744th Railway Operating Battalion

Unit was formed on 21 December 1943

Ft. Sam Houston, Texas

744th ROB was sponsored by the Milwaukee Road Railway Company

C Company

T/4 Wilford "Bill" Hollarn

Born: June 10, 1916 Died: September 3, 2003
Married: 64 years
3 children:
One daughter
Two sons

    Mr. Hollarn was an Engineer for the Great Northern Railroad, now known as the
Burlington Northern - Santa Fe Railroad, for forty years. I had the honor to discuss Military Railroad matters with him on October 20th, 2001 in North Dakota.

"My claim to fame is the fact that I was the flagman for then General Dwight D. Eisenhower when he came through our area of operations and I traveled with him from Brussels to Herbestral. One day while I was out picking up the torpedoes (devices to warn following trains that the train in front had stopped) the General's train took off. Boy, did I have to run to catch it, of course I was in a little better shape back in those days!", Mr. Hollarn said with a beaming smile on his face.

    Although there was a forty-four year age difference in our ages, Mr. Hollarn treated me as if I had been "overthere" with the unit that I specialize in, the 723rd Railway Operating Battalion. I carried the best maps of the area that I own and he pointed out the operational area that he worked in, fifty-six years ago.

    His unit, the 744th Railway Operating Battalion still meets every year and the history of the 744th ROB is written in a book called, The "744th Railway  Operating Battalion, Memories of World War II", published in 1985, the author is Lousie Greenfield. The book is long out of print and you could possibly get a copy through the interlibrary loan system to read. Since the book is copyrighted, I can not use the books content on this web site, but I do recommend that anyone interested in the 744th ROB to read her book.

Military Description of Mr. Hollarn's job in the Army.


Operates steam, Diesel, or electrical locomotive by manipulating levers which control speed and direction or locomotive in pulling and pushing freight and passenger cars over a military railroad.

Prepares locomotive for operation by checking working condition of various levers such as locomotive operating hand lever, throttle, air brake, sand, and reverse levers. Drives engine by manipulating levers, looking out of engine cab window and gauging adjustments by the condition of the track. Operates engine on through, local, or yard work and controls movement of train in accordance with train orders, schedules, and signals along the route. Oils and checks locomotive at halts.

May assist road foreman of engines in inspections to insure mechanical condition of motive power and in instructing engineers and firemen in their duties.

Equipment includes steam, Diesel, or electric locomotives of various heavy tonnages.

Must be thoroughly familiar with railroad semaphore signaling. Must be thoroughly acquainted with railroad safety precautions. Must be able to estimate grades and sharpness of curves and judge safe speeds of train.

This page would not have been possible without the information provided by Mr. Hollarn's son,
Jim Hollarn, U.S. Navy, Retired

All material on this page is owned and Copyrighted by the Hollarn Family


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