McGowen Team after the 1st Alamo Scout mission, the reconnaissance of Los Negros Island, New Guinea.
McGowen Team after the 1st Alamo Scout mission, the reconnaissance of Los Negros Island, New Guinea, 27-28 Feb 1944.

Alamo Scouts Diary

Inserted at 7:00 p.m. by Navy PT boat onto the deserted beach, the small team moved stealthily along the trail until it reached its objective at 2:00 a.m. Two local guides were sent into the tiny village to obtain the latest information on the enemy disposition and ascertain the status of the personnel held hostage there. On the guide’s return, the team leader modified his original plan based on their information and the men dispersed to take up their positions.

The leader with six team members, the interpreter, and three local guides moved to the vicinity of a large building where eighteen enemy soldiers slept inside. Two team members and one native guide took up a position near a small building occupied by two enemy intelligence officers and a captured local official. The assistant team leader, four men, and two guides were to neutralize an enemy outpost located more than two miles away on the main road to the village. The outpost was manned by four soldiers with two machine guns. This team would attack when they heard the main element initiate their assault in the village.

The team leader opened fire on the main building at 4:10 a.m. and within three minutes his team killed or wounded all the enemy combatants. The two enemy officers in the small hut were killed and their hostage released. In the village, the interpreter and the native guides went from hut to hut gathering the sixty-six civilian hostages. As soon as everyone was accounted for, the group began moving to the pickup point on the beach. The assistant team leader and his men were unable to hear the brief gun battle in the village and waited until 5:30 before attacking the guard post from two sides, killing the four enemy soldiers. After neutralizing the guard post, the team moved to the pick-up point, secured the area, and made radio contact to bring in the boats for the evacuation. The main body with the newly-freed hostages soon arrived. By 7:00 a.m., everyone was safely inside friendly lines.

1 Gibson Niles, “The Operations of the Alamo Scouts (Sixth U.S. Army Special Reconnaissance Unit), on the Following Missions: 1. Advanced Reconnaissance of Los Negros Island, 27-28 February 44, Prior to Landing by the First Cavalry Division in the Admiralty Islands (Bismarck Archipelago Campaign); 2. Rescue of Sixty-six Dutch and Javanese from the Japanese at Cape Oransbari, Dutch New Guinea, 4-5 October 1944 (New Guinea Campaign); 3. Reconnaissance of Enemy Dispositions and Contact with Guerrilla Elements, Degaspi-Sorsogon Peninsula, 19 February – 26 April 1945, (Luzon Campaign,” Advanced Infantry Officer Class II, 1947-1948, Fort Benning, Georgia, monograph in the Donovan Research Library Digitized Monograph Collection, https://www.infantry.army.mil/monographs/content/wwii/STUP2/NilesGibson%20LTC.pdf link.

Nellist Team after the Oransbari Rescue mission. Pictured: Andy E. Smith, Galen C. Kittleson, William E. Nellist, kneeling, Wilbert C. Wismer, Sabas A. Asis and Thomas A. Siason. Taken New Years Day, 1945 on Leyte, Philippine Islands.
Nellist Team after the Oransbari Rescue mission. Pictured L to R, back row, Andy E. Smith, Galen C. Kittleson, William E. Nellist, kneeling, front row, Wilbert C. Wismer, Sabas A. Asis and Thomas A. Siason. Taken New Years Day, 1945 on Leyte, Philippine Islands.

This well-planned, flawlessly executed hostage rescue could easily have come from today’s war on terrorism. In reality, it took place on 4 October 1944 at Cape Oransbari, New Guinea. The team that rescued sixty-six Dutch and Javanese hostages from the Japanese were part of the Sixth U.S. Army’s Special Reconnaissance Unit, called the Alamo Scouts. This article will look at the formation, training, and missions of that unique special operations unit.

The Japanese Advance

Following the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese military was on the march. The Imperial Army had been fighting in Manchuria since 1931 and was a veteran, battle-tested force. The Japanese grand strategy was to drive the European nations from their colonial holdings in Asia and implement the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, an involuntary assembly of Asian nations under Japanese domination. In December 1941, Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands and France, and the British Commonwealth was locked in a struggle with the Axis. The United States was preoccupied with building up its own military forces and providing war materials to the embattled British. Japan chose this time to launch their attack on Pearl Harbor, and begin offensive operations throughout East Asia. The initial months of the war were a string of unbroken Japanese victories.

