Members of the 2nd Infantry Division has been the wearers of the famed Indian Head Patch in five different wars around the planet. This insignia had its origin during World War One as the identifying insignia on the vehicles of the Division Supply Trains. The Commanding Officer of the trains held a contest in March, 1918, to select a distinctive identifying symbol for use upon the vehicles after he had seen the vehicles of adjacent French units decorated in this manner. Through his adjutant he sent out a memorandum authorizing prizes for the best designs submitted, with a first prize of forty francs.
The winning insignia, which obtained the final approval of Division Headquarters for use upon supply train vehicles in April, 1918, was the striking red and blue Indian head, super imposed upon a white star. The head covered the re-entrant angles of the star and exposed only the points. Maj Gen Omar Bundy, the Division Commander, and his Chief of Staff, Col Preston Brown, later Maj Gen Preston Brown, were riding in a command car one day in April when Gen Bundy’s eye was caught by the insignia emblazoned on a truck.
According to a letter from Maj Gen Brown written some time later, Gen Bundy stopped the driver, asked the meaning of the device, and was told by the driver that it enabled him to find his vehicle in the dark. The letter does not bring out that the insignia had been authorized and was probably coming into use on all the vehicles of the trains but at that time and at any rate, the Gen and his Chief of Staff promptly sent their cars to the area to have the insignia painted upon them. In this manner the Indian Head became associated with the 2nd Infantry Division as its identifying insignia some time before it became the standard shoulder patch so proudly worn by men of the Division.
In October, 1918, the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Force (CG-AEF), Gen John J Pershing, requested units to furnish insignia for approval. Maj Gen John A. Lejeune, USMC, in reply to the request, submitted the red and blue Indian head upon a white star as the insignia of the 2nd Marine Division. The head was contained within the re-entrant angles of the star in this design, the whole contained within a circle three and one-half inches in diameter. As the Indian head in the representation was somewhat crudely constructed, it was designated that the Saint-Gaudens Indian, in use on the five-dollar gold piece, be substituted.
On November 14, 1918, an order was published by Headquarters 2nd Division announcing that the insignia as described had been made official for the Division. The cloth background for the insignia was of varying shapes and colors, designating the major unit to which the individual wearer belonged and the subordinate unit. The background chosen for the Division’s Headquarters was the black shield. In April 1933, Maj Gen Preston Brown, taking command of the Division, abolished the differentiation of all the backgrounds in use and made the black shield official for all elements of the 2nd Division.
With proud traditions and wearing the Fourragère of the Croix de Guerre won at Soissons and Mont Blanc during World War One, the 2nd Infantry Division entered the War in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) with the incomparable esprit which comes from a notable heritage. In the Normandy Peninsula, at the Siege of Brest, on the Siegfried Line, racing across Central Europe, and in the last days of the Wehrmacht’s disintegrating power in Czechoslovakia, the Division for the second time proved itself Second to None in upholding its country’s finest military traditions. Its operations and achievements reflect credit upon the army of which it was a part and upon the men who fought its battles through the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland (Germany), the Ardennes, and Central Europe. The impressive array of battle honors and individual citations won can only indicate the untold acts of gallantry and great fighting spirit which marked eleven months of combat in German-held Europe.
The 2nd Division completed its organization as a division on November 18 1917, in France, under the command of Maj Gen Omar Bundy. Elements of the division had received training prior to overseas movement at Pine Camp, New York, and had joined in the spirited race to be the first American unit overseas. On arrival in France, the division was activated with the veteran 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments making up the 3rd Brigade; the 5th and the 6th Marine Regiments composing the 4th Brigade, and the 12th, 15th and 17th Field Artillery Regiments plus the 2nd Engineer Regiment and the 2nd Sanitary Train.
Following a short tour of duty as occupational troops along the Rhine River after the first World War, the division returned to the US in Aug 1919, and was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and then at Camp Travis, where it remained in garrison for 23 years. The 4th Marine Brigade, composed of the 5th Marine and 6th Marine Regiments, was inactivated and was subsequently replaced by the 4th Infantry Brigade, comprised of the 1st Infantry Regiment and 20th Infantry Regiment, later dropped and stationed at what is now Fort Francis D. Warren, Wyoming.
In October 1940, with the dropping of the 4th Brigade, the Division underwent a streamlining. It became the first triangular division, organized from the 9th Infantry Regiment and 23rd Infantry Regiment with the 38th Infantry Regiment completing the triangle. At the same time, the 15th Field Artillery Regiment was divided into three battalions, the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, the 38th Field Artillery Battalion and 15th Field Artillery Battalion. The 12th Field Artillery Regiment was reduced in size to become the 12th Field Artillery Battalion, the fourth unit included in Division Artillery. The 2nd Engineer Regiment became the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, and the 2nd Medical Regiment, which had been formed in 1921 from the old 2nd Sanitary Train, became the 2nd Medical Battalion.
The integral parts now comprising the reorganized 2nd Infantry Division were the 9-IR, the 23-IR, and the 38-IR; the 12-FAB, 15-FAB, 37-FAB, and the 38-FAB, and Headquarters & Headquarter Battery Division Artillery. The 2-MB; the 2-ECB; and special troops including Headquarters Co, the 2nd Signal Co, the 2nd Quartermaster Co, the 702nd Light Ordnance and Maintenance Co, the 2nd Reconnaissance Troop Mecz, and the Military Police Platoon. Some of these component parts of the Division have separate and distinct histories as military organizations. Some have records of military service extending far into the roots of this nation’s past and forming an integral part of American history. Others are products of the modernization of the nation’s armed forces in recent times.
(9th Infantry Regiment)
Oldest unit of the Division is the venerable 9th Infantry Regiment, rich in military lore and tradition. Activated in 1798, it was demobilized shortly thereafter and reactivated in 1812, participating in five major engagements of the War with England, the Capture of York, Fort George, Sackett’s Harbor, Fort Erie, and the Chippewa River Battle. Disbanded in 1814, it was reorganized in 1847 for the War with Mexico, in which it fought at Cerro Gordo, the Invasion of the Valley of Mexico, Contreras, Churubusco, and Chapultepec.
In 1848, after two wars in which it fought under that impressive battle-figure Gen Winneld Scott, it was disbanded for the third time. Banded together for the fourth time in 1855, the regiment has remained in active service ever since. Between 1855 and 1892 it was credited with no less than 400 battles and skirmishes along the American Frontier. It participated in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Philippine Insurrection of 1899, and the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900-1901. During the war in China at the Battle of Tientsin, the regiment won its most prized trophy.
A detachment saved a Chinese mint from being looted and was presented two ingots of silver by the grateful government. A twenty gallon punchbowl and 50 silver cups, ornate with the five-clawed Manchu dragon, were made from the ingots. This trophy is called the Liscum Bowl in memory of a gallant regimental commander who seized the colors from a fallen color guard and held them high until he himself fell mortally wounded. It was in China, too, that the 9th Infantry won its sobriquet, the Manchu Regiment, and added the dragon to its regimental coat of arms.
