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1962 Timeline
  Regardless of MOS if you recognize or participated in any of the events listed on this Timeline page and would like to contribute any information, personal stories, documents, media articles, photographs, or, if you can provide information on any events not listed, please take a moment to contact the History Project Manager at the Email Link provided below. Your contributions are important to the recording of the Battalion history and always welcomed here.
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This Page Last Updated  10 April 2016
      All major theater activities, stateside incidents, or Cold War and Vietnam War events that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in blue American Typewriter font.
STRAC Duty At Fort Hood, Texas
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III.
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4th U.S.
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720th MP
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January

At the start of the year the battalion’s organic units, HQ & HQ Detachment, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Companies under the command of LTC Robert P. Hotaling was headquartered subordinate to the U.S. 4th Army, III Corps at Fort Hood Texas.

4 January-2 March  The Battalion was engaged in operational readiness training conducted at the squad, platoon, and company levels at Fort Hood. Sporadic arrival of filler personnel, which had brought the battalion strength from approximately 50% strength last December (1961) to its present strength of 100% of that authorized, and their support of post military police activities precluded the possibility of any battalion-sized tactical training.

9 January  At approximately 0700 hours a five-ton truck loaded with soldiers from the 2nd Armored Division were on their way to the Sugar Loaf training area at Fort Hood, collided with an M-48 Patton tank just outside the entrance of the 67th Armor motor pool resulting in the fierily death of five soldiers and injuries to 22 others, three seriously.

     The tank was stopped on the road waiting to make a left turn. At the moment of impact, gasoline from a 70-gallon tank on the driver’s side of the truck burst into flames.

     A strong wind fanned the flames into the truck killing five and injuring twenty others. All the dead and injured were passengers in the truck with the exception of the tank driver who received cuts on the forehead.

    Darkness, strong winds, sleeting and slick roads contributed to the crash.

Personal Reflections
     “My patrol partner and I were just finishing up a routine midnight shift in the early morning when we received the call over the radio. “There was a major traffic accident with fatalities by the 2nd Armor Division Motor Pool.” When we arrived at the scene there were burning bodies everywhere and the medics were doing what little they could.
     A 5-ton truck loaded with trainees was traveling to a training area when it broadsided a tank from the 2nd Armor Division. It was early and the roadway was slick from the morning frost and ice. The tank just pulled out of the motor pool and headed across the road when the truck came upon it. A 70-gallon drum of gas ruptured at the time of impact and went off like a bomb covering everyone in the canvas enclosed truck bed.
     Five soldiers died and over twenty of the trainees rushed to the post hospitals were badly burned. At the time it was billed in the post and local papers as the worst traffic accident in the history of the state of Texas.”     SP/4 Gordon S. Propes, C & B Company, 720th MP Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas, 1960-1963.

10 January Miss Jana Milstead, daughter of CPT Jack Milstead of the Battalion won honors in the girls division of the Fort Hood Junior Rifle Club at the indoor range.

12 January MG Ralph J. Butchers, U.S. Army Provost Marshal General arrived at Fort Hood for an inspection visit which was part of a tour of 4th Army military police facilities. A luncheon was given in his honor at the post Officers Mess, military police officers and civilian law enforcement agents were present.

     During his inspection the following morning MG Butchers made stops at the 304th MP Company an Army Reserve unit from Bardstown, Kentucky attached to the 720th for training, and 502nd Military Police Company, 2nd Armored Division, and visited with the Battalion’s commander, LTC Robert P. Hotaling.

 

     The Fort Hood Civilian Vehicle Traffic Toll statistics for 1962 as of this date were 3 injuries and 0 fatalities. During the same time in 1961 there were 4 injuries and 0 fatalities.

 

15 January At the opening ceremonies of the Fort Hood NCO Academy’s first two-week 85-hour course on Chemical-Biological warfare, BG Roy Lassetter, Jr., 1st Armored Division Commander, addressed the students advising them that the CBR program is useless unless the leader of the “eyeball-to-eyeball” level knows what to do with in information furnished by the CBR center and sees that the men under his control take the proper measure.

     The 49-member class represented troops from the 720th MP Battalion, 185th Ordnance Battalion and the 1st Armored Division.

 

25 January The Battalion received an overall rating of “Superior” in the Combined Annual Inspector General and Command Maintenance Inspections. The Post Inspector General, LTC Louis A. Hansen, said the 720th was “the only battalion sized unit inspected on post that received a superior rating during Fiscal Year 1962.” 

     The inspection covered personnel records, security and intelligence, operations and training, unit activities, records management, recreational facilities, general appearance and maintenance of equipment.

 
February
 

     III Corps was assigned as part of the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC), and its subordinate units, to include the battalion would now undergo even more rigorous tactical field training to improve their proficiency for possible STRAC deployments.

     The U.S. Defense Department suspected but had yet to confirm that the Soviet’s were planning on arming Cuba with defensive short-range and offensive long-range missiles. President Kennedy instructed the Joint Chief’s to ready the military for any contingency.

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Exact Dates Unknown The Wives of the Military Police officers met for their monthly coffee circle. Hostesses for the gathering were Mrs. E. I. Perrin and Mrs. L. R. Smith. Twenty-two wives attended.

     The newcomers, Mrs. B. R. Polk, Mrs. T. G. Buzan, Mrs. W. T. Wharton, Mrs. J. A. Kochenour spouse of 2LT John A. Kochenour of Alpha Company, and Mrs. J. F. Milstead were presented with silver calling card trays. Refreshments were served followed by a beauty counselor demonstration given by Mrs. M. W. Howe.

 

     SP/4 Willie J. Rister of Bravo Company, reenlisted for service with HQ & HQ Company, Special Troops.

 

9 February The Fort Hood Civilian Vehicle Traffic Toll statistics for 1962 as of this date were 22 injuries and 1 fatality. During the same time in 1961 there were 14 injuries and 0 fatalities.

 

12 February  The 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company was assigned to prepare and train for deployment to support Exercise MESA DRIVE for a period of approximately 29 days from 7-21 May at the Yakima Firing Center, Washington.

 
March
 

1 March  HQ & HQ Detachment PFC’s James G Combs, Michael J. Kostecki Jr., Douglas L. Lawson, Fred A. Schnell, Daniel L. Wabakken, and Michael S. Warshaw were promoted to the rank of Specialist 4th Class (E-4), PVT’s Louis Harris and Charles R. Jarvis were promoted to the rank of Private 1st Class (E-3) under Unit Orders No. 3 issued by 1LT Robert G. Warren.

 

3 March The 304th MP Company (Army Reserve from Bardstown, Kentucky) attached to the battalion during this period, underwent an intensified training program that was climaxed by a successful retest under Annual Training Test 19-6. Counter-guerrilla warfare measures were integrated to the maximum during the entire training phase.

24 March The battalion’s hopes for the championship spot for the Fort Hood Basketball Tournament were dashed with a double elimination loss in the final games against the 140th Artillery Battalion (Utah National Guard). The artillerymen won both with scores of 48-38 and 62-5.   

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April
 

1 April The Battalion was attached to III Corps, Fort Hood, with no change of station under General Orders No. 36, Headquarters, 4th Army, issued 30 March.

     On the same day the battalion was awarded their fourth U.S. Army Command Superior STRAC Unit Award in recognition its proficiency in the Training Year 1961, under General Orders No. 49, Headquarters 4th Army, issued 23 April. With the award came a certificate and streamer. This was the third straight year the battalion earned this recognition.

 

18 April Movement Orders (4-2) were issued to Battalion by Headquarters, Fort Hood for the 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company to deploy to the Firing Training Center in Yakima, Fort Lewis, Washington under Exercise MESA DRIVE.

 

24 April After an inspection of personnel and equipment by LTC Hotaling, the 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company consisting of fifty-six enlisted men commanded by 1LT James M. Daniel boarded two Douglas C-124 Globemaster’s at James Connally Air Force Base (Headquarters 12th Air Force) just north of Waco, Texas, and departed for Larson Air Force Base, Washington arriving on 27 April.

 
May
Exercise MESA DRIVE

7-21 May Upon arrival at Yakima, Washington, the platoon was attached to Headquarters, Exercise MESA DRIVE.

    The Yakima Training Center is located nine miles north of Yakima, Washington, and borders the eastern Cascade Mountain Range and the banks of the Columbia River. The 261,451 acre site consisted of vast flat valleys, separated by intervening ridges, high desert, sagebrush, volcanic formations, dry gulches and large rock outcroppings suited to large-scale mechanized forces.

