|The 224th Coast Artillery Searchlight Battalion was activated on January 20, 1943, at Fort Bliss, Texas. The original component of the officers and enlisted men
came from the 3rd Battalion of the 509th Coast Artillery (AA). Roughly a week later, Lt. Col. Carlton J. Powers arrived and took command of the 224th. The
224th underwent an intensive training program, including night training in the New Mexico desert.
In May of 1943, the 224th was alerted for future overseas deployment. These orders were later rescinded and the 224th continued their intensive training. On
July 18th, the 224th
received orders and moved to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) in Orlando, Florida. After a four day train ride, the 224th finally
arrived in Florida.
Over the following months, the 224th continued training in all aspects of the intended duties. On September 24th, 1943, the 224th (made up of A, B and C
Batteries) was placed on A-2
priority status. Training continued for the destined deployment, with the men of the 224th enjoying time away from training in nearby Daytona Beach. Late
in the month, a Battalion Dance was held at the Clermont Yacht Club. In October of 1943, many of the enlisted men of the 224th were awarded Good Conduct
medals for "faithful performance of their duty, efficiency and conduct worthy of emulation."
On November 24th, the battalion had a final inspection and parade, as the unit passed in review before Lt. Col. Myrah, Commander of the 103rd AAA Group.
On December 27, 1943, the entire unit traveled to California via train, arriving at their new home, Camp Stoneman. On January 11, 1944, the 224th boarded
the transport ship, U.S.S. Mount Vernon AP-22, for transport overseas. On the morning of January 13th, 1944, the U.S.S. Mount Vernon passed under the
Golden Gate bridge and began its journey to the war zone in the Pacific. The ship crossed the equator on January 19, 1944 at 0130 hours. The traditional King
Neptune ceremony was held, celebrating the crossing of the equator.
The U.S.S. Mount Vernon arrived in Milne Bay, New Guinea on January 29, 1944. Following a long hike through the jungle in sweltering heat, the 224th
began clearing the jungle and forming their new home. As it had in the past, time went by with continued training. The men of the 224th kept themselves
entertained with swimming, outdoor movie theaters and baseball and basketball leagues established on the island. On July 24th, 1944, Lt. Col. Carlton J.
Powers relinquished command of the 22th for health reasons, with Maj. Clarence R. Downs taking command, and Capt. Maurice H. Mattews being promoted
to Executive Office and later to the rank of Major.
The training continued throughout 1944 and into 1945 with the 224th making numerous location/base changes. Specialized training of the 224th concluded
on January 27th, 1945. V-E day came on May 12th, 1945. During that same month, the 224th camp newspaper, "The 224th Illuminator" was established
winning favorable comments. On June 29th, 1944, the 224th boarded the U.S.S. Manifee and departed Milne Bay on July 1st, destined for the Philippines. The
U.S.S. Manifee and the 224th arrived in Manila on July 11th. The 224th traveled by train to northern Luzon, to the AAA Training and Rehabilitation Center
where units were prepared for future combat operations. The 224th began training for the invasion of Japan.
As the 224th prepared to participate in the invasion of Japan, news of the first Atomic bomb having been dropped reached the men. On September 2, 1945,
V-J Day and news of the surrender of Japan reached the men of the 224th. While waiting to return to the states, the 224th took up guard duty, guarding
Japanese soldiers who were being held as prisoners of war. This would be the last action of the 224th before the battalion was broken up and returned to the
United States. The 224th received numerous letters of commendation from various Base Commanders and Commanding Generals, as well as a Bronze Star for
the New Guinea Campaign. The men of the 224th served with devotion and dedication and undoubtedly contributed to the war effort in many ways.
|The U.S.S. Mount Vernon AP-22: Cruise ship to Transport
|The story of the 'Washington' had been a happy, carefree one during the days
of peace, when she sailed as the pride of America's expanding merchant
marine. Tired business men, tourists, and starry-eyed honeymooners had
enjoyed the comforts and luxury of the ship. Many a cocktail party and
moonlight romance had flourished as the liner plied across the sea. The
'Washington' had been a great ship and a wonderful traveling companion
during those days when mention of war was an idle topic of conversation.
As world conflict became more and more apparent however the ship that
was later to join the Navy as the 'Mount Vernon', found her task a very
different one. Americans in all parts of the world were anxiously seeking
passage home. Loaded beyond capacity, and sobered by the outbreak of war,
she brought her people safely to the States. While hostilities were raging in
Europe, the ship, still brilliantly white, was protected from attack of warring
factions, by the United States flag.
By June 1941, the ship had exchanged her glistening white for a uniform of
gray. Light openings were sealed to insure her disguise. Guns were mounted
on her decks. The cabins were stripped of their lushness. Bare steel lined her
The days of serenity were past, The days of doing a peace time task were
over. The 'Washington' had gone to war.
|Cruise Ships and Search Lights
Louis M. Stark and the 224th Anti Aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion
|Patch: U.S. Forces in the Western Pacific
Worn from: 25 August 1945 - 14 August 1947.
The design of the patch is the same as that of the Army Service
Forces, with the addition of a yellow lightning bolt and five
small, blue starts that suggest the Southern Cross
constellation, which may be observed in the heavens above the
western Pacific Ocean, the area where the unit was operational.
This patch was worn by Stark toward the end of his military
|Left: WWII T/5 Louis M. Stark in uniform,
showing him with the Army T/5 Technical Fifth
Grade rank and the Army Anti-Aircraft
Command insignia on his left shoulder.
|Above: The front and back cover of Stark's
military motor vehicle operator's license,
showing heavy wear, use and staining.
Left: The inside page of the military
driver's license shows that Stark had been
trained on and was qualified to drive the
military 1/4 to 3/4 ton cargo truck and the
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ton cargo truck.
|Above: Stark's mid-war "Soldier's Individual Pay Record", dated
5-22-43 and showing his rank of T/5, used during his first year in
|Pvt. Louis M. Stark
|Prior to WWII, Louis M. Stark was employed by the W.P. Fuller Paint
Company, San Francisco, California, performing various clerical duties. At
the same time, Stark attended the University of San Francisco with a pre-legal
major course of study. Stark faithfully served his country during WWII,
serving from January 12, 1943 to January 16, 1946. As indicated on the form
above, his job title was Control Station Operator for an anti-aircraft search
light, having served honorably in the Pacific Theater on a crew operating a
search light combating enemy aircraft.
|If anyone has any additional information regarding the 224th Anti Aircraft Artillery Searchlight
Battalion or the service time of Louis M. Stark, please feel free to contact me.
I am interested in adding additional items related to the 224th to my permanent collection.
|The C.E. Daniel Collection
|For more information regarding the history of the 224th Anti-Aircraft
Artillery Searchlight Battalion, go to eagleclan.net. Paul Goebel has
written a terrific publication related to the history of this unit, along
with a comprehensive roster of the men who served in this unit during