SGT Ralph B.
Lawson enlisted in the United States Army on 6 July 1938, and was
assigned to the 2-l8th FA, a horse-drawn artillery battalion. In
December 1938, 2-18th FA transported over 800 horses and equipment 400
miles from Fort Sam Houston, Texas to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The trek took
over five weeks to complete. In 1940, he then transferred to the 74th
Field Artillery in Fort Ord, California where he rose to the rank of
Sergeant and was discharged from the Army on 9 July 1941. One month
later, SGT Lawson reenlisted in the Army and was sent to Camp Roberts,
California where he trained on driving heavy trucks. Upon completion of
that training, he was sent to Fort Warren, Wyoming where he was assigned
to the 183w Field Artillery, an Idaho National Guard Battalion. SGT
Lawson requested a transfer and was sent to the 98th Mule Pack Artillery
at Camp Carson, Colorado where they trained with the 10’ Mountain
Division. In September 1943, SGT Lawson volunteered for a dangerous
mission; to participate with the 98th reconnaissance and intelligence
platoon’s operations in India and Burma. That unit was commanded by
Frank D. Merrill, later called “Merrill’s Marauders.” On 22 February
1944, the 5307th along with SGT Lawson, became the first U.S. ground
combat force to fight on the continent of Asia in WWII.
SGT Ralph B. Lawson is one of the few surviving horse-drawn artillery
Soldiers. He fought in three major battles and 32 minor engagements. His
awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star, the American Service
Ribbon, the American Defense Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific medal, the
Combat Infantrymen’s Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential
Unit Citation, and the China Victory Medal. On 18 September 2004, Mr.
Ralph B. Lawson was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
Mr. Ralph B. Lawson has been married for 60 years to the former Mrs. Ida
Bell Estep and has two sons.
reside in Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Hover mouse over picture for larger
PVT Lawson is pictured on horseback in
lower right corner
PVT Lawson on the lead team of horses as the 2d Battalion, 18th Field
Artillery departs from Fort Sam Houston, Texas with over 800 horses and
equipment on a five week journey to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
* Source: 2d Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Christening
Ceremony pamphlet - May 25, 2005 - Ft. Sill