Crossen Combat Chronicles
Biography of a WWII Artilleryman - by Chip Heyl
Read What Others Have to Say...
Henry R. Timman
As a long-time history researcher and writer, I often ponder the fact that we have allowed so many important eras of history to pass us by without recording that era's story. Likewise, the participants in those eras and/or surviving family members too often fail to recognize the value of archives and relics which were saved from that particular historic time.
In the Crossen Combat Chronicles we find not only parts of the important story of Ohio's 37th Infantry Division, but also the thoughts, actions and reactions of Colonel John Crossen as the various segments of the War in the Pacific moved on. How easy it would have been for Mrs. Crossen to eventually destroy his letters or for daughter Sue McCreery to have jettisoned the documents and relics he marked for her to have. Saving these items not only gave her mementoes of her father, and of a major segment of his life, but it preserves important stories for us. We will never understand war and hostilities completely, but Colonel Crossen helps us interpret his role in the war and his perspective on the varied aspects of war.
As important as saving her father's archives was Sue McCreery's decision to have her friend and classmate Richard (Chip) Heyl form a book of the extant records and to do original research besides. He surely was the best choice to bring these several sets of facts together into a cogent compilation.
My constant hope is that a work such as the Crossen Combat Chronicles will stand for many years as a viable reference for anyone researching World War II. I also hope that it will inspire others to preserve similar archives and compile for the good of the world, the stories of other veterans of other conflicts.
Gary O'Dowd is a retired New Mexico attorney who became interested in the Luzon campaign of World War II because his brother-in-law served as a scout for Company G of the 2nd Battalion, 145th Infantry of the Ohio (Buckeye) 37th Division.
My brother-in-law's third purple heart for injuries on Luzon was the result of an artillery shell exploding near him on Mount Pacawagan on April 28, 1945. All he now remembers of Mt. Pacawagan is after he woke up on a stretcher being towed by a tractor down a very steep mountain. After more than a year of treatment and rehabilitation in hospitals, he returned home where he earned a bachelor's degree.
He, like Otis Earl Hawkins of Company E, became a successful businessman. My brother-in-law is still working and playing golf. When he first related his experiences on Luzon during World War II, I knew very little about Luzon and had never heard of Mt. Pacawagan.
Otis Earl Hawkins, a member of Company E, wrote the book, My Experiences in War and Business, detailing the battle to capture Mt. Pacawagan. Casey Gauntt preserved and provided on the Internet the story of Grover Cleveland Gauntt, who was in charge of construction of the supply road on Mt. Pacawagan.
The Crossen Combat Chronicles by Chip Heyl and Sue McCreery provides a daily history of the artillery support for the 145th Infantry. The chronology of events provided in the Crossen Combat Chronicles is essential to understand the stories of those who fought on Luzon in 1945.
I would highly recommend the purchase of both the print version of the Crossen Combat Chronicles and the PowerPoint Animated Slide Show prepared by Chip Heyl. Thanks to Chip Heyl and Sue Crossen McCreery for their research and careful description of the events surrounding the sacrifices of these men and their families.
Ty Bowling is an amateur Military Historian, with an emphasis on 20th Century Conflicts. He resides in New London, Ohio, with wife Joni and children: Kirsten, Storm, Tanner & Shelby. He had one tour in the United States Navy.
I have read many biographies over the years, some good, some bad, and some not so informative. Most of them were of men well known to the American public, e.g., Grant, Lee, Patton and Eisenhower are among the many available at any bookstore.
Not often, however, have I come across a story of a real citizen soldier, and the Crossen Combat Chroni-cles is just such a biography. I found the research involved in writing this soldier's story to be thorough and balanced. It gives the reader insights into the decorated field artillery commander, but also of the man entering the war and the effects of the war on his subsequent life.
Mr. Heyl has written a wonderful account of one man's wartime duty, one of many untold stories of World War II. What impressed me about the life of Lieutenant Colonel John Crossen was that he left a successful law practice and comfortable life with a wife and three small children while approach-ing middle age, to fight for his country in the hell known as the South Pacific Theater of Opera-tions. I am sure that there are many such stories that will never be written, and it has been a privilege to read this one...