     The exercise was at the time, the largest field-training event ever held in the northwest. It was a Joint Army-Air Force exercise involving elements of the Army 32nd and 4th Infantry Divisions, and the Air Force 121st Tactical Fighter Wing, 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and the 464th Troop Carrier Wing. Over 26,000 troops were involved in the defensive combat maneuver in which a realistic enemy aggressor force attacked the friendly forces of the two Army divisions.

Wanted: Information, photographs or personal stories relating to Exercise Mesa Drive, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

 

26 May The 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company returned to Fort Hood from Exercise MESA DRIVE.

 
June
Exercise SHERWOOD FOREST

1 June The 3rd Platoon of Charlie Company commanded by 2LT Dorsey W. Jones departed fort Hood assigned to participate in a counter-guerilla training exercise named Exercise SHERWOOD FOREST at Grisdale, Washington.

     The exercise was scheduled to last for approximately 25 days from 18 to 29 June. The detachment arrived at McChord Air Force Base, Washington on 8 June.

     This war game conducted in over 200 square miles of rugged, desolate and mountainous rain forest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula was designed to provide tactical training for infantry units in counterinsurgency operations.

    The enemy guerilla forces would enter the mock villages and cultivate the friendship of the local populace. The counterinsurgents would then be deployed to regain the loyalty of the population from the enemy guerilla forces through civic action programs while identifying and capturing their cadre and forces.

     Over one-third of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry “Red Arrow” Division, about 4,000 Soldiers, participated in the exercise as aggressor and friendly forces.

     The training exercise was led by a 14-man Army Special Forces (SF) team from the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, NC. The Special Forces instructors flew directly from Fort Bragg and parachuted in to the remote training area. For most of the month, during both the pre-training and the upcoming exercise, the SF volunteers wore no rank and were not required to shave. They wore dark green ‘Aggressor’ uniforms with armbands and special caps with distinctive badges.

    From all accounts it appears that the battalion detachment was utilized as a security force to safeguard the access and egress points of the operational area of the exercise.

Wanted: Information, photographs or personal stories relating to Exercise SHERWOOD FOREST, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

 
July
 

4 July The 3rd Platoon of Charlie Company returned to Fort Hood from their deployment in Exercise SHERWOOD FORES.

 

12 July The battalion was reorganized under TO&E 19-35E with an authorized strength of 18 officers, 5 warrant officers, and 435 enlisted men – a total of 458 personnel.

Charlie Company redesignated as the 560th MP Company for deployment to Vietnam

     Charlie Company was inactivated and all personnel and equipment were assigned to the newly formed and reactivated 560th MP Company under the command of LT Robert G. Warren for deployment on a “short tour special assignment to the Pacific Area.” In actuality, they were being deploying as the first U.S. Army military police company to South Vietnam. Volunteers from its organic HQ & HQ Company, Alpha & Bravo Company’s and the 501st and 502nd MP Company’s helped fill the ranks to bring the company up to TO&E strength. All unit equipment had been sent ahead under the control of LT Logan P. Marshal, logistics officer, and SGT Arthur M. O’Connor.

     Prior to deployment SP/4 Paul S. Moses was the first re-enlistee of the new company. SP/4 Moses was given the oath by the company executive officer LT Dorsey W. Jones. A native of Jacksonville, Texas, Moses worked his way through high school as a ranch hand on a boys ranch in the Texas Panhandle.

Exercise SWIFT STRIKE - II

19 July The battalion deployed by convoy with vehicles of the 670th Transportation Company to Fort Jackson, Sumter, South Carolina for approximately 45 days to support a multi divisional joint exercise called “SWIFT STRIKE - II.” The scope of the operation involved both North and South Carolina, and Georgia. The Battalion participation was limited to the South Carolina and northeast Georgia part of the exercise.

Personal Reflections

     “I arrived at Fort Hood, Texas on or about 1 December 1961 and was assigned to 1st Platoon, A Company, 720th MP Battalion. In the summer of 1962 we convoyed to Charleston, SC where we were involved in War Games [Exercise Swift Strike-II] between the 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne Divisions. A squad from the platoon was assigned to a local air force base.”     SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, Able Company, 1962-1963.

22 July HQ & HQ Detachment bivouacked and commenced operations near the town of Edgefeld, South Carolina.

SP/4 Lewis

     Alpha Company provided personnel to man advanced staging area commands at Charleston Air Force Base, Donaldson Air Force Base, McEntire Air Force Base, all in South Carolina, and Bush Air Force Base just outside of Augusta, Georgia. The company also operated a prisoner of war cage and performed escort guard duties for the III Corps Commanding General.

     Bravo Company guarded the Command Post of the 2nd Logistical Support Group, conducted Main Supply Route Security and Enforcement, Traffic Control Point Operations, Convoy Security Operations, and Enemy Prisoner of War screening operations of the opposition forces from the 101st Airborne Division. In addition, they conducted Law and Order Patrols in the town of Edgefield, Sumter and Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

     In Edgefield, South Carolina, the entire town and surrounding rural communities became emotionally involved in the exercise. It seemed that everyone chose sides between the friendly and opposition armies. There were times that the extent of local civilian assistance at the time of interaction with the troops depended on what side was requesting it.

     Because they were military police, the Edgefield City Police extended the courtesy to members of the battalion to shower upstairs in the police department building.

     During one phase of the exercise SP/4 Gordon S. Propes of Bravo Company and his team members were captured by troops of the opposing army. They were driven for miles out into the woods and dropped off individually and had to find their way back to their base.

     The exercise was not without its tragedies; there were casualties and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents and the troop and vehicle airdrops by the 82nd Airborne.

Personal Reflections

     "I was TDY from Fort Lewis for this field problem, we were air lifted to Fort Hood on C124 Globemasters with a stop at Travis AFB. We trained at Hood for 2 or 3 weeks and then convoyed to Fort Jackson. We overnighted in this order at Forts Polk, Keesler AFB, Benning, Gordon and then Jackson. We were out in the field near Hartsville SC. I was with the 41st signal Bn. And I was 17 years old and an E2. I got hurt and was air lifted to Bragg from Shaw AFB. I spent a week in the hospital, was issued class A's and traveled by train to Fort Lewis."   PFC Ed McVay, 41st Signal Construction Battalion.

    During the exercise the troops of Alpha Company were assigned the call sign “Grey Goose.” SFC Riemensnider, the first sergeant of the company said the unit purchased a goose from a South Carolina farmer during the exercise in order to live up to their nickname of the Gray Goose Company. The troops named the goose Everett I-E E, and claimed him as their company mascot.

     He remained active in their cantonment on Fort Hood, sleeping in the supply room, cleaning up insects and acting as a guard dog by squawking at all visitors, at least until the next Inspector General’s visit.

Wanted: Information, photographs or personal stories relating to Exercise Swift Strike-II, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

 
August
 
Exact Dates Unknown The 560th MP Company departed Fort Hood, Texas for South Vietnam.
 
    CPT William C. Boden of Bravo Company and WO Henry E. Taucher of HQ Detachment were awarded the Army Commendation Medal. .
 
3 August Members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) and the first contingent arrived by air transport in Saigon. They were vanguard of Australia’s decade-long involvement in the war, and were among the first of some one thousand soldiers to serve in the AATTV.
 
17 August Over water use even with a severe drought in July resulted in an order being issued to all Fort Hood post units and personnel to cut back. The order established tight water rationing restriction that would be strictly enforced by the military police.
 
21 August The battalion departed the Exercise SWIFT STRIKE – II area of operations by motor transport to return to Fort Hood.
 
31 August SGT Frank Walters of Charlie Company was one of 68 officers and enlisted men to retire during a formal review and services held at Sadowski Field.
 
September
 
Exact Date Unknown SFC Walter E. Shipley of HQ Detachment was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. Note: The media article listed the award as “Iron Star.”
    Editors Note: Since there is no organic battalion, U.S. military or foreign award by that name issued during the 1960s, it is believed to be an error.
 
