Streets named for World War II veterans in Clackamas
Seven former Oregon National Guard members who served in World War II with distinction were honored with streets named after them on a military base in Clackamas.
On Sept. 21, the Oregon Military Department dedicated roadways on Camp Withycombe to honor WWII veterans of the 41st Infantry Division. The roads now bear the names of:
• 1st Lt. Sammy E. Radow (1922-2001) of Oregon City joined Company D, 186th Infantry Regiment, in 1938 at the age of 15. From 1939 to 1942, he served in the 162nd Infantry Regiment, and then became an officer and transferred to the 163rd. His long and distinguished military career includes combat in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He earned the Silver Star with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with five Oak Leaf Clusters, two Purple Hearts and three Combat Infantry Badges.
Radow was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action near Changnyong, Korea, on Sept. 16, 1950, while serving as a commanding officer. When the radio operator was wounded, he remained in an exposed position, under intense enemy fire, and personally operated the radio until another operator was sent forward. His last residence was in Clackamas. He was buried in Willamette National Cemetery near Happy Valley.
• 1st Lt. Melvin C. Monroe (1918-1999), as a member of the 167th Field Artillery Battalion, in early June 1944, was in a compact, fortified position east of Sarmi, New Guinea. While leading a daily security patrol, he came under enemy machine gun and sniper fire in a jungle opening. His men hit the ground, but he charged the machine gun crew, yelling to draw their fire, an action that earned him the Distinguished Service Cross.
Nobody knew Monroe had been wounded until he almost collapsed and had to be helped back to the aid station. His foot, wounded with bullet fragments, became infected and he contracted malaria. This resulted in his August 1944 evacuation to a post hospital in Walla Walla, Washington, where he met his wife-to-be, First Lt. Jane Plant, U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
• 1st Lt. Rodney W. Orange (1920-missing in action) reportedly created the 162nd Regiment's Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon starting with a core of six men trained in intelligence. He gathered another 18 men considered most troublesome in the companies. While in the 1943 campaign at Salamaua, New Guinea, he made an extremely hazardous reconnaissance with the help of two native trackers. Even though he was far beyond his own forces, he stayed out nearly a month, bringing back detailed and accurate enemy information. He received a personal commendation from Maj. Gen. Horace Fuller, 41st Division Commander.
He left a short time later on a reconnaissance flight to Finschhafen further north in New Guinea, but the plane crashed near Lae, Morobe. He was never seen again and was reported missing in action.
• Staff Sgt. Jordan W. Davis (1912-2002), who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for knocking out the anti-aircraft gun positions with grenades while he led his squad in a July 9, 1944, action on Biak Island, near the northern coast of Papua, an Indonesian province, just northwest of New Guinea.
Born in 1912 in Iowa, Davis moved to Pendleton in 1936 and joined Company G of Oregon National Guard's 186th Infantry shortly before it was activated in 1940. He then served from Fort Lewis to Australia, Papua, New Guinea, and The Philippines. He and his unit fought in the battles of Hollandia, Biak and Palawan.
• Staff Sgt. John McRoberts (1919-1998) also was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism on Biak Island. On June 22, 1944, according to the official reports, "McRoberts encountered such heavy fire that the forward movement of his men was stopped. On his own initiative and alone, he charged the enemy position and firing rapidly, killed two enemy soldiers and wounded a third. Although seriously wounded, he then directed his squad in reducing the enemy fortification, and enabled his platoon to secure the contested area."
McRoberts was then sent back to the U.S. on a hospital ship. After recovering from his wounds he was assigned to the Army Ground and Service Forces Redistribution Station in Santa Barbara, California. There he married Jeanine Leathers of Ione, Oregon.
• Staff Sgt. Frank R. Gehrman (1918-2007) was a farmer near Mount Angel when he enlisted in lieu of being drafted on Feb. 26, 1941. He served in the medical detachment of the 162nd Infantry Regiment. Gehrman then served overseas as a section sergeant and surgical technician in a battalion aid station.
He was awarded a Bronze Star for leading a heroic rescue under fire on April 23, 1944, at Humboldt Bay in Papua, New Guinea. On seven different occasions, without regard for his personal safety, he removed casualties from areas of heavy enemy fire. He also was awarded the Purple Heart for combat-related wounds.
• Sgt. Leonard C. DeWitt (1921-2016) became involved in a July 28, 1943, move to take higher ground near Salamaua, New Guinea, as part of actions that earned a Distinguished Service Cross. He was credited with forestalling an enemy breakthrough and preventing heavier casualties.
In 1938, DeWitte joined Bend's Oregon National Guard unit, Company I, 162nd Infantry, 41st Division as a rifleman. He was called back to active duty for the Korean War and was wounded in action. He then served in Europe as an intelligence officer with the 6th U.S. Navy Fleet, as chief of staff for training with the eventual rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a resident of McMinnville when he died.
Soldiers' names were selected from veterans currently highlighted in displays within the 41st Infantry Division Armed Forces Readiness Center building. The new street signs designate the main entrance road, the road to Readiness Center building, the main north/south axis road and connecting streets.
A street-naming dedication ceremony took place at the Oregon Military Museum, 15300 Minuteman Way, Clackamas. Maj. Gen. Michael E. Stencel and retired Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees participated in the ceremony, alongside Dan Sokol, president of the 41st Infantry Division Association.
"The accomplishments of these men who've been designated extends to all men and women who have served in and with units of the 41st Infantry Division throughout history," Sokol said.
The 41st Infantry Division was called to duty in September 1940. Now, 79 years later, more than 1,000 members of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team have begun overseas mobilizations to various parts of the world starting in September.
Known as Task Force Arrow, the group of more than 450 soldiers is one of several units that the Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team is scheduled to deploy this fall and winter. In all, the 41st is scheduled to deploy more than 1,400 service members to five different countries: Djibouti, Jordan, Kosovo, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
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