General Douglas A. MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area. The red line shows the limit of advance of the Japanese military in 1942. MacArthur’s campaign strategy was to retake New Guinea and move north and recapture the Philippines prior to the assault on the Japanese home islands.
General Douglas A. MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area. The red line shows the limit of advance of the Japanese military in 1942. MacArthur’s campaign strategy was to retake New Guinea and move north and recapture the Philippines prior to the assault on the Japanese home islands.
The Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi was sunk by aerial attack at the Battle of Midway. To the left a Japanese destroyer maneuvers to avoid the American aircraft. The defeat at Midway spelled the end of the Japanese expansion.
The Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi was sunk by aerial attack at the Battle of Midway. To the left a Japanese destroyer maneuvers to avoid the American aircraft. The defeat at Midway spelled the end of the Japanese expansion.

August 1942 was the high-water mark for the Japanese military. The Imperial Army captured Malaya and Singapore, occupied Borneo, Sumatra, and Java in the Dutch East Indies, and marched into Thailand. They pushed the British out of Burma, and dealt the United States a major defeat in the Philippines. Japanese forces swept south and east into New Guinea, where they established major bases at Rabaul on New Britain Island, and Tulagi in the Solomon Group and occupied the Marshall and Gilbert Islands in eastern Micronesia. They pushed north to seize Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians. Their forces were threatening Australia when the U.S. Navy decisively defeated the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. On 7 August 1942, the United States and her allies attacked Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Tanambogo, effectively checking further Japanese expansion. From this point on, the Japanese were forced to adopt a defensive posture to consolidate their holdings and prepare to fight off the growing strength of the Allies.

2 Louis Morton, The U.S. Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific: Strategy and Command, The First Two Years (Washington DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1962); John C. Boleyn, “The Japanese Expansion in the Pacific, 7 December 1941-12 September 1942,” Advanced Infantry Officer Course, 1948-1949, Fort Benning, Georgia, monograph in the Donovan Research Library Digitized Monograph Collection, https://www.infantry.army.mil/monographs/content/wwii/STUP2/Boleyn,%20John%20C.%201LT.pdf link.

Maritime operations against the Japanese took place in two theaters. The Southeast Asia Command was under British control and led by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. The Pacific Theater was divided into two areas. The largest was the vast Pacific Ocean Areas (POA) commanded by Admiral (ADM) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, The POA extended from the continental United States westward across the ocean to Japan and included most of the Pacific islands. The South Pacific area was commanded by Rear Admiral Robert L. Ghormley. The second subdivision, the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), encompassed Australia, New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines and was under the command of General (GEN) Douglas A. MacArthur. It was in the SWPA that the Alamo Scouts were created and operated.

3 Samuel Milner, The U.S. Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific: Victory in Papua (Washington DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1971), 49.

The SWPA and Sixth Army

After his evacuation from the Philippines to Australia in March 1942, GEN MacArthur, was installed as the Commander in Chief of the SWPA, a joint command composed of United States, Australian, and Dutch forces. Of the major theaters of World War II, only the China-Burma-India Theater (CBI) was more poorly resourced than the SWPA. MacArthur’s General Headquarters (GHQ) directed three subordinate sections, the Allied Air Forces (Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, U.S. Army Air Forces), Allied Land Forces (General Sir Thomas A. Blamey, Australian Army) and the Allied Naval Forces, (Rear Admiral Arthur S. Carpender, U.S. Navy). In January 1943, MacArthur specifically requested that his long-standing friend Lieutenant General (LTG) Walter Krueger be assigned to command the newly constituted Sixth Army. In a move designed to keep the bulk of the American ground troops separate from the Allied Land Forces, MacArthur established a new command, the New Britain Force, around the Sixth U.S. Army, reporting directly to SWPA GHQ. The name was soon changed to the Alamo Force, because Sixth Army originally stood up in San Antonio, Texas, the home of the Alamo. LTG Krueger noted:

4 Morton, The War in the Pacific, 407-408.

5 General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, The Reports of General MacArthur: The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific, Vol I (Washington DC: Center of Military History Publication 13-3, reprint 1994), 107-109.

6 Morton, The War in the Pacific, 408.

The reason for creating Alamo Force and having it, rather than Sixth Army, conducting operations was not divulged to me. But it was plain that this arrangement would obviate placing Sixth Army under the operational control of the CG, Allied Land Forces, although that Army formed a part of these forces. Since the CG, Allied Land Forces, likewise could not exercise administrative control of Sixth Army, it never came under his command at all.

