, that will be all!"

 

Paul Marks never had to blow that bugle again.

 

 

 

            The artillery vehicle was switched again from a truck to an M-7 open-top tank. As a result, Marks was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to study at a tank mechanic school. He enjoyed his stay there because it wasn't that far away from home and he got to go back to Indiana to visit his family on the weekends. At Fort Knox, Marks learned how the tanks' engines work, how to maneuver them, and most importantly, how to keep them running at peak efficiency.

 

            During this time Paul Marks had been dating a girl named Ruth whom he really liked, and on July 17, 1943 they were married in Oklahoma City (the army had been moving Paul around a lot and he decided to go back to visit Oklahoma). Ruth was a nurse whom he first met in Lebanon, Indiana, during his emergency appendix operation - she was one of the nurses who took care of him at that hospital.

 

            The 83rd AFA Battalion was moved to an army base at Ft. Jackson, S.C. This was to give the men more experience in fighting on different types of land, such as in forests. During this time, Paul's first child was born, a boy. Ironically, he had just returned from a fourteen-day furlough when he got the news. His battery commander kindly and promptly gave him another week of leave. He would not get to stay long with his family as on February 1, the 83rd AFA Battalion would be shipped off to England with one of the largest convoys the world has ever seen: over a hundred boats.

 

            Marks would keep in frequent contact with his family by letter and V-Mail throughout his time at war. The 83rd landed at Swansea, England, on March 23, 1944. They were placed in a camp near Evesham, where they were provided with new equipment brought over from the United States. The battalion spent the next four months cleaning their equipment and tanks and preparing for the invasion of France {while I was with him Paul joked that 'There was so much supplies and so many tanks that we probably could have sunk the isle of Britain'}.

 

            The 83rd, attached to the 6th Armored Division of Patton's Third Army, was finally loaded onto boats and sent to Normandy. They arrived on July 15, while the battle for the Normandy area was still going on. Their boats were in the area targeted by a Nazi bombardment so after the battle ended on July 26, the whole battalion was given a combat star (a battle honor) for their part in the Normandy campaign. They had to wait ten days to unload at Utah Beach, which they did on July 25, the day before the battle for Normandy ended. After landing on Utah Beach, the C-Battery Commander came up to Paul and appointed him to take over duties as the battery's new Staff-Sergeant. This meant that Marks would have extra responsibility in making sure that all the battery's tanks were running well.

 

            Paul Marks was riding in one of the battery's open-top halftracks whenever the battalion moved out. He would help repair broken engines and tanks when needed and ensure that they were in tip-top shape throughout the remainder of the war.

 

            After landing at Utah Beach, was attached to a Task Force (it would be attached to a number of different task forces through the remainder of the war to strengthen them for combat) heading for Brest (Task Force A) an important German submarine base in Brittany, west of Normandy. About 40,000 German troops were bivouacked there. The 83rd was instrumental in the shelling of Brest and German positions around the Crozon Peninsula. The battalion's guns fired for eight days straight, stopping only when the German's surrendered (September 19). Apparently the Germans were under the impression that a whole division of artillery had been bombarding them from the 83rd's position, when in fact it was only a single battalion. The 83rd received their second combat star for this battle.

 

            France fell quickly to the Allied liberators and the 83rd was transferred to south Holland where the British 9th Army was based. They were attached to the 2nd Armored Division of the Third Army and fought their way into Germany, making it as far as Linnich on the Rur (Roer in French) River, about 30 miles west of Cologne. While they were there Hitler began his last major counterattack, sending about 30 divisions through the Ardennes Mountains to split the American and British forces and recapture Antwerp in Holland. This resulted in the Battle of the Bulge, which started on December 16, 1944 and lasted until January 25, 1945. The 2nd Armored Division quickly rushed back to Belgium to help stall the German attack. On December 19 the 83rd AFA Battalion was in Liége, and the following day was attached to the 3rd Armored Division of Courtney Hodges' First Army. Moving south to the front lines, the 83rd set up first a little west of the town of Amonines (about 25 miles south of Liége), and then took up a position just east of the village of Érezée (about 1 and 1/2 miles north of Amonines). There they began firing for a task force commanded by Lt. Col. Samuel Hogan, who had been surrounded and cut off by a larger German force at Marcourai, about 5.8 miles to the south of the 83rd's position. "Hogan's 400" was the name given to the men who made their famous stand at Marcourai against the overwhelming German advance and held their lines despite being completely surrounded and cut off by the enemy. The Air Force tried to parachute supplies into Hogan's troopers, but much of it fell on the battery positions of the 83rd, who were in the meantime blasting away at the German lines surrounding Hogan. Short on ammunition, food and medical equipment, Hogan's men destroyed all the equipment they had left and proceeded to infiltrate through enemy lines back to American positions. Many made it, and many did not.

