1205th Transportation Railway Battalion- Brothers keep trains, wars on track

Brothers keep trains, wars on track
Byline: Martin B. Cassidy Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

Oct. 04--STAMFORD -- Looking back over his 13-month tour helping transport supplies from Kuwait to other soldiers in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, Thomas Finn Jr., of Stamford, said he is wistful thinking of his daughter Angela's prom and other milestones in his children's lives he missed while abroad. "Whether it was my son's first Little League home run or my younger daughter's first soccer goal or my son Kevin's first day of nursery school, I've missed a lot," Finn said. "I've spent the past couple of weeks catching up and just trying to spend time with my children."

A master sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve's 1174th Deployment and Distribution Battalion, Finn returned to Stamford in late August after spending more than a year moving equipment for the U.S. Army from Kuwait into Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Finn and his younger brother Troy Finn, 39, share a great deal of common experience, having both served in the U.S. Army Reserve in Iraq and as train conductors for Metro-North Railroad in their civilian lives. Finn joined the reserves in 1990 and previously served in the U.S. Army Reserve's 1205th Transportation Railway Battalion. Troy Finn, a former U.S. Army reservist who works as a conductor on the New Canaan branch line, served an 11-month tour in Iraq in the U.S. Army Reserve's 325th Transportation Company in 2003.

"It's been great to have Tom back home," said Troy Finn, who now lives in Stratford.
Their father Tom Finn Sr., retired from a 39-year job as a Metro- North Railroad engineer in 2006.
"I did a lot of different things before working for Metro-North, but it's a very good job," Troy Finn said of his job. "I wish sometimes I had joined the railroad sooner." Thomas Finn Jr., who also served a 13-month deployment during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 working in the United States, said he is training to transition from his previous post as a conductor to that of a flagman on the New Haven Line's catenary replacement project or another initiative.

Thomas Finn Jr. has worked for the railroad since 1987; Troy since 2000. When Thomas Finn Jr. joined the military in 1990, the recruitment officer helped get him an assignment with the 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion in the continental United States on the basis of his professional experience. I feel like with both deployments I was able to bring something from my job to the military and after the deployment bring a different experience back to my job," Finn Jr. said.

Tom Finn Sr. said he was initially surprised by his two sons' interest in the military, but was supportive and proud though somewhat concerned about their deployments to Iraq in the past decade. "My thought is that I don't want it to be one time more; it's one time too much," Finn Sr. said about Thomas Finn Jr.'s still active reservist status. "I'm aware in his position he could be remobilized. But he's done his time and served his nation proudly and I'd just as well have somebody else take a turn."

Finn Sr. said he got his son a job as a porter for Metro-North to help pay his way, but said in retrospect that many railroad workers tend to end up in it as a career. "I thought he'd go on with his career but I've found over the years that once you work on the railroad it kind of gets in your blood," Finn Sr. said. "I guess that's what happened with my kids." Since 2001, Metro-North Railroad has had 30 employees who have been activated for military service for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Angela Finn, Tom Finn Jr.'s 19-year-old daughter, said that she already feels like she has made up for some of the lost time with her father, who drove her back to the University of Connecticut at Storrs a few days after returning from the Middle East. "When he first left I didn't realize how long he would be gone," Finn said. "Then I realized, 'wow, my Dad is going to be gone a long time' and missed him a lot."

Finn Jr. said that he would not balk at another deployment if it came, because he believes that people in Iraq and Afghanistan are mainly supportive of American troops and the improvements that the military has been able to make there. "It's still in me to go back," Finn Jr. said. "For me it's more about the entire world, because the people there are no different from us and I felt like I was helping them to have the opportunities that we have."

Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at martin.cassidy@scni.com or 203-964-2264.


Call for saving history ! Please help me save the history of these Military Rail units!!

If you have anything you'd like to share I would appreciate it ..you can
send me copies or scans. If you only have originals you can send those to me and I'll scan them and return them to you

We all have this stuff sitting around in old boxes, photo albums or in files on our computers and we need to get them out where others can see them. So many relatives of these veterans ( kids , grandkids) are so thrilled when they see this materials. It only takes up a few minutes to make sure the incredible service of these guys is remembered

Thanks so much for your help and look what we've alread gotten up. http://militaryrailwayservice.blogspot.com/

Please contact me is you have anything you can share ....
Thanks, Nancy Cunningham cunningb2@gmail.com

744th Goetzelman

George writes ...

