1959 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated  29 October 2015
     All major theater improvements, Cold War events or incidents that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in blue American Typewriter Font.
III Corps
4th U.S.
720th MP
STRAC Duty At Fort Hood, Texas
     At the start of the year the battalion’s organic units, HQ & HQ Detachment, Alpha, Bravo, less Charlie (Fort Polk, Louisiana) and Delta Company (active on paper without personnel or equipment) under the command of LTC Ward B. Waits was headquartered subordinate to the 4th U.S. Army, III Corps at Fort Hood Texas.

8 January With Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fleeing the country for the safety of the Dominical Republic, Castro’s guerilla army occupied the city and took control of the government and military. Within days he began executing thousands of members and supporters of the Batista regime, seized all U.S. and other foreign holdings, and established a communist government aligned ideologically with the Soviet’s.

     By the end of the month the U.S. imposed an economic embargo against the island. President Eisenhower recognized the immediate threat of the spread of the communist revolutionary ideology by Cuba to the rest of the hemisphere, and initiated a counterinsurgency program for Latin America. He proposed a multi million-dollar budget to fund health, education, and agrarian improvements, as well as military aid and advisors for the counterinsurgency program, the military aid was denied by Congress.

     In Communist North Vietnam Ho Chi Minh began developing a formal logistical route to funnel men and materials through Laos and Cambodia to support his overthrow of the South Vietnamese government. The route would eventually bear his name, the Ho Chi Minh Trail. As the guerilla attacks continued to escalate resulting in the death of two U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) advisors in Bien Hoa Province, South Vietnamese President Diem ordered a nationwide crackdown on communist dissidents throughout the south.
Exact Date Unknown In the last week of January the battalion Basketball Team move up to 4th place in the 1958-1959 Post-III Corps League with three successive wins.
Exact Date Unknown The battalion’s 1LT Arthur F. Carter was the top student in the 4th CBR Officer Class at the Army Chemical Corps School at Fort McCellan, Alabama. 1LT Carter was commended for maintaining the highest scholastic average for the four-week course.

11 February The battalion Basketball team lost to 35th Engineer Group by a score of 65 to 35 dropping them to the losers bracket in the Post-III Corps League standings. In their next game they defeated the 46th Engineer Battalion 76 to 57 giving them a second chance to for the championship. On the 14th they again faced the 35th Engineer Group in the final game and lost 61 to 55 ending their chance for the Post-III Corps League championship.

13 February The 1st (Provisional) MP Company organized on 27 December 1957 pursuant to General Orders No. 118, HQ, Fort Hood, now only a paper organization TC 19-55R, was ordered deactivated with receipt of General Orders No. 36, Pacific Area Command, HQ Fort Hood, of the same date.

Personal Reflections

     "Fort Hood brings back wonderful memories. When I arrived in 1959, I was still just 18 years old, and fresh from the farming area of Seymour, Texas. But I had met a great bunch of men in PMGS (Company G) at Fort Gordon, and they were sent to Company B, 720th MP BN with me. There were Fields, Hyland, Donnell, Crist and myself, and we were all starting our military service together. I don’t remember a lot of names from the unit. There was Miller and Calhoun, and our 1st Sgt, E-8 Edward G. Rector. We nicknamed him “R.A.” Rector, because he was strictly Regular Army!

     As Privates, our pay was either $74.00 or $78.00 a month before taxes, and we were paid once a month. That means we had to stretch those few dollars for thirty days! After we bought necessities, there wasn’t much left for our personal use. Back then we reported for our pay every payday. A Pay Officer would be set up, surrounded by desks occupied by people like the 1st Sgt, Company Clerk, a flunky lieutenant, Field First Sgt, maybe a few others. Each one wanted donations “after” we received our pay. One month in particular comes to mind, when my money ran out before payday, and I was gigged for needing a haircut at Guard Mount. When I got off duty, I asked Fields to shave my head. I figured that was the only way I could make it till the coming payday. Early the next morning, an Orderly Room flunky came in our barracks (open bay), and told me the 1st Sgt wanted to see me 'On the double!'

     I’ll never forget Rector. At 28 in 1959, he was one of the youngest E-8s in the Army at the time. With only eleven years in the Army, he was a walking poster for the MPs. Spit shined shoes that you could use as mirrors to shave, and creases in his uniforms that were sharp as knives. Really spit and polish Army! As I walked in the Orderly Room, he called me into his office, and I took off my hat as I entered the room. That’s the only time I ever saw him crack up laughing! He had called for me about the gig I received at Guard mount for a haircut violation, but when he saw my baldhead shining under his light, he couldn’t contain his laughter.

