The 32nd Red Arrow Division marches in a 4th of July parade in Adelaide, South Australia, 1942.
Nearly all the Clemson men who survived the Buna campaign were elevated from platoon to company commanders because of their actions there, and several continued to lead Red Arrow soldiers until the end of the war. Several Clemson alumni distinguished themselves:
Thomas E. Bell ’39
Tally Doyle Fulmer ’39
William Thackston ’39
Louis Beaudrot ’41
Hoyt Hill ’41
Frank Cheatham ’40
Clinton Blackmon ’41
Thomas E. Bell Jr. ’39 was one of the first in combat in Buna and went on to earn a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts in the Battle of Driniumor River. He commanded Company E of the 128th Infantry Regiment until the end of the war.
Tally Doyle Fulmer ’39 was given command of Company C, 127th Infantry Regiment, by default, after all the other officers became casualties. He excelled at the position and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army’s second-highest medal for valor, “for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy forces from Dec. 31, 1942, to Jan. 11, 1943.” The company also received a Distinguished Unit Citation under his command for knocking out a column of enemy tanks.
William Thackston ’39 joined Company K, 128th Infantry Regiment, in January of 1943 after the battle of Buna, ultimately becoming the commanding officer of the unit and leading it through to the very end of the war — and even a bit beyond, making him one of the few officers who served through World War II from the very beginning to the very end.
Louis Beaudrot ’41 and Hoyt Hill ’41 were each on the “Wairopi Patrol,” a scouting mission that took two companies on foot over a mountain range, ahead of the main body of the 2nd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment. They walked 100 miles over 45 days. Hill and
Beaudrot each led ambush patrols that engaged the Japanese very early in the campaign.
Other notables include Lt. Frank Cheatham ’40, who killed an enemy soldier at Buna with a hunting knife (a gift from his sister) before he contracted malaria and was sent to the rear; and Lt. Clinton Blackmon ’41, who volunteered to leave his support-unit company to go to the front lines at Buna in time to participate in its final stages. Later, he earned a Silver Star at the Battle of Leyte for clearing mines, by hand, off a road so American armored vehicles could push forward.