92nd ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BN
                 

Reflections By Al Ihan
Article - The Albany Herald - Monday April 28 2003
Albert Ihan and his comrades in the 92nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation in 2002 for their action at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean conflict. Ihan displys his citation in his Albany home.
               Memoirs of Al Ihan, of the 92nd AFA Battalion, "C" Battery, 1949-51

Written by Al Ihan after a stint in Europe and reassigned for duty in 2nd Armored Division
in Camp Hood Texas.

The 92nd AFA BN, by unanimous vote, selected the name "Red Devils" in 1949. This was
approved by Col. Leon Lavoie the battalion commander. In those years the services were
experiencing a draw down of manpower. Mainly, changing the Army to be an all volunteer
Army. Battery tests were conducted yearly to test the efficiency and proficiency for
combat readiness. This affected the status of promotion for the officers. Fortunately the
three firing batteries were rated 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and were only separated by tenths of a
point. Later the Battalion was tested as a unit. Naturally, when the test was over, the 92nd
AFA placed first.

There was much glee and pride among the officers and men resulting in the confidence of
having such a great unit commanded by the revered Col. Lavoie.The Division Artillery
Commander spoke to the Battalion and said he could never recall the feat of
accomplishing the cohesion and melding of three batteries within the same battalion as that
which happened in the 92nd AFA Bn. Shortly after that, the battalion had a direct fire
shoot to determine the best crew in battalion. "C" Battery was represented by Sgt. Rager,
a former tank destroyer crew chief in WWII in Africa. Out in the field, Col Lavoie selected
the first target, a tank.  First target  - direct hit. He then selected another target further out.
Another "Bingo". The third target he selected was a trash pile. Boom!! Debris went sky
high. Col. Lavoie immediately commanded "March Order, your crew is too good".On the
official test "C" Battery and "B" Battery had the same result. Three direct hits. It was
agreed upon and determined that the practice round would be used to break the tie. SGT.
Rager's crew missed with one practice round. Sgt. Couch and his crew representing "B"
Battery was declared the winner.


The winning crew had the first Red Devil painted on the face of the tank. The colors were
red, yellow, and a little black. The Devil's face had his mouth open baring his teeth and
holding a 155 round in his mouth. Later the design was made smaller and painted on the
sides of the tank. Diagonal white background with the skeletal face of the Red Devil. I
believe this tank went to post displays only. I can't recall the whole battalion with it.After
a talk with Lorayne Griffin in Texas he affirmed my suspicions that he originally did the
design and Col. Lavoie approved it. He also wrote the words to the song "Keep 'em
Rolling" to the tune of "Glory, Glory Hallelujah" which was supposed to be the official
song for the 92nd AFA Bn. All of this was approved by Col Lavoie. Lorayne Griffin was a
chief of Section to C/Firing Battery and was promoted with a Battle Field Commission the
same time as Joel Turner.

In the year 1949 funds were short for the services. We were told to conserve on toilet
paper napkins, etc. Division needed funds for special services for sport equipment etc. The
2nd Armored Division decided that we were going to have an open house field day which
would be open to the public. Every Battalion in the Division was to sponsor some kind of activity at the Main Post Parade Field. We were to have a carnival type of affair. Our
Battalion had each Battery come up with their own idea, such as booths to sell hot dogs,
hamburgers, beer, etc. Pool tables and ping pong tables etc. were purchased from
downtown merchants. We sold chits and charged a nickel a game. We assigned a dayroom
orderly in the evenings and weekends to collect for the games played by the players. It's
surprising how much money could be attained and accrued by this method. All of our
athletic equipment was paid off in this manner. At that time we didn't get paid too much
for our services. We had to line up for our pay alphabetically  report to the paying
officer, salute and state "Sir, Pvt. Jones reports for pay". At which time you were paid in
cash and had to sign your name on the payroll roster. And you better sign it right, exactly
like the roster listed your name. If you messed up they could take the money back and you
might have to wait another month for your pay. After you got paid there was a table set
up for the bills that you owed the battery, chits, charity, etc.

Our Battalion had a boxing team of which I was a member. But the most memorable event
I remember was the heavy-weight bout. One of my team mates broke his elastic band that
held up his trunks in the middle of his round. His trunks were almost down to his knees
and the sight of his jock strap made the referee in his consternation try to stop the fight
and at the same time try to hold the combatants trunks up. It was a riot of a scene.