Ordered overseas in 1917 for duty with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), the 9th Infantry was assigned to duty with the 2nd Division, of which it has been an integral part ever since. It participated in the campaigns of the Aisne, Aisne & Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse Argonne. For its combat performance it wears the Fourragère in the colors of the Croix de Guerre, for having been cited twice in Orders of the French Army. Later, as part of the Army of Occupation in the Rhineland (Germany), it was stationed at Bendorf, until it was transferred in Aug 1919 to Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Battle streamers awarded the 9th Infantry include :
Little Big Horn, Mississippi (1862)
Murfrees Boro, Tennessee (1863)
Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Georgia & Atlanta (1864)
Santiago, San Isidore Luzon (1899- 1900)
Zapote River-Malolos, Tarlac-Samar (1901)
Tientsin, Yang-Tsun Peking, China
Ile de France
Aisne & Marne
Meuse & Argonne
Streamers of the Croix de Guerre
(23rd Infantry Regiment)
Next oldest unit of the Division is the 23rd Infantry. It was organized in June 1812, and participated in thirteen battles and skirmishes of that war including Sackett’s Harbor, Lundy’s Lane, and the Capture of Fort Erie. In May 1815, elements of the regiment helped form the 2nd Infantry of that time, and the 23rd Infantry ceased to exist under that name until after the Civil War when the 2nd Battalion of the 14th Infantry was designated by that name. This Battalion, organized in 1862, served through the Civil War amassing battle honors which the 23rd Infantry assumed on its activation in 1866.
One company of the Regiment served as garrison at Sitka, Alaska, from April 1869 to June 1870, adding the Russian Bear and the totem pole to its regimental coat of arms. Between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, the Regiment participated in numerous Indian Wars. After the Spanish-American War, in which the Regiment participated in the Capture of Manila, it took part in the quelling of the Philippine Insurrection and returned to the States in 1901. The Regiment saw two other periods of duty in the Philippine Islands, in 1903-1905 and in 1908-1910 then the time from 1913 to 1917 was spent on guard duty on the Mexican Border.
Sent to France as part of the 2nd Division in Sep 1917, the 23rd Infantry participated in six major engagements of that war and was twice cited in the Orders of the French Army. For this honor the members now wear the Fourragère in colors of the Croix de Guerre. Following its term of service with the Army of Occupation in the Rhineland (Germany), after World War One, the Regiment returned to the United States on Aug 4 1919.
Battle streamers awarded the regiment include the :
Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Virginia (1863)
Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Arizona (1866)
Little Big Horn
Ile de France
Meuse & Argonne
streamers of the Croix de Guerre
(38th Infantry Regiment)
The 38th Infantry, a unit of the 3rd Division in World War One, became a part of the 2nd Division in 1940 when the change was made from a square division to a triangular division. It was activated on June 1 1917, at Syracuse, New York, and earned its sobriquet The Rock of the Marne, on Jul 15 1918, when in the pre-dawn darkness eight miles east of Chateau Thierry it stopped a desperate head-on thrust of the German 10th and 36th Divisions, halting a concentrated attack.
Gen John J. Pershing, Commander in Chief of the AEF, in his report to the Secretary of War of the United States nine days after the signing of the Armistice, said in his one mention of an individual regiment : [ A single regiment of the 3rd Division wrote one of the most brilliant pages in our military annals on this occasion. It prevented the crossing at certain points on its wide front while on either Hank the Germans who had gained a foothold pressed forward. The men of this one regiment, firing in three directions, met German attacks with counterattacks at critical points and succeeded in throwing two German elite divisions into complete confusion, capturing more than 600 soldiers.] For outstanding performance of duty in France and for unshakable tenacity the Regiment was cited – an elite regiment – by General Marshal Petain and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm. As Rhineland occupation troops, the 38th Infantry was billeted in Niedermendig, Obermendig, Ettringer, and St Johann, in Germany. It embarked for the US eight months later at Brest, France.
The 38th Infantry carries battle streamers on its colors for the campaigns of :
Champagne & Marne
Meuse & Argonne
(12th Field Artillery Battalion)
The 12th Field Artillery Battalion also saw action in the last war. It was organized in June 1917, from a cadre of the 3rd Field Artillery Battalion. The single Fleur de Lys in its coat of arms comes from the city of Soissons where it won the Croix de Guerre with Palm of the French Government. The golden crown on the Fleur de Lys comes from Verdun where the unit received its baptism of fire. The green Aztec war bonnet is derived from its parent organization, the 3rd Field Artillery, which saw service in Mexico. The 12th FAB wears the Fourragère in colors of the Croix de Guerre and the streamers of that French decoration. It served in the Army of Occupation in the Rhineland for eight months and was then sent back to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. There, in 1940, it was reduced to battalion strength and reorganized as a medium field artillery battalion with the 2nd Division.
As a regiment the organization engaged in the :
Aisne & Marne
Meuse & Argonne
(15th Field Artillery Battalion)
The 15th Field Artillery Battalion, parent organization of three of the Division’s four artillery units, was organized at Pine Camp, New York, on the eve of departure for overseas in August 1917. It was formed with a cadre from the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. Upon arrival in France in February 1918, it was assigned to duty with the 2nd Division. The 15-FAB was in continuous action from Jul 1918, to Nov 1918 and the signing of the Armistice. Decorated with the ribbons of the Croix de Guerre for two citations by the French Ministry of War, the Meuse Argonne and the Aisne Marne campaigns, this organization served in the Army of Occupation until mid-summer of 1919 and then moved to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On Oct 10 1940, the regiment officially became three battalions, the 15-FAB, 37-FAB and the 38-FAB. In this reorganization process the 15-FAB retained the records, standards, and honors of the old regiment.
The 15th Artillery Battalion saw action with that organization in :
Ile de France
Aisne & Marne
Meuse & Argonne
(Hqs & Hqs Battery Division Artillery)
Hqs & Hqs Battery Division Artillery was organized on Oct 1 1940, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, its personnel being obtained by transfer from Hqs & Hqs Battery and 1/12-FAR and Hqs Battery 15-FAR.
(2nd Engineer Combat Battalion)
The 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion is one of the few American units organized on foreign soil, having been created on Jul 1 1916, at Colonia Dublan, Mexico, as a result of expansion of the old 2nd Battalion of Engineers. Its history traces back to Charlie and Dog Companies of the Corps of Engineers, organized in 1861. Through these older organizations the present Battalion has on its colors battle streamers of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and the Philippine Insurrection. After participating in the Mexican punitive expedition in 1916 the battalion moved to France in Sept 1917, as part of the 2nd Division when it was organized. Attached to the 36th Division, it fought through a short campaign with that organization. For outstanding exploits it wears the French Fourragère, and served as part of the Army of Occupation at Enger am Rhine until Jul 1919 when it returned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The 2nd Engineers participated in the campaigns at :
(2nd Medical Battalion)
The 2nd Medical Battalion is one of the oldest medical units in the entire army of the United States, dating back to 1894 and the so called School of Instructions, Hospital Corps, Washington Barracks, D.C. It was part of the Cuban Expeditionary Force from Oct 1906 to Nov 1908 and in Mar 1911, was reorganized as Field Hospital and Ambulance Company #1, Hospital Corps.
It went overseas as part of the 2nd Sanitary Train of the 2nd Division in August 1918. Headquarters of the Sanitary Train was organized in France, and it assumed the history of Field Hospital and Ambulance Company #1. It was twice cited in French Orders of the Army and thus wears the Fourragère and streamers in the colors of the Croix de Guerre. After serving with the Army of Occupation while stationed at Sayn, Germany, until Jul 1919, the Train returned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas where it was reorganized as the 2nd Medical Regiment on Feb 17 1921. It became the 2nd Medical Battalion on Oct 7 1940.
