(This article was first published on Nov. 13, 2004, in observance of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, when Hood River News invited veterans to write their World War II memories. Bartlien is co-grand marshal of the July 4 parade in Hood River.)
I was a Jungleer. Better known as the 41st Infantry Division or Sunset Division.
The 41st consisted of 9,000 men from the Northwest.
The 41st made more D-Day landings than any other division in World War II. Our first was Papua New Guinea, next was Port Moresby. Then we headed for Dutch East Indies (Altape, Biak, Hollandia) and on to southern Philippines and to Manila.
We had many hardships to go through, lost some buddies, made some lifelong friends, and as young 17-, 18- or 19-year-old kids when we started out, we came back as men.
I was a sergeant in the 41st Signal Company, attached to headquarters, and my boss was the general himself. I was in “Special Troops.” Also attached were the MPs and medics. Signal Company’s job was communications. One of the toughest jobs we had was to lay submarine cable from Biak to our island. Men standing side by side and laying cable hand over hand, standing knee deep in water, under intense heat, also tired and fatigued to a point of collapse. The terrain was extremely difficult. But we made it.
We were given the title “MacArthur’s Jungleers.” All of us in Special Troops were on the beach when MacArthur walked ashore on his way back to Philippines. We were “MacArthur’s Jungleers” and we earned the right to be there.
Next year will be 60 years since our return from war in 1945. I will be having lunch with some Jungleers of the 41st, ones who are left like myself.
Some of them I have been having lunch with on the last Friday of the month for 59 years.
Ed Bartlien lives in Hood River. He refers to two books about the 41st: “The Jungleers: History of the 41sth Division” by William McCortney (Battery Press) and “41st Infantry Division: Fighting Jungleers” (Turner Publishing).