7 Walter Krueger, From Down Under to Nippon: The Story of Sixth Army in World War II, (Washington DC, Combat Forces Press, 1953) 10.

Alamo Scout Teams in New Guinea

The campaign in New Guinea. LTG Krueger’s Alamo Force executed a series of amphibious landings along the northern coast of New Guinea. The Alamo Scouts conducted 40 reconnaissance missions on the landing beaches and the off-shore islands in support of Alamo Force. Note: Most teams had multiple missons.

  1. Barnes
  2. Chalko
  3. Dove
  4. Evans
  5. Farkas
  6. Fisher
  1. Hobbs
  2. Littlefield
  3. Lutz
  4. McGowan
  5. Nellist
  6. Reynolds
  1. Roberts
  2. Rounsaville
  3. Sombar
  4. Sumner
  5. Thompson
MAP: Alamo Scout Teams in New Guinea

General MacArthur’s strategy in the SWPA was to conduct a series of amphibious landings along the northern coast of New Guinea, capture the Japanese-held islands of the New Britain archipelago and destroy the major Japanese naval base at Rabaul. This would eliminate the Japanese threat to Australia and begin the process of recapturing the Philippines prior to assaulting the Japanese home islands. From July through September, 1942, Australian troops on New Guinea fought the Japanese between Port Moresby and the northern coast. The attack followed the treacherous Kokoda Trail across the towering Owen Stanley Mountains. The enemy’s final attempt to consolidate his holdings on New Guinea’s northern coast was repulsed at Milne Bay. Fierce fighting led to Allied victories at Buna, Gona, and Sanananda. The Japanese penetration along the New Guinea coast and the occupation of Solomon Islands were disrupted. The Allies began to roll them back when the Sixth Army commenced operations.

9 GHQ, SWPA: The Reports of General MacArthur, 67.

The Japanese still occupied the majority of northeastern New Guinea, with strongholds at Lae and Salamaua. LTG Krueger’s Alamo Force launched an offensive in June 1943, landing on Woodlark and Kiriwina islands on 30 June. Airfields were rapidly built on these islands. The Allies began to move methodically up the northeastern coast of New Guinea, capturing Lae and Salamaua and executing amphibious landings further westward. For the Army, amphibious operations on this large scale were a new experience, and there were many lessons to be learned. It was during the conduct of these early battles that LTG Krueger saw the need for more accurate timely intelligence, and ground reconnaissance of the landing areas.

10 GHQ, SWPA: The Reports of General MacArthur, 117.

LTG Walter Krueger, MG Franklin C. Sibert, RADM William M. Fechetler, BG Charles E. Hardis, New Guinea.
L to R: LTG Walter Krueger, MG Franklin C. Sibert, RADM William M. Fechetler, BG Charles E. Hardis, New Guinea. General MacArthur said of General Krueger, “He was swift and sure in attack; tenacious and determined in defense; modest and restrained in victory-I don’t know what he would have been in defeat because he was never defeated.”

When LTG Krueger arrived in Australia in February, 1943, Sixth Army contained I Corps, the 32nd and 41st Infantry Divisions, the 1st Marine Division (under Army operational control), the 158th Infantry Regiment, the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 40th and 41st Antiaircraft Brigades, the 98th Field Artillery Battalion, (Pack) and the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade. The 24th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions joined Sixth Army in May and July, 1943 respectively. By November 1944, prior to the invasion of the Philippines, the Alamo Force (Sixth Army) had grown considerably. It now included the X Corps composed of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 24th Infantry Division and the 6th Cavalry Regiment and the XXIVth Corps, made up of the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions, the 11th Airborne Division, the 20th Armored Group, and the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment. Included in the Sixth Army troop lists were the 32nd and 77th Infantry Divisions, the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade, the 21st and 381st Infantry Regiments and the 6th Ranger Battalion.