The Train was awarded battle honors for :
Ile de France
Aisne & Marne
Meuse & Argonne
(2nd Division Hqs Company)
The 2nd Infantry Division Headquarters Company, the 2nd Signal Company, the 2nd Quartermaster Company, the 702nd Ordnance Company, the 2nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mezd) and the 2nd Division Military Police Platoon began serving as units of the 2nd Infantry Division when it was triangulated. These complete the organization of the Division whose units fought together over some 1,665 miles of enemy-held territory in eleven months of almost continual combat in World War II.
One German Soldier Wrote
1914 – 1918
(……..) The next morning, we left Sugny and an hour later we crossed the French – Belgian border. Here, too, we had to give three cheers. The border line there runs through a wood, and on the other side of the wood we placed the 21-CM (210-MM) mortars in position. Our troops were engaged with the rear guard of the enemy near the village of Vivier au Court in France and we were brought in to reinforce them. After a five hours’ fight the last opponents had retired as far as the Meuse River.
Vivier au Court had hardly suffered at all when we occupied it towards noon and our company halted again here to wait for the mortar battery. Meanwhile we walked through the village to find some eatables. After visiting several houses we came upon the family of a teacher. Father and son were both soldiers; two daughters of about twenty and twenty-two were alone with their mother. The mother was extremely shy, and all the three women were crying when we entered the home. The eldest daughter received us with great friendliness and, to our surprise, in faultless German. We endeavored to pacify the women, begging them not to cry; we assured them again and again that we would not harm them, and told them all kinds of merry stories to turn their thoughts to other things.
One of my mates related that in a fight in the morning, we had lost seven men and that several on our side had been wounded. That only increased the women’s excitement, a thing we really could not understand. At last one of the girls, who had been the first one to compose herself, explained to us why they were so much excited. The girl had been at a boarding school at Charlottenburg (Germany) for more than two years, and her brother, who worked in Berlin as a civil engineer, had taken a holiday for three months after her graduation in order to accompany his sister home. Both had liked living in Germany, it was only the sudden outbreak of war that had prevented the young engineer from returning to Berlin. He had to enter the French army, and belonged to the same company in which his father was an officer of the reserve.
After a short interval the girl continued : My father and brother were here only this morning. They have fought against you. It may have been one of their bullets which struck your comrades down. Oh, how terrible it is ! Now they are away they who had only feelings of respect and friendship for the Germans and as long as the Germans are between them and us we shall not be able to know whether they are dead or alive. Who is it that has this terrible war, this barbaric crime on his conscience ? Tears were choking her speech, and our own eyes did not remain dry.
All desire to eat had gone and after a silent pressing of hands we slunk away. We remained in the village till the evening, meanwhile moving about freely. In the afternoon nine men of my company were arrested; it was alleged against them that they had laid hands on a woman. They were disarmed and kept at the local guard-house; the same thing happened to some men of the Infantry. Seven men of my company returned in the evening; what became of the other two I have not been able to find out.
At that time a great tobacco famine reigned among us soldiers. I know that one mark and more was paid for a single cigarette, if any could be got at all. At Vivier au Court there was only one tobacco store run by a man employed by the state. I have seen that man being forced by sergeants at the point of the pistol to deliver his whole store of tobacco for a worthless order of requisition. The gentlemen later on sold that tobacco for half a mark a packet. Towards the evening we marched off, and got the mortar battery in a new position from where the enemy’s positions on the Meuse were bombarded. After a short march we engaged the French to the northeast of Donchéry. On this side of the Meuse River the enemy had only his rear guard, whose task was to cover the crossing of the main French armies, a movement which was almost exclusively effected at Sedan and Donchéry.
We stuck close to the heels of our opponents, who did not retreat completely till darkness began to fall. The few bridges left did not allow him to withdraw his forces altogether as quickly as his interest demanded. Thus it came about that an uncommonly murderous nocturnal street fight took place in Donchéry which was burning at every corner. The French fought with immense energy as an awful slaughter was the result. Man against Man ! That Man against Man is the most terrible thing I have experienced in war. Nobody can tell afterwards how many he has killed. You have gripped your opponent, who is sometimes weaker, sometimes stronger than yourself. In the light of the burning houses you observe that the white of his eyes has turned red; his mouth is covered with a thick froth. With head uncovered, with disheveled hair, the uniform unbuttoned and mostly ragged, you stab, hew, scratch, bite and strike about you like a wild animal.
It means life or death. – You fight for your life. – No quarter is given. – You only hear the gasping, groaning, jerky breathing. – You only think of your own life, of death, of home. – In feverish haste, as in a whirlwind, old memories are rushing through your mind. Yet you get more excited from minute to minute, for exhaustion tries to master you but that must not be not now. And again the fight is renewed. – Again there is hewing, stabbing, biting. – Without rifle, without any weapon in a life and death struggle. – You or ? Never ! you ! – The exertion becomes superhuman.
Now a thrust, a vicious bite, and you are the victor. – Victory for the moment, for already the next man, who has just finished off one of your mates, is upon you. – You suddenly remember that you have a dagger about you. – After a hasty fumbling you find it in the prescribed place. – A swift movement and the dagger buries itself deeply in the body of the other man. – Onward ! – Onward ! new enemies are coming up, real enemies. – How clearly the thought suddenly flashes on you that that man is your enemy, that he is seeking to take your life, that he bites, strikes, and scratches, tries to force you down and plant his dagger in your heart.
Again you use your dagger. – Thank heavens ! – He is down. – Saved ! – Still, you must have that dagger back ! – You pull it out of his chest. – A jet of warm blood rushes out of the gaping wound and strikes your face. – Human blood, warm human blood ! – You shake yourself, horror strikes you for only a few seconds. – The next one approaches; again you have to defend your skin. – Again and again the mad murdering is repeated, all night long.
Finally, towards four o’clock in the morning, the rest of the French surrendered after some companies of infantry had occupied two roads leading to the bridges. When the French on the other side became aware of this they blew up the bridges without considering their own troops who were still on them. Germans and Frenchmen were tossed in the air, men and human limbs were sent to the sky, friend and foe found a watery grave in the Meuse. One could now survey with some calm the scene of the mighty slaughter.
Dead lay upon dead, it was misery to behold them, and above and around them all there were flames and a thick, choking smoke. But one was already too brutalized to feel pity at the spectacle; the feeling of humanity had been blown to all the winds. The groaning and crying, the pleading of the wounded did not touch one. Some Catholic nuns were lying dead before their convent. You saw it and passed on. The only building that had escaped destruction was the barracks of the 25th regiment of French dragoons. However, we had not much time to inspect things, for at seven o’clock the French artillery began already sending shell after shell into the village. We entrenched behind a thick garden wall, immediately behind the Meuse River.
Our side of the Meuse was flat, the opposite one went up steeply. There the French infantry had entrenched themselves, having built three positions on the slope, one tier above the other. As the enemy’s artillery overshot the mark we remained outside their fire. We had however an opportunity to observe the effects of the shots sent by our own artillery into the enemy’s infantry position on the slope in front of us. The 21 CM shells whizzed above our heads and burst with a tremendous noise, each time causing horrible devastation in the enemy’s trenches. The French were unable to resist long such a hail of shells. They retreated and abandoned all the heights of the Meuse. They had evacuated the town of Sedan without a struggle. In fact, that town remained completely intact, in contrast to the completely demolished Donchéry. Not a house in Sedan had suffered.