     The following timeline summary was drafted from various news media accounts, official histories of the 720th MP Battalion, 1962-1963 Army at Oxford, Mississippi report, 1962-1963 Department of Justice files on the Oxford, Mississippi riot, and The Role Of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1945-1992.
Civil Unrest at Mississippi University, Oxford Mississippi
     James H. Meredith, a black 29 year-old eleven-year Air Force veteran applied for admission to Mississippi University in January 1961. Denied admission because of his race he sued and won a court battle for admission in June 1962. The college administration and the state government of Mississippi refused to recognize his court ordered victory and physically barred him from campus. They were joined by a violent mob of local residents and outsiders that supported racial segregation and the states Jim Crow Laws.
     U.S. Marshals were ordered to the campus to enforce the court order, and they were quickly outnumbered and assaulted by the mobs that at times numbered over 2,000 people. The mob used firebombs, gunfire, stones and bricks in their attacks.
     Local National Guard units were the first troops federalized and brought in to assist the U.S. Marshals. Being comprised of local citizen soldiers, they were also ineffective at suppressing the mobs that formed to block Mr. Meredith's access to the campus. It was then that President John F. Kennedy made the decision to federalize the regular military, and sends them in to gain control the situation.
    On campus the U.S. Marshals faced a rain of bricks, stones, bottles and gunfire. The groups in downtown Oxford smashed government car windshields, assaulted reporters and local African Americans caught in traffic, fired weapons at military troops who responded with warning shots and clouds of tear gas. All the while the local city and state police watched as if nothing was happening.
 
     The Department of Justice and Department of the Army realized that they might have to intervene to protect lives and property enforcing the court ordered enrolment of Mr. Meredith at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The resulting plan would first deploy 190 Deputy U.S. Marshals (with 100 more in reserve) to enforce the civil court order and provide security for Mr. Meredith. The plan also involved the mobilization of federal troops to provide logistical assistance to the U.S. Marshals, and if needed, to field troops to quell any major disorders that may become violent.
 

     In an attempt to avert any violent confrontation and avoid having to deploy federal troops at the scheduled date for enrolment, while the Army began their preparations the Kennedy administration utilized all of its political avenues to convince the Mississippi administration to accept a satisfactory formula for compliance of the court order. None were successful. Strangely enough, the major detractor of a political acceptable compromise was the Legal Defense Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who wanted a strong show of force.

19 September The 70th Engineer Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky was placed on standby for the task of building and operating a tent city base of operations for 300 personnel in Holly Springs National Forest, northeast of Oxford. The Naval Air Station at Memphis, Tennessee, seventy miles by air from Oxford, was also readied as the staging area for both the troops and the U.S. Marshals. Both orders were top secret, and cover plans of a training exercise for national disaster was used.

20 September President Kennedy ordered Deputy U.S. Marshals to the campus to enforce the court order and enroll Mr. Meredith. Upon arrival they were barred at the door by Governor Barnett himself, who was backed up by a row of Mississippi State Police.

     During the next several day’s four more unsuccessful attempts at registration were made. The last took place on the 27 September, when the U.S. Marshals decided that the potential for a violent confrontation was too high, and they made the decision to leave the campus before attempting the enrollment.

     At Fort Hood, Texas, the 720th MP Battalion Headquarters Detachment was alerted for a possible full deployment to Oxford by III Corps, Headquarters Fort Hood.

26 September   The battalion celebrated the 21st Anniversary of the Military Police Corps in their cantonment on Fort Hood. The day’s events began at 0900 hours with the first of two 5-inning slow pitch softball games, the first between the ranks E-5 and above vs. E-4 and below, and following at 1000 hours the winners of the first game and the officers team. Those not playing in the softball tournament participated in Pinochle & volleyball or horseshoe and table tennis tournaments.

     Refreshments were served from 1100 to 1300 hours followed by the birthday cake cutting ceremony from 1300 to 1310 hours, and a cold buffet dinner from 1310 to 1600 hours.

 27 September    Another issued that had to be addressed, as it was in Little Rock, Arkansas, was the use of Negro troops working alongside their white counterparts to confront already racially hostile white civilians. Major General (MG) Creighton W. Abrams, Jr. Office of the Chief of Staff for Military Operations, the direct representative of the Chief of Staff for Oxford matters, informed U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy that he would, to avoid intensifying any racial confrontation, verbally instruct his commanders to allow the Negro troops with the units designated for deployment to accompany their units, but they were not to be assigned to action.

 
     In later weeks after the initial phase of the operation was launched, the new Army Chief of Staff GEN Earle G. Wheeler would order the ground commander at Oxford, this time in written form, to “Keep Negro troops in base camps,” or “[on] administrative support duties.” And according to accounts of the time, the verbal order was apparently misunderstood because Negro troops of several of the Task Forces were regularly observed participating in the security missions, while another Task Force had deployed without their Negro troops. There was also a report that LG Wheeler suggested to GEN Abrams that the Negro troops be slowly removed from the units and dent back to the bases, to which GEN Abrams issued an emphatic No!
     And here there is a conflict within the history, more than likely caused by the ideological slant of some of the people writing it. According to some, Pentagon records and several eyewitnesses alleged that Attorney General, Robert Kennedy secretly ordered 4,000 black soldiers to be removed from the deployment and segregated by their units during the unrest at Oxford. It's further alleged it was done to avoid the political embarrassment of having black troops with high-powered rifles in command of Mississippi streets. This segregation order was also allegedly condoned by President Kennedy, and for the same reasons that President Eisenhower felt it was justified at the Little Rock civil unrest years before.
    The issued was even addressed by Mr. Meredith himself when he complained to the Deputy Attorney General that Negro troops guarding him and seen elsewhere on the campus were being segregated within their units. LG Howze admitted the truth of the complaint but said it was done by direction of the Kennedy administration .
     In following discussions in Washington it was said that President Kennedy directed full integration of Negro soldiers in all cases except those assigned as individual sentinels or on isolated missions within the city.
 
28 September A new court order was issued granting Governor Barnett until 2 October to admit Mr. Meredith before being considered in contempt of court and subject to arrest. With the order came the concern for a confrontation at the state capitol in Jackson if an arrest of the governor was required. The Army now had to expand its deployment plans from one military police battalion, the 503rd headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to two, by including the 716th headquartered at Fort Dix, New Jersey. On the same day the 70th Engineer Battalion and supporting units arrived at the Memphis Naval Air Station. Their cover story was blow by a local news reporter who was made aware that they were there to support the U.S. Marshals.
 
29 September The U.S. Marshals increased the size of their group at Memphis to over 500, drawing on federal law enforcement resources from throughout the country. At the same time the Army was readying its four task forces of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta for deployment.
     At 1800 hours, the battalion was alerted to prepare for a temporary change of station from Fort Hood, Texas to Memphis Naval Air Station, Memphis, Tennessee on or about 1 October for an indefinite period to enforce certain court orders in the state of Mississippi under Department of The Army 919741. If not for a late presidential order, they would have received orders to stand-down.
     That evening MG Abrams was informed that President Kennedy wanted at least an additional 500 military policemen beyond the two battalions already assigned to deploy. It resulted in the 720th receiving a deployment go, and becoming the fifth task force designated as Echo. Exercise RAPID ROAD was the code name assigned to the airlift for all troops deployed to Oxford from throughout the country, and it involved a total transport lift of 308 missions, over 12,000 troops and 2,000 tons of cargo.
 

30 September Within a minute after midnight President Kennedy signed a proclamation declaring that the governor of Mississippi and other persons had willfully opposed and violated a federal court order, and lacking any further avenues of judicial solution, he ordered...

     “all persons engaged in such obstructions of justice to cease and desist therefrom and to disperse and retire peaceably forthwith.” “My Obligation, under the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, was and is to implement the orders of the court with whatever means are necessary, and with as little force and civil disorder as the circumstances permit." 

 
     The proclamation was immediately followed with an executive order authorizing the office of the Secretary of Defense to activate federal troops and the National Guard to enforce the federal court orders. The Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara (1961-1968) ordered his subordinate secretaries of the Army and Air Force to call the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard into federal service for an indefinite period, and assemble at their home bases to await further operational orders from the U.S. Army ground commander Oxford.
     The operational code name assigned by the Army was OXFORD, and their primary mission orders were to assist only by preventing any attempts by civilians and or their local civil governmental agencies to obstruct the U.S. Marshals in their duties of enrollment and security for Mr. Meredith, and any attempts to arrest Governor Barnett, if called for, for contempt of the federal court order. The ground operation at Oxford was under the command of Major General (MG) Charles Billingslea (2nd Infantry Division).
     Headquarters and support assets assigned to the U.S. Marshals security detail were encamped at the quickly constructed tent city within the Holly Springs National Forrest, and within hours a large crowd of civilian onlookers and newsmen arrived.
    That afternoon the U.S. Marshals motor convoy departed the airport and passed through a large crowd of hostile civilians arriving at the campus without serious incident. The convoy then returned to the airport to transport another contingent, returning to the campus at 1700 hours amid a large crowd of hostile students.
    The battalion was activated for deployment to Oxford, Mississippi under Movement Orders 9-5 issued by Headquarters Fort Hood, Texas.
 
