HQ Staff, 124th Infantry Regiment, 31st Infantry Division, Morotai, 1945

124th Infantry Regiment HQ Staff, Morotai, 1945.
(Photo from Marion Hess)

Headquarters Staff of the 124th Infantry Regiment on Morotai, Netherlands East Indies, in 1945. (Photo provided by Marion Hess; identifications by Dr. Thomas M. Deas)

Front Row (L to R): Lt Col Burns (Executive Officer), Col Edward M. 'Ted' Starr (Commanding Officer), Lt Col George D. 'Pappy' Williams (CO 3rd Battalion), Lt Col Robert Fowler (CO 2nd Battalion), and Maj (later Lt Col) Wilbur Koonce (CO lst Battalion).

Back Row (L to R): Maj Lacedonia (Regimental Supply Officer), Maj Becker (Regimental Operations Officer), and Maj Thomas M. Deas (Regimental Surgeon).

Dr. Deas wrote:

This picture was taken in late February 1945, or early March 1945, on Morotai, NEI before we went to the Philippines. Koonce (front row, right, identified as "Koanert?") was Wilbur Koonce. He was still a Major and had just been transferred to C.O. of 1st Battalion, and Lacedonia had just come in to take over for Koonce as S4. Wilbur Koonce was my roommate on Morotai until he was promoted and took over the 1st Battalion. He came to one of our reunions once, but he was S4 before he was promoted and didn't have much to do concerning Medics. He was a good fellow, a Chemical Engineer who helped develop Masonite, the boarding that was used in kitchens and bathrooms. He was from Laurel, Mississippi, originally from South Carolina. He was slick bald headed on most of his head and we called him "Curley Koonce." Everyone liked him. He was 1st Bn C.O. in the Philippines.

I believe that this was the occasion for Lt. Col. Williams getting his Distinguished Service Cross for his action and work as 3rd Bn C.O. in New Guinea. He was called "Pappy" by all, even the lowest Pvt, and was quite a character. A lawyer from Birmingham, Alabama, and a darn good and loved C.O. and smart. He died during the Korean Campaign as a Bird Col., but not in combat at that time.

Dr. Tom Deas
Homer, Louisiana
28 September 2000, and 22 March 2002

Read more about Morotai from Dr. Deas:
Morotai 1 | Morotai 2 | Morotai 3

Also read Dr. Deas' story about Wilbur Koonce and the
Bootlegger Pappy Drake.

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