8 Morton, The War in the Pacific, 407; GHQ SWPA, The Reports of General MacArthur, 183.

Troops of the 32nd Infantry Division cross a bridge in the jungle during the battle of Buna in New Guinea, November 1942. The 32nd was a Sixth Army unit in the Alamo Force.
Troops of the 32nd Infantry Division cross a bridge in the jungle during the battle of Buna in New Guinea, November 1942. The 32nd was a Sixth Army unit in the Alamo Force.
Sixth Army SSI
Sixth Army SSI

The Birth of the Alamo Scouts

Intelligence about the enemy disposition and the conditions on the ground on the New Guinea mainland were hard to come by. Aerial overflights were not effective in piercing the thick jungle that began at the edge of the beaches, and there was no human intelligence network in place in the Japanese-occupied areas. In the other theaters of World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) provided much of this tactical intelligence. Douglas A. MacArthur specifically prohibited the OSS from conducting operations in the SWPA. He would not allow any organizations in his theater that did not report directly to him.

11 Kermit Roosevelt, War Reports of the OSS: The Overseas Targets Vol II (New York: Walker and Company, 1976,) 358.

In July 1942, in an attempt to address the intelligence shortfalls, GEN MacArthur established an organization to collect information through clandestine operations behind enemy lines. The Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) incorporated several loosely-knit organizations, including the Australian “Coast Watchers” and made an effort to insert agents with radios by submarine. The Navy also established a short-lived organization, the Amphibious Scouts, on Fergusson Island in July 1943 to conduct reconnaissance of the landing beaches. The Amphibious Scouts included several Army personnel. The unit was disbanded in December 1943. The innovative Krueger, conscious of the intelligence failures that occurred before the battles on Kiska Island in the Aleutians and at Guadalcanal, took steps to acquire his own intelligence gathering capability.

12 GHQ, SWPA: The Reports of General MacArthur, 54. For a more complete story of the Allied Intelligence Bureau, see William B. Breuer, MacArthur’s Undercover War: Spies, Saboteurs, Guerrillas, and Secret Missions (Edison, NJ, Castle Books, 2005) and Allison Ind, Allied Intelligence Bureau; Our Secret Weapon in the War Against Japan (New York: David McKay Co) 1958.

13 The Japanese evacuated the island of Kiska undetected by the Allies in July 1943. Three weeks later, the Allies landed a major invasion force on the island. The enemy executed a similar evacuation from Guadalcanal. Kenneth Finlayson, “Operation Cottage: The First Special Service Force in the Kiska Campaign,” Veritas, Vol 4, No. 2, 2008.

Australian “Coast Watchers” in late 1943. The civilian Coast Watchers were later incorporated into the Australian Navy and were a vital part of MacArthur’s Allied Intelligence Bureau.
Australian “Coast Watchers” in late 1943. The civilian Coast Watchers were later incorporated into the Australian Navy and were a vital part of MacArthur’s Allied Intelligence Bureau. One of the few American Coast Watchers, Frank Nash, is seated on the right, bottom row.

LTG Krueger said, “The trouble that we had met in getting information of the enemy and our objective area prompted me to issue orders on 28 November 1943 establishing a training center near Headquarters, Alamo Force for training selected individuals in reconnaissance and raider work.” Sixth Army General Order 353-B established the Alamo Scout Training Center (ASTC) to provide trained reconnaissance troops to Sixth Army units. Krueger shrewdly used his prerogative as an Army commander to establish a training center instead of trying to create a new unit, an option that required approval by the Army General Staff. Krueger also converted the 98th Field Artillery Battalion (Pack) into the 6th Ranger Battalion when the need for a raiding capability was identified.

14 Krueger, From Down Under to Nippon, 29.

98th Field Artillery Battalion Patch
98th Field Artillery Battalion Patch
6th Ranger Battalion Scroll
6th Ranger Battalion Scroll

LTC Frederick W. Bradshaw, the Sixth Army Assistant G-2 was selected to command the ASTC. The self-effacing former lawyer from Mississippi was initially assisted by Major (MAJ) John F. Polk from the 1st Cavalry Division. Polk soon moved into the role of liaison with Sixth Army Headquarters and Bradshaw picked Captain (CPT) Homer A. Williams to be his executive officer. A gruff personality and a strict disciplinarian, Williams was the perfect counter-weight to the quiet, good-humored Bradshaw. Bradshaw made equally good choices with his other staff officers.

