Plymouth County

T/Sgt. John T. Trobaugh



Ray McNamara of K. Company Tells of Hot Fights

McNamara left LeMars with old K. Company. There are of course many K. Companies in America, and the code of censorship prohibits identifying the company in any other way. The names of the divisions have been printed just to be on the safe side and to say that the old K. Company is still functioning as a unit with many of its original members still in the company.

“We saw our first battle on a ______ from a little town called _assar. We thought that was tough, but it really wasn’t. It was just our warming-up stance. We held the hill successfully against German attack and later spread out and went all across the desert. We came to Fondouk Pass and thought the fighting there was really tough, but later we all decided that this too, was only WARMING UP for tougher battles to come.”

There was another hot fight in _____ Pass, and after that there was the really tough job of taking Hill 609. Pvt. McNamara was not able to tell much about the ______ ground of the battle for this hill. It was on this hill he was wounded, and lost interest in the proceedings. However, the dispatches have stated that hill was strongly fortified by Germans. They had artillery which prevented for other forces from getting further to the plain which lies north, and the hill had to be ______ before the final push in the _est of Tunisia could be made.

Pvt. McNamara did not see ______ outfit after he was wounded, so he was unable to be a part in the triumphant entry into Tunis and Bizerte. He says that although he has received letters from friends, he _____ be unable to state whether his company was included in the push against Sicily, past or ____ing.

When questioned of personal pride he said, K Company is certainly one of the fightin’est outfits to land in Africa. When asked who, of all the men in the company were the TOUGHEST IN BATTLE, Pvt. McNamara replied:

"The toughest? They’re all really tough. I think almost everyone in the African campaign agree that K Company and the other two outfits with us were about as tough a proposition that ever inhaled the African dust."

Of course, not every man was given the same blood-lusting ability to get at the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. But it wasn’t a matter of desire anyway. When the time came, you just went at it whether you thought it was right or not.

We were continuously under fire for hours at a time, at times waiting in holes, some of them covered with brush and ____ling, completely unprotected by chance bullets, taking chances with snakes, thorns, mines and the other fellow’s bayonets.

BUT AT TIMES WE FELT THAT OUR WORST ENEMY WAS THE SUN. I hear talk about the heat, since I’m back, but I tell you that there is no sun as hot as the African desert is when you have to lie out there on the baking rocks that send the heat up into you, and the endless sun over you, and you barely dare to take a sip out of our scanty water ration, because a movement might attract enemy aerial observers. The crawling and waiting are bad, but the fighting in such heat is worse, and sometimes it went on hour after hour, with no rest, and sometimes, it seemed, no hope.

“It was in times like this that we really came to respect and love our non-commissioned officers, who never sent their men into danger, but always led them there. Men such as Sgt. Vanderwall; Sgt. Buck Stausen of Dubuque (who joined K Company in Scotland), and by his quick thinking saved his men from almost certain destruction several times;Staff Sergeant Lowell Betsworth and Corporal Jack Rickabaugh, who was so good in tactics that he could outmaneuver the Jerries any time and any place.”

“Corporal Rickabaugh’s specialty was showing up at unexpected places at the right time with a sub-machine gun, with which he could infiltrate the enemy positions. Those Jerries got to watching for Corporal Rickabaugh, and try to shoot him up, but just when it looked as though they had him, he’d turn up somewhere else and pour a stream of bullets into the guys who were assigned to get him. There’s no doubt that he saved a good many lives for us, because these tactics of his certainly made our advance easier and safer.”

“For close-in fighting, I’d put my money on Corporal Johnny Trobaugh. He’s especially good with a gun-butt and bayonet and the enemy who meets him hand-to-hand is a gone goose. So far, anyway, and he hadn’t even been wounded up to the time I left.”

“I saw Corporal Trobaugh battling a pretty tough little German, and when Trobaugh attempted to disarm him in the approved bayonet-fighting manner, which jerks the gun out of the fellow’s hand, the German hung on, and was THROWN CLEAR OVER TROBOUGH’S HEAD, like pitching hay. It was just too bad for him.”

Pvt. McNamara was about 25 feet from Corporal Ronald Carey when the latter was killed, early in the Tunisian fighting. Although Carey was a little fellow, he was one of the coolest and best thinking under that the company had.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, July 29, 1943 (photo included)

LeMars Soldiers At Fighting Front
Tell of Street Clashes in Cassino

The Des Moines Register of Sunday in an article written by a staff correspondent in Italy, telling of the bitter fighting in the streets of Cassino has pictures of Sgt. John Trobaughand Sgt. Jack Rickabaugh of LeMars with the 34th Division.

Sgt. Jack Rickabaugh of LeMars went into Cassino behind a tank.

“The Jerries got the tank I was behind,” he said. “A few of us just hid in the streets.  We didn’t trust the houses that first night.  We tried to go into a house the next day.  A machine gun was firing at us from the hallway while we were trying to get into the front room.  They kicked us out, and it took us two days to get back in.”

After a tank blasted a hole, Sgt. John Trobaugh of LeMars, and several comrades got into a house.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 21, 1944


Miss Dorothy Downing has received a letter, written by a hospital attendant in an army hospital in the Mediterranean area for Sgt. Trobaugh, one of the original members of K Company, in which he states that he was wounded in the right arm and leg during the Italian campaign, on May 29.

The last time he wrote, he said he was on the Anzio beachhead, and it seems probable that he was wounded in the advance which drove the Germans out of Rome. Due to his wounds, he is unable to write himself, and had to wait his turn to get the letter written on June 9.

In the letter he says that he will write again just as soon as his turn comes for the use of the secretary.

Sgt. Trobaugh has been mentioned by several former K. Co. men for his absolute fearlessness in battle, and he has seen action in practically every major battle since American troops first landed in Africa.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, June 19, 1944 (photo included)

NEWS of the Boys in the Service

Staff Sergeant John T. Trobaugh of LeMars, is reported among a list of Iowans wounded while fighting in the Mediterranean area.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, August 10, 1944

Fought Their Way Up the Italian Coast Until Wounded

A recent story in The Globe-Post brought together Tuesday night three Purple Heart veterans of the African and Italian war campaigns. The young men are Sgt. John Kindig of Kingsley, T/Sgt. John Trobaugh and S/Sgt. Cyril Groetken, both of LeMars.

T/Sgt. Trobaugh and S/Sgt. Cyril Groetken have been home on furloughs to recover from severe war wounds received in the line of action. Both boys have been decorated for bravery and have been enjoying each other’s company recently, talking over former combat scenes.

Sgt. Kindig was honorably discharged from the Army in December, after being wounded twice, and was visiting some relatives in his home town of Kingsley. Tuesday while en route to Kimball, S.D., to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Burt Kindig, he picked up a Globe-Post in a Sioux City home.  He saw a writeup about S/Sgt. Groetken and another item about T/Sgt. Trobaugh. The first thing he thought of was a telephone, and he called his two war companions. He informed them that he would be up on the 11:20 train Tuesday night and wanted them to meet him.

When the train pulled in a happy reunion took place. The three boys embraced each other and exchanged compliments.

Sgt. Kindig was wounded twice, both times in the leg, which left him unfit for heavy combat duty.  T/Sgt. Trobaugh was also wounded twice and S/Sgt. Groetken was shot three times.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 4, 1945


T/Sgt. John Trobaugh and S/Sgt. Cyril Groetken left Wednesday to resume their duties with the U.S. Army, following furloughs in LeMars. Both boys have seen action in Italy and were wounded several times.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 11, 1945