North High School Wall of Honor
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.
Class of January, 1932
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953.
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.
Robert graduated in the January, 1932 North High class. He enlisted or was drafted when and where? His service number was 37693396. Robert's next of kin was listed as Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hutchins, 1245 11th Street, Des Moines, IA
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.
Year x Rank x Status
January, 1932 x x x Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA
1932-1944x x Employment x Conductor and brakeman on railroad
March 30, 1935 x Family x Married to Grace Louise Essex in Bethany, Missouri.
March 30, 1944 x US Army x Inducted at Camp Dodge Herrold, IA
March to July,1944 x Training x Training. Then assigned to *Company C, 718th Railway Operating Battalion. Company C was led by Captain William (Bill) Chase.
July 24-26, 1944 x Enroute x At sea aboard the Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon docked at Grenock, Scotland on August 1, 1944 and the Battalion took a long train ride to St. Mellons on the Welsh-English border.
August 9, 1944 x Enroute x Battalion moved to Southampton, England
August 13, 1944 x Enroute x Taken by trucks to the port and began the Channel crossing. The first units of the 718th Battalion disembarked on the Normandy coast, at the famous Utah Beach, on August 15, 1944. That evening we established our headquarters at Folligny. (map below marked with * indicating location of Company C, 718th Battalion).
September 15, 1944 x Enroute x Moved from Folligny to Bar-le-Duc. The railroad operations here operated as a "Phase II"railroad, meaning French operation under US Army supervision.
October 12, 1944 x Enroute for
C Company
x Battalion Headquarters moved from Bar-le-Duc, with A and C Companies moving to Revigny. Here we supplied General Patton's Third Army's long siege of Metz. The Battalion operated under heavy fire, especially on October 7th. Despite a heavy bombardment that day, the trains kept running. **Additonal comments below.
November 15, 1944 x Enroute x Moved Battalion Headquarters to Conflans-Jarney, placing us in range of the German artillery fire from Metz.
December 4, 1944 x Enroute x Moved Battalion Headquarters to Frouard, not far from the town of Nancy. ***
1944-1945 x Personal/Family x Letters from the field/front lines from Bob Hutchins to his wife back in Des Moines, Grace Louise Essex Hutchins.
November 24, 1945 x Returning x Sailing on Sea Cat for New York (part of 15,522 returnees).
December 9, 1945 x US Army/PFC/
x ****Discharged at Separation Center at Camp Grant, Rockford, IL
1945-1980 x Civilian x Des Moines, IA
June 10, 1980 x Deceased x Interred at Chapel Hill Cemetery, Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, USA.
*Company C, 718th Railway Operating Battalion, Transportation Corps
Notes by the unit's commanding Captain Chase can be found at:

718th Battalion

United States. Army. Railway Operating Battalion, 718th. The 718th began as the 53rd Engineer Railway Operating Battalion, organized at Camp Dix, New Jersey in 1918. Though the battalion served in Europe during the war, they did not participate in any combat. The 53rd was redesignated the 718th Railway Operating Battalion, Transportation Corps on 1 December 1941 and was activated on 14 December, 1943. The New York Central Company was the "parent railroad" which sponsored this unit.

718th Battalion, N.Y.C. Sponsored, Praised by Ross (from Central Headlight dated December, 1945)
G. Metzman, President of the New York Central System, recently received the following letter from Frank S. Ross, Major General, U. S. Army, Chief of Transportation:
"Following months of arduous service on the continent, the 718th Railway Operating Battalion, sponsored by the New York Central, will soon be on the high seas heading back to the United States. It is, perhaps, a fitting time for me to write you of our appreciation for the highly creditable job done by the 718th in Europe. "The battalion arrived in France during the third week of August, 1944, and was immediately assigned
to the Folligny rail yards. The unit opened the yards, and has since operated in Bar-le-Duc, Sezanne, Conflans, in France; and in parts of Germany as well. "During the Battle of the Bulge, the 718th was given the tremendous job of evacuating the Third Army from the territory adjacent to Benestroff, and moving in the Seventh Army as reinforcements. By VE-day the battalion had hauled over 9,000,000 gross tons of supplies to and from the front lines of the Allied Armies. "Throughout their service in this theater, the officers and enlisted men of the 718th made an exceptionally valuable contribution to the success of the Transportation Corps' mission. It is a pleasure to tender you my thanks for your cooperation in sponsoring this unit, and through you to your entire organization."

**Additional comments from Chase letter on period about October 24, 1944:
Here are some of the achievements that we have done: We were first into LeMans, twenty-four hours after the town had surrendered to the Allies. We were first into Paris, first over the Seine, have had one officer decorated, one of the first R.R. units to receive a battle participation star, and above all, have had an enviable record for car handling. That is certainly nothing to be sneezed at. Our enlisted men have done a wonderful job all the way along the line. Six hours after we reached Folligny we were operating trains and, under pretty darn hazardous conditions, but with all the grief that we had, we did a good job.

I suppose that you know that we are all living on the cars at the present time, and when the time comes to move, we can take off without much worry about where we are going to sleep. We have electric lights--which we have hooked up to the local power, running water, and when we get an old, broken down steam locomotive, we will have steam heat. We also built a shower car, and have an old wooden wine car next to it in which we carry the water. The boys have found an old generator which they are fixing up to supply electric power if the time comes when we don't have local power.

***Read comments from Chase letter:
"December 4th brought yet another move for the 718th. Their new headquarters were at Frouard, not far from the town of Nancy which the battalion would see later in their tour. This area of France was populated by a large amount of German speaking people and it was often suspected that they, at best, were unfriendly and at worst, spies. December would turn out to be one of the most difficult months that the 718th would face, as they became a vital part of the Allied victory at the Battle of the Bulge

March 21, 1945
: Robert Dale Hutchins sent a number of letters to his wife and included two pictures showing how prisoners in the occupied zones of European were being liberated and shipped by train to areas of freedom.

Archive of 718th Railway Operating Battalion History

****Camp Grant, IL
In October 1940 Camp Grant was re-activated as an induction center, being transferred by Illinois back to the federal government. Physical exams and medical training post for draftees was the main focus, although a fair number of personnel went through Camp Grant for their Army basic training. It is estimated that 100,000 medical corpsmen were trained at the camp. During the war Camp Grant also served as a POW detention center, employing upwards of 6,000 civilians, boosting Rockford's economy. It is estimated there were 2,500 POWs in the camp. After the war Camp Grant also served as a separation center for returning GIs.
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.; Chapel Hill Cemetery, Des Moines, IA
Robert Dale Hutchins, Jr.
Company C, 718th Railway Operating Battalion
Transportation Corps
United States Army
US Army Seal

718th Railway Operating Battalion
Railway Battalion Patch
Robert Dale Hutchins

Robert Dale Hutchins

Railway Service Patch            Army Rifle Expert            PFC Army
WWII Victory Medal; European-African-Middle East Theater w/2 Bronze Stars for Rhineland and Central Europe; Meritorious Unit Award Ribbon and Patch; Good Conduct Medal

WWII Victory Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Theater w/2 Bronze Stars for
Rhineland and Central Europe; Meritorious Unit Award ribbon and patch; Good Conduct Medal
(1) Information was obtained from the Records on Military Personnel Who Died, were Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War as a result of the Vietnam War. This document can be found online at the National Archives and Records Administration at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website, The names of North High School graduates can be found
Died: June 10, 1980.
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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