Task Force ECHO

1600 hours, the 720th MP Battalion, designated as Task Force ECHO, prepared to depart Fort Hood for Oxford, Mississippi with the 501st MP Company, two squads of the 502nd MP Company, 47th Medical Battalion from the 2nd Armored Division, elements of the 501st Military Intelligence Detachment and members of the Fort Hood Post Information Office.

     The battalion was one of three regular Army military police battalions ordered to deploy to Oxford, Mississippi in response to President Kennedy's call to federalize the U. S. Military to assist in ending the civil unrest. The other two were the 503rd MP Battalion (Fort Bragg, North Carolina) and 716th MP Battalion (Fort Dix, New Jersey), Both arrived prior to Task Force Echo.

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1730 hours, Mr. Meredith arrived by air to the Memphis Naval Station where he was convoyed through a previous arrangement by federal and local police to the campus, and through a back entrance before being secured in the Baxter Hall dormitory. The Marshals force at the campus numbered approximately 536. The primary fly in the ointment for this day of activities was lack of communications. Attorney General Kennedy had ordered the Marshals to move up the arrival by one day without either agency notifying the Army ground commander, leaving the Task Forces relatively unprepared for what was to happen. Adding insult to the anger of the locals was the move by the government (seen as a federal occupation) was now being conducted on a Sunday, the Sabbath, a day most revered throughout the south. This may have played a part in the rage, even though none of their riotous actions were in the least bit godly.
 
1800 hours, the lead vehicle of the convoy reached Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas where the troops were fed supper at the Air Force consolidated mess while they heard a tape recording of President Kennedy’s plea to the nation for reason in the Mississippi crisis.
     Throughout the night and into the early morning hours of 1 October the task force troops and equipment were loaded into fifty C-130 transport planes for the Millington Naval Air Station. The first plane departed at 0215 hours, and the last at 0740 hours. The Task Force carried a basic load of ammunition and chemical munitions. Two hundred and twenty M1 rifles replaced carbines and .45 caliber Thompson machine guns. Nine two-and-a-half ton trucks with each towing a 1/2-ton trailer made the unit completely mobile.
 
1930 hours Oxford time, Governor Barnett announced on television that Meredith was on campus under federal protection and urged that peace be preserved. Later that same evening in a radio broadcast he denied giving in to the governments wishes, further intensifying racial tensions within the city. It was also at this time that the remaining forty-three carloads of State Police stationed on campus withdrew at the direction of State Senator George M. Yarbrough (D).
     The hostile crowd of civilians on campus had quickly increased from approximately 1,000 to 2,000, and they began targeting the U.S. Marshals with their anger. Bottles, bricks, pieces of metal pipe and anything else that could injure, was being hurled at their ranks. The onslaught only stopped long enough for the mob to listed to the president address.
2000 hours Oxford time, President Kennedy made the following announcement to the nation over the radio. “My Obligation, under the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, was and is to implement the orders of the court with whatever means are necessary, and with as little force and civil disorder as the circumstances permit.” The president’s appeal for calm did not inspire the mob, and when he finished they again directed their assault on the Marshals standing duty as the security perimeter. The Marshals were quickly overwhelmed by the mob that now added firebombs, acid, rifles, shotguns and pistols to their arsenal of weapons. One hundred and sixty of the marshals were injured while performing their duties, some seriously.
    Nicholas D. Katzenbach (D) Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel (1961-1962) had delayed requesting federal troop assistance from the ground commander for as long as possible with the hope that order could be restored without military intervention. As his hopes began to fade they were replaced with a fear that if Mr. Meredith was found he might be lynched. President Kennedy authorized the use of troops, instructing MG Billingslea to deploy a force of approximately 1,000 state guardsmen to the campus to reinforce the Marshals by surrounding the Lyceum (university administration building). The guard was not prepared for the sudden order for deployment except for a small unit- Troop E, 108th Armored Cavalry. Being comprised of local citizen soldiers, inadequately trained in riot control, and only armed with empty M1-rifles, they were less than prepared for what would come.
     As the first contingent of guardsmen to respond, Troop E (3 officers and 71 enlisted men) approached the Lyaceum Building in their convoy of four small trucks lead by their commander’s jeep. As they negotiated the concrete bench roadblocks set up by the mob, they were fired upon and took several serious casualties from the debris hurled at their vehicles from the darkness. Troop E was then ordered to join the line of Marshals defending the building. Some of the State Troopers also returned to the campus and were ordered by their commander to assist in quelling the mob. Instead the approximately 25 patrol vehicles proceeded to the campus administration building where they parked and only watched the mob violence escalate.
     The mob then upped the ante by commandeering a bulldozer and fire truck to attack the Marshal’s line. The marshals successfully unseated both drivers, and their vehicles were disabled. The mobs gunfire from the darkness struck and seriously wounded one Marshal, and killed a French journalist and a local citizen. Having no clear targets, the Marshals return fire was restricted to their canisters of tear gas, which were being quickly depleted.
 
2133 hours, it was at this dire time with the U.S. Marshals having to fight hand-to-hand with rioters just to stay alive; that like his predecessor President Eisenhower did in 1957 at Little Rock, Arkansas - President Kennedy made the decision to deploy the regular military to gain control the situation.
 

     Task Force BRAVO formed with elements of the 2nd Battle Group, 23rd Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia was originally scheduled to depart for Memphis on 29 September. Starting several hours late they departed via convoy, and due to poor transport planning had to schedule an unplanned rest stop at their designated fuel resupply depot in the Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama.

2030 hours, the lead elements reached Wanesboro, Tennessee where they were informed to proceed directly to Oxford through Bolivar, Mississippi, and stop at tent city in Holly Springs for a briefing by MG Billingslea. At the completion of the briefing they received new mission orders to deploy to Oxford.

2nd Infantry
Division
 
12:00 hours, Task Force CHARLIE the 716th MP Battalion, arrived at Memphis from Fort Dix, New Jersey and received orders to be ready for their deployment to the campus in support of Task Force Alpha.

     Task Force DELTA built around the 2nd Battle Group, 1st Infantry from Fort Benning, Georgia was deployed via convoy to the Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi where it was held in reserve before being ordered back to Fort Benning seven days later.

     Task Force BRAVO formed with elements of the 2nd Battle Group, 23rd Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia was originally scheduled to depart for Memphis on 29 September. Starting several hours late they departed via convoy, and due to poor transport planning had to schedule an unplanned rest stop at their designated fuel resupply depot in the Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama.

1st Infantry
Division
2030 hours, the lead elements reached Wanesboro, Tennessee where they were informed to proceed directly to Oxford through Bolivar, Mississippi, and stop at tent city in Holly Springs for a briefing by MG Billingslea. At the completion of the briefing they received new mission orders to deploy to Oxford.
 
October
 

Exact Dates Unknown  Alpha Company was presented a coveted 4th U.S. Army Commander’s Unit Maintenance Award for the physical year (September 30 1961-1 October 1962).

     The battalion’s flag football teams consisting of HQ & HQ Company, Alpha and Bravo Companies each saw their hopes for post-season playoffs dashed when their deployment to Oxford, Mississippi cause each to be eliminated by forfeit.

1 October 0025 hours, a second contingent of guardsmen consisting of approximately 95 soldiers of Troop G and a battery lead by their 108th regimental commander arrived at the Lyaceum, and immediately suffered several serious casualties and a burned transport truck. The volume of gunfire directed towards the Marshals and guardsmen steadily increased.

0030 hours, Task Force CHARLIE comprised of the 716th MP Battalion left Memphis for tent city at Holly Springs by convoy. Upon arriving they deployed a reconnaissance force to survey the route to the Oxford Campus as their command group underwent a briefing on the status of the riot.

0200 hours, the final contingent of guardsmen consisting of their Headquarters & Headquarters Troop and Troop F reached the Layceum along with MG Billingslea who lead the first group of Regular Army troops designated as Task Force ALPHA, comprised of the 503rd MP Battalion. The first contingent of the task force was its Company A commanded by CPT Fred J. Villella. They had been airlifted to Memphis while the bulk of the battalion was traveling by convoy.