     Unfortunately, he still gave me company punishment for the gig. I was ordered to paint the benches in the company yard on my off-days! In the twenty years of my military service, that was the only gig I can recall. But I’ll never forget the incident. The look on “R.A.” Rector’s face when he saw my baldhead is priceless, and will forever remain in my memory. It was men like me who kept the company benches painted."   PFC (SSG Ret.) Thomas E. Johnson, Bravo Company, April-November, 1959.

PFC Johnson

3 March In cooperation with the Military Police Association (MPA), the military police of Fort Hood sponsored the 3rd Annual International Golf Tournament at Fort Hood and local courses from 3 March through 2 April. Golfers, both military and civilian, were invited to join the members of the MPA in promoting local charity and international goodwill by entering the tournament.

     Arnold Palmer, defending champion of the Masters Tournament, pitted his first round score against all entrants, on a handicapped basis. The winners were awarded a handsome rose-bronze medallion key chain inscribed with “I Beat Arnold Palmer.” The entrance fee was used to support local charity programs.
21 March About 600 civilian and military guests attended a farewell review of troops in honor of MG William S. Biddle, III Corps and Fort Hood Commander, who was assigned as a senior member, United Nations Command, Military Armistice Commission Korea. The review included a battalion size force of all units on post, some 1,800 soldiers in all, including a detachment from the 720th MP Battalion.

8 April All Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) units at Fort Hood were visited by MG R. F. Sink, the commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and head of all STRAC units within the United States. Members of his staff, and representatives from 4th U.S. Army Headquarters accompanied MG Sink on the inspection tour. During his inspection of the battalion cantonment they observed the STRAC readiness status and training process.

14 April The battalion Volleyball Team (staffed by Bravo Company) record in the Post III Corps League, National Division was less than stellar with 1 win and 7 losses landing them in 8th place, one from the bottom held by the 578th Engineer Battalion at 0-8. 
23 April Charlie Company (paper organization TC 19-55R less personnel and equipment in the battalion’s TO&E) was transferred on a permanent change of station from Fort Polk, Louisiana back to Fort Hood, Texas.

5 May First assigned to Fort Hood in April 1954, III Corps Headquarters was deactivated during budget cuts of the era.

14 May The Battalion Chaplain (CPT) Elwin G. Edwards spoke to the Temple, Texas Rotary Club about religious activities at Fort Hood. As the director of religious education at the post, Chaplain Edwards was one of several to regularly appear before nearby civic and civilian groups.

     The Chaplain is a graduate of Hillsborough High School, Tampa, Florida, and of Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Before entering the military he was the pastor of Satsuma Baptist Church, Satsuma, Florida. He joined the Army in July 1952 after leaving the U.S. Marine Corps in 1948 to complete his theological training.

III Corps

16 May As part of the 2nd Armored Division Combat Command “A,” U.S. Army Garrison, the battalion was one of five units in the Garrison Command that joined a review parade of 2,000 soldiers from all post commands to honor Armed Forces Day festivities. The troops in parade under BG Franklin F. Wing, Jr., Commanding General, Combat Command “A”, 1st Armored Division passed in review before MG Earle G. Wheeler, 2nd Armored Division and Fort Hood Commander, and central Texas dignitaries.

     Other festivities included static displays of equipment open to visitors at Parade Ground 2, on Headquarters Ave. across from Theater 1. Smoke generators, artillery pieces, armored vehicles, combat radiological detection equipment, and field first aid section were representative of the displays. Tank and armored personnel carrier rides were also offered to visitors in the late afternoon, along with special dinner and dance social events for the dignitaries in the late evening.
  No official records or media documents have been discovered for the month of June. If you can provide any personal stories, official records, photographs, personnel orders or media documents, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
  No official records or media documents have been discovered for the month of July. If you can provide any personal stories, official records, photographs, personnel orders or media documents, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
21 August The membership of the Fort Hood Rod and Gun Club held their elections, and LTC Waits was elected as the new vice president for the coming financial year of September 1959 through August 1960.

31 August Bravo Company First Sergeant Edward G. Rector age 28 from Fort Hood, and PFC James F. Carter age 19 of Battery B, 7th U.S. Army Training Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas were named 4th Army’s Outstanding Soldiers of the five-state 4th Army area. Both were sent to serve five days as enlisted aides to Lieutenant General G. S. Meloy, Jr., 4th Army Commander in San Antonio, Texas where they were provided special accommodations’ at the Crockett Hotel.