Sue (Crossen) McCreery, contributing author of the Crossen Combat Chronicles, alerted me to the publication of the book and the possibility of an author visit and autographing session. Since I started the "Meet the Author" series a year ago, we had the largest crowd ever attend and listen to Richard (Chip) Heyl's presentation. Many of the authors just talk about their works but Chip wowed the audience with an animated slideshow of Part III of the book (The Luzon Campaign). The overlays of the battles and the progress of the march on Manila showed impressive planning and editing. The slideshow is a work of art besides the excellent writing, researching and illustrating of the book focusing on Lt. Colonel John Crossen and the 135th Field Artillery Battalion in World War II.
Those who know about the brave World War I and II contributions of the 37th Infantry Division, comprised of Ohio National Guard units and called the Buckeye Division, acknowledge that Chip Heyl has filled in a missing piece of the war in the Southwestern Pacific theatre. There are many WWII accounts from generals' viewpoint but few from an artilleryman's vantage point. My patrons who are veterans who have read the Crossen Combat Chronicles tell me this is one of the best histories they have read. If you want an impressive presenter for your organization, Chip Heyl offers a winning program! I am glad our library has a hardcopy and a CD copy to lend to military history buffs and non-fiction readers. Check out Leaning Pine Publishing (http://www.LeaningPinePublishing.com) on the Internet for other works by the author.
His father, Pat, was the commanding officer of Company G, 145th Infantry Regiment of the 37th Infantry Division and the most decorated serviceman from Huron County in WWII. Pat McLaughlin is a member of the Ohio Military Hall-of- Fame.
The Crossen Combat Chronicles text and Animated Slideshow gives a detailed account of the 37th Infantry Division (Buckeye Division, as all members were originally from Ohio) preparation and deployment to the Southwest Pacific Theatre in WWII. It continues with the New Georgian, Bougainville, and Luzon Campaigns. The text relates these vital activities to the larger war effort, in a way that only 20/20 hindsight could allow.
The text has new full color terrain maps, made from WWII black and white maps used by the 37th ID during their historic struggles. The intense fighting by the infantrymen, including my father, who was highly decorated, is described, as well as the quality of the field medical facilities so often used by my father.
Although the book focuses on Lieutenant Colonel John R. Crossen, the Battalion Commander of the 135th Field Artillery Battalion-the artillery most often assigned to my fatherís 145th Infantry Regiment, it provides an overview of the Buckeye Division WWII activities never before published. Having researched my fatherís activities for years, I found the Crossen Combat Chronicles an informative and good read!
I have known Chip since the mid-1990s and he has always been on the leading edge of the Adjunct Professors using PowerPoint for teaching their classes on the campus. At first he started with slideshows, but soon was using animation, and more recently voice clips to drastically reduce the amount of reading in his presentations. His preparation has helped his students understand the difficult concepts of the effects of striking a golf ball with a variety of clubs, and how the spinning golf ball behaves under various wind conditions.
When he asked me and others in the lab to review the Crossen Combat Chronicles Animated Slideshow, I expected a good presentation. Both my husband and I have both seen the slideshow and read the Crossen Combat Chronicles text. They supplement each other very well and I have no doubt that Chip incorporated the relevant critiques from the NOVA staff.
On behalf of myself, and my NOVA colleagues, I feel good about recommending the Crossen Combat Chronicles book and Animated Slideshow to anyone interested in World War II, and specifically the Pacific Theatre.
I participated in the review of both the Crossen Combat Chronicles text and the PowerPoint Animated Slideshow. Over the last 30-some years Chip and I have discussed all of the wars in which the United States was a combatant, sharing historical videos and texts, and discuss-ing the relative positions of the authors.
I enjoyed my involvement in these Crossen Combat Chronicles efforts and believe that Chip took my critiques seriously, and converted them into improvements for his product.
Particularly useful were the color coded maps in the text, with the corresponding avenues of approach indicated for the various military combatants in the New Georgia, Bougainville, and Luzon Campaigns.
Both the text and animated graphics depict the battles in the method best suited to each medium for viewer understanding.
I encouraged Chip to provide a historical balance between the relative areas of war-fighting: supply and logistics; planning and operations; discipline and training; as well as the period technology and the human impact and trauma. I think he accomplished this goal very well.
The Crossen Combat Chronicles provides good insight to the difficult jungle fighting in the Solomon Islands and urban fighting on Luzon. A must for amateur historians.