    Editors Note: MAJ Villella would later become the 720th MP Battalion Operations Officer and then its Executive Officer in Vietnam from 5 October 1967-3 July 1968, before being transferred to the position of Operations Officer at the 89th MP Group.
     Company A/503rd MP Battalion and the battalion command element of approximately 119 soldiers were transported from Memphis to the University-Oxford airport campus via helicopters. Unlike the majority of the guardsmen, they were issued ammunition for their M-1 rifles, carbines, shotguns and side arms, as well as bayonets’, and cases of tear gas grenades. They were then loaded into four Navy busses for transport to the rear of the Layceum to avoid the bulk of the mob.
     Upon their arrival on campus they were intentionally misdirected from their planned entrance point by members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and ended up at Sorority Row, that was more heavily barricaded, and just under a mile from the Layceum. The local State Police officers immediately began harassing the company, especially their black soldiers.
    The company formed a wedged riot formation and smartly marched off towards the Layceum. The area was smothered in darkness and as they passed the campus YMCA, the mob ambushed them with a shower of Molotov cocktails, bricks and rocks causing several minor casualties. They withstood the ambush without breaking ranks continuing on to their assignment to relieve the Marshals. As they reached the Layceum building they were met with welcoming cheers from the beleaguered Marshals and guardsmen.
     Company A/503rd deployed their troops along the roadway at the entrance to the Layceum building, and held off a new mob attack using only the threat of their rifles with fixed bayonets, and a continuing shower of tear gas grenades. The mob had finally met its match against the steadfast MP line, and began to loose its steam.

0300 hours, CPT Villella was ordered to send a squad of twenty-three MPs and one U.S. Marshal to assist the marshals guarding Mr. Meredith at Baxter Hall. The squad successfully completed its mission without incident.

     As daybreak approached the mob snipers that were hidden by the darkness quickly disappeared, and the now combined troops and U.S. Marshals took the offensive to remove the mob from the Layceum area and campus. Forming an imposing 600-man skirmish line of rifle tipped Army bayonets and marshal service billy clubs, they slowly proceeded in formation towards Baxter Hall.

     The local guardsmen who were once suspect of being less than dedicated to suppressing the local mobs, were actually found to be hard chargers that had to at times be restrained by the regular Army commanders in their aggressiveness to have a go at the now retreating mob who bloodied them at the Layceum building. Although the now divided mobs offered some resistance, the coordinated skirmish line had no problems in forcing them to comply.

0330 hours, Task Force BRAVO (2nd Battle Group, 23rd Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia) was directed to the city armory and ordered to standby awaiting a Mississippi National Guard unit to arrive before being tasked at daylight with checkpoint and security duty within the city.
0430 hours, with the return of their recon force Task Force Charlie (716th MP Battalion) departed Holly Springs for the campus. Their elements were deployed at the intersection of Highway 6 and 314 between the Rebel Drive and Sorority Row entrances. Their orders were to secure both entrances, support Task Force Alpha at the Layceum building, and sweep the northwest section of the campus.
0600 hours, Company A/503rd secured Baxter hall and set up a bivouac in a nearby playing field. With their only knowledge of what problems Company A was confronting on campus coming to them in news reports from several of their soldier’s personal transistor radios, the 503rd MP Battalion convoy of 161 jeeps and trucks transporting the bulk of the battalion (Task Force Alpha) to the campus from Memphis was progressing with at first only a minor delay caused by roadblocks set up by members of the Mississippi State Police. The vehicle roadblocks were immediately dispersed when the battalion executive officer directly confronted the state trooper’s informing them they were obstructing a federal deployment. As the convoy passed by the patrol cars on the side of the highway the State Police shouted racial slurs at the MP’s.

     As the convoy neared the railway overpass on Highway-6 just outside of Oxford, several people could be seen observing their approach. As the XO’s vehicle passed under the bridge a railroad tie was dropped from above smashing the rear of his jeep. A second jeep was also damaged when a large piece of metal described as part of a car or truck was dropped onto it causing it to loose control and overturn. After providing security for the second jeep the convoy continued undeterred.

     They reached the Oxford armory by 0400 hours on 1 October without further incident, and the convoy moved on towards the campus, and as small groups of people saw the Negro troops in the vehicles they began hurling objects at them. The convoy diverted to the town square where it stopped and deployed eight reconnaissance jeeps to check two separate routs to the campus.

     All eight quickly returned to the town square with smashed windshields. This time ten jeeps were designated to lead the convoy with their occupants armed with shotguns they openly displayed. Their rules of engagement were to use the shotguns only if their life was in eminent danger. The convoy then continued on towards the campus.
     The Company A/503rd vehicles that were left behind in Memphis were being driven by members of Company C, and assigned to the rear of the convoy. When they came under attack they were diverted back to the Oxford-Campus airport. The convoy continued forward reaching the campus as Company A removed the last remnants of the rioters. The remaining Task Force Alpha companies were then assigned to roadblocks at each campus entrance, and tasked with identifying all who wanted to enter and searching all vehicles and their occupants for contraband and weapons.
0800-0925 hours, With the riot at full fury in downtown Oxford, in the early morning darkness the bulk of the 720th MP Battalion’s Task Force ECHO troops, equipment and vehicles were transported via aircraft to Millington Naval Air Station in Memphis, Tennessee arriving in just 17 hours. They were briefed and formed into five forty-man platoons before being transported into Mississippi by helicopter. The first of the platoons was on the ground and operational by 0800 hours, the fifth by 0925 hours.

     When Task Force ECHO arrived in Memphis under the command of LTC Robert Hotaling and MAJ William Beardsley the battalion executive officer, the HQ command staff and a detachment of MPs were taken by helicopter into the city to establish their command center and set up roadblocks on the five highways into the city.

     The five helicopter transported platoons of Task Force Echo seized 104 weapons of various kinds, apprehended a total of 47 persons and turning both weapons and detainees over to the U.S. Marshals..

     Editor: According to Pentagon records and many eyewitnesses, Attorney General Robert Kennedy secretly ordered 4,000 black soldiers to be removed from the deployment and segregated in the encampment during the unrest at Oxford. It's alleged it was done to avoid the political embarrassment of having black troops with high-powered rifles in command of Mississippi streets which they believed would only further fan the flames of unrest. President John F. Kennedy allegedly approved the order.
Personal Reflections

     “We arrived sometime after midnight on 1 October. We held a formation and were issued live rounds and tear gas grenades. A squad of us boarded a helicopter and flew to Oxford, Mississippi.

     When we reached Oxford, a Mississippi State Policeman pulled his patrol car under the helicopter to keep us from landing. The pilot moved the helicopter up and down the street three times but each time he attempted to land it the patrol car pulled underneath it preventing a landing. The pilot finally had enough and started to descend down on top of the patrol car and the patrol car drove away.

     After we disembarked from the helicopter we formed and moved up the street and set up a roadblock to stop and search all vehicles for weapons. We were in that position for three days, ate C Rations, and slept in the yards of the nearby homes. During those first three days performing the roadblock duties we did have black MPs with us including a black 1st Lieutenant. Whenever we stopped a car with older residents in it (70-80’s) the occupants would scream at us "Get those damn niggers out of my car!" I believe the black soldiers in our unit were sent back to Fort Hood, and I can not recall seeing another one in uniform for the duration of the deployment.”    SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, Able Company, 1962-1963.

     “The [Memphis] air station today was a flurry of activity as Air Force planes began arriving at 4:30a.m. with a third Military Police battalion, the 720th from Ft. Hood, Texas, 775 men…The whole air station looked like a massive armed camp preparing for war.” Upon arrival in Memphis, 200 military policemen boarded waiting helicopters and were transported to various locations around Oxford, Mississippi to operate road blocks; all checkpoints were in operation by 0925 hours, 1 October 1962.”   The Memphis Press-Scimitar, Memphis, Tennessee.

     “Every intersection in downtown Oxford was guarded by troops. The six entrances to Courthouse Square were blocked off by military patrols…Every automobile going into or our of Oxford was stopped and searched for weapons.”   Scranton Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1962.

