The first Wise County Sheriff's Office patch was introduced in 1977. The current patch makes use of the Wise County Courthouse and the motto "Established 1856". The courthouse against the star is a portion of the official Wise County flag.
Click on the patch for a larger image.
Patch used 1977-1988, and again 1992-1995.
Patch used 1995 - 1998 (still in use for Detention Officers).
Patch used 1998-2001 (still in use for Detention Officers).
Subdued Tactical Patch. 2000-Present.
Latest Patch Design started use in late 2001. Features the "Lost Battalion" emblem.
Want a current S.O. patch for your collection?
The Wise County S.O. 1998-2001 patch is available for collectors. Limit one (1) patch per collector. Due to the overwhelming requests we have had, we can't supply the patches free of charge.
Send a $2 Money Order (U.S. funds) made out to Wise County S.O., and a
self-addressed, stamped or postage paid envelope (4x6 manilla envelope is best)
Wise County S.O.
200 Rook Ramsey Drive
Decatur, Texas 76234
Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.
HISTORY OF THE LOST BATTALION
The Lost Battalion
was composed of the men of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field
Artillery and those men who swam ashore from the Cruiser USS Houston (CA-30)
when it was sunk, and who survived 42 months of “hell” as prisoners of the
Japanese during World War II. The 2nd Battalion, 131st
Field Artillery, 36th Division (Texas
National Guard), was mobilized in November 1940. One year later, this one
Battalion was detached from the Division and sent to Angel Island, in San
Francisco Bay, to become part of a contingent of troops, who were all in route
to a destination with the code name “PLUM.” It was generally conjectured
that the Philippine Islands was where the Battalion would finally be stationed.
The Unit sailed from the United States on November 21, 1941 aboard the Army
Transport Ship, USS Republic, and
arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 28th of the same month. A day or two
prior to reaching Hawaii, it was announced that we were under a “black-out”
and “radio silence” and that an attack by the Japanese was expected at any
time. After refueling in Hawaii, the ship, accompanied by several other
troopships, including the Chaumont,
Hallmark, Holbrook, Admiral Halstead, Bloemfontein, Farmer and Gregg, a Corvette
and the cruiser USS Pensacola,
sailed south, rather than west, as we had expected. Little did we realize that
within a week Pearl Harbor would be attacked by the Japanese! On December 6, the
convoy crossed the Equator, and the next morning the Unit was informed of the
attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS
Republic had been in dry-dock just prior to the Battalion’s
boarding and had four 3-inch guns and one 5-inch gun (on the “fan-tail”)
mounted on her. The Battalion manned these guns from this time until their
arrival in Australia, crossing the International Dateline (180th
Meridian) on December 13, 1941. This Unit was among the first American Troops
ever to land on Australian soil. The Battalion spent Christmas 1941 in Brisbane,
but before New Year’s day it was
again on the high seas, aboard the Dutch freighter Boemfontein,
bound for the Island of Java in the Netherlands East Indies, via
Darwin, Australia. Coincidentally, the escort vessel for part of the journey was
the Cruiser USS Houston. On
January 11, 1942, 35 days after the outbreak of War with Japan, the Battalion
was on Java, the only U.S. ground combat Unit to reach the Netherland East
Indies, before the Dutch capitulated to the Japanese.
A new heavy
Cruiser (CA-30) was launched from Newport News, Virginia, on September 7, 1929.
