The 504th/508th Prcht Inf in
WWII & Beyond!
Just found a few articles about Sergeant Major James
O. Schmidt (Retired) today June 5, 2018. This is all
based on an article done December 2015 by Gene and
Jack Williams. It was published by The Southern
California Sentinel. A very interesting article as
it’s always nice to hear about a 3 Combat
Infantryman Badge soldier.
As always I like to verify information before going
any further. This was an easy one as SGM Schmidt
(Ret) is indeed one of the 324 soldiers at the
Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia.
After reading the Williams article “Tracking Down a
Hero” I did a little research of my own. Sometimes
things get a little mixed up when an article is
being put together. Nothing major in this article
but there were a few things that were incorrect.
The first is that they have 325 soldiers listed as
having 3 CIBs. The total is actually 324. On page
three of their article they have SGM Schmidt (Ret)
in a picture with another 508th Parachute Infantry
soldier and have it identified as being from WWII.
As mentioned in the William’s article he was in
Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 504th Prcht Inf
82nd Abn Div in Sicily.
There was a picture taken after Sicily and it shows
SGM Schmidt (Ret) with a Purple Heart at the top of
his ribbons. What isn’t there is the lack of the CIB.
That’s because the CIB didn’t come into being until
May 1944. So there were two pictures in the
William’s article, one from the time in the 504th
Prcht Inf and one after the war in the 508th Prcht
The picture has the Eisenhower jacket and the man
sitting in that picture doesn’t have a CIB it means
this was when SGM Schmidt (Ret) was in Germany at
that time period. Once again not a big deal but
documentation and looking at the awards help
to bring it more into focus.
On page 4 they have SGM Schmidt (Ret) as being in
the 187th Prcht Inf and in Japan. I’m not sure where
he was but the 187th Prcht Inf would arrive in Japan
September 22, 1950 so SGM Schmidt (Ret) wasn’t a
part of the 187th Prcht Inf at that time. He was in
the 31st Infantry Regiment in August 1950.
(The word Regiment is assumed when part of a
Division. So in this case it would be 31st Infantry
7th Infantry Division).
Now, this is where the fun part of the research
comes in. Attached to this narrative are 8 pages of
Morning Reports that have SGM Schmidt (Ret) either
listed or a part of what was going on for Corporal
then Sergeant Schmidt in Japan then Korea.
The first 4 pages
show Corporal James O. Schmidt
to Sergeant September 2, 1950.
Sergeant Schmidt was in Headquarters & Headquarters
Company 31st Infantry 7th Infantry Division. The
next 4 pages of
Morning Reports show
Hq & Hq Co 31st
Inf leaving Japan September 12,
1950 leaving by ship
They arrive at Inchon and debark from the USS Gen H.
W. Rutner onto a LST September 19, 1950. They then
move to Suwon then Sango’on between the 29th and
30th of September.
There is on more bit of information about SGM
Schmidt and his time in both the 82nd Airborne
Division and the 7th Infantry Division. There is
another 3 CIB soldier who was not only in the 82nd
Airborne Division in WWII but also in the 31st
Infantry 7th Infantry Division in Korea.
That would be Colonel Robert E. Chisolm (Ret). Col
Chisolm was in the 508th Prcht Inf in Co I and was
wounded in Normandy on his 19th Birthday. He came
back and went through the rest of the war in the
508th Prcht Inf. Col Chisolm (Ret) reenlisted in the
Army in 1946 and guess what? He ended back up in the
508th Prcht Inf in Germany just like SGM Schmidt
Then in Korea then 1st Lieutenant Chisolm became
Company Commander for Co L in the 31st Inf 7th Inf Div in
June of 1953. There are many parallels between the
two men including they both received their 3rd CIBs
in Vietnam as a Paratrooper. You never know what
might be lurking around the corner when reading an
After the Williams article “Tracking Down a Hero”
was published in 2015 it was then picked up a few
times. When that happens errors start to pop up. The
next version was Airborne & Special Operations
Museum Foundation March 3, 2017. It took from the
Williams article that had SGM Schmidt in the 187th Regt
The original William’s article had him being in
Japan in the 187th Inf Regt but now they have him
listed as being in Korea. That would make people
think that SGM Schmidt must have jumped in Korea. I
sent a message this morning letting the Airborne &
Special Operations Museum Foundation letting them
know about the error.
The next magazine that picked up on the Williams
article “Tracking Down a Hero” was Stars & Strips
which published an article March 7, 2018. Stars &
Stripes has a few errors including this “1st Brigade
Combat Team”. There is, of course, no such thing. I
think they tried to say the 504th Prcht Inf
Regimental Combat Team (RCT). The magazine also
talks about the cricket. That hadn’t yet come into
use in Sicily.
The last publication to write about SGM Schmidt was
War History Online. They almost always have errors
in the WWII articles. The War History Online have
him jumping when he was 14 when in fact he was 15.
They also picked up the 1st Brigade Combat Team
error from Stars & Strips. War History Online has a
big error when they say that when he joined the
508th Prcht Inf Regt that the war was still going
on. Of course the war was over May of 1945 in Europe
and SGM Schmidt (Ret) joined the 508th Prcht Inf
June of 1946 a year after the war ended.
It would be nice if before publishing an article
fact checking would be done but that seems too much
trouble in today’s world.
The original article “Tracking Down a Hero” was an
interesting read. Glad I just discovered it today,
one day before the 74th Anniversary of Normandy.
June 5, 2018
Brian N. Siddall