2 October MG Charles Rich (101st Airborne Division) replaced MG Billingslea (2nd Infantry Division) as the Oxford Area commander, to include Task Force Campus and City, while LG Hamilton H. Howze (XVIII Airborne Corps) retained overall command that embraced Oxford and two staging areas of the Millington Naval Air Station and the Columbus Air Force Base.
     Some of the task force ECHO assets were convoyed from Fort Hood to Mississippi. The trip took one and a half days. They never stopped for the night, just pulled to the shoulder of the highway and set up to provide meals before moving on.
    The battalions Task Force ECHO convoy formed just outside the Mississippi state line to receive their assignments before convoying to their assigned bivouac area in the city of Oxford by1500 hours.
0730 hours, MG Billingslea met with the unit commanders and formulated a new plan in which he effectively disbanded the five Task Force’s of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo, and formed the units into two new Task Forces, Campus and City (Oxford). Their new responsibilities were synonymous with their names. Task Force CAMPUS commanded by COL James G. Martin was comprised of the 108th Armored Cavalry; 2nd Battle Group, 155th Infantry Regiment; 503rd and 716th MP Battalion’s. Task Force CITY (Oxford) COL Keller was comprised of the 2nd Battle Group, 23rd Infantry Regiment and the 720th MP Battalion.
     As the meeting progressed, a small detachment of soldiers and U.S. Marshals escorted Mr. Meredith into the Layceum through a back door where he finally registered in a Liberal Arts program, and reported to his first class.
     At the end of the meeting MG Billingslea moved his headquarters into the city’s National Guard armory. With groups of rioters still loose in the city proper, their mission remained active. The city police of seven officers were seriously undermanned, and the Mississippi State Police remained inept and showed no initiative. During the day additional apprehensions were made by the troops without any serious injuries being inflicted on either side.
1500 hours, LG Hamilton M. Howze (18th Airborne Corps) replaced MG Billingslea as the ground commander who would now be responsible for maintaining the peace within the campus and city, and providing continued security for Mr. Meredith.

     Other 720th MP Battalion troops in the main body arrived in Oxford via convoy from Millington Air Force Base in the afternoon and began construction on their compound in a ravine on a practice field just below the football field on the campus of Mississippi University. They spent two days at the ravine field before moving their compound up to the football field. The compound, nicknamed "Camp Paradise," consisted of tents and vehicles enclosed by a concertina wire perimeter, adjacent to the railroad tracks that ran into Oxford.

     Elements of the 101st Ariborne Division also encamped at the field.

Personal Reflections

    “As I recall in 1962, the 716th MP Battalion out of Fort Dix, New Jersey was one of the first units to deploy to Oxford, Mississippi, then in October the 720th MP Battalion was air lifted by the Oregon Air National Guard to Oxford for 3 weeks by C-119's flying boxcars in just about un-flyable weather. We ran down the runway three times before we could get enough ground speed to lift off. There was a lot of praying going on.

     It got pretty hairy at times with bricks and Molotov cocktails being thrown at us, and there were a lot of things that were blacked out in the news media because of government fear that it would ignite the whole south to start rioting.

     We were rotated back to Oxford November 20 to December 20th of 1962, then we rotated back in April of 1963 for 30 days, and once more we were rotated back again in late June of 1963 for 57 more days.”    PFC Gary L. Hackbarth, Bravo & Charlie Companies, 1961-1963.

Personal Reflections

    “We moved to the campus [University of Mississippi] at the Rebel Football Field where our headquarters was located [Camp Paradise]. From there we were again moved to a large open field a few miles outside of town where we set up our pup tents. Then my platoon was moved to a ravine near Baxter Hall in squad tents. We called it ‘The Hole.’ “We were assigned to town patrol in teams of three, using our 1961 Ford patrol cars.

     Other times we were assigned to special duty where we were responsible for guarding Baxter Hall where James Meredith was staying. We also had a special patrol called the "Peanut Patrol" that accompanied him to and from his classes.”    SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, Able Company, 1962-1963.

     For the first few days C Rations provided breakfast, dinner and supper. The C Rations gave way to five-in-one rations and finally to Class A rations.

     Editors Note: The 5-in-1 Ration was developed in 1942 by the U.S. Army's Quartermaster Corps to fulfill a need for a pre-packaged field ration for use by small-motorized combat groups.

     The 5-in-1 allowed small groups of soldiers or large groups divided into multiple units to cook meals without the need of complex kitchen utensils or cooking skill.

     Another objective was to furnish sufficient food to take care of five men for one day. The 5-in-1's components were packed as a group, with non-canned components placed in a separate carton over packed in a larger carton with the canned products.

     Menus were enclosed in the carton as a guide in the selection of meals.

     “Every intersection in downtown Oxford was guarded by troops. The six entrances to Courthouse Square were blocked off by military patrols…Every automobile going into or our of Oxford was stopped and searched for weapons.” Scranton Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1962.
     The exact time is unknown when a Task Force ECHO roadblock stopped a vehicle containing retired MG Edwin A. Walker. According to an FBI report, a Mississippi State Patrol roadblock had prevented his vehicle from entering Oxford the day before. The MPs detained his vehicle until further instructions were obtained from Oxford Headquarters. GEN Walker was wanted for questioning by the U.S. Marshals Service on charges of inciting a rebellion, and a patrol consisting of troops from the 101st Airborne Division was sent to transport him back to headquarters.
     GEN Walker was a decorated U.S. Army officer that served in World War II and Korea. He was known for his ultra-conservative views that eventually lead to his dismissal from the Army. Walker moved from the military into the arena of state politics and ran on an anti federal government states rights platform. His vocal public-stand against the use of federal troops to integrate the University of Mississippi and support of the states Jim Crow position on racial equality during the riot created the controversy that led to his confrontation with the Kennedy administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation at Oxford.
     The major commands of federal troops on station either in or around Oxford consisted of, 70th Engineers, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; 503rd MP Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; 716th MP Battalion, Fort Dix, New Jersey; 720th MP Battalion; 108th Cavalry Regiment, Mississippi National Guard; 1st and 2nd Battle Groups, Mississippi National Guard; 2nd Battle Group, 23rd Infantry, Fort Benning, Georgia.
     Before it was over, the unrest at Oxford resulted in a federalization of 30,656 troops of which 20,600 were Regular Army, which was more soldiers than the U.S. had in Korea, and six times more soldiers than were stationed in Berlin, Germany. Within three days of the call-up, it was estimated that the federalized troops within the city outnumbered the local citizenry by a ratio of three-to-one. Preliminary casualty figures released separate from the two civilian deaths by gunfire were: forty-eight military injuries; twenty Federal Marshal’s, three Mississippi State Policemen; and estimated twenty students, and eight other civilians who received treatment at the campus infirmary during the evening of 30 September through the morning of 1 October.
    It took approximately three days for all the responding federal troops to finally arrive and once that happened the protests and the mobs slowly disappeared. The troops gained in strength until they out numbered the local populace 3 to 1, and turned the small university town into a temporary army camp.
The Battalion's Task Force CITY (Oxford)

     For the battalion's new Task Force CITY (Oxford) the initial duties were manning roadblocks to remove firearms and other weapons to quell the potential for a restart of the level of violence from the days before. Many shotguns, rifles, handguns, and bladed weapons were confiscated.

      A detachment was established at the city post office and motorized patrols were sent out to enforce unauthorized military personnel from wandering the streets, and to locate and report on the formation of potential trouble areas. Later they were assigned to walking patrols around the campus grounds during the day and evening hours.

     They had four MP teams assigned to motorized town patrols, in jeeps, armed with 45's and nightsticks.

     During the operation they had no interaction with the small city police department. They would also be assigned to guarding the military transport aircraft at the Naval airfield, and guard duty around Baxter Hall where Mr. Meredith resided. The hall was located in the back part of the campus. The building was two stories tall with a basement, and his room was located on the second floor. The US Marshals vacated one half of the building for him restricting access to his half. Whenever the MPs had to escort Mr. Meredith the detail was intentionally conducted as a major show of force. At the time it seemed to be overkill, but since there were never any incidents, it was deemed as successful.

     Task Force CITY was on a three-day rotation system, 24-hours on commitment to duty, 24-hours on a 1-munite alert response, and 24-hours on training and physical fitness.

     Helicopter movement of riot control units was stressed in the training that went on every morning. Companies Alpha and Bravo and the 501st MP Company practiced loading onto helicopters, flying to a designated spot and rapid dispersal upon landing into a riot control wedge formation. Manual of arms training was also stressed.