When the rallying-call was sounded at Donchéry it turned out that my company had lost thirty men in that fight. We mustered behind the barracks of the dragoons, and our company, which had shrunk to ninety men, was ordered to try and build a pontoon-bridge across the Meuse River at a place as yet unknown to us. Having been reinforced by eighty men of, the second company we marched away in small groups so as not to draw the enemy’s attention to us and after an hour’s march we halted in a small wood, about 200 yards away from the Meuse River. There we were allowed to rest until darkness began to fall.
When it had become dark the bridge transportation column, it was that belonging to our division, came up across the fields, to be followed soon after by that of the army corps. All preparations having been made and the chief preliminaries, like the placing of the trestle and the landing boards, gone through, the various pontoon-wagons drove up noiselessly, in order to be unloaded just as noiselessly and with lightning speed. We had already finished four pontoons, i. e., twenty yards of bridge, without being observed by our opponent. Everything went on all right.
Suddenly the transportable search-lights of the enemy went into action, and swept up and down the river. Though we had thrown ourselves flat upon the ground wherever we stood, our opponents had observed us, for the search-lights kept moving a little to and for and finally kept our spot under continual illumination. We were discovered. We scarcely had time to consider, for an artillery volley almost immediately struck the water to our left and right. We were still lying flat on the ground when four more shots came along. That time a little nearer to the bridge, and one shot struck the bank of the river. Immediately another volley followed, and two shells struck the bridge. Some sappers fell into the water and two fell dead on the bridge; those in the water swam ashore and escaped with a cold ducking. One only was drowned. It was the man of whom I told before that he was despised by his fellow-soldiers because he had hurt the child of a poor woman with a stone he had thrown through the window into her room. (…….)
(1914-1818 – The 2nd Division)
To make the story of the 2nd Infantry Division in the European Theater complete, its record in World War One must be touched upon briefly. The Division, equipped and trained by the French Army, participated in five major engagements of 1918. Assigned to a quiet sub sector near Ranzières, it remained in that defensive position for four months. Then it was hurriedly pulled out of that sector and thrust into the front against the Germans, to halt a major breakthrough in the French positions near Chateau-Thierry.
Rushed forward into the strategic Paris – Metz Road sector, the Division counter-attacked a full-scale German drive toward Paris in that area. Pushed into line astride the road into Paris, after four months of intensive training for trench warfare, the Division found itself engaged in open fighting, against an advancing enemy. The Division halted the ruthless drive of elite German troops, then consolidated its positions while the 4th Marine Brigade advanced to drive the enemy from bloody Belleau Wood. It suffered heavy losses, but its great defensive steadied the entire Allied Line from Switzerland to the sea.
On July 18, Maréchal Foch hurled his best divisions, among which he included the American 2nd Division, against the west side of the German positions at Soissons. Moving on to this sector, the Division did not even halt its march at the line of departure for the attack. It continued marching and fighting in a spectacular forward sweep until it obtained its objectives, sending the enemy reeling back along the line. For Soissons, the Division in its entirety was decorated with the Croix de Guerre by the French Ministry of War for its conspicuous part in this operation and its bravery in action. Now, in two great battles, fighting with the French, the Division had proved its worth and had taken its place with great American fighting units of all times.
From Soissons, the Division went on to become a part of the American 1st Army and to see its first action fighting under American Command, this was at Saint-Mihiel Salient. The significance of the salient lay not in its depth, for that was not great, but in its strength. The enemy had remained entrenched here for four long years. Repeated assaults and continued storming had failed to drive him out. The Division took in a clay objectives that had resisted months of bitter siege. Fighting as a shock troop unit, the Division took in a single blow, objectives that had been assigned for much later, and captured vast quantities of material and supplies.
In October, the French Fourth Army requested the services of the Division for operations against an objective of formidable proportions, Mont Blanc. Attacking from both sides, in flanking operations by the two brigades, the Division assailed the heights of this stronghold in a terrific onslaught, taking it quickly and opening the way toward the Argonne Forest. In this action, the Division won its second Croix de Guerre. Reverting to American command, the Division now took part in the Meuse Argonne offensive, the last great forward drive of World War One, which began the German rout that was completed with the signing of the Armistice.
The 2nd Division took one-fourth of all the prisoners captured by the American Expeditionary Force and one fourth the total number of guns and weapons seized. It suffered one-tenth of the casualties in the American armies, more than any other one division, and received the largest quota of Distinguished Service Crosses. It had fought in every major campaign of the war in which American troops participated, and had left its dead on many battlefields. By virtue of its two citations in the French Orders of the Army, the Division wears the Fourragère in the colors of the Croix de Guerre awarded for conspicuous action. Only one other American division in France, the 1st Division, received that honor. In World War II, the 3rd Infantry Division received that distinction.
Officers and men who fought with a division in the actions for which it received that honor are privileged to wear the decoration of the looped braid and pencil after being transferred to other units. According to military tradition, the Fourragère originated when an ancient Prussian leader gave each member of a failing unit a loop of hangman’s rope and a nail on the eve of battle, presumably for hanging if he failed again. So gallantly did the men fight in subsequent battles, the story goes, that the rope and nail became a badge of military honor, symbolized in the present braid and pencil. The Division completed its tour of occupation in the Rhineland in July, 1919, and as the units returned to the United States they were sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where the Division remained in garrison during 23 years of peace, until a new German war machine once more went on a rampage and trampled human decency from the face of Europe.
In October 1940, as a result of its own tests conducted in the years of peace, during which it pioneered many changes in military technique and equipment, the Division became the first triangular division to take form. In 1939, the 38th Infantry Regiment had been added to take part in tests to determine the feasibility of streamlining the old square division. The final tests were completed during maneuvers in Louisiana and in October of that year, utilizing the results of these tests, the organization was completed essentially as it fought through World War II.
The Division engaged in maneuvers in Texas and Louisiana in 1941, and elements participated in airborne operations for experimental purposes. Elements likewise demonstrated field artillery problems in 1941 and 1942. During the high point of the Nazi submarine warfare, when U-boats were known to penetrate coastal waters, the Division furnished protection in Gulf Coast areas of strategic industrial importance. The Division conducted tests and pioneered developments in the use of liaison planes for field artillery observation, and furnished cadres for the 85th Infantry Division and the 102nd Infantry Divisions, in 1942.
After VIII Corps maneuvers in Louisiana in late summer, the Division undertook tests to develop a technique for the transport by air of an entire infantry division, concluding this operation in October. On October 16, orders were received for a permanent change of station. The Division, commanded by Maj Gen Walter M. Robertson, was to be transferred in its entirety to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and in November 1942, the Division moved by rail to the Camp, leaving Fort Sam Houston, for a permanent change of station for the first time since 1919. A four-months program of intensive training for winter warfare followed. The Division tested new equipment for fighting under conditions of extreme cold weather, and the men became proficient in the use of skis and snowshoes.