     Each also received a $120.00 cash award, and provided with historical tours of the San Antonio area. 1SG Rector’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Ribbon, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Exact Dates Unknown For the second consecutive year the battalion was honored with the award of the Installation Commander’s Maintenance Inspection Award for support type units of Fort Hood. The battalion’s overall score was 95.96. MG Earle G. Wheeler, Fort Hood and 2nd Armored Division commander presented the traveling trophy to LTC Ward B. Waits at a formal ceremony. In presenting the award trophy, which is retained until the end of the fiscal year 1960, MG Wheeler praised the officers and enlisted men for their work.

     The battalion also received a superior rating in their Annual General Inspection. Being a STRAC unit made the award especially hard to obtain, because operational missions and STRAC readiness requirements added to the obstacles to be overcome. The inspection included areas of: personnel records; security and intelligence; operations and training; logistics; mess operations; unit activities; records; management; recreational facilities; and general appearance. In 1958 only three companies on post- no entire battalions –achieved superior ratings in the General Inspections.

4 September SP/4 Bernard Branhunt of Alpha Company was honored as Fort Hood’s Soldier of the Month for August. Branhunt received a Certificate of Achievement from MG Earle G. Wheeler, the Fort Hood and 2nd Armored Division commander.

18 September The Fort Hood Open Senior’s, and Women’s golf teams went to Fort Sam Houston to represent the post in the 4th Army Tournament. Battalion MSG John Dyeus was present to represent the Open Division, and Battalion Commander LTC Ward B. Waits the Senior Division.

2LT J. C. Cummings, Jr. was named as the battalion’s 1959 Fort Hood United Fund Drive “Keyman."

     The Battalion HQ & HQ Detachment was selected as one of three units to be awarded the 2nd Armored Division Post Office Beautification Contest. The second place trophy was presented by MG Earle G. Wheeler the Fort Hood and 2nd Armored Division Commanding General. Accepting the award for the detachment were CPT Lloyd Powell the commanding officer, and 1SG (MSG) Jack Chaney. The award was inscribed, “For outstanding initiative in the planning, care and maintenance of grounds.”

SP/4 Branhunt
26 September The battalion along with other post MP units celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Military Police Corps at Fort Hood.
1 October The Boxing season started at Fort Hood with aspiring fighters being given daily workouts and instruction. Representing battalion in this league season was Claude “Buck” Jones a heavyweight from Alpha Company, and Roland Hayward fighting in the middleweight division. Hayward was anything but a novice having fought at Fort Hood two years ago winning all three of his fights. Hayward’s amateur career in boxing began in 1955 where he won the Amateur Athletic Union (A. A. U.) Championship in Jacksonville, Florida.
2 October The 54th Signal started off the Fort Hood Post Units Flag Football League season with three strong contests in which they have yet to be scored upon. The battalion team was their latest victim loosing 24-0, and in possession of 3rd place in the five team American League Division with a record of 1-1.
4 October PVT Donald L. Hull of HQ & HQ Detachment was selected as one of seven soldiers from Fort Hood to attend a one-week 4th Army Choral Clinic at Fort Bliss. The course sponsored by the 4th Army Special services Staff was designed to develop soldier leaders in the field of music, and will include singing in both large and small choruses, choral conducting, quartet and trio singing, and music reading.

9 October The Fort Hood Military Police Officers Wives Club held an informal coffee meeting at the home of Mrs. M. C. Miller who decorated the house in an informal Japanese motif. Coffee and pastry were served after which Mrs. Miller, the honorary chairman, welcomed all newcomers to the club.

     Mrs. W. C. Waits, wife of Battalion Commander LTC Ward B. Waits, briefed the attendees on the past years activities. Appointing new positions and committees were next on the agenda with: Mrs. B. F. Gmyr as the secretary treasurer; Mrs. Mrs. W. C. Waits the hospitality chairman; Mrs. S. A. Patton wife of CPT Samuel A. Patton of HQ & HQ Detachment the 720th MP Battalion representative; Mrs. J. L. Black the 502nd MP Company representative; Mrs. D. C. Bishop the 43rd CID representative, Mrs. G. G. Gibbons the program chairman, and Mrs. J. A. Blalock the publicity chairman. The monthly meetings were held every third Thursday.
     In an effort to highlight some of their players, the Fort Hood Tankers Football Team began posting profiles in the Armored Sentinel Newspaper. One of two featured players in the 9 October edition was Dick Geilasch of the battalion. Geilach was described as 6-1, 200 pounds playing either halfback or fullback. Exceptionally fast for his size, he can make yardage on drives through the middle or around end. He’s also a top-notch pass receiver. To top off his scoring threat, he can kick – three of four PAT’s for the season. On defense he covers potential pass receivers like a blanket and is a sure, hard tackler. He plays linebacker, and in the past game against Lackland Air Force Base (Tankers 21 – Warhawks 0) he was constantly breaking through to throw Warhawk ball carriers for losses. He has four years of high school ball, and two in the collegiate ranks at Alma College, Michigan.