 

            As the German's continued their advance, the 83rd had to withdraw and seek a new position. They set up in the Belgian village of Clavier (about 11 miles north-west of Érezée), where they spent New Year's Day, 1945. Two weeks later, the German advance had stalled and they had begun withdrawing. The 83rd took up its final position during the Battle of the Bulge at the village of Langlire (about 14 miles south east of Érezée ) on January 14. Here the Germans staged an attack which was broken up by the combined firing power of the three batteries of the 83rd, firing some 1,100 rounds of ammunition. On January 21, the 83rd AFA Battalion was relieved from the front lines and moved to the village of Septon (about 6.8 miles north west of Érezée and a mile or two west of Barvaux). The Battalion received its third combat star for its involvement in the Ardennes Forest - The Battle of the Bulge.

 

            After a few weeks of maintenance and rest, Paul Marks and the 83rd AFA Battalion prepared to move into Germany - the 3rd Armored Division's main objective was Cologne on the Rhine River (the fourth-largest city in Germany). The 83rd AFA provided direct support to the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion as it and the rest of the 3rd Division seized Düren on the River Rur (Roer) and secured the bridgehead across the river on February 25 (Düren was about 21 miles south-west of Cologne). The 83rd AFA was assigned to several different task forces on the way to Cologne which succeeded in driving the German army out of a number of towns. Along the way Paul came across an abandoned German half-track (open-top tank) covered in camouflage. It was brand new, had an 88mm gun on it and surprisingly, still had its keys in the ignition. Marks showed it to the battery commander who ordered it to be sent to be repainted green with white stars, and to remove the gun for more space. Marks and his compatriots renamed it Herman, and Paul was placed in charge and commanded it for the rest of the war. The road to Cologne went quickly, but the 83rd was called to fire on the enemy often and they did so more than adequately. On March 5, all the units of the 3rd Armored Division (including the 83rd AFA) launched an attack on the German forces stationed around Cologne. The battle continued throughout the following day but on March 7, they captured the city. On March 17 the 3rd Armored Division was relieved and moved south towards Bonn (6 miles)  to regroup and refit. That same day, Paul Marks was one of the few who was lucky enough to get a three-day pass to Paris, a trip he enjoyed immensely. The 83rd AFA Battalion received its fourth combat star for its involvement in the Rhineland-Cologne area.

 

            When Paul rejoined the 83rd they had begun the advance north and east into central Germany. On March 24, the 83rd was part of Combat Command A (there were three, A, B and R - Task Force Hogan was part of "R") of the 3rd Armored Division. Combat Command A was led by Brigadier General Doyle O. Hickey and consisted of 9 units (including one other Armored Field Artillery Battalion, the 67th) which were often divided up into two task forces (named after their leaders: Lt. Col. Leander Doan and Lt. Col. Matthew Kane - later Lt. Col. John Boles took Doan's command and Lt. Col. William Orr took Kane's when they were promoted).

 

            On March 26 Combat Command A (including the 83rd AFA and Paul Marks) broke through German lines and took the town of Altenkirchen (24 miles east of Bonn). The following day they seized Herborn (29 miles east) and its intact bridge over the Dill River. On March 28 the 3rd Armored Division was ordered to head north-east and seize the city of Paderborn. So the following day, the 83rd and the rest of the division headed out and succeeded in making the longest one-day advance during the war, 101 miles, as they headed toward their goal. One task force of Combat Command A (Kane's) was sent to take Lippstadt, while the other (Boles') joined with the rest of the 3rd Division in assaulting Paderborn on April 1 {I'm not sure which the 83rd AFA was with}. They took the city and had the surrounding area secured by April 4th. The following day the 3rd Armored Division continued its attack east, now following orders to seize the bridges over the Mulde and Elbe rivers at Dessau (150 miles east of Paderborn and only 68 miles south-west of Berlin). The 83rd reached the Elbe River by the town of Bitterfeld (15 miles south of Dessau) and there received word of the Russian advance from the east. They fired a 21-gun salute to the "Red Army" and then moved north to attack Dessau. The 3rd Armored Division used maximum artillery support during this assault, which began on April 21. Fierce house-to-house fighting occurred over the next two days with the last German force in the area finally defeated on April 23rd. On April 25 the 3rd Armored Division was relieved by the 9th Infantry Division and was moved back west to the Sangerhausen area temporarily. However the Paul and the 83rd AFA did not go with the 3rd Armored Division, they were sent north where they encountered very little resistance from the German military. On May 7 and 8 the German military unconditionally surrendered, bringing the war in Europe to a close. The 83rd AFA Battalion was in the small village of Rugensee (14 miles south of the Baltic Sea in northern Germany) when the news came. By then the roads were filled with German prisoners, and sometimes the vehicles of the 83rd had to get off the road to let them pass.

