157th Infantry Regiment , 45th Infantry Division, Second WorldWar Crest

Sgt Ray Hackney Drullinger

157th Infantry Regiment Crest, 45th Thunderbird Division, Second Worldwar
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Content and Photographs used with the permission of the Yuma Museum P.O. Box 454, Yuma, Co. 80759. Exerpt from The Rock of Anzio used with the permission of author, Flint Whitlock.
Edited by Eric Rieth

Sgt Ray H. Drullinger

Ray H. Drullinger was born January 25, 1917, at Achilles, Kansas, to Harry and Jenni (Hackney) Drullinger. In the spring of 1928 the Drullinger family moved to Cope, Colorado, in Washington County. He graduated from Cope High School Class of 1934. At the Age of 17 he joined the U.S. Navy and shipped out for training in San Diego California.

Ray served his one year enlistment and was honorably discharged. He returned back home to Cope where he put his hand to farming and ranching. During his time in the service he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized in the Methodist Church. He was well liked and enjoyed the friendship and esteem of the whole community.

In the fall of 1940 Ray volunteered for service in the United States Army, being the second Washington County man to enlist for such service. He was not inducted, however, until January 16, 1941. He was sent to Camp

Barkeley, Texas, where the 45th Infantry Division had just arrived. Ray was assigned to F Company, 157th Infantry Regiment, a Colorado National Guard outfit. They participated in the 1941 Louisiana maneuvers where the 45th performed exemplary against regular Army soldiers. Awhile after returning to Camp Barkeley, in April 1942 the Division moved by rail to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts for amphibious landing training at Camp Edwards.

 

The Division was planned to participate in Operation Torch the invasion of North Africa. General George S. Patton went to Camp Edwards to address members of the 45th. Plans were changed and the Thunderbirds went to Pine Camp, near Watertown, New York. Here they spent a bitter cold winter of training. In the spring of 1943 Ray and the Division went to Camp Picket Virginia, then to Camp Patrick Henry, near Norfolk, Virginia, and on June 3rd the 157th was loaded onto ships.

On June 8th the Division convoy departed Hampton Roads for the Atlantic Ocean. The trip was long and monotonous, no ships were lost although destroyers were dropping depth charges from time to time. On June 28th they passed through the straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. At St. Cloud, Algeria, Ray and his fellow Thunderbirds did one last combat landing training exercise on June 25th.


Soldiers of 157th Infantry, 45th Division, going up gangplank of Transport PA-28, USS- Kent ; Newport News, Va. : U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, June 3, 1943. (Courtesy of: U.S. Army Signal Corps, The Library of Virginia. C1:2/05/052)

The troops spent the next ten days exercising, eating, and sightseeing to limber up after being crammed in the ship during the Atlantic crossing. The 45th piled back onto the thirty ships of their convoy and headed for the shores of Sicily. The day before invasion (known as D minus 1)a gale-force storm ripped into the convoy. It seemed that everyone including the sailors were sick. "Down in the Bottom of the ship where the men were, it was an inch deep in vomit" recalled a LT.

view from USS Leonardwood

View from USS Leonardwood of beach landings

At 0330 hrs, 10 July 1943 Operation Husky was under way (Map of Sicily). Flint Whitlock in his book, The Rock of Anzio, describes the thoughts and mood of the soldiers that morning as follows: "With the ships anchored at their stations offshore, the men quietly assembled on deck as they had done so many times before during practice landings. Only this time, it was different. This time, it was for real. The first landing on a hostile shore is always the easiest-and the most difficult. Easy because each soldier is a neophyte, a virgin to combat. The noise and confusion and horror of war are still incomprehensible, no more real than a training film. Although fear is running high, so is the excitement and elation of actually, finally, putting years of training to use. And difficult simply because the unknowns are overwhelming: How will I react to combat? How will my squad perform? my platoon? my company? my battalion? my regiment? my division? my army? Will I chicken out or will I hold my own? Will we land on the right beach? What happens if we don't? Do I have enough ammunition?

What if my rifle jams? Where are my grenades, my bayonet, my cigarettes? What if I'm hit? Will I lose a leg? Will there be a medic nearby? Will I die? And so it went, private thoughts creasing each man's forehead as he looked toward land, watching the bright blossoms that flamed on shore with each round of naval fire, feeling the crump of the explosions against his eardrums several seconds after the visual display, waiting for the order to finally move from the comforting security of the mother ship into the bobbing landing craft several stories below. Nerves were stretched tight, mouths were too dry even to salivate, and many stomachs and intestines were in a state of distress." (pgs. 38-39)

Ray, who was now a Sergeant, and the other men from his platoon must have felt some or all of those feelings and questions, as they boarded their landing craft. The water was still rough and it was tough going getting into the boat, rising up and dropping down, below as they climbed down the nets. The first Thunderbirds ashore were surprised by the ease of landing on the beach. Of course it was not all smooth sailing. Two landing craft ran into each other and sank, killing thirty eight men. Most of these men were from F Company, 157th, Ray's Company.

On August 14th, Mr. and Mrs. Drullinger had started on a business trip to Benkleman, Nebraska; Saturday morning, but at Wray, they encountered tire trouble and were forced to return home where a telegram was waiting; "Sgt. Ray H. Drullinger, was Killed in action, in the invasion of Sicily on Saturday, July 10, 1943." Sgt. Drullinger was the first Washington County boy to lose his life in action with the army of the United States.

Thursday September 16, 1943 The Akron News-Reporter


Memorial Service Held for Cope, Colo. Soldier
Last Sunday afternoon, August 28, 1943, a memorial service was held in the Cope church in the honor of Sgt. Ray H. Drullinger of Cope, who gave his life for his country on July 10, during the invasion of the island of Sicily.
The large crowd which gathered for the service, many of whom were unable to get inside the church, gave some indication of the high esteem with which Sgt. Drullinger was regarded.
The Eastern Star mixed quartet of Akron sang three very fitting songs, "Some Day We'll Understand," "Abide With Me," and "God Be With You Til We Meet Again."
Rev. C. B. Bryant, pastor of the Flagler Congregational Church, offered prayer, and the pastor of the Cope Community Church, Rev. I. E. Gabel, read the obituary and spoke briefly and suggested that Sgt. Ray Drullinger will be missed from his family circle, from the Cope community, and from the larger areas of our country, but he gave his life that we might continue to be a free country and that all men of all nations might enjoy the blessings of freedom, without which life is not worthwhile.
The four freedoms for which our soldiers and sailors are fighting, and the endeavor to end war on this earth should challenge all of us to back our fighting men in every possible way. In closing the speaker praised the bravery of our service men, and urged the people of this community to pray that there might be more bloodless victories, such as Kiska.
Ray leaves to mourn his early passing his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Drullinger, one sister, Mrs. Louise Page, two brothers, Rex and James, one nephew and one niece, besides many other relatives and friends
He was a good, obedient son, without any bad habits, and was highly regarded by all who knew him.
The service inside of the church was concluded by all standing and singing the first verse of our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," after which the Flagler Post of the American Legion conducted an impressive memorial service in front of the church.
This service was conducted by Arthur Robb with the assistance of many of the former service men of the other world war. Words of appreciation were spoken, a charge to the community was given, and prayer was offered by the Post Chaplain. Then a military salute to the dead soldier was given by a firing squad and taps were sounded to conclude a most impressive service.
The Cope church was beautifully decorated for the service with flags and a large display of beautiful flowers. The picture of Sgt. Ray H. Drullinger was displayed among the flowers, and was encased in a very beautiful wreath of flowers for the service conducted outside of the church. The Cope community will not forget the sacrifice which Sgt. Drullinger has made for his country and for their community.

 

Thursday August 12, 1948 The Otis Independent


Services were conducted Sunday at Cope by the VFW organization for Sergeant Ray H. Drullinger who was killed in action in the invasion of Sicily on Saturday, July 10, 1943. He was 26 years, 5 months and 15 days of age at the time of his death. His body was returned to Cope for burial.

Tombstone of Ray H. Drullinger.

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