At the end of February, this training program culminated in a period of winter maneuvers in Michigan, the first undertaken on a divisional scale. Returning to Camp McCoy at the end of these maneuvers, the men entered upon an intensive program of training and battle indoctrination. Individuals and units were put through specific types of battle training designed to equip them for the kinds of fighting they might be expected to encounter overseas. In the early summer, elements of one regiment were sent to Detroit to restore order after race riots in that city threatened an explosive situation. As the summer drew to a close, the men began preparations for overseas movement, drawing new clothing and essential equipment, packing and marking, and in general making plans for leaving Camp McCoy.
During the last days of September, the final order came and the Division began its move by rail to a staging area at Camp Shanks, New York, the Port of Embarkation. It closed there on Oct 2, and was immediately alerted for overseas movement. Oct 7 was the official sailing date as the large convoy moved out of New York Harbor, with battleship, destroyer, and air protection. The voyage across was made without undue incident, and on Oct 17, the Division began arriving in the Irish Sea off Belfast. Disembarking at the Irish port of Belfast, the units of the Division moved by rail to points in County Armagh and County Down, North Ireland. They then marched to the billets they would occupy, in hutments, castles, manor houses, and factories, throughout the scattered Irish towns and hamlets. Division Headquarters was set up in Armagh, the county seat of County Armagh, reputed burial place of Good St Patrick.
Mastering the idiosyncrasies of the Irish language which proved to be a pure, clear English and not at all the brogue of Irish comedians on the American stage. The men of the Division fell in quickly with the customs of the country. They made friends readily with their amiable Irish neighbors and soon learned to tell a crown from a bob and stout from ale. One of the great surprises was the Irish weather. It was generally wet and overcast with long slow rains and heavy swirling fogs. There hovered constantly a blanket of mist which kept the countryside a dazzling green. Once the men got used to murky skies and boggy ground, other aspects of life in garrison became more pleasing.
The units, well trained upon arriving in the United Kingdom, were even more better trained before they left Ireland; this was true especially in fast-moving operations over large areas. During this staging period every effort was made to increase their combat efficiency to the fullest despite the limited terrain in the densely populated and cultivated isle. Training ground, especially for units larger than battalion strength, was necessarily curtailed by the large number of troops in this already crowded spot, and by the food shortage which precluded the use of cultivatable land to any extent.
The limitation of space and the unfavorable weather and ground conditions caused the emphasis to be placed on training in small or individual units. Some training was clone indoors, in battlemented castles or deserted factories. Maneuvers of corps or army strength in Texas and Louisiana prior to departure from the United States made up somewhat for the limit on large areas in the United Kingdom. This realistic training contributed immeasurably to the readiness of the troops, their fitness for battle, and their eagerness to get the job started so that they could get it clone as soon as possible. In addition, the men were fully equipped and ready for embarkation when the rime arrived.
But life was not all given over to training by any means. There were dances for the American boys, who taught the Irish jitterbugging and took part with gusto in the Irish country dances. Dough boys were amazed at the spectacle of local gallants turned out in white tie and rails for neighborhood social functions. Then there were cheerful Irish pubs, and fish-and-chip shops; there were many hearty Irish families eager to invite the Americans to their homes; there were pretty Irish girls to dance with, and many a lasting romance was begun. Food was not too scarce for civilians in Ireland, although it showed a distressing preponderance of such national standbys as cabbage, sprouts, and turnips, vegetables almost invariably despised by the boys from Texas and New Mexico. Bread, made of the national flour in wartime measure, brown inside as well as out, caused groans of consternation at first. When the diet got too monotonous, the men took powdered milk and powdered eggs and froze their own ice cream. Cigarettes, candy, and soap were available in the quantities allowed by British wartime rations. Beds of planks with straw-stuffed ticks and scratchy British wartime blankets seemed primitive at first. The sanitary arrangements, taken care of on contract by British civilians, never ceased to seem primitive.
Passes were liberal. Many GIs roamed the great, gray Irish port city of Belfast and outlying North Irish towns. Local passes were available to visit the villages and Irish countryside. Late winter brought a quota of passes to London and other points in the British Isles. Red Cross and United Service Organization (USO) shows began to arrive to break the routine of garrison life. Spring brought more days of rare and shimmering sunshine, but it also brought more time for outdoor training and rehearsal for the events to come. An intensification of the training program for small and individual units was put into effect, and more emphasis was placed on night training. A drivers’ school gave instruction in such matters as the left hand drive.
The men became accustomed to using such terms as petrol and lorry, bonnet and windscreen. Many bought bicycles when they discovered that this was the primary nation-wide means of getting about. The railway carriages proved to be of diverting interest-not only the first class carriages with their private compartments and closed corridors, but also the third rate carriages where the compartments were entered from the outside. The quickening of the tempo as Spring went by was felt by everyone. On April 1 Gen George S. Patton Jr addressed the assembled troops in the Mall at Armagh and told them something about the things they had to face. Then in mid-April came departure from Ireland. The men bade goodbye to County Armagh and County Down as they moved by rail to Belfast, and there embarked for the short sea voyage to marshaling areas in South Wales.
The move to South Wales was the last stage in the marshaling of the troops for the invasion of Fortress Europe. The journey by rail and troopship found the men in excellent spirits and high morale. They disembarked in South Wales and scattered to their various marshaling areas in small Welsh seaside and inland towns. Division Headquarters was set up at Tenby, a famed Welsh seacoast resort noted for its high and crashing tides, and its rows of pleasant Victorian hotels along the beach. Garrison life was resumed under virtually the same conditions as in Ireland. The men were once more quartered in hutments about deserted manor houses or public buildings. Division Artillery had a unique headquarters located at St Donat’s Castle, a grim historic pile with lavish landscaping restored to former grandeur by William Randolph Hearst. A waterproofing and de-waterproofing school was held. Finally all vehicles and equipment were waterproofed for the Invasion crossing. The weather was warm and pleasant in Wales, with drifting clouds and balmy air, but all thoughts were firmly fixed on the crossing of the Channel.
The 2nd Infantry Division had been selected to take part in the coming Invasion of Europe as part of V Corps under Maj Gen Leonard T. Gerow. The 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions were to make the assault landing on Omaha Beach. The 2nd Infantry Division would follow these two ashore. Landing at St Laurent sur Mer, the Division would reinforce the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions in the attack inland from the beaches and the securing of a beachhead. Although not destined to take part in the initial assault landings as a whole, the Division was represented in the first wave of American troops ashore by personnel chosen from the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion and from the infantry, to form part of a special engineer assault force.
This force was to open gaps in the interlaced steel and concrete beach obstacles erected by the Nazis, and to make the initial break through the beach defenses and clear the way for the assaulting infantry. In the closing days of May, surrounded by the strictest security measures, the Division moved into its final staging areas in Bristol Channel ports. The Pre-Loaded Bristol Channel Build-Up Force was the name given this set up in Allied Headquarters. In early June, just prior to D-Day, the units of the Division began the long-awaited move to active war fronts. Each phase of loading and of movement was accomplished by carefully worked-out plans, covering all contingencies clown to the last detail.
Embarking on transports, LSTs, and other types of craft, the Division, on D-Day, June 6, was steaming down the Bristol Channel, around Land’s End, out into the English Channel, and across that body of water toward the invasion beaches of France. On the morning of June 6, while heavy naval units and aircraft poured their tons of thundering explosives onto the beaches fast and west of Port en Bessin and north of Isigny where the Cotentin Peninsula juts cut to the north, and while the first wave of assault troops and engineers attacked the beach obstacles and mines, and while the first infantry units poured onto the beaches in their assault boats, the 2nd Infantry Division was moving up for the landing on D-Day plus 1.
