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First Sergeant Russell Hook

Service Troop, 12th Cavalry Regiment

Having enlisted in mid-1945, Russell Hook missed major combat in World War II. However, despite not arriving to the battlefields of the Pacific, he instead was a part of one of America's most challenging post-war endeavors: the occupation of Japan. Born on February 16th, 1916 in Highland, Indiana, Russell LeGrand Hook lived a quiet life. He was married and working as a driver for the LeCrone Motor Transport Company when he was drafted, inducted into the US Army on May 11th, 1945. With the end of the war fast approaching, he received little training and was rushed to fight in the Pacific Theatre, being assigned to Service Troop, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

In September 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was given the task of garrisoning Tokyo, Japan, and ensuring the destruction of munitions, recovery of gold, and security of industry. The 12th Cavalry Regiment was housed in Camp McGill outside Tokyo, named after Sgt. Troy McGill who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Hook and the other members of the 12th Cavalry Regiment (and the 1st Brigade as a whole) were tasked with the repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war and Korean, Chinese, and Filipino slave laborers as well as disease prevention at the ports. Nearly 600,000 repatriated individuals and 61,000 funeral ashes were processed through the ports under the authority of the First Team.

Besides port security, the 12th Cavalry also conducted mounted patrols in the Japanese countryside and cities. Three jeeps with mounted .30 caliber machine guns roamed the countryside, assisting locals and scouting for undestroyed war material. In February of 1946, a notable patrol conducted by the regiment and elements of the Japanese police located and destroyed 15 crates of dynamite hidden in a Japanese church. In May of that year, General Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Japan and inspected the regiment, seeing the men parade in salt water-stained white leather accents and smartly shined helmet liners. As First Sergeant of Service Troop, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1Sgt Hook was charged with overseeing the administration of supply distribution for the entire regiment, ensuring every bullet, pair of socks, and jeep engines were brought to the correct locations at the correct time. He was the lynchpin not only for the smooth sailing of the troop but the regiment as a whole.

Hook returned to the United States and was discharged sometime in 1948. He remained married to his wife Margaret Hook until her death in 1984. Russell Hook passed away on January 4th, 2000 at the age of 83 in his hometown of Highland, Indiana.

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