Major Homer “Red” Williams was the executive officer for LTC Bradshaw before becoming the ASTC director. A no-nonsense disciplinarian, Williams was an effective counter-part to the soft-spoken Bradshaw.
Major Homer “Red” Williams was the executive officer for LTC Bradshaw before becoming the ASTC director. A no-nonsense disciplinarian, Williams was an effective counter-part to the soft-spoken Bradshaw.
1LT Mayo Stuntz `with 1LT Rafael Ileto at the last ASTC on Luzon, Philippine Islands. Stuntz was the ASTC Supply Officer renowned for his ability to “scrounge necessities.” Rafael Ileto was a West Point graduate who later rose to be Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and Secretary of National Defense.
1LT Mayo Stuntz `with 1LT Rafael Ileto at the last ASTC on Luzon, Philippine Islands. Stuntz was the ASTC Supply Officer renowned for his ability to “scrounge necessities.” Rafael Ileto was a West Point graduate who later rose to be Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and Secretary of National Defense.
Trainees at the first Alamo Scout Training Center on Fergusson Island, New Guinea. The training center would be established in five separate locations in New Guinea and the Philippines as the Southwest Pacific Campaign unfolded. A total of eight classes were completed, and a ninth was cut short in September 1945, after the Japanese surrender.
Trainees at the first Alamo Scout Training Center on Fergusson Island, New Guinea. The training center would be established in five separate locations in New Guinea and the Philippines as the Southwest Pacific Campaign unfolded. A total of eight classes were completed, and a ninth was cut short in September 1945, after the Japanese surrender.
1LT Myr on Bec kwith was an Army veteran of the Navy’s Amphibious Scouts. As an instructor at the ASTC, he demonstrates the operation of a special waterproof radio to be used by the reconnaissance teams.
1LT Myr on Bec kwith was an Army veteran of the Navy’s Amphibious Scouts. As an instructor at the ASTC, he demonstrates the operation of a special waterproof radio to be used by the reconnaissance teams.

A critical position in establishing and maintaining the school was the supply officer. Bradshaw recruited First Lieutenant (1LT) Mayo S. Stuntz who had served in the Amphibious Scouts. An inveterate “scrounger”, Stuntz was able to work wonders in the logistically constrained environment of the SWPA, provided, “no questions were asked.” In addition to building his staff, Bradshaw was on the look-out for a location for the school. It was likely to be a “bare-bones” operation.

15 Lance Q. Zedric, Silent Warriors: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines (Ventura, CA: Pathfinder Publishing Co., 1995), 45-50.

Amphibious Scouts SSI
Amphibious Scouts SSI

The Sixth Army orders establishing the ASTC required Bradshaw to have the school set-up and training its first class by 1 January 1944 at a location in the vicinity of Sixth Army Headquarters, then on Goodenough Island off the east coast of New Guinea. The mosquito-infested swamps and rough surf around Goodenough Island offered no suitable locations for the school. On 30 November, Bradshaw dispatched two former Amphibious Scouts, Lieutenants Daily P. Gambill and Milton Beckworth, and two enlisted men to follow up a rumor that the Navy reconnaissance unit was being disbanded. They had a camp on Fergusson Island. The rumor proved true, and on 3 December 1943, Bradshaw and his staff moved to what would be the first of five homes of the ASTC. The school would run until after the end of the war, closing in September 1945.

16 Zedric, Silent Warriors, 52.

LTC Frederick Bradshaw with LTC Sylvester Smith of Sixth Army G-2 on the boat dock at the Alamo Scout Training Center (ASTC), Fergusson Island, New Guinea. Bradshaw, a lawyer from Mississippi, formed the ASTC and served as the first director.
LTC Frederick Bradshaw (r) with LTC Sylvester Smith of Sixth Army G-2 on the boat dock at the Alamo Scout Training Center (ASTC), Fergusson Island, New Guinea. Bradshaw, a lawyer from Mississippi, formed the ASTC and served as the first director.
The first Alamo Scout Training Center at Kalo Kalo was nicknamed the “Hotel Alamo.” The industrious 1LT Mayo Stuntz had provided the camp with refrigeration, electricity, and other amenities not seen in the SWPA Theater. The sign travelled to subsequent camps.
The first Alamo Scout Training Center at Kalo Kalo was nicknamed the “Hotel Alamo.” The industrious 1LT Mayo Stuntz had provided the camp with refrigeration, electricity, and other amenities not seen in the SWPA Theater. The sign travelled to subsequent camps.