Victory in Europe depended on the success of this operation, aimed at the heart of Germany and the disruption of her armed forces. If it failed, the Invasion of Europe might well be a failure. Therefore the men had waited with anxiety as higher headquarters and naval units pondered the navigational hazards and extreme tidal variations of this section of the French Coast. But the efficiency of the build-up and the excellent job of transportation done, the eager spirit and fitness of the well-trained and well-equipped men who went ashore raid off at once.
(2nd Infantry Division – World War Two Route)
Fort Sam Houston Texas 1940 (Garison)
Christine Texas 3-27 Jan 1940 (Maneuvres)
Horton Texas 26 Apr – 28 May 1940 (Maneuvres)
Cravens Louisiana 16-23 Aug 1940 (Maneuvres)
Comanche Texas 1-14 Jun 1941 (Brownwood Maneuvres)
Mansfield Louisiana 11 Aug – 2 Oct 1941 (Louisiana Maneuvres)
Fort Sam Houston Texas – redesignated 2nd Inf Div 1 Aug 42
Camp McCoy Wisconsin 27 November 1942
Camp Shanks New York 3 October 1943
Atlantic move to Europa 8 October 1943
England 18 October 1943
France 7 June 1944
Belgium 29 September 1944
Germany 3 October 1944
Czechoslovakia 4 May 1945
New York POE 20 July 1945
Camp Swift Texas 22 July 1945
Camp Stoneman California 28 March 1946
Fort Lewis Washington 15 April 1946
Killed in Action : 3031
Wounded in Action : 12785
Died of Wounds : 457
(Order of Battle & Attached Units)
9th Infantry Regiment
23rd Infantry Regiment
38th Infantry Regiment
Headquarters & Headquarters Division Artillery
12th Field Artillery Regiment (155)
15th Field Artillery Regiment (105)
37th Field Artillery Regiment (105)
2nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
2nd Engineer Combat Battalion
2nd Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
2nd Quartermaster Company
2nd Medical Battalion
2nd Signal Corps Company
Headquarters Special Troops
Headquarters Company 2nd Infantry Division
Military Police Platoon
702nd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
612th Tank Destroyer Bn (attached 14-06-44 – 09-05-45)
741st Tank Bn (attached 15-06-44 – 17-08-44)
462nd AAA A-W Bn (attached 16-06-44 – 17-08-44)
759th Tank Bn (attached 18-06-44 – 28-06-44)
462nd AAA A-W Bn (attached 03-10-44 – 08-05-45)
629th Tank Destroyer Bn (attached 30-10-44 – 02-12-44)
644th Tank Destroyer Bn (attached 12-12-44 – 27-01-45)
Maj Gen John C. H. Lee – November 1941
Maj Gen Walter M. Robertson – May 1942
Brig Gen William K. Harrison – June 1945
Maj Gen Edward M. Almond – September 1945
(2nd Infantry Command Posts – 1944 – 1945)
June 6 1944
June 9 1944
June 10 1944
June 15 1944
St Laurent sur Mer
Cerisy le Foret
July 30 1944
St Jean des Baisants
August 2 1944
August 5 1944
August 10 1944
August 13 1944
August 20 1944
August 22 1944
Maisoncelle la Jourdan
30 September 1944
St Vith – Belgium
12 December 1944
17 December 1944
Wirtzfeld – Belgium
Camp Elsenborn – Belgium
3 February 1945
22 February 1945
Wehlerscheid – Germany
Erkensruhr – Germany
5 March 1945
6 March 1945
7 March 1945
8 March 1945
9 March 1945
10 March 1945
22 March 1945
25 March 1945
27 March 1945
29 March 1945
30 March 1945
Kloster Mariawald – Germany
Vlatten – Germany
Mechernich – Germany
Munstereifel – Germany
Bruck – Germany
Bad Neuenahr – Germany
Honningen – Germany
Niederbieber Segendorf – Germany
Hohr Grenzhausen – Germany
Hadamar – Germany
Homberg – Germany
1 April 1945
5 April 1945
6 April 1945
7 April 1945
8 April 1945
9 April 1945
11 April 1945
12 April 1945
13 April 1945
17 April 1945
19 April 1945
21 April 1945
Sachenhausen – Germany
Oberlistingen – Germany
Grebenstein – Germany
Veckerhagen – Germany
Dransfeld – Germany
Wollmarshausen – Germany
Obergebra – Germany
Bad Frankenhausen – Germany
Barnstadt – Germany
Schladebach – Germany
Mark Ranstadt – Germany
Bad Lausick – Germany
2 May 1945
4 May 1945
5 May 1945
6 May 1945
7 May 1945
Oberviechtach – Germany
Rotz Bavaria – Germany
Klenec – Czecholslovakia
Horsovsky Tyn – Czecholslovakia
Pilsen – Czecholslovakia
8 June 1945
Kdyne – Czecholslovakia
(2nd Infantry Division)
Maj Gen Walter M. Robertson – 1942 – 1945
Brig Gen W. H. Harrison – 06-03-1945 – 08-09-1945
Division Artillery Commanding General
Brig Gen George P. Hays – 01-07-1942 – 14-11-1944
Brig Gen John H. Hinds – 14-11-1944 – 08-09-1945
Assistant Division Commander
Brig Gen Thomas L. Martin – 10-06-1942 – 02-07-1944
Col James A. Van Fleet – 04-07-1944 – 15-10-1944
Brig Gen John H. Stokes Jr – 15-10-1944 – 09-06-1945
Col Jay B. Loveless – 14-06-1945 – 17-09-1945
Division General Staff
Brig Gen John H. Stokes Jr – 06-06-1944 – 17-10-1944
Col Ralph W. Zwicker – 18-10-1944 – 20-06-1945
Lt Col Donald P. Christensen – 21-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
Assistant Chief Of Staff – G1
Lt Col Arthur M. Sherwood III – 00-00-1942 – 00-00-1945
Assistant Chief of Staff – G2
Lt Col Donald P. Christensen – 0606-1944 – 20-06-1945
Maj James H. King – 21-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
Assistant Chief of Staff – G3
Col Lohn H. Chiles – 06-06-1944 – 12-12-1944
Lt Col Daniel Webster – 13-12-1944 – 22-05-1945
Col Lohn H. Chiles – 23-05-1945 – 31-08-1945
Lt Colonel Frank T. Mildren – 31-08-1945 – 08-09-1945
Assistant Chief of Staff – G4
Lt Col Homer S. Reese – 00-00-1942 – 00-00-1945
Division Special Staff
Lt Col Morris Braveman – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Luther W. Ewans – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Division Chemical Officer
Lt Col Edward W. Wood – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Robert E.Warren – 06-06-1944 – 16-01-1945
Lt Col Robert E. Snetzer – 17-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
Division Finance Officer
Lt Col Lenson Bethel – 06-06-1944 – 16-01-1945
Lt Col John R. Tucker – 17-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col H. Ladensohn – 06-06-1944 – 01-05-1945
Lt Col Edgar A. Wilkerson – 02-05-1945 – 08-09-1945
Judge Avocate General
Lt Col Harry H. Schultz – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Division Ordnance Officer
Lt Col Alexander J. Stuart Jr – – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Maj William F. Noth
Lt Col James H. Cahuthers – 06-06-1944 – 17-01-1945
Lt Col Oliver J. Gayton – 18-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
Division Signal Officer
Lt Col Kenneth E. Belieu – 06-06-1944 – 16-06-1945
Maj George W. Fisk – 17-06-1945 – 18-09-1945
Division Special Officer
Maj Frank A. Hoke – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Walter R. Cook – 06-06-1944 – 10-03-1945
Lt Col David F. Weaver – 11-03-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Matt F. C. Konop – 06-06-1944 – 21-05-1945
