· The 3/5: Commanded by West Pointer (1935) Edgar J. Treacy, thirty-six, this battalion had been the 3d Battalion of the 14th Infantry Regiment at Camp Carson, Colorado. Treacy, a combat intelligence expert in the ETO and Southwest Pacific, had not before led troops in combat; but his battalion was full-strength (900 men) and it had been trained in mountain climbing and cross-country skiing. Its men were thus in excellent physical condition.[9-54]
· The 3/7: Commanded by West Pointer (1938) James H. Lynch, thirty-six, the younger of two sons of a West Point general and former chief of infantry, the nearly full-strength battalion (800 men) had been formed from disparate remnants of the gutted 3d Division elements at Fort Benning. Lynch, who had not commanded troops in combat in World War II, had only had time for "about two weeks' " training before embarking, but aboard ship he had rigged telephones between staterooms and rehearsed his officers in command exercises, while the NCOs directed rifle practice topside.[9-55]
· The 3/8: Commanded by West Pointer (1933) Harold K. ("Johnny") Johnson, thirty-eight, this battalion had been formed from the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3d Division at Fort Devon, Massachusetts. Comprised of 704 men who had not even trained at platoon level, the battalion was described by Johnson as a "thrown together outfit," rated "zero" in combat effectiveness. But the battalion had a "crackerjack" exec, Johnson remembered, who was a "very good technician" and a "stiff disciplinarian" and who "loved soldiering"; some "cracking good lieutenants"; and "some good noncommissioned officers, longtime professionals."[9-56]
Of these three battalion commanders, Johnny Johnson was destined to go right to the top of the Army: four stars and chief of staff (1964-68) in the Vietnam War era. He was, in the words of a contemporary, "a very intelligent, very serious," restrained, and modest man, a "devoutly religious Catholic" who could "say a prayer without sounding phony" and who insisted that no one blaspheme in his presence.
Early in World War II Johnson, commanding a battalion on Bataan, had been captured by the Japanese. His religious faith and strong inner courage had carried him through the Death March and three years' imprisonment in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea. He emerged from that experience a skeleton (100 pounds) who was barely able to walk and who believed his Army career was finished because of the Army prejudice against those who had surrendered on Bataan. But in the postwar years he had brought himself up-to-date, he had attended the Command and General Staff School, and by quietly but firmly asserting himself, he had got assigned to the 7th Infantry.