Hi - Come across your pages. I served with the 744th ROB in France, Belgium and Germany. I was admitted to hospital in Germany before returning back home.

I would love to have you add my Web Page to your collection. Thank you.

George Goetzelman


717th Railway Operating Battalion Fred Bahre photos and rosters of HQ & Co A

Thanks so much to Fred's daughter Linda.

Linda his daughter writes .....

I know that dad was in Mons, Belgium in 1945. He made very close friends with Dr. and Mrs. Therionet that lived there. They corresponded after dad got home until the Dr. passed away in the early 1960’s. I have nice pictures of Dr. and Mrs. Therionet. While dad was in Belgium, there was a Royal wedding. Dad got me a wedding commemorative ring that he gave me for my 16th birthday. It is a very dainty ring, the top shaped like a crown with diamond chips in it. I will give it to my granddaughter when she turns 16 years.

My dad spoke German and some French. At some time or other he was exposed to German prisoners. He said that he knew the war was over when he saw 14 years old kids in German Uniform.

Also, the winter he was overseas he said he had never been so cold in his whole life.

While I was waiting for your e-mails to send out, I read the history of the 717th. There’s not much mention of Company C. Perhaps he was attached to another battalion for some reason or another. I definitely know that he was in the Ardennes (Alsace), France and Germany.

I don’t know if I’ve contributed very much to the 717th Battalion because the lists that I sent you are questionable. I could not find any of the names on those lists in the Battalion history. I have to commend you for the railway battalions that are listed on the web. They are wonderful. If I find anything else among my father’s things (I still have some boxes of stuff), I will let you know. Good luck and good hunting for info. I admire you for what you are doing.

I have a picture that I think that is from a reunion. It is a group photograph, and may be a combined reunion with other Battalions. A man in the center foreground of the photo is holding a locomotive with the words “Detroit – 744.” It could be the 744 Railway Battalion. My dad is in the photo marked “Detroit 1964.” If you’d be interested in that photo, I will send it to you. There are several women in the photo – probably wives and daughters – or grandchildren.

I have some photos that are labeled Buchenwald (Concentration Camp). They are depressing. I have no idea how they came to be in his possession. I do know that he gave some of his photos away at one of the reunions. So they’re bouncing around out there somewhere. I think his buddies were good at trading photos.

I live in Houston Texas. I came here in 1967 with the Space Program. So if there’s anyone in my direction that might be from the 717th, I’d love to talk to them.My dad was a very special guy. When I was very very little, he told me he’d put the stars in the heavens – just for me. He was a very loving man.

717th Company a Roster by Nancy Cunningham

717th Headquarters Co. Roster by Nancy Cunningham

763rd Railway Shop Battalion Opal L Presley photos

From BPresley ....(thanks !)

I just discovered your web site after a Google search of my dad’s military unit. I have in my possession a copy of the booklet “A History of Two years Activation”. My father was Opal L. Presley and served in this unit. I know precious little about his experience in the war as he died at the age of 49 in 1957 when I was only 7 years old. I only recently discovered this book....Attached are a few pictures my dad took while in Belgium. Unfortunately, I have no narrative of who are where.

763rd Railway Shop Battalion photos

755th RSB Document and Unit Card

755th RSB Unit Card by Nancy Cunningham

755th RSB by Nancy Cunningham

Thanks Tim

Reports of the General Board-123-Military Railway Service US Army, 1945 (ebook)

Description: US Army, 1945.

008193-Reports of the General Board-123-Military Railway Service 37 Pages1945 At the beginning of hostilities in December, 1941, one railway operating battalion was in training. Additional battalions were organized shortly thereafter, consisting of officer personnel drawn from the Reserve Corps, and enlisted personnel, transferred from other units and obtained through the Selective Service system.

It was from the latter that most of the men with civilian rai1way experience were obtained. About 40 per cent of the enlisted personnel of the Military Railway Service had from 6 months to 10 years of civilian railroad experience. Of this number, about 50 percent had over four years experience. On 16 November 1942, shortly after the arrival of the first military railway units in the United Kingdom, all personnel assigned to the Railway Transportation Service of the Corps of Engineers was transferred to the Transportation Corps, Services of Supply, European Theater of Operations. The General Board was established by General Orders 128, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, United States Army, to prepare a factual analysis of the strategy, tactics, and administration employed by the United States Forces in the European Theater.