Lt Col Martin B. Coopersmith – 22-05-1945 – 08-09-1945
9th Infantry Regiment
Col Chester J. Hirschfelder – 10-06-1942 – 10-01-1945
Col P. D. Ginder – 10-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col H. K. Wesson – 01-02-1944 – 14-10-1944
Lt Col William D. McKinley – 14-10-1944 – 21-02-1945
Lt Col Lloyd J. Ptak – 21-02-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Walter M. Higgins Jr – 07-06-1944 – 28-01-1945
Lt Col FRank E. Ball – 28-02-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col P. V. Tuttle – 06-06-1944 – 31-07-1944
Maj Lloyd J. Ptak – 31-07-1944 – 03-08-1944
Lt Col R. E. Bell – 03-08-1944 – 06-08-1944
Lt Col W. F. Kernan – 06-08-1944 – 14-02-1945
Maj V. T. Adler – 14-02-1945 – 03-03-1945
Lt Col F. M. Merritt – 11-04-1945 – 13-05-1945
Maj V. T. Adler – 13-05-1945 – 08-09-1945
23rd Infantry Regiment
Col Hurley E. Fuller – 14-01-1942 – 16-06-1944
Col Jay B. Loveless – 16-06-1944 – 04-06-1945
Lt Col Paul V. Tuttle – 05-06-1945 – 09-06-1945
Lt Col William A. Smith – 10-06-1945 – 15-06-1945
Lt Col Frank T. Mildren – 16-06-1945 – 31-08-1945
Col John H. Chiles – 01-09-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col William Humpries – 07-06-1944 – 15-06-1944
Lt Col John M. Hightower – 15-06-1944 – 10-06-1945
Lt Col Willard W. Morris – 10-03-1945 – 17-04-1945
Lt Col Morris B. Montgomery – 19-04-1945 – 17-05-1945
Lt Col Willard W. Morris – 18-05-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Raymond B. Marlin – 13-07-1943 – 26-07-1944
Lt Col Lewis F.Hamele – 27-07-1944 – 02-12-1944
Maj William R. Hinch Jr – 05-12-1944 – 22-12-1944
Lt Col William A. Smith – 23-12-1944 – 27-01-1945
Lt Col Paul T. Clifford – 27-01-1945 – 31-01-1945
Lt Col William A. Smith – 01-02-1945 – 10-06-1945
Maj Vern L. Joseph – 11-06-1945 – 11-07-1945
Maj Thomas H. Muller – 11-07-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col John B. Baser – 00-00-1942 – 26-07-1944
Capt Charles E. Trapp – 27-07-1944 – 30-07-1944
Lt Col Paul V. Tuttle – 31-07-1944 – 01-02-1945
Lt Col Morris B. Montgomery – 01-02-1945 – 07-02-1945
Lt Col Paul V. Tuttle – 07-02-1945 – 16-02-1945
Lt Col Paul T. Clifford – 15-02-1945 – 13-03-1945
Lt Col Martin B. Coopersmith – 13-03-1945 – 25-05-1945
Lt Col Morris B. Montgomery – 26-05-1945 – 08-09-1945
38th Infantry Regiment
Col Walter A. Elliot – 16-03-1944 – 07-08-1944
Col Ralph W. Zwicker – 04-09-1944 – 18-10-1944
Col Francis H. Boos – 02-12-1944 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Frank T. Mildren – 00-00-1942 – 14-03-1945
Lt Col Thomas C- Morris – 14-03-1945 – 22-06-1945
Maj Chauncy L. Harris – 22-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
Col Jack K Norris – 16-03-1943 – 26-04-1945
Maj Carl A. Martin – 26-04-1945 – 08-09-1945
Lt Col Malcolm R. Stotts – 24-12-1943 – 13-06-1944
Lt Col Francis H. Boos – 13-04-1944 – 14-06-1944
Lt Col Olinto M. Barsanti – 14-06-1944 – 29-03-1945
Lt Col Robert L. Utley – 29-03-1945 – 01-06-1945
Maj George D. Callaway – 01-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
12th Field Artillery Battalion
Lt Col Richard C. Carpenter – 00-00-1942 – 11-07-1944
Lt Col Elvin M. Muldrow – 11-07-1944 – 19-02-1945
Maj Thomas V. Donnel – 19-02-1945 – 08-09-1945
15th Field Artillery Battalion
Lt Col Robert Cassibry – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
37th Field Artillery Battalion
Lt Col Walter G. Hopkins – 06-06-1944 – 10-06-1944
Lt Col Tobias C. Eastman – 10-06-1944 – 26-04-1945
Maj Earl Hurt – 26-04-1945 – 08-09-1945
38th Field Artillery Battalion
Lt Col Donald C. Little – 06-06-1944 – 10-06-1945
Maj Cecil L. Smith – 11-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
2nd Engineer Combat Battalion
Lt Col Robert B. Warren – 00-00-1942 – 17-01-1945
Lt Col Robert E. Snetzer – 17-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
2nd Medical Battalion
Lt Col Cecil F. Jorns – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Capt Frederick A. Palmer – 00-00-1942 – 07-07-1945
Capt Paul J. Lemm – 17-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
2nd Signal Corps Company
Capt George W. Fisk – 02-05-1944 – 22-08-1944
Capt Keith E. Hall – 23-08-1944 – 11-06-1945
Lt Walker F. Burkhead – 11-06-1945 – 08-09-1945
2nd Reconnaissance Troop
Capt Charles E. Trapp – 00-00-1942 – 04-07-1944
Capt Gene P. Hefley – 04-07-1944 – 08-09-1945
2nd Quartermaster Company
Capt Juan H. Hinojosa – 00-00-1942 – 17-10-1944
Capt Francis H. Lacy Jr – 17-10-1944 – 21-01-1945
Capt Raymond A. Brimmer Jr – 21-01-1945 – 08-09-1945
702nd Ordnance Light Mecanized Company
Capt Otto H. Allen – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
Military Police Platoon
Maj William F. North – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
2nd Infantry Division Band (Music)
Chief WO Marvin W. Fjeld – 00-00-1942 – 08-09-1945
741st Tank Battalion – Attached
Lt Col Robert W. Skaggs – Attached
462nd Anti Aircftat Artillery Battalion – Attached
Lt Col Norman R. Shultz
612th Tank Destroyer Battalion – Attached
Lt Col Joseph M. Deeley
(2nd Infantry Division – Route to Victory)
Colleville sur Mer
Medal of Honor – 2nd Infantry Division
S/Sgt Alvin P. Carey, Staff Sergeant, US Army, 38th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Near Plougastel, Brittany, France, Date : 23 August 1944, General Order : N° 37, 11 May 1945
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, on 23 August 1944. S/Sgt Carey, leader of a machinegun section, was advancing with his company in the attack on the strongly held enemy Hill 154, near Plougastel, Brittany, France. The advance was held up when the attacking units were pinned down by intense enemy machinegun fire from a pillbox 200 yards up the hill. From his position covering the right flank, S/Sgt Carey displaced his guns to an advanced position and then, upon his own initiative, armed himself with as many hand grenades as he could carry and without regard for his personal safety started alone up the hill toward the pillbox. Crawling forward under its withering fire, he proceeded 150 yards when he met a German rifleman whom he killed with his carbine. Continuing his steady forward movement until he reached grenade-throwing distance, he hurled his grenades at the pillbox opening in the face of intense enemy fire which wounded him mortally. Undaunted, he gathered his strength and continued his grenade attack until one entered and exploded within the pillbox, killing the occupants and putting their guns out of action. Inspired by S/Sgt Carey’s heroic act, the riflemen quickly occupied the position and overpowered the remaining enemy resistance in the vicinity.