 

            During World War II, there was a point system that determined how early one could go home. The 83rd averaged 80 points. Because Paul was married, had a child and was a winner of the Bronze Star, he had 118 points, so he was one of the first men to go home.

 

            Paul Marks was given medals for good conduct in WWII and Victory in WWII. His Bronze Star, he received for bravery one night when the battalion was in column formation (A, B and C Batteries in that order) and on the move. Marks' halftrack was always the last vehicle in C-Battery and thus the whole battalion column. That particular night the battalion was fired upon and in a very vulnerable position. The C-Battery Commander, 1st Lt. Charles Burch, ordered Paul to get the battery turned around, so that the rest of the battalion could then turn around and escape this mess. Paul ran all the way to the front of C-Battery, while under fire, from vehicle to vehicle, getting them to turn and go back the way they'd come. For his valiant effort and success, he received the Bronze Star.

 

            When the 83rd AFA Battalion moved down into southern Germany, Paul did not go with them. He traveled to Metz, France, as a stopping off point on the way home (as mentioned above he was allowed to go home earlier because he had more points). Marks had to stay in Metz for several months, which he found fairly boring. One interesting event that did occur during that time was when some German POWs got into a US Army supply crate and stole a few packs of chewing gum. It wasn't very harmful or dangerous so nothing came of it.

 

            Paul was finally shipped back to an army base in New York where he was discharged on Sept 25, 1945. Paul met his mother, brother, sister-in-law and wife Ruth in Frankfort, Indiana. They were overjoyed to see each other.

 

            After the war Paul worked at an enamel plant near Frankfort and then switched to work for International Harvester. This job required Marks to set up and assemble equipment, something he had been doing for years. He found out there was a job-opening for postmaster in Clarks Hill (15 miles south-east of Lafayette off of 52), which he took a test to apply for. Paul got the second highest result but was offered the job, to his surprise. The post office respected him as a veteran. He held the job until his retirement. It was this job as postmaster that enabled him to track down the people he had served with and to help organize, at first battery, and later whole battalion reunions. The first reunion was held on August 6-7, 1960 at Paul and Ruth's home in Clarks Hill. Since then, reunions had been held almost every year at various locations throughout the USA. They have not been forthcoming lately, due to the falling number of the veterans of the 83rd AFA Battalion still alive.

 

 

 

The Second World War gave Paul Marks the following opinion,

 

"I think that we should have a strong army, well equipped, at all times. Look at the time it took us to go from horses to mechanize. That took a lot of time."

 

Time is what these veterans do not have.

 

WW2 Baby says "Goodby Daddy" Again

Tewksbury, MA

Paul Marks Military Burial Service

                           WW2 Baby says " Goodbye Daddy" Again

 

                                    By Marcia Lamb

 

 

She knelt on bended knee before the man with silver hair

 

With white-gloved hand she placed a gift in his dark and weathered hands.

 

 

A folded flag, crisp, yet  inviting one to lay his head.

 

Not son, or brother lay beneath this flag, but his 94 year old Dad. 

 

 

She thanked him for his sacrifice for which he barely knew,

 

He was an infant when his father went to fight in WW2. 

 

 

“Daddy” was a word he learned, a photo on the shelf,

 

Until the soldier came home one day to introduce himself.

 

 

Next to the man with silver hair sat four silly giggling kids

 

Or so it seemed in their aging minds full of memories with him. 

 

 

Those type memories the babe sacrificed, the bonding we all crave, and yet these two still formed a bond never taken by a grave. 

 

 

Soldiers, fathers, Christian sons with battles everyday to create their homes of love and peace to reach eternity that waits. 

 

 

Now sits the man with silver hair, saying goodbye again.

 

Though many years may pass before they reunite,

 

 till then…

 

 

 

 In honor of Paul Marks, b. 6/5/18;  d. 2/13/13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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