That she was christened, USS Houston,
came about largely through the efforts of William A. Burnrieder, an assistant to
the Mayor of Houston, as well as many other citizens of Houston, including many
hundreds of school children, who all wrote letters petitioning the Secretary of
the Navy to name the ship for their City. From 1934 to 1939 she was frequently
used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take vacation cruises. During the
four vacations taken aboard the USS Houston,
more than 35,000 miles were traveled. In 1940, she was in the
Philippine Islands, serving as the
“Flagship” of the Asiatic Fleet. On November 27, 1941, Admiral Hart, CIC of
the Asiatic Fleet, had received a warning from the U.S. Navy Department
that an attack on the fleet, by the Japanese, could be expected at any
time. Admiral Hart immediately ordered the USS
Houston to stop repairs that were underway and move from the Cavite
Navy Yard (across the bay from Manila) to the Port of Ilo Ilo, on the island of
Panay, where she arrived on the 4th of December, four full
days prior to the air attacks on the City of Manila and the complete
destruction of the Cavite Naval Installation. At Ilo Ilo, the USS
Houston fueled, victualed and made ready for action which was felt to
be imminent by those in Command. The ship left Ilo Ilo at 6:30 p.m. on Pearl
Harbor day, just before a Japanese bomber attack on that Port. That same
evening, the USS Houston was
joined by the light cruiser, USS Boise,
and on the following day by destroyers USS
Stewart and USS Edwards, the
seaplane tender, USS Langley and
the fleet oilers, USS Pecos and USS
Trinity. The convoy, thus formed turned south and steamed toward
Borneo. The convoy arrived at Balikpapan on the 15th
of December. The next day, the USS
Houston was ordered to leave the convoy and proceed directly to
Soerabaja, Java to prepare for convoy escort duty. The next month was spent
doing convoy escort duty between the Netherlands East Indies and Australia. The
ship had also become part of an allied fleet operating out of Java. On the 4th
of February, 1942, while searching for a Japanese force, consisting of three
cruisers and 20 transports, they were attacked by 54 Japanese bombers. A direct
hit knocked out the 8 inch gun turret, blew a 12 foot diameter hole in the main
deck, killed 48 men and wounded 20 others. Although the vessel had lost
one-third of it’s major firepower, it participated next in the “Battle of
the Java Sea,” where 12 Allied ships were lost. These were Dutch; light
cruisers, Java & De Ruyter, destroyers
Korteaer and Witte de With; British
heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (of Graf
Spre fame) destroyers, HMS Jupiter, HMS
Encounter and HMS Electra, American destroyers USS
John C. Ford, USS Alden, USS Paul Jones and USS John D. Edwards. The
only vessels to survive the “Battle of the Java Sea ,were the Australian
cruiser HMAS Perth and the USS
Houston. On the night following the Java Sea Battle, these two ships
attempted to sail to the south end of Java via the Sunda Strait, which Dutch
Intelligence Officers reported to be free of enemy ships. The intelligence
report was wrong! A Japanese fleet, consisting of an aircraft carrier, five
cruisers, 11 destroyers and several PT boats was in the Strait, covering the
landing of Jap troops from 40 transports. When the
HMAS Perth and the USS Houston reached the strait late that night
(February 28, 1942) they found themselves surrounded by enemy ships. After
putting up a tremendous battle, first the HMAS
Perth and then the USS Houston were
sent to the bottom. Only 368 of the total complement of 1011 men of the USS
Houston managed to reach shore. The remaining 643 shipmates,
including their skipper, Captain Rooks, went down with the ship. Within a few
days, all the survivors became prisoners of the Japanese.
Battalion, 131st Field Artillery had been playing a lonely and
hopeless role. A few days after their arrival in Java the 19th
Bombardment Group of the U. S. Army Air Corps, arrived under the command of Col.
(Now Maj. General, USAF-Ret) Eubank. They had escaped the Philippines with a few
B-170 bombers, pilots, co-pilots and whatever Crew Members that managed to get
aboard as the planes took off while under attack. Until this group evacuated to
Australia on March 2, 1942, the 131st F. A. provided it with
mechanics, ground crew, aerial gunners and a semblance of anti-aircraft weapons.
Twenty-three men of the 131st F. A. transferred to the 19th
Bomb Group and were evacuated with them. Two men were killed when they
parachuted and were gunned down by Japanese fighters, from one of the B-17s on
February 3, 1942. When the Japanese invaded Java, the Battalion (less E
Battery), used its artillery and 50 caliber machine guns (salvaged from wrecked
B-17s) in support of an Australian “Pioneer Infantry “ group which had
arrived in Java just prior to the Japanese landing. With what the Aussies called
“top-hole” artillery fire, they helped hold up the Japanese advance at
Leuwilleng, near the Central Java City of Bandoeng.
Battery “E” remained on the eastern end of Java to guard the airfield at Malang and to support the Dutch troops in the Soerabaja area. Heavy ground action was experienced by Battery “E” prior to the surrender of the Island by the Dutch, to the invading Japanese, on March 8, 1942. The Japanese terms of surrender were “unconditional” and all troops were advised that any further resistance would be followed by instant reprisals against the civilian population, including women and children. Of the 558 men and officers who landed on Java on January 11, 1942, 534 became prisoners of war of the Japanese.
Within a few weeks, the Japanese had all of the American prisoners from the USS Houston and the American prisoners from the USS Houston and the 131st F. A. (less “E” Battery together in the 10th Battalion Bicycle Camp, a former Dutch installation in Batavia (Jakarta) Java. Battery “E” remained in the Soerabaja area until moved to Nagasaki and other areas in Japan via Batavia and Singapore in November and December 1942. Thus, two Units of the American Armed Forces, consisting of 902 men, seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth (and became one unit), sacrificed in a clearly hopeless effort to save the Netherland East Indies from overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Now began an unbelievable string of events which, for some, would last three and one-half years and was to weld the “Phantoms” of the USS Houston (CA-30) and the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery together in a bond closer than blood. This Army and Navy group of POWs suffered together through 42 months of humiliation, degradation, physical and mental torture, starvation and horrible tropical diseases, with no medication. The hardest part was watching friends die slowly, day by day, with the survivors often thinking, fleetingly, that maybe they were the “lucky ones.” One of the toughest pills to swallow was not being able to communicate with families and loved ones at home. Sharing all this mental and physical anguish together built a special relationship among the survivors and each man knows how the other will react in almost any “chips-down” situation and most are pleased at what they have learned about their fellow survivors. Moving by ship from Java to Singapore and thence to Burma, Thailand or Japan, the men were packed like cattle in the lower holds, taking turns sitting, squatting, standing or lying down while suffering from sea sickness, dysentery, malaria or other tropical diseases, while standing in their own, or their neighbor’s filth, because it was impossible, or not permitted to get to the ship side latrine on the main deck. Then, the men worked in the steaming jungles and the “monsoon” seasons of Burma chopping down jungle trees, hand building road beds and bridges and laying ties and rails with primitive tools in construction of the now infamous “Burma-Siam Death Railway.” Some of the men were mining coal and/or working on the docks in Japan while living in sub-standard housing, without any heat or sufficient cover during two Japanese winters, where real starvation was a daily companion. Of the 902 men taken Prisoner, 668 were sent to Burma and Thailand and worked on the “Death Railway” (of Bridge on the River Kwaii fame). Of the total 163 men who died in Prisoner of War Camps, 133 died working on the railroad. After completion of the railroad, 236 of the men were disbursed to Japan and other Southeast Asian Countries to work in coal mines, shipyards, docks, etc. and a few remained at “Bicycle Camp” in Java.
Quite a few of the
men were killed by American submarines while en-route to Singapore and Japan and
more were killed by American bombers. When liberated, the men were scattered
throughout locations in Southeast Asia: Java, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, French
Indo China, Japan, China and Manchuria, to name most of them.
The wives of some
of the men of the 2nd Battalion 131st F. A. arranged to
have a “Welcome Home” celebration in Wichita Falls, Texas on October 23,
1945. The idea “snow-balled” and all survivors that had returned to the U.
S. (and could be located) were invited to attend. Such a good time was had at
this Reunion, that it was decided to meet every year, on the weekend nearest
August 15th. The first Reunion was designed to Honor the 2nd
Battalion, 131st F. A. survivors, who had been nicknamed “TEXAS
LOST BATTALION,” by news media of Texas, since that Battalion had disappeared
when the Island of Java had surrendered. no one knew where they were, apparently
including the War Department and nothing was heard from them for about three
years. Of course, the people who arranged for the first reunion, did not know of
the USS Houston prisoners, but
the oversight was put to right by Battalion personnel, who invited some of their
“buddies” to the first Reunion and made them permanent members of the
“Lost Battalion Association” at the next reunion and the Survivors of the USS
Houston (CA-30) voted to
become a part of the association.
each year since 1945, the survivors of the POW “hell” along with their
families, meet in August to keep their Bond of Brotherhood inviolate and to
remember and pay honor to the 163 who died in Prison Camps and the 504 who have
died since liberation and the 646 who died in action, in a futile effort to save
Java. As of July 1, 1998, there were 236 of the men of the Lost Battalion
Association left alive.
may be of interest that, (1) the 2nd Battalion, 131st F.
A., 36th Infantry Division (TNG) is the “Most Decorated Unit” in
Texas of any War and (2) the Heavy Cruiser USS
is the “Most Decorated” vessel of its class in the U. S. Fleet.