The native village of Kalo Kalo sits on a quiet bay on the northwest coast of Fergusson Island. Only a 30-minute boat ride from Sixth Army Headquarters, the spot was ideal. It provided good areas for training in the jungle surrounding the village and easy access to the ocean for amphibious training in rubber boats. LTG Krueger sent construction engineers to build classrooms, a supply room, boat docks and a 50-man dining hall, all properly screened with cement floors. 1LT Stuntz “found” a kerosene –powered refrigerator, generators, and electric lights for the camp, a radio and movie projector for the dayroom, and a host of other amenities. 1LT William Barnes, who graduated in the first class recalled, “We had a wonderful setup on Fergusson Island. It was the nicest of all the camps. Stuntz rigged up a latrine and even managed to find a couple of toilet seats. That’s probably the reason the men called the camp the ‘Hotel Alamo’.”

17 Zedric, Silent Warriors, 54.

As the construction of the camp continued, LTC Bradshaw began to fill out his instructor corps. The demise of the Amphibious Scouts provided him with several soldiers who had served in the Navy recon unit. On 27 December 1943, a month after the order establishing the ASTC, the first class of Alamo Scouts began training at Fergusson Island.

Alamo Scout Training Centers

There were five separate Alamo Scout Training Centers established between December 1943 and September 1945.

Camp locations in New Guinea

Camp 1: Kalo Kalo on Fergusson Island, New Guinea.
27 Dec 43 – 31 Mar 44, Classes 1 and 2.
Camp 2: Mange Point, Finschafen, New Guinea.
15 May 44 – 22 Jun 44, Class 3.
Camp 3: Cape Kassoe, Hollandia, New Guinea.
31 Jul 44 – 28 Oct 44, Classes 4 and 5.

Camp locations in The Philippines

Camp 4: Abuyog, Leyte, Philippines.
26 Dec 44 – 1 Jun 45, Class 6.
Camp 5: Mabayo (Subic Bay), Luzon, Philippines.
23 Apr 45 – 2 Sep 45, Classes 7 and 8.

Alamo Scout Training and Selection

Candidates for the Alamo Scouts came from units within the Sixth Army, initially from the 32nd Infantry Division (32nd ID) and 158th Regimental Combat Team (the Bushmasters). The Scouts were all volunteers, and units were tasked to screen candidates for suitability prior to sending their names forward. LTG Krueger’s influence was felt down to the lowest level. 1LT Robert Sumner volunteered for the Scouts in April 1944. “The Army Commander, General Krueger, insisted on quality people to begin with, and took a personal interest that quality people were made available. This is very clearly stated in his original order. So the commanders knew that the old man would look askance on this thing if a bunch of turkeys kept turning up all the time. So, you got a pretty good guy,” said Sumner.

18 Colonel Robert Sumner, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. John W. Partin and Dr. Richard Stewart, 10 December 1991, Tampa FL, transcript, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

158th Regimental Combat Team Patch
158th Regimental Combat Team Patch
32nd Infantry Division SSI
32nd Infantry Division SSI

Nineteen year-old Private First Class (PFC) Galen C. Kittleson won a Silver Star on Noemfoor Island with the 503rd Parachute Infantry. He “volunteered” for the Alamo Scouts with little knowledge of the unit. “I and a Lieutenant Cole from the 503rd were told, ‘We are going to send you to a recon school because you are a scout.’ I didn’t really know what the hell the Alamo Scouts were. I thought, well I suppose the more I can learn, the better off I’ll be. They really didn’t say it was voluntary, either.” SGT Zeke (Chief Thunderbird) McConnell, a Native American Cherokee with the 40th Infantry Division on New Britain recalls “My Colonel came up and said, ‘You’re an Indian. How would you like to go to Scout training? Then you can come back and show us how to do it.’” Unfortunately for the Colonel, McConnell remained with the Alamo Scouts when he completed the course. Volunteer or not, everyone went through a rigorous six-week training program.

19 Command Sergeant Major Galen C. Kittleson, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. Richard Stewart and Dr. Stanley Sandler, 10 October 1993, Fort Bragg, NC, transcript, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

20 Staff Sergeant Zeke McConnell, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 7 April 2006, Seattle, WA, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

SGT Zeke (Chief Thunderbird) McConnell
SGT Zeke (Chief Thunderbird) McConnell
503rd Parachute Infantry Patch
503rd Parachute Infantry Patch
Alamo Scout training was arduous and intensive, concentrating on reconnaissance techniques and honing the men’s ability to move through the jungle. Here trainees at the ASTC at Kalo Kalo conduct a forced march on Fergusson Island, New Guinea, February 1944.
Alamo Scout training was arduous and intensive, concentrating on reconnaissance techniques and honing the men’s ability to move through the jungle. Here trainees at the ASTC at Kalo Kalo conduct a forced march on Fergusson Island, New Guinea, February 1944.

