45th Infantry Division (United States)

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45th Infantry Division
The “Thunderbird” is an Indian symbol meaning sacred bearer of happiness unlimited.
45th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia.
Active 1920–45
1946–68
Country United States United States of America
Branch United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Part of Oklahoma Army National Guard
Garrison/HQ Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Nickname "Thunderbird"[1]
Motto Semper Anticus
(Latin: "Always Forward")[2]
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Troy H. Middleton
Dwight E. Beach
Philip De Witt Ginder
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia (1920-46) 45thDivDUI.png
Distinctive unit insignia (1946-68) The DUI of the 45th Division is one of only a few that are authorized a mirror image.
US infantry divisions (1939–present)
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44th Infantry Division 46th Infantry Division

The 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army was a major formation of the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1920 to 1968. Headquartered mostly in Oklahoma City, the guardsmen fought in both World War II and the Korean War. They trace their lineage from frontier militias that operated in the Southwestern United States throughout the late 1800s.[citation needed]

The 45th Infantry Division guardsmen saw no major action until they became one of the first National Guard units activated in World War II in 1941. They took part in intense fighting during the invasion of Sicily and the attack on Salerno in the 1943 Italian Campaign. Slowly advancing through Italy, they fought in Anzio and in Monte Cassino. After landing in France during Operation Dragoon, they joined the 1945 drive into Nazi Germany that ended the War in Europe.

After brief inactivation and subsequent reorganization as a unit restricted to Oklahomans, the division returned to duty in 1951 for the Korean War. It joined the United Nations troops on the front lines during the stalemate of the second half of the war, with constant, low-level fighting and trench warfare against the People's Volunteer Army of China that produced little gain for either side. The division remained on the front lines in such engagements as Old Baldy Hill and Hill Eerie until the end of the war, returning to the U.S. in 1954.

The division remained a National Guard formation until its inactivation in 1968 as part of a downsizing of the Guard. Several units were activated to replace the division and carry on its lineage. Over the course of its history, the 45th Infantry Division sustained over 25,000 battle casualties, and its men were awarded nine Medals of Honor, twelve campaign streamers, the Croix de Guerre and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

History[edit]

With the outbreak of World War I, troops of the National Guard were formed into the units which exist today, with the Colorado Guard forming the 157th Infantry Regiment, the Arizona Guard forming the 158th Infantry Regiment, and the New Mexico Guard forming the 120th Engineer Regiment. These units were attached to the 40th Infantry Division and deployed to France where they were used as "depot" forces to provide replacements for front-line units. They returned home at the end of the war.[3] The Oklahoma Guard units that would later become the 179th Infantry Regiment and 180th Infantry Regiment were assigned to the 36th Infantry Division and would earn a combat participation credit during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign (26 September – 11 November 1918) in France as the 142nd Infantry.[4]

Inter-war years[edit]

1923–1940 "Square" Organization [5]

On 19 October 1920, the Oklahoma State militia was organized as the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, and manned with troops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.[6] The division was formed and federally recognized as a National Guard unit on 3 August 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[7] It was assigned the 89th Infantry Brigade of the Colorado and Arizona National Guards, and the 90th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma National Guard.[8] As a consequence of these militia roots, when the division was properly organized, many of its members were marksmen and outdoorsmen from the remote frontier regions of the Southwestern United States.[9] The division's first commander was Major General Baird H. Markham.[10]

The 45th Infantry Division engaged in regular drills but no major events in its first few years, though the division's Colorado elements were called in to help quell a large coal mining strike.[11] The onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s severely curtailed its funding for training and equipment. Major General Roy Hoffman took command in 1931, followed by Alexander M. Tuthill, Alexander E. McPherren in 1935, and William S. Key in 1936.[10] In 1937, the division's troops were once again called up, this time to help manage a locust plague affecting Colorado.[11]

A red diamond with a yellow swastika inside it
Before the 1930s, the division's symbol was a red square with a yellow swastika, a tribute to the large Native American population in the southwestern United States.

