John H. Church

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John Huston Church
Walker Church Collins.jpg
Church (centre in leather jacket) with generals Walton Walker and Lawton Collins in Korea
Born (1892-06-28)June 28, 1892
Glen Iron, Pennsylvania
Died November 4, 1953(1953-11-04) (aged 61)
Washington, D.C.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1917–1952
Rank two silver stars Major General
Commands held 24th Infantry Division (United States) 24th Infantry Division
Wars World War I
World War II
Korean War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star

Major General John H. Church (June 28, 1892 – November 3, 1953) was a U.S. Army officer who fought in World War I, World War II and in the Korean War.

Early life[edit]

John Huston Church was born in the town of Glen Iron, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1892. From 1915 until 1917, he was a student at New York University. When the United States entered the First World War, Church joined the army and was given the commissioned rank of second lieutenant.

Military career[edit]

In France with the 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, American Expeditionary Force, Church fought valiantly and was wounded twice, earning a Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in action at Cantigny.[1] After the war, Church decided to stay in the army. He instructed National Guard members in both Maryland and Arizona, and also served in the Philippines from 1933 to 1936.[2]

World War II[edit]

When World War II broke out, Church became the assistant chief of staff for operations, and then chief of staff of the 45th Infantry Division. Church served with the division from 1943–1944 in Sicily, southern Italy, Anzio, and Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France.[3] In September, 1944, having been promoted to brigadier general after being commanding the 157th Infantry Regiment for a time, he was sent to the 84th Infantry Division to be the assistant division commander.[2] Church was wounded again as his division, along with several others, led the way from the Netherlands to the Elbe River towards the end of the war.[3]

A year after the war ended, Brigadier General Church became the commander of the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He was given the same post at Fort Jackson South Carolina, where he was soon given command of the 5th Infantry Division. From 1948 until 1949 Church served as the deputy chief of army field forces in Fort Monroe, Virginia. In 1950, Church was serving in General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.[citation needed]

Korean War[edit]

When the communist North Korean Army invaded South Korea, MacArthur sent Church to lead a survey team of staff officers to work with Ambassador Muccio and the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) and assess what assistance could be provided to the ROK Army. This task resulted in the establishment of GHQ Advance Command and Liaison Group (ADCOM) at Suwon.[4]

The 24th Infantry Division, which was stationed in Japan as part of the U.S. Eighth Army, was the first army unit sent over from Japan under the command of Major General William F. Dean. A reinforced company of the division, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Brad Smith, was sent north from Pusan to try to halt the North Koreans. Meeting with Smith at Taejon, Church informed him "All we need is some men up there who won't run when they see tanks",[5] and instructed Smith to make his stand at Osan.[6] Task Force Smith was without tank support and had faulty communications, and was promptly overrun in its first engagement with the North Koreans. Dean gathered his troops in the city of Taejon and formed a strong defense. After a stubborn fight, the American troops retreated. Dean got separated from his troops and was captured. On July 22, Church, without a command following the dissolution of ADCOM, was given command of the division.[7]

The division was given a two-day period to rest, but then General Walton Walker, the commander of the U.S. Eighth Army, decided that he needed the 24th to guard the Southwest line (the Naktong Bulge) of the Pusan Perimeter. The North Korean 6th Division inflicted more losses on Church's men and gradually pushed the 24th back. Finally, Church by now promoted to major general, was able to regroup his men, and they fought bravely, especially with the help of a marine brigade.[citation needed] Eventually, the 25th turned the tables on the Communist divisions that were fighting them.

Frail and suffering from arthritis,[3] Church remained in command of the 24th until early 1951. Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway, commander of the U.S. Eighth Army following the death of Walker in December 1950, replaced Church with Brigadier General Blackshear M. Bryan.[8] Church was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his services.[9]

Church subsequently was appointed commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia [10] and served in that capacity until his retirement in June 1952. Major General John H. Church died on 3 November 1953 in Washington, D.C.. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.[11]

Medals and decorations[edit]

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal with 3 battle clasps
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with 2 service stars
United Nations Korea Medal

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "John H. Church – Awards and citations". Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "US Army Officers 1939–1945". Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Blair 1987, p. 73
  4. ^ Weintraub 2001, pp. 45–51
  5. ^ Weintraub 2001, p. 63
  6. ^ Halberstam 2007, p. 145
  7. ^ Blair 1987, pp. 141–142
  8. ^ Gay, Larry. "24th Infantry Division Commanding Generals". The Taro Leaf: Official Publication of the 24th Infantry Division Association. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "John H. Church – Awards and citations". Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "New Command Team in Korea". Time. 5 March 1951. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Jacobs, Russ. "www.findagrave.com". Retrieved 14 August 2011. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Major General William F. Dean
Commanding General of the 24th Infantry Division
1950–1951
Succeeded by
Brigadier General Blackshear M. Bryan