The Alamo Scout course was designed to maximize the soldier’s ability to penetrate behind enemy lines and gather accurate, timely intelligence. Heavy emphasis was placed on the skills necessary for a successful recon patrol. 1LT Robert Sumner went through the ASTC after attending a company commander’s course at Fort Benning, GA. “The training program [at the ASTC] was an advanced sort of proposition. We had all the basic training, of course, in map reading, area photography, individual weapons. However, at the Scout Training Center, your training was detail work on reading maps and reading aerial photography.” The nature of the Scout mission, amphibious insertion onto the landing beaches, dictated that a major portion of the training be devoted to the use of rubber boats.

21 Sumner interview.

The Alamo Scouts depended on small inflatable rubber boats (RB-7’s) for their entry into enemy territory. “I think the rubber boat training was the easiest part, but we practiced it a lot,” said Galen Kittleson. “We went out into the ocean and worked with those waves coming in. Because if you don’t know a little bit about it, you turn sideways and you’re automatically capsized.” Scouts were also expected to be proficient open water swimmers. Corporal (CPL) Andrew E. Smith remembers an unusual training exercise. “There were two taped off areas in the bay. You went under water at one end and they [the cadre] told us, ‘Now don’t come up until you get to the other one because there are going to be bullets hitting the water.’ It was ninety or a hundred yards.”

22 Command Sergeant Major Galen C. Kittleson, Alamo Scouts, interview by Ms Cynthia Hayden, 10 March 2000, Fort Bragg, NC, transcript, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

23 Corporal Andrew E. Smith, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. Richard Stewart and Dr. Stanley Sandler, 10 October 1993, Fort Bragg, NC, transcript, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

40th Infantry Division SSI
40th Infantry Division SSI
Trainees of ASTC Class #4 at Hollandia, New Guinea were instructed in Ju-Jitsu as part of the physical training program. The training was taught by one of the few Americans qualified in this form of martial arts.
Trainees of ASTC Class #4 at Hollandia, New Guinea were instructed in Ju-Jitsu as part of the physical training program. The training was taught by one of the few Americans qualified in this form of martial arts.
Alamo Scout trainees had to swim an underwater course under fire. Here 1LT Preston Richard fires at the surface with a Thompson sub-machinegun. LTC Frederick Bradshaw, ASTC Director (hands on hips), and MG Innis P. Swift, commander of I Corps (in helmet) observe the training, ASTC Fergusson Island, January 1944.
Alamo Scout trainees had to swim an underwater course under fire. Here 1LT Preston Richard fires at the surface with a Thompson sub-machinegun. LTC Frederick Bradshaw, ASTC Director (hands on hips), and MG Innis P. Swift, commander of I Corps (in helmet) observe the training, ASTC Fergusson Island, January 1944.
LTG Walter Krueger congratulates SGT Gilbert Cox after awarding him the Silver Star. PFC Galen C. Kittleson, also a Silver Star recipient is in the background. Leyte, Philippines, 1944.
LTG Walter Krueger congratulates SGT Gilbert Cox after awarding him the Silver Star. PFC Galen C. Kittleson, also a Silver Star recipient is in the background. Leyte, Philippines, 1944.

Every aspect of patrolling, including conducting operations in the tropical jungle, was addressed in the training. Sumner said “There was an Australian officer, a Lieutenant Ray Watson who was attached to the Scouts as one of the training cadre. He had his own native police boys with him. In their pidgin English, they gave us instruction in jungle survival.” 1LT Tom Rounsaville described the training “as nothing really new. It was just concentrated, a hell of a lot of physical stuff, a lot of work in the water because we were going to be working in the water a lot. And stuff like map reading and patrolling, [for] the first ten days or two weeks.” “The physical training aspect was called Ju-Jitsu, and we had a young fellow who was one of the very, very few American brown-belters. We’re talking the 1940’s, and he was very good,” said Robert Sumner. Not everyone had a positive experience with the physical training. “They paired me with big Gib [Gilbert] Cox,” said Andrew Smith. “He was a football player from Oregon State and he threw me around like a pretzel. Then he’d say, did I hurt you, Smitty?”