     Duties involving daily roadblocks, physical security at the Oxford Airport, which handled the missions Army and Air Force troop and supply flights 24-hours a day, and security of the command post of the 2nd Infantry Division, a STRAC outfit called up from Fort Benning, Georgia continued.
4 October The Department of Justice released its official casualty figures for the U.S. Marshal deployments of 30 September and 1 October. There were 166 injuries to its personnel during the riot- seventy-nine marshals, seventy-two border patrolmen, and fifteen Bureau of Prison guards. Figures for all other nonfatal injuries varied from 245 to 375.
     As the days passed into weeks other ardent southern segregationist politicians and some of the apprehended citizens filed civil complaints against the military for every conceivable violation of civil rights. All were judiciously investigated by the Army and U.S. Justice Department and eventually dismissed.
8 October Mr. Meredith again raised the issue of the segregation of the troops, only this time with a statement to the national press. His primary point was the condition constituted a disgrace to the hundred of thousands of Negro's who wear the uniform of our military services. "My conscience would not allow me to go on observing the situation without, at least, letting the Negro soldiers know that I did not like them being dishonored."
     In the following days there were several closed door meetings involving the inter circle of the Kennedy administration and military regarding the use of Negro troops in on operational duties in Mississippi as well as in future incident of racial civil unrest. The Oxford Area Command also called a meeting of Task Force and unit commanders for their input. There was no one view on the issue, the confusion and conflicting orders on the subject during the first days of the riot caused much confusion. In some instances the commander sated that the lack of Negro troops shorted their experienced manpower by 10 to 20% and had a disruptive effect on the morals of the unit. Some felt that the any order for segregating the troops should have been given prior to the launch of the operation, yet others felt it should have been left up to the ground commanders based on their specific missions. The elephant in the room was who would issue the orders for future incidents, and would the local ground commanders have any input.
     Of the military police commanders, two took strong operational and morale positions on the issue. The 716th MP Battalion, who left their Negro troops at the Naval Air States as per GEN Abrams orders, cited the loss of two company commanders, one first sergeant and the battalions communications sergeant, which greatly hampered their ground control and command communications.
     LTC Hotaling of the 720th MP Battalion commented that (sic.) “Taking Negro personnel to Oxford was ill advised. Their presence created a great morale problem for the Battalion commander because they could not be used as Military Policemen. It is recommended that in any future operation of this type the Negro personnel remain at home station.”

16 October, 0845 hours National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy alerted President Kennedy that a major international crisis was at hand. Two days earlier a United States military surveillance aircraft had taken hundreds of aerial photographs of Cuba. CIA analysts, working around the clock, had deciphered in the pictures conclusive evidence that a Soviet missile base was under construction near San Cristobal, Cuba; just 90 miles from the coast of Florida.

     The information was known by only a few national security advisors and key personnel in the military, and would remain that way until the president addressed the nation on national television on 22 October. The most dangerous encounter in the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had begun.

     Within weeks the 101st Airborne’s battle group brought in as reserve unit for the ongoing riot was withdrawn back to Fort Bragg, Georgia dropping the troop strength within a 100 mile radius of Oxford from 25,000 to about 5,000.

     The routine duties eventually became boring and repetitive. There was also the lack of pay due to the constant movements. Before the deployment the MPs were instructed not to take civilian clothing with them, however, not everyone listened. As time passed those who violated the order broke out their civilian clothing, sneaking into Oxford via the railroad tracks under cover of night. Some of them dated the local college girls who knew they were military but asked them not to let the local boys know they were. The only problem they had in passing for locals was the black “Class A” shoes they wore, however, no one seemed to notice. The local townsfolk's were subtle about it, but made it known that they were not welcomed. On occasion they would be assigned to pick up ice for the compound. The business people would take their trade but wouldn't speak with them.

     In the afternoons the MPs underwent physical fitness training that included organized athletics, volleyball, touch football and softball, the units competing with themselves and others.

     Food consisted of Class A rations unless one was assigned to a remote detachment, then traditional C or 5-in-1 Rations were provided. Movies were shown almost every night with the troops gathering their air mattresses into a makeshift amphitheater. There were also three televisions made available where the troops could gather. The televised favorites were the Word Series or the NCAA game of the week.

Personal Reflections

     "By the second or third week of deployment we were advised that we could sign up for passes to Memphis, Tennessee. The battalion commander couldn’t understand why no one was signing up. It was then brought to his attention that since our deployment no one had been paid because were we always on the move. I understand that the battalion commander went to a local bank and borrowed money, and put the word out that anyone signing up for the passes would be loaned $10.00 for pocket money. With that everyone wanted to sign up, back then $10.00 went a long way.

     I recall watching one game of the 1962 World Series, Yankees vs. Giants on a black & white television. It was set up out in the big field, there must have been 500 soldiers there. I also recall that when walking around you didn’t have to go very far before stumbling over a card game in progress."   SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, 4th Army. Fort Hood, Texas, 1961-1963.

19 October, word was received unofficially after 1200 hours that Task Force ECHO would begin preparation for their return to Fort Hood on the 20th. Preparations began in breaking camp, fueling vehicles and packing equipment. At 2130 hours official orders for their return arrived from Headquarters, 2nd Infantry Division that the task force would depart at 0200 hours the next morning.

20 October, at 0200 hours on a clear morning the first of the Task Force ECHO convoy vehicles departed Mississippi for Memphis, Tennessee where the Air Force was waiting at Millington Naval Air Station to air lift the troops and equipment to James Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas.

     At 0735 hours the first of twenty-five Air Force C-130 transport planes departed Millington on the first leg of two round trips to complete their transport mission. By the afternoon when the last vehicles of the task force arrived a Millington they did so in a heavy rainstorm .

21 October, At 2430 hours the last of the task force convoy units from Connally Air Force Base in Waco passed through the main gate at Fort Hood. All vehicles arrived without incident, accident or injury.
     Separate organic elements of the battalion would conduct three rotations of duty at Oxford through 1963 before the deployments were finally ended. The future deployments would be designated as Exercise RAPID ROAD.
Personal Reflections

     "In September of 2002 I went to Oxford, Mississippi hoping to learn more about our deployment and meet someone that remembered it. I went to the city hall and met the mayor. In our conversation he said that the only military units that were in Oxford in 1962 were the local National Guard. I told him he was wrong and informed him of the 720th and other Military Police units that were deployed there during the Meredith civil unrest, and that we deployed a total of three times between 1962 and 1963. Again he denied it and asked me to leave the building even though it was open to the public for another 30 minutes. As the mayor went to the phone I noticed that there were several black people in the area and stated, "See the way he acts, 40 years ago he would have stood in the door to block Meredith from entering." When I arrived at my car outside I was met by a city policeman.

     If I am still around in 2012 I plan to return to Oxford, Mississippi for the 50th anniversary of the incident."  SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, 4th Army. Fort Hood, Texas, 1961-1963.

WANTED: Information, photographs, official documents and personal stories relating to the Battalion's deployment to Oxford, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of the page.
1962  Battalion's Task Force ECHO & CITY (Oxford) Miscellaneous Photograph Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from the Oxford, Mississippi deployment 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.
A "?" preceding the photo number denotes further identifications are needed, and an Email Link is provided.
B0087-4 ?
 Unidentified Task Force MP at guard duty outside a White Women Only restroom in Oxford, Mississippi.
B0087-8 ?
 Task Force PIO SP/4 Thompson of the Fort Hood PIO Office works on a report in Oxford, Mississippi.
 
The Cuban Missile Crisis

22 October, At 7:00pm President Kennedy informed the nation in a seventeen-minute speech that the Soviet’s had installed nuclear capable missiles and bombers in Cuba, and that he has ordered a “strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment,” and additionally warned the Soviet’s that the United States will - “regard any nuclear missile launch from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response against the Soviet Union.”

     By 24 October the U.S. established a naval blockade of the Cuban islands.

Editor:  A search of available battalion records failed to produce any information on any deployments to Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October. This  may be because at the time the troop and material deployments during the crisis were classified as top secret, thus eliminated from operational summaries for the time period.

     Several battalion veterans do recall being put on standby and others recall deploying to Florida during the crisis. SP/4 William B. Taylor of C Company recalled they were sent to Elgin Air Force Base in Florida. The never left the based and spent their time in daily exercise and standard training until ordered to return to Fort Hood.

     Military history of the base revealed that it was used as a staging area for air assets in the event the crisis in Cuba turned hot and the battalion may have been deployed to provide security for the large influx of high tech military intelligence assets being gathered during the brief period before the crisis ended.

Personal Reflections

    "As I remember, we were deployed in late October as a result of a DEFCON 3 alert and were flown to an air base in the Florida Keys. We were there for a couple of days and then went back to Fort Hood.

     Those were interesting times in American history. I think the Joint Chiefs were ready to invade Cuba, but the President wanted to wait and play let's make a deal. Certainly, those times pale in comparison to the total history of the Battalion. It was a pleasure to serve and be a part of all of it.”   CPL Robert B. Taylor, B Company, 720th MP Battalion, 4th Army, Fort Hood, Texas, 1960-1963.

