|Wounded in Three Wars|
Robert S. Dalton was born in Alpine, Texas in 1926. His father was a cowboy and Bob grew up on the Dalton Ranch in Palo Pinto County and in the nearby city of Graham, Texas (Young County) where he attended public schools. After 10th grade he had stayed out of school in anticipation of being called into the Merchant Marines, but; his Draft Notice came first. He reported to the Induction Station in Dallas, Texas on August 28, 1944 where he was sworn into service and immediately entered active duty in the Army.
After his basic and Infantry training in late 1944, he shipped out for Europe. He arrived in the United Kingdom on January 27, 1945, and immediately was sent across the channel and into combat during the Rhineland Campaign. His call to report in to the Merchant Marines finally arrived when he was in Germany, but that was a bit too late. He was wounded on February 19, 1945 during the fighting for the Siegfried Line. Bob says, I was assigned to Company K, 301st Infantry, 94th Infantry Division, part of General Pattons Third Army. I was a Light Machine Gunner on a .30 Caliber LMG crew and we were spearheading the armys advance from around Metz, France down to the Saur and Mosel Rivers when I was wounded. We were attacking a concrete bunker when hit by a German 88mm artillery shell that killed or wounded several in my gun crew and others close by. I had a bad head wound, fractured skull, but did not realize the severity of it at the time and walked all the way back to the Aid Station unassisted. I had no more than gotten there before I passed out. I did not regain consciousness for a very long time, not waking up until I was in a Hospital back in England and I dont know how many days later that was. By the time I was fit for duty again and got back to Company K, the war was over.
Robert Dalton remained with the Occupation Forces after the war and reenlisted into the Regular Army on January 11, 1946 in Kitzingen, Germany. But, after that second term of service, Bob took his discharge and returned home to Graham, Texas where he worked for two years in a Lumber Yard.
After the Korean War broke out, Bob quit his employment in Graham with C.W. Bullock and went back into the Army. As a Prior-Service Enlistee he went back in with his Corporal stripes. He says, I went to Korea and was in the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. The 7th Infantry was Andrew Jacksons regiment in the battle of New Orleans in 1814 and they have been known as the Cottonbalers ever since. They were a great outfit then and still are today, real proud. He was a Corporal in Company B when he was wounded during the fighting for Hill 355 in the Chorwon Valley on July 20, 1952. Again, it was a severe wound, this time it was to the left side of his neck, right arm and left leg and as Bob describes it today, That was a million dollar wound. It got me sent back home for treatment and recuperation.
This time, Bob remained in service after he had recovered from his wounds. His next assignment was with the 1st Cavalry Division in Japan and he spent a number of years there. In 1955 Bob and Fuchiko were married.
In 1966, Robert was ordered to Vietnam where he was designated as an individual replacement in the Big Red One, the 1st Infantry Division. As a Sergeant First Class he was assigned as the Platoon Sergeant of 3rd Platoon in Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry. He did something different in Vietnam. His third war proved to be a charm. He served his full one-year tour as the 3rd Platoon Sergeant without wounds requiring medical evacuation and putting him out of the war. However, that is not to say he wasnt wounded, its just that he didnt receive a Purple Heart. It happened this way.
Robert says, The men all called me Pops because everybody knew that I was a veteran of WWII and Korea and they wondered what I was doing there. We were deployed near the Cambodian border on Operation Junction City in early 1967 when I received a minor wound during one of the many actions on that operation. The company medic treated me and I returned to duty. At that time, Company A was commanded by Captain Putnam and we had 1st Sgt Wooley for First Sergeant. Shortly after I was wounded, the captain, a very brave man, I remember he was from Tennessee, was killed in action while leading a patrol. Much later when I asked about orders for a Purple Heart for my wound, it turned out that no paperwork could be located. That was understandable given the general confusion of things because of the loss of the company commander as well as the continuing press of action on Operation Junction City, and I never gave it another thought at the time. Reflecting back on it now though, I did earn it and it would have been nice to have been recognized with that third award of the Purple Heart in the three wars in which I have served our country.
Just before I was due to rotate home the Assistant Division Commander, General Hollingsworth, offered me a promotion to First Sergeant. It was hard to turn it down, but I was nearing retirement and accepting the promotion would have meant an additional term of three years service. Im glad that he thought highly enough of me to ask, and that was honor enough for me.
Robert Dalton retired from the Army in 1968 and because he had always had a desire to see the northwest, he retired to Washington State. Bob then had a second career employed with a sawmill, and retired from that also after having worked 18 years on the green chain. While there Bob joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Tacoma Chapter 324.
In 1986 Bob felt the need to return to the place of his childhood so he moved back to Palo Pinto County where he has made his home in Mineral Wells ever since. He and Fuchiko have recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. He transferred to our Purple Heart chapter as soon as he found out about us, and Chapter 1919 salutes Robert Dalton, our only Two Purple Heart Three War Wounded Veteran. Robert S. Dalton died in January 2014 at the age of 87.