Celebrating Veteran’s Day: One Local Family Recalls 4 Brothers Serving In WWII

By Glenn Shiveler

LOGAN TWP. — Veteran’s Day this year marks the seventieth year following the end of World War II. The Shiveler family had the local distinction of four brothers who served their country during that conflict.

SHIVELER with his jeep, which he named "White Lightening".
SHIVELER with his jeep, which he named “White Lightening”.

The bronze Roll of Honor plaque located on Kings Highway in front of the town hall shows the names of Archer (“Archie”), George, Norman (“Dot”) and Walter (“Pat”) – the four Shiveler brothers who each served in the U.S. Army during the war. Two of the brothers served in Europe and two in the Pacific.

Each of the Shiveler brothers participated in amphibious invasions. Each of them served in units associated with artillery. Each of them would receive promotion to technical, specialist or warrant officer rank. Two of them saluted their Supreme Commanders.

The preparation for war began in the United States by passage of the Selective Training and Service Act in August 1940 by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt.

George was the first to be inducted in June 1941, soon followed by Archie in July 1941. Norman’s number was called in July 1942.  Walter was the last to be inducted in December 1945. Three of the brothers were single when inducted, while Norman was married and lived in Swedesboro.

War began for the United States on the Day of Infamy on December 7, 1941.  George heard the news about the Japanese attack during artillery training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  Norman heard the news while at a baseball game. Walter listened to the news broadcasts crackle over the radio on the family farm on Oak Grove Road.

The first of the brothers to face battle was Archie, who landed in Guadalcanal in October 1942 with the Americal Division. Later, he landed in Bougainville in January 1944.

The Americal Division received a Presidential Unit Commendation for its service during the Guadalcanal campaign. Archie was discharged and returned home in September 1944.

George and Norman both landed in Europe during the Normandy D Day invasion in June 1944.  George would land on Omaha beach with his artillery unit after it was secured. I once asked him to describe the scene on the beach, and he replied that he did not have adequate words to describe the carnage and horrors he witnessed.

George carried his M1, maps, binoculars and radio during the war as an artillery observer, and this brought him close to battle fronts. George and Norman were discharged and returned home in October 1945 and January 1946.

Military training for Walter began at Camp Wheeler, Georgia at the Replacement Training Center. This included basic training, driving army vehicles, how to march while in formation, rifle marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat.

Walter graduated from the RTC in March 1945 and visited his family while on furlough before reporting to Fort Meade for additional training that included hand-to-hand combat. Walter would soon call upon his fighting skills a few weeks later.

SHIVELER, in front of his barracks in Yokohama, Japan, posing with the company mascot.  A young Japanese boy painted the bag.  The dog was owned by the company sergeant, who took his little buddy home when he returned stateside.One day, a Japanese boy offered to decorate Walter’s travel bag. Walter outlined his name and hometown on the bag, and the boy painted the bag with decorations.
SHIVELER, in front of his barracks in Yokohama, Japan, posing with the company mascot. A young Japanese boy painted the bag. The dog was owned by the company sergeant, who took his little buddy home when he returned stateside. The Japanese boy offered to decorate Walter’s travel bag. Walter outlined his name and hometown on the bag, and the boy painted the bag with decorations.

He received specialized training on how to employ the Army 4.2” chemical mortar. This mortar weighed 330 pounds and could be broken down into three components for portability and transport. It could fire white phosphorous rounds, fragmentation rounds and laydown smoke screens.

This mortar was an important weapon for Army troop fighting in the rugged jungles in the Pacific in places where they could not deploy towed artillery.

That summer, Walter reported to Oakland, California where he boarded the transport ship.  Walter was deployed in the 23rd Americal Division on Cebu, an island in the central Visayas in the Philippines.

There were 40 island invasions to liberate the Philippine Archipelago during the campaign.  Soon after arriving in the Philippines he faced battle and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and for carrying his company commanding officer to a field hospital. His commander wrote in the commendation: “It was the damnedest thing I ever saw!”

The troops fought both the Japanese and tropical disease while on Cebu, as 8,000 of the men were hospitalized while on Cebu, including Walter. There were several battles against the Japanese on Cebu and the Visayas.

In August, Army intelligence has estimated that 2,000 Japanese remained on northern Cebu, and they were surprised when Gen. Tadasu Kataoka surrendered along with 11,000 soldiers. The Americal Division was scheduled for Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan in October 1945, which was cancelled upon Japan’s surrender.

In August, several of the men in Walter’s unit began training to join military police units, and the some Americal men later joined the 531st and 519th MP battalions.  Walter’s Americal Division and MP unit soon landed after the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945 and set-up its base near Yokohama.

The Americal Division was the first to have all of its units land in Japan for the occupation.  There were many caves dug into hillsides at the Atsugi Airbase and the surrounding Yokohama area that served as air raid shelters and weapons depots.  The Americal Division confiscated many truckloads of weapons for decommissioning and disposal.

In one tunnel at Odawara, the 132nd Infantry Regiment found a horde of 102 silver bullion bars which they return to the Japanese bank in Tokyo. A week later, they discovered an even larger silver horde nearby.

Gen.            MacArthur set up his first headquarters at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama, and later moved his headquarters to the Dai Iche building in Tokyo. There were several meetings between MacArthur and Emperor       Hirohito.

During one visit, Walter drove as jeep escort for the Emperor’s Mercedes-Benz 770K limousine from the gate to the meeting. Walter saluted MacArthur and Gen.      Eichelberger several times while at the 8th Army headquarters.

He drove his white jeep named “White Lightening” while performing various police and guard duties during the occupation. One evening there was a GI barroom brawl, and his MP unit was ordered to the scene.

While preparing for action, his M1911A Colt .45 pistol discharged and injured his friend from Ohio, Glenn Speck. He was relieved that the round had only passed through muscle only, and Walter faced discipline for the incident.

While in Japan, he visited his friend from Swedesboro, Earl “Sonny” Rode, while he was based in Yokohama harbor. There were various trips to Kamakura beach, to Tokyo, and one trip to the resort at Lake Ashi located on the slope of Mount Fuji.

His photo album includes two dogs. One was the company mascot, a black and white puppy owned by Sgt. Markis. The MP K9 unit’s German shepherd named “Duke” was ever present when the men visited the base swimming pool.

Many parts of Yokohama and Tokyo were devastated by bombers during the war, and his album includes photos of both the ruins and the reconstruction. His photo album includes his pub card, which entitled him entry to the Enlisted Men’s Club. Various buildings and Japanese people are included amongst his photos, including a Japanese wedding party.

The men from Americal Division were sent home in November 1945 and the division was formally demobilized in December. Walter remained in the 519th MP battalion through 1946 in Yokohama to complete his two year enlistment. Walter received his honorable discharge and he returned to the family farm on Oak Grove Road in November 1946.

Each of the Shiveler brothers were proud that they had served their country during World War II. The brothers visited many places overseas and saw many sights that were highlights during the remainder of their lives.

Their thoughts often turned to their home in Swedesboro, and the Shiveler brothers were pleased when they returned to be reunited with their family. They frequently were seen during Swedesboro’s Memorial Day and Veteran Day parades for years afterwards.

— Written by Glenn Shiveler, son of Walter.  Glenn is a member of the Kingsway Class of ’79, studied chemical engineering at Rutgers University, and now resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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