Private First Class Richard Eller Cowan, US Army, M Co, 23rd Inf Regt, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, Date : 17 December 1944, General Order : N° 48, 23 June 1945
He was a heavy machine gunner in a section attached to I Company in the Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, 17 December 1944, when that company was attacked by a numerically superior force of German infantry and tanks. The first 6 waves of hostile infantrymen were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a seventh drive with tanks killed or wounded all but 3 of his section, leaving Pvt Cowan to man his gun, supported by only 15 to 20 riflemen of I Company. He maintained his position, holding off the Germans until the rest of the shattered force had set up a new line along a firebreak. Then, unaided, he moved his machinegun and ammunition to the second position. At the approach of a German tank, he held his fire until about 80 enemy infantrymen supporting the tank appeared at a distance of about 150 yards. His first burst killed or wounded about half of these infantrymen. His position was rocked by an 75-MM shell when the tank opened fire, but he continued to man his gun, pouring deadly fire into the Germans when they again advanced. He was barely missed by another shell. Fire from three machine guns and innumerable small arms struck all about him; an enemy rocket shook him badly, but did not drive him from his gun. Infiltration by the enemy had by this time made the position untenable, and the order was given to withdraw. Pvt Cowan was the last man to leave, voluntarily covering the withdrawal of his remaining comrades. His heroic actions were entirely responsible for allowing the remaining men to retire successfully from the scene of their last-ditch stand.
Technician Fourth Grade Truman Kimbro, US Army, C Co, 2nd Eng Combat Bn, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Rocherath, Belgium, Date : 19 December 1944, General Order : N° 42, 24 May 1945
On December 19 1944, as scout, he led a squad assigned to the mission of mining a vital crossroads near Rocherath, Belgium. At the first attempt to reach the objective, he discovered it was occupied by an enemy tank and at least 20 infantrymen. Driven back by withering fire, T/4 Kimbro made two more attempts to lead his squad to the crossroads but all approaches were covered by intense enemy fire. Although warned by our own infantrymen of the great danger involved, he left his squad in a protected place and, laden with mines, crawled alone toward the crossroads. When nearing his objective he was severely wounded, but he continued to drag himself forward and laid his mines across the road. As he tried to crawl from the objective his body was riddled with rifle and machinegun fire. The mines laid by his act of indomitable courage delayed the advance of enemy armor and prevented the rear of our withdrawing columns from being attacked by the enemy.
Sergeant Jose M. Lopez, US Army, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, Date : 17 December 1944, General Order N° 47, 18 June 1945
On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machine gun from K Company’s right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans. Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front. Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire which had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked. Again, alone, he carried his machinegun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal. Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single-handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement. Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted. Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt. Sgt Lopez’s gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing K Co to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.
Sergeant John J. McVeight, US Army, H Co, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Brest, France, Date : 29 August 1944 , General Order : N° 24, 6 April 1945
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Brest, France, on 29 August 1944. Shortly after dusk an enemy counterattack of platoon strength was launched against one platoon of G Company, 23d Infantry Regiment. Since the G Company platoon was not dug in and had just begun to assume defensive positions along a hedge, part of the line sagged momentarily under heavy fire from small arms and two flak guns, leaving a section of heavy machineguns holding a wide frontage without rifle protection. The enemy drive moved so swiftly that German riflemen were soon almost on top of one machinegun position. Sgt McVeigh, heedless of a tremendous amount of small arms and flak fire directed toward him, stood up in full view of the enemy and directed the fire of his squad on the attacking Germans until his position was almost overrun. He then drew his trench knife and single-handed charged several of the enemy. In a savage hand-to-hand struggle, Sgt McVeigh killed one German with the knife, his only weapon, and was advancing on three more of the enemy when he was shot down and killed with small arms fire at pointblank range. Sgt McVeigh’s heroic act allowed the two remaining men in his squad to concentrate their machinegun fire on the attacking enemy and then turn their weapons on the three Germans in the road, killing them all. Fire from this machine gun and the other gun of the section was almost entirely responsible for stopping this enemy assault, and allowed the rifle platoon to which it was attached time to reorganize, assume positions on and hold the high ground gained during the day.
Private First Class William A. Soderman, US Army, K Co, 9th Inf Regt, 2nd Infantry Division, Place : Rocherath, Belgium, Date : 17 December 1944, General Order : N° 97, November 1st 1945
Armed with a 2.36 Rocket Launcher, he defended a key road junction in Rocherath, Belgium, on 17 December 1944, during the German Ardennes counteroffensive. After a heavy artillery barrage had wounded and forced the withdrawal of his assistant, he heard enemy tanks approaching the position where he calmly waited in the gathering darkness of early evening until the five Panther tanks which made up the hostile force were within pointblank range. He then stood up, completely disregarding the firepower that could be brought to bear upon him, and launched a rocket into the lead tank, setting it afire and forcing its crew to abandon it as the other tanks pressed on before Pfc Soderman could reload. The daring bazooka man remained at his post all night under severe artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire, awaiting the next onslaught, which was made shortly after dawn by five more tanks. Running along a ditch to meet them, he reached an advantageous point and there leaped to the road in full view of the tank gunners, deliberately aimed his weapon and disabled the lead tank. The other vehicles, thwarted by a deep ditch in their attempt to go around the crippled machine, withdrew. While returning to his post Pfc Soderman, braving heavy fire to attack an enemy infantry platoon from close range, killed at least three Germans and wounded several others with a round from his bazooka. By this time, enemy pressure had made K Company position untenable. Orders were issued for withdrawal to an assembly area, where Pfc Soderman was located when he once more heard enemy tanks approaching. Knowing that elements of the company had not completed their disengaging maneuver and were consequently extremely vulnerable to an armored attack, he hurried from his comparatively safe position to meet the tanks. Once more he disabled the lead tank with a single rocket, his last; but before he could reach cover, machine gun bullets from the tank ripped into his right shoulder. Unarmed and seriously wounded he dragged himself along a ditch to the American lines and was evacuated. Through his unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, Pfc Soderman contributed in great measure to the defense of Rocherath, exhibiting to a superlative degree the intrepidity and heroism with which American soldiers met and smashed the savage power of the last great German offensive.
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