Biography

Lovless, Jay B.
[Col. CO 34thIR]

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July 1

Owing to budget cuts in the U.S. Navy, the units of the 24th Division which moved to South Korea by ship had to scrounge transportation. The commander of the 34th Regiment, Jay Lovless, was lucky. He found some ships at the Navy base in Sasebo and embarked on the night of July 1 - the first day of the vaunted airlift

 

 

The toll on senior commanders had been heavy: three regimental commanders (Martin killed; Meloy wounded and evacuated; Lovless sacked), one regimental exec (Chandler, wounded and evacuated),

Yet, deep down, Bill Dean must have suspected rougher times than he let on. Soon after the alert he requested that Eighth Army send him three combat experienced men to shore up the command in the 34th Regiment. Two of these men had fought with Dean in the 44th Division in the ETO: Robert R. Martin (Purdue University, 1924), forty-eight, and Robert L. ("Pappy") Wadlington, forty-nine. The other, Harold B. ("Red") Ayres, thirty-one, then serving in the 25th Division, had won a DSC in Italy and was reputed to be the "best battalion commander in the Far East." Pappy Wadlington replaced the exec; Ayres would replace the 1/34 commander. Robert Martin, who had commanded a regiment in Dean's 44th Division in the ETO, would be near at hand should Lovless fail.[4-21]

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Dean's forces immediately at hand on Kyushu, the 21st and 34th regiments, were in no way prepared for war. Of the two outfits, the less ready in every respect was the 34th Infantry. Earlier in the year the 34th had performed so poorly in its readiness tests that Johnnie Walker had sacked its commander.

 The new leader was Jay B. Lovless (University of Montana, 1925), most recently an Eighth Army logistician. In World War II George Marshall had recommended that no regimental commander in the Army should be more than forty-five years old. Lovless was then forty-nine, merely one year younger than Dean. In World War II (at age forty-three) Lovless had been named commander of the 23d Infantry Regiment in Normandy on D plus ten and had commanded it well through VE day, earning a DSC. But that was one war back; Lovless was now well over Marshall's recommended age limit for regimental command. Moreover, he had shortcomings as a battle leader: According to his senior assistant,?? Lovless was a "martinet" who was "a nervous, high-strung, impatient, dictatorial type of officer.[4-15]

Lovless had worked hard to shape up the 34th in his brief tour as commander, but the difficulties were nearly insurmountable. The regiment was physically fragmented: The HQ was in Sasebo; the two battalions were five miles away in the countryside.* Under the tough Lovless regime one of the battalions was always in the training area, but it was located forty miles from the billeting area "on top of a mountain and so cut up," Lovless wrote, "that it was impossible to conduct a satisfactory battalion exercise." On Lovless's recommendation, Dean had approved a consolidation of the 34th at an area near Hiroshima, but this had not yet been done. In May the two battalions had been tested individually. "Detailed results were not known," Lovless wrote, but it was believed the scores were still far from satisfactory. Moreover, "the 34th had never trained or practiced as an entire regiment."

*A normal infantry battalion was a powerful force and a key maneuver element of the regiment and division. It consisted of about 900 men, divided into three rifle companies (of three platoons), each composed of about 200 men, plus one heavy weapons company of about 166 men, manning 81mm or 4.2inch mortars, 75mm recoilless rifles, and .30 and .50caliber machine guns. These forces were directed by a battalion commander and a sizable staff, which included the battalion exec, the S1 (personnel), S2 (intelligence), S3 (plans), and S4 (logistics), grouped into a headquarters company, plus other supporting units.

July 4
Meanwhile, Jay Lovless had been assembling his 34th Regiment (1,981 men) at Pusan for the move north. Pappy Wadlington had taken over as the new exec; Lawrence Paulus had relinquished command of the 1/34 to Red Ayres, who flew from Japan to Pusan on a plane with the 21st commander, Dick Stephens, assumed command of the 1/34 without having met Lovless, and went ahead to P'yŏngt'aek to scout positions.[4-40]

July 5

 Smith's makeshift convoy, consisting of eighty-six stragglers, "without shoes, hats, or much of anything else," had pushed on from Ansŏng to Lovless's CP at Songhwan, where Smith dropped off some wounded men before going on south to Chonan.

July 7

General Menoher gave Colonel Lovless an order signed by General Dean relieving him of command of the 34th Infantry and directing that he turn over command to Colonel Martin. Martin likewise received an order to assume command.

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

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Distinguished Service Cross



Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel (Infantry) Jay B. Lovless (ASN: 0-16689), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 23d Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division, in action in Germany. On 18 April 1945, after stubborn enemy resistance had frustrated all attempts to gain a crossing of the Elsterbacken Canal near Leipzig, Germany, Colonel Loveless skillfully organized and led a successful battalion attack upon the enemy positions. Although under direct enemy observation, he courageously went forward in the face of withering hostile fire to an exposed position in order to adjust devastating artillery fire against the enemy forces and direct supporting tanks into advantageous firing positions. Then, under this intense barrage, he returned to lead the battalion in an assault across the bridge. Inspired by his heroic example, his men charged across the bridge and in the bitter fighting which followed, secured positions on the far shore, inflicting severe losses in men and material upon the enemy. Colonel Lovless' dauntless leadership and outstanding devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, General Orders No. 221 (August 21, 1945)

Action Date: April 18, 1945

Service: Army

Rank: Colonel

Company: Headquarters

Regiment: 23d Infantry Regiment

Division: 2d Infantry Division