The division's original shoulder sleeve insignia, approved in August 1924,[12] featured a swastika, a common Native American symbol, as a tribute to the Southwestern United States region which had a large population of Native Americans. However, with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, with its infamous swastika symbol, the 45th Division stopped using the insignia.[13] Following a long process of submissions for new designs, a new shoulder sleeve insignia, designed by a Carnegie, Oklahoma native named Woody Big Bow,[14] featuring the Thunderbird, another Native American symbol, was approved in 1939.[1]

In August 1941, the 45th Infantry Division took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers, the largest peacetime exercises in U.S. military history.[15] It was assigned to VIII Corps with the 2nd Infantry Division and the 36th Infantry Division, camped near Pitkin, Louisiana.[16] Still operating with outmoded equipment from World War I, the division did not perform well during these exercises.[17] With poor weather and bad equipment, the undertrained 45th Infantry Division was criticized by officers who considered it "feeble".[16] In spite of these deficiencies, less than one month later, the men were recalled to the active duty force, much to their chagrin, because of concerns of an impending U.S. entry into World War II.[15]

World War II[edit]

A large plaque with an inscription
A monument at the University of North Texas commemorating the 45th Infantry Division's time in Texas as it trained at Camp Barkeley in 1940.

On 16 September 1941, the 45th Infantry Division was federalized from state control into the regular army force.[7] It was one of four National Guard divisions to be federalized, alongside the 30th Infantry Division, the 41st Infantry Division and the 44th Infantry Division, originally for a one-year period.[18] Its men immediately began basic combat training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.[19] Throughout 1942, it continued this training at Camp Barkeley, Texas,[20] before moving to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, to undergo amphibious assault training in preparation for an invasion of Italy.[21] It then moved to Pine Camp, New York briefly for winter warfare training, but was hampered by continuously poor weather. In January 1943 it moved to Fort Pickett, Virginia, for its final training.[22] The division moved to the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation embarkation's Camp Patrick Henry to await combat loading on the transports.[23]

The division's two combat commands, the 89th and 90th Brigades, were not activated, as the Army favored smaller and more versatile regimental commands for the new conflict.[8] The 45th Infantry Division was instead based around the 157th, 179th, and 180th Infantry Regiments.[24] Also assigned to the division were the 158th, 160th, 171st, and 189th Field Artillery Battalions, the 45th Signal Company, the 700th Ordnance Company, the 45th Quartermaster Company, the 45th Reconnaissance Troop, the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, and the 120th Medical Battalion.[24]

Sicily[edit]

1942–1963 "Triangular" Organization[25]

The division sailed from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation for the Mediterranean region on 8 June 1943, combat loaded aboard thirteen attack transports and five cargo attack vessels as convoy UGF-9 headed by the communications ship USS Ancon.[21][23] By the time the 45th Division landed in North Africa on 22 June 1943, the Allies had largely secured the African theater. As a result the division was not sent into combat upon arrival and instead commenced training at Arzew, French Morocco,[26] in preparation for the invasion of Sicily. Allied intelligence estimated that the island was defended by approximately 230,000 troops, the majority of which were drawn mostly from weak Italian formations and two German divisions which had been reconstituted after being destroyed earlier. Against this, the Allies planned to land 180,000 troops,[27] including the 45th Division, which was assigned to II Corps of the Seventh United States Army for the operation.[28]

The division was subsequently assigned a lead role in the amphibious assault on Sicily, coming ashore on 10 July.[29][30] Landing near Scoglitti, the southernmost U.S. objective on the island, the division advanced north on the U.S. force's eastern flank.[31] After initially encountering resistance from armor of the German Herman Goering Division, the division advanced, supported by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division who landed inland on 11 July.[32] The 82nd paratroopers, conducting their first combat jump of the war, then set up to protect the 45th's flank against German counterattack, but without weapons to counter heavy armor, the paratroopers had to rely on support from U.S. armored units to repulse the German Tiger I tanks.[32] As the division advanced towards its main objective to capture the airfields at Biscari and Comiso, German forces pushed back.[33] For most of the first two weeks while the division moved slowly north, it encountered only light resistance from Italian forces fighting delaying actions.[34] Italian and German forces resisted fiercely at Motta Hill on 26 July, however, and for four days the 45th Infantry Division was held up there.[35] After this, division was allocated to drive towards Messina, being ordered by General George S. Patton to cover the distance as quickly as possible.[36] It spent a few days in that city, but on 1 August, the division was withdrawn from the front line for rest and rear-guard patrol duty,[26] after which the division was assigned to VI Corps of the Fifth United States Army, in preparation for the invasion of mainland Italy.[37]

Salerno[edit]

Troops of the 45th Infantry Division in a transport bound for Sicily in June 1943.

On 3 September, Italy surrendered to the Allied powers. Hoping to occupy as much of the country as possible before the German army could react, the Fifth Army prepared to attack Salerno.[38] On 10 September 1943, the division conducted its second landing at Agropoli and Paestum with the 36th Infