INCIDENT ON AN IRAN ROAD – AMERICAN MILITARY POLICE FIGHT BANDITS ON A MOUNTAIN ROAD

By Sgt. BURTT EVANS

YANK Staff Correspondent

IRAN—There’s one big advantage in belonging to an MP company that patrols hundreds of miles of this tortuous road to Russia. You’re liable not to meet up with your first sergeant for six months at a time. There are 11 different detachments to the company, spaced out to guard strategic points.



In the summer there is dust, heat, sand-fly fever and dysentery. In the winter there is a 24-hour watch in a little booth on the mountains above the snow line, with a telephone so you can send a warning if the road is impassable.

iran us army trucks 1942

American Army trucks parked under one of the mountains in Iran.

The MPs are always armed and ready for action, in case Kurd tribesman swoop down from the hills to raid a baked-mud village or loot a convoy. Some months ago these bandits blockaded the road, forcing an Army jeep to stop. They put a bullet between the eyes of an American master sergeant in the jeep and wounded a medic who was with him. Then they stole their arms, blankets and money.

About dusk one evening, a few nights after the master sergeant had been killed, three men—1st Sgt. Roger W. Rowley of Bombay, N.Y., S/Sgt. Joe Samsell of Philadelphia, Pa., and a Persian interpreter—were driving down the same road. Spotting a similar roadblock ahead they pulled their command car over to the side and leaped out. Four bandits near the block started to run, one stopping when he reached a good firing position behind some rocks and cocking his gun. Rowley shot and killed the bandit at 450 yards with an M1. Samsell wounded another with his tommy gun. The bandit Rowley killed wore a belt showing he was head of his tribe.

The top kick, a veteran 14 years in the Army, wasn’t much excited by this shooting episode, but another experience ruffled his calm. Some GIs got in a jam in one of the villages, and Rowley went in and got them out. The mayor was so impressed by this show of strength and authority that he offered Rowley one of his three wives. “He wanted to get rid of one of them anyway,” the sergeant says. “I told him: ‘You run your wives and I’ll run the MPs.’”



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