24 Sumner interview.

25 First Lieutenant Thomas J. Rounsaville, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. Stanley Sandler, 1 October 1993, Fort Bragg, NC, transcript, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

26 Sumner interview.

27 Smith interview.

A Scout team at the 1st ASTC prepares to conduct a night reconnaissance. Front L-R, PFC Joseph Johnson, 1LT Michael Sombar and CPL David Milda. Back L-R, SGT Byron Tsingine, SSG Alvin Vilcan, CPL John A. Roberts, CPL Walter A. MacDonald and SSG Caesar Ramirez, 8 January 1944.
A Scout team at the 1st ASTC prepares to conduct a night reconnaissance. Front L-R, PFC Joseph Johnson, 1LT Michael Sombar and CPL David Milda. Back L-R, SGT Byron Tsingine, SSG Alvin Vilcan, CPL John A. Roberts, CPL Walter A. MacDonald and SSG Caesar Ramirez, 8 January 1944.

The six week training program of the Alamo Scouts involved an initial period devoted to classroom and hands-on instruction. “The classroom portion was very detailed and went on until 2200 [hours] each night. [It was] four weeks of this training, from 0800 to 2200 at night. Classroom [work] with practical training on the ground. Then we went into a series of exercises,” said Robert Sumner. Each class of students was divided into teams of one officer with five or six enlisted men and the members were rotated throughout the training. This was by design and supported one of the unique selection aspects of the Alamo Scouts.

28 Sumner interview.

1LT Robert Sumner went through the fourth class at the ASTC. “Everybody trained with everybody else during this entire period, so that you would get to know other men and they would get to know you. There was a logical reason for this, which we were unable to see to begin with.” The reason became clear when it was time to execute the culminating exercise of each class.

29 Sumner interview.

In a rare example of a unit conducting training in enemy-occupied terrain, the Scouts ran their final exercise in disputed areas. “At the end of the class, they would break us out into teams and send us on a mission, usually into some of the areas that were recently taken over by us. I mean there were still some Japanese in them, but they were kind of a virgin area,” said 1LT Tom Rounsaville. Sergeant (SGT) Gilbert Cox remembers his team going onto the New Guinea mainland. “We ran a mission back to the Tami-Avery Trail that the Japanese were using to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains. We saw a few dead guys that didn’t make it.” At the conclusion of these exercises, each man was given an opportunity to evaluate his fellow classmates.

30 Rounsaville interview.

31 Sergeant First Class Gilbert J. Cox, Alamo Scouts, interview by Dr. Charles H. Briscoe, 14 December 2005, Des Moines, WA, digital recording, USASOC History Office Classified Files, Fort Bragg, NC.

Using a secret ballot, each enlisted man was asked to rank in order of preference, the officer he would most like to serve under, and the five other enlisted men he wanted on his team. Officers were asked to provide the names of five enlisted men they would like to have on their team, in rank order. CPL Andrew Smith said,” I was to put on a piece of paper, the person I would most like to associate with on missions. Of course, there wasn’t a man who graduated that I wouldn’t gladly go with.” These peer evaluations were combined with a cadre assessment of each man. The projected mission requirements of Sixth Army determined who and how many Alamo Scouts would come from each class. Who was selected was not revealed until the graduation ceremony.

32 Smith interview.

33 Zedric, Silent Warriors, 86-87.

The graduation certificate of SGT Zeke McConnell of Littlefield Team. The certificate reads “Excellent-Alamo Scout.” If the rating Excellent or Superior appeared on the certificate, the individual was retained on a Scout team. If not, he returned to his unit.
The graduation certificate of SGT Zeke McConnell of Littlefield Team. The certificate reads “Excellent-Alamo Scout.” If the rating Excellent or Superior appeared on the certificate, the individual was retained on a Scout team. If not, he returned to his unit.

“On graduation day, we formed up in platoons, about an eight or nine-man squad with the lieutenant standing at the end. All the cadre officers were there, all lined up neatly. The director of training would make a few remarks, you know, the usual hype, and then the graduation exercise would start. The young officer was called forward. He marches up, salutes the director, and receives his diploma. And this was the first time you would know if you had been selected,” said Robert Sumner. If the words “Superior or Excellent – Alamo Scout” appeared on the diploma, the man was retained at the ASTC. If his diploma read “Alamo Scout”, he was a successful course graduate, but returned to his unit. On average, between 20 and 25 Scouts were selected from each class, enough for three complete teams. The teams selected out of the first five classes conducted operations supporting Sixth Army as it moved up the northern coast of New Guinea.

34 Sumner interview.

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