Personal Reflections

     “Sometime between 15-20 October, I’m not sure of the exact date, we returned to Fort Hood, Texas. It wasn’t long after our return that we were again placed on alert. This time it was for the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” [October 15-29] The 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions were deployed from Fort Hood to Georgia.”   SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, 4th Army. Fort Hood, Texas, 1962-1963.

WANTED: Information, photographs, official documents and personal stories relating to the Battalion's deployment during the Cuban Missile Crisis, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of the page.

24 October, Soviet Premier Khrushchev responded to Kennedy’s message with a statement that the U.S. “blockade” was an “act of aggression” and that Soviet ships bound for Cuba would be ordered to proceed. Nevertheless, during October 24 and 25 as the world watched intently, the first Soviet ships approached the U.S. Naval blockade line. A momentary collective sigh of relief was felt when some of the Soviet ships turned back; others were stopped and searched by U.S. naval forces, but they contained no offensive weapons and so were allowed to proceed. Meanwhile, U.S. reconnaissance flights over Cuba indicated the Soviet missile sites were nearing operational readiness. With no apparent end to the crisis in sight, U.S. forces were placed at DEFCON 2—meaning war involving the Strategic Air Command was imminent.

     However, later that night Premier Khrushchev used an outside civilian channel to propose a deal to end the crisis.

26 October The Fort Hood Civilian Vehicle Traffic Toll statistics for 1962 as of this date were 184 injuries and 27 fatalities. During the same time in 1961 there were 116 injuries and 13 fatalities.

28 October  The next morning, Premier Khrushchev issued a public statement that Soviet missiles would be dismantled and removed from Cuba.

     The crisis was over but the naval quarantine continued until the Soviets agreed to remove their IL–28 bombers from Cuba, and on 30 November 1962 the United States ended its quarantine blockade of the Cuban Islands. U.S. Jupiter missiles were removed from Turkey in April 1963.

29 October,  During the preceding days the following HQ & HQ Detachment personnel qualified with the .30 caliber M1 Rifle: Expert- SP/4 Paul S. Darke, PFC Andrew R.Pettiford, PFC Steve W. Price, PFC Patrick T. Guerin.

Sharpshooter- SSG Gary S. Hanks, SP/4 Jerry N. Vance, SP/4 Raymond D. Curran, SP/4 Robert L. Doughtie, SP/4 Michael J. Kostecki, SP/4 Douglas L. Lawson, SP/4 Daniel L. Wabakken, PFC Press Brown, Jr., PFC Michael J. Herald, PFC Joseph B. Morton, PFC Robert L. Thomas, PVT Thomas C. West.

Marksman- SP/4 Thomas C. Day, SP/4 Edward J. Murray, PFC Robert J. Hillyard, PFC Aulbi L. Swafford, PFC John H. Walker, PFC Ted K. Wallace, PFC Lane A. Warner.

Expert
Sharpshooter
Marksman
SCORES
No scores or classification of qualification badge listed- SSG Walter M. Brailey, SSG Varel D. Freeman, SGT Leroy D. Bishoff.

     The following HQ & HQ Detachment personnel qualified on the following firearms:

M1911 .45 caliber Pistol- LTC Robert P. Hotaling, MAJ Lawrence C. Santana, Jr., 1LT Quentin Messer, 1LT Pitt M. Watts, SFC Louis C. Ledoux;

.50 caliber Machine gun- SP/5 Jerry N. Vance, SP/4 Bobby W. Loudin, SP/4 Daniel L. Wabakken, PFC Press Brown, Jr., PFC Michael J. Herald, PFC Joseph B. Morton, Jr., PFC John H. Walker, PFC Ted K. Wallace;

Thompson .45 caliber Sub-Machine gun- SMG Richard J. Hall, MSG James C. LKester, MSG Steven Festus, SFC Tillman E. Johnson, SFC Walter E. Shipley, SFC Guy L. McCluskey, SSG Raymond J. Johnson, SSG Daniel J. Entler, SP/4 Robert D. Bednardi, SP/4 Donald C. Menne, SP/4 Bobby W. Loudin, PFC James T. Clemmer, Jr., PFC Ronald R. J. Gosslin.

SCORES
November

19 November Under Exercise RAPID ROAD, Movement Orders 11-1 issued by Headquarters Fort Hood, Texas, Bravo Company with all personnel and TO&E equipment was again deployed to Oxford to relieve and replace existing elements of the 716th MP Battalion (Fort Dix, NJ) already on station.

20 November Control Detachment Bravo Company departed Connally Air Force Base by air transport to Memphis Municipal Airport.

26 November  LTC Robert Hotaling passed command of the battalion to  LTC Earl B. Milburn.

LTC Hotaling
LTC Milburn
WANTED: Biography information of both commanders and a photograph of LTC Milburn and the change of command ceremony, please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of the page.
 
December
The Battalion is attached to the 1st Logistical Command

12 December   With the receipt of General Orders No. 67, Headquarters III Corps, Fort Hood, issued 8 December, the battalion became part of the 1st Logistical Command (“First With The Most”), for all purposes. The 1st Log was designated a major unit of the Strategic Army Corps in July 1958, and during the next three years it was responsible for the administrative and logistical support to its contingency forces.

     During the Berlin Crisis, 1st Log deployed to France and became a major unit of the Communications Zone, Europe. After nearly a year of service the command returned to the U.S. and was based at Ft. Hood. At this time the battalion still wore the 4th Army patch, and 1st Log wore their distinctive “Leaning Shit House” patch. There was no official evidence discovered that the battalion was required to switch patches.

1st
Logistics
Command
Exercise RAPID ROAD
16 December   Alpha Company arrived at Oxford to relieve Bravo Company on station.
17 December   Bravo Company personnel, minus their TO&E equipment now assigned to Alpha Company, returned home to Fort Hood.

21 December The Army announced that it was cutting 200 troops (66th MP Company, Fort Chaffee, Arkansas) from the 500-member force on station guarding the campus of Mississippi State University at Oxford. Mr. Meredith left the campus for the Christmas Holiday period on the 18th and was not expected to return until 4 January 1963. The reduction reduced the Army commitment to a headquarters command, administrative, support personnel and Alpha Company.

     The troops on station were now billeted in a small tent cities located at the Oxford National Guard Armory and Municipal Airport. Few of the tents had wooden floors, while the others were staked out on the semi frozen mud. With the city off limits to all military not on official business, the troops had to make due in their cantonments during the Christmas and New Years holiday season.

Southern feelings from the past century's War for Secession continues

     In an editorial the same day, the Jackson Mississippi Daily News charged that the Army was tampering with their public relations program because of miss-addressed Christmas cards and packages. The week before the papers editor asked the readership to help cheer up the soldiers on duty at Oxford by sending cards and packages of cheer to them for delivery to the task force troops by Christmas.

     The Army was upset because the newspaper sent the packages to the attention of “U.S. Army Occupation Forces” instead of the 66th MP Company and A Company, 720th MP Battalion.

     The newspaper’s editor Mr. James K. Ward said, “Our intentions were honorable when giving the advise. We are sorry that the military gave us the wrong address in the first place.” The editorial “humbly” apologized to their readers for causing them the trouble and expense of mailing cards and gifts.

     Mr. Ward further said, “We have contempt for the bungling high brass who has displayed such utter sensitivity. This, to us, is another example of bureaucratic bungling and federal dictatorship that reaches right into the mailbag of our servicemen.” Ward continued, “Brotherhooding by bayonet is the order of the day. Any voluntary expression of hospitality by the people of Mississippi is rejected.”

31 December  At the end of the year elements of the Battalion were still deployed at the campus of Mississippi University, Oxford.

     The troops of Company A would make the best of the holidays while living in tents away from home in Oxford. They decorated their tents with small Christmas trees and other decorations in an attempt at a festive atmosphere. Many of the troops also accepted invitations from the local citizens to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s dinners with them at several churches, and by individual families in their homes.

1962 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1962 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.
B0041
 Temporary Fort Hood Parking Pass.
B0017
 SP/4 Ralph C. Lewis of A Company ready for white hat duty.
B0005 ?
 At the Motor Pool.
B0006 ?
 At the Motor Pool.
B0007 ?
 Waiting in line outside the Mess Hall.
B0008 ?
 At the Motor Pool.
B0009
 SP/4 Oscar Nelson by the C Company sign.
B0010 ?
 At the Motor Pool.
B0011
 SP/4 Oscar Nelson of C Company in his Class A uniform.