12 October A composite group of 6 officers and 12 enlisted men from HQ & HQ Detachment, Alpha and Bravo Company were deployed from Fort Hood to Fort Brag, North Carolina for to assist in the preparation for a STRAC war game named Exercise DRAGON HEAD, also known locally as Operation DANVILLE. Six weeks of planning, and one week of field preparation was provided prior to its start in November.

     The battalion troops deployed were: HQ & HQ Detachment- MAJ Howard D. Laymon Battalion Executive Officer, CPT Baxter M. Bullock, S-3 Plans, Operations, and Training Officer, CPT Samuel A. Patton, Platoon Officer, SFC William E. Rupert, Motor NCO, SP/4 Gary W. Vaughman, S3 Clerk, PFC Harry S. Pollard, S1 Clerk, and PFC Jerome T. Young, S4 Clerk; Alpha Company- CPT Roy K. Williams, Commanding Officer, 2LT Samuel E. Curl, Platoon Leader, SFC Homer L. Meedham and SFC William E. Ritchie Platoon Sergeants, SGT William E. Haskins, MP Supervisor, SGT Daniel A. Entler and SGT Thomas P. Lapin, Squad Leaders; Bravo Company- 2LT Oliver J. Powell, Platoon Leader, SFC Edward G. Mancil, Operations NCO, SFC David A. Seagraves, Desk Sergeant, and SFC Morris N. Katz, Platoon Sergeant.
15 October Battalion heavyweight boxer Claude “Buck” Jones of Alpha Company was TKO’ed in the third round in his fight with Roy Hernandez of the 6th Infantry at the Fort Hood Thursday Night fight card at Sports Arena-1. 
16 October SFC David A. Seagraves of Bravo Company received a Certificate of Proficiency and a Letter of Commendation for graduating at the top of his class in the Air Transportability Course at Fort Eustas, Virginia. SFC Seagraves attained an academic average of 97.4, highest in the class of thirty-six. The course covered loading and transporting of military equipment. The letter and certificate were from BG F. D. Atkinson, Commandant of the U.S. Army Transportation School. The awards were presented to SFC Seagraves by the battalion commander LTC Waits.
22 October Battalion heavyweight Claude “Buck” Jones won over Mathew L. Turnbo of the 6th Infantry, 1st Armored Division in a bout at Sports Arena-1.
23-24 October The Texas Woman’s University Modern Choir was chaperoned by the troops of Bravo Company during their two-day visit at Fort Hood. The choir performed two programs of classical, mid-classical and modern song performances. The first at the Fiddlers’ Green Service Club, and the following morning at the Brigade Ave. E Chapel, finishing their program later that afternoon at the Academic Drive Service Club. They ended their visit by attending a dance at the Fiddlers’ Green.

     MG Earle G. Wheeler, Fort Hood and 2nd Armored Division Commander presented the battalion with the Post Commanders Safety Award Plaque for the third quarter. Accepting the award at the weekly commanders conference was battalion commander, LTC Ward B. Waits.

      A young military police NCO home on emergency leave from Yakima, Washington arrived at the Fort Hood Provost Marshals Office, and reported that his father in Temple, Texas was critically ill and need an emergency blood transfusion. He asked if the MP’s at Fort Hood could help. MSG Aciel M. Sulcer of Bravo Company at the Provost Marshal Office put out a call for assistance. Volunteers from the battalion and the 502nd MP Company (2nd Armored Division) started lining up at the post hospital, and within two hours provided 15 pints of blood. MSG Sulcer drove the blood donations to Temple where the hospital attendants were waiting at the door.

30 October The 54th Signal continued their domination of the Fort Hood Post Units Flag Football League season with eight consecutive wins. The battalion team remained in 3rd place in the five-team American League Division with a record of 4-4.
Exercise DRAGON HEAD (Exercise DANVILLE)

2 November Planned by the Continental Army Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia to test the Army’s ability to fight a “brush fire action,” the exercise involved the forces of a neighboring aggressor country capturing the capital city of Danville, (Virginia) its friendly neighbor, and imprisoning their government until liberated by “friendly troops” of the 82nd Airborne Division.

     The principal purpose of the exercise was to train commanders and staffs of STRAC units within the XVII Airborne Corps. Situations presented to the troops were typical of logical STARCT-type mission, and were provided for the realistic employment of all combat logistical units. The exercise commander was LTG Clark L. Ruffner, Commanding General of the 3rd U.S. Army, and MG Robert Sink STRAC Commander and director of the XVIII Airborne Corps for the exercise.
     The City of Danville, population 50,000, located in south-central Virginia on the North Carolina border, was a major textile production and tobacco wholesale center. The city government and many of its merchants and citizens directly participated in the exercise.
     The aggressor forces (17th Cavalry, 82nd Airborne) comprised of 250 officers and enlisted men, captured the city on 2 November via motor convoy, and collected all government officials and other community leaders who were held in a makeshift POW enclosure. Municipal services were seized and occupied, and curfew and propaganda programs were conducted followed by the suspension of all civil liberties under a harsh marshal law.
     As a prelude to an air campaign and airborne troop drop, on 3 November the friendly forces conducted a leaflet drop to boost citizen morale and recruit local partisan assistance. Students of the local high schools formed the local guerilla group’s lead by friendly advisors.
     The airborne assault of 350 officers and enlisted men was followed by coordinated guerilla activity, and a major attack of the city’s aggressor defenses until they were routed. The troops used blank ammunition and artillery rounds, providing the local populace with a grand display of the sights and sounds of actual combat.

     The exercise was ended on 4 November with the Army conducting an open house for the citizens of the city, hosted by the troops that included a hands-on display of their weapons and equipment. The U.S. Army as a training, and public information documentary called

     The battalion composite detachment’s exact assignment and duties during the exercise were not specified in the yearly historical summary.                                                                                                   The Big Picture - Operation Danville, filmed the exercise in its entirety. >


Exact Date Unknown MG Earle G. Wheeler, Fort Hood and 2nd Armored Division Commander presented the Reenlistment Award Plaque for non-divisional unit participation, December 1959, to LTC Ward B. Waits, commander of the 720th MP Battalion.

4 December During the year the Fort Hood military police units responded to a total of 230 vehicle accidents, 21 resulting in fatalities, 90 in injuries. There were 2 training fatalities, and 258 injuries, and all other causes totaled 272 injuries with 8 fatalities.

11 December In post Basketball League action the battalion was in third place in the 6-team American League Division with a record of 3-2 .

Operation Drummer Boy
19 December Operation DRUMMER BOY Walter Williams, age 117, who some claim and others have disputed to be the last surviving veteran (Confederate) of the Civil War, died at home in Harris County, Texas. The battalion was tasked with providing an honor guard for the three days of services from the 21st through the 23rd.
Personal Reflections

     "For three days Company B conducted the honor guard, funeral, and graveside services for Walter Williams [age 117, 14 Nov 1842-19 Dec 1959], the last surviving veteran of the Civil War. Dressed in the gray uniform of the Confederate army days, he lay in state in Houston, Texas, and was buried in a country cemetery near Victoria, Texas.

     I was the operations sergeant of the honor guard detail and the pall bearers. 1SG Edward G. Rector conducted the firing squad, and looked to other attendant details. The whole operation was know as Operation Drummer Boy. Walter Williams had been a drummer boy whose job it was to tap out cadence and commands on his snare drum, over the din of battle."    MSG Ret. Richard E. Jarvis, Jr., Bravo Company.

      Editors Note: On 5 February 1960, Bravo Company received a Letter of Commendation from LTG Edward T. Williams, Commanding General of the 4th U.S. Army, for their exemplary performance during the funeral services of Mr. Williams.

1959 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1959 that have yet to be directly linked to any specific Battalion Timeline event. If you can date any of the events depicted, or identify them as part of a specific event, operation, exercise or special duty assignment, please use the Email Link on the photograph or this page to notify the History Project Manager.
A "?" preceding the photo number denotes further identifications are needed, and an Email Link is provided.
  PFC (SFC Ret.) Hyland of Bravo Company outside his barracks.
  PFC Cristof Bravo Company ready for "white hat" duty.
  PFC Miller of Bravo Company.
  PFC Calhoun of Bravo Company.
  PFC Johnson of Bravo Company.
B0039 ?
  SP/4 Johnson, PFC Fields and an unidentified member of Bravo Company.