Division came up with the idea of a "Battle Royal" to determine who had the toughest
Battalion in the Division. One hundred men were selected in each Battalion. Each man was
fitted with boxing gloves. The object of the game was to capture the opponents Battalion
flag on a mound protected by 50 men. The field layout was 100 yards long with a trench in
the middle of the field and a trench in front of each mound. 50 men to attack, 50 men to
defend. The winner would be determined by process of elimination. Much to the dismay of
the infantry, tankers, and supporting battalions, the artillery battalions surfaced as
challengers for the title and included the 92nd and a colored Artillery Battalion. In that era
we were still segregated. I was active in sports, track, flag football, and boxing. I was
fortunate enough to be selected by battalion to be on the team. At that time I was every bit
of 127 pound featherweight boxer. My nickname was "Pineapple". I distinctly remember
my instructions were not to tangle it up in the trenches. I conserved my energy by
crawling between the combatants toward the opponents flag. When I was 5 feet from the
flag, I stood up and charged towards the flag. One guy turned around and was so startled
his eyes got so big and he was stuttering trying to get the others attention. I immediately
grabbed the pole and wrapped my arms and legs around it and hung on for dear life while
they tried to dislodge me. The pole would go one direction, and then the other direction. I
could hear the spectators hollering, but alas, we lost by a split second. We lost, but the
pride was there.

In those years, the army had R&R and the whole division would go to a designated area,
half of the division at a time, for a week. When I was in Germany with the 1st Infantry
Division, we went to Garmish Germany, way down in the Alps mountains. We took all
our equipment, except our artillery pieces. We lived in pup tents, dug our own latrines,
and set up our own mess hall. We had reveille and we were off at our own leisure for the
rest of the day unless we were assigned a detail for the day.The 2nd Armored Division had
the same type of R&R, half of the division went to Corpus Christi for a week. We were
situated in the sand dunes near the little city of Corpus Christi. We dug our latrines, set up
mess halls, and parked our vehicles uniformly and neatly among the available shrubs and
bushes. We pitched our pup tents in an orderly fashion. We had reveille and roll call in the
morning. Except for the ones with assigned details, we were off after breakfast for the day
to do what we wanted to do. I once observed two men fishing on a jetty. While watching I
saw a wharf rat appear from the rocks and proceeded to the fish that were strung on a
cord. I got the attention of the men and they shooed the rat, but the rat bit off half of a
fish. Hope it had a good meal. We traveled convoy style to Corpus Christi and back. On
our return the other half of the division made the same trip. Twenty eight years later I
returned to Corpus Christi for a visit. I was mesmerized by the enormous size of the city.
Where did all of the sand dunes and bushes go? In this day and age, if we did now, what
we had done then in the sand dunes, they would have buried us in the dunes.

We also had rotational duty to protect the (secret) airfield that was close to Fort Hood. It
was the Strategic Air Command base, harboring the atomic bomb fleet. We had 105's and
machine guns with live ammo with orders to shoot. From outside the fence you could see
the protected parapets and occasionally glimpse planes and fork lifts and covered vehicles
with accompanied guards. Vehicles had mounted machine guns. (You can form your own
opinion.)

When the Korean War broke out, Col. Lavoie was assigned to Division Artillery but
volunteered to return to the 92nd Artillery after we were selected to go to Korea. This
was much to our glee and happiness, for a truly outstanding commander. He was admired
from the highest ranking officer to the lowest ranking enlisted men. His words to us were
that "he made this Battalion and we were going to Korea and come back together", or
words to that effect. Col. Lavoie's inspirational words to the Battalion were always just a
little more effort, gesturing with his hand thumb and finger together. The gun's Chief of
Section's words were like Col. Lavoie which said, "just a little more oomph with gesture
of the fist ramming a projectile".

In Korea, I remember a ROK soldier came to our battery to stencil the Red Devil insignia
and we were all trying to get him to put it on our vehicles first. That's what I remember. I
believe through pride that we made our own flags on the antennas with the Red Devil
insignia. Through spontaneous pride we wore scarves in combat. Through pride we had it
on our helmets and battalion vehicles with the blessing of Col. Lavoie. And that tradition
carried on to the replacements in the battalion, and that pride has carried on to the present
92nd AFA on the Korean War.The Red Devil Patches were probably an idea in later years.
I think that this was a good idea. I would commend the person and his idea. I personally
think we need a better looking and distinct looking devil. I believe we should go with the
diagonal on a white background with the red skeletal outline of the devil. This would look
more distinct and memorable of the 92nd AFA.

Mr. Lorayne Griffin is in critical shape. He told me he has six months to live which I
believe is from smoking. He said almost everyone in the Second World War smoked. He
was very happy for me to contact him and said that the Korean War Veterans now have a
place in history and are able to relive the war years. He congratulates the effort by the men
and the efforts to make it possible to have a 92nd Reunion every year. (note: I received
notice that Lorayne M. Griffin, B Battery 49-51 passed away on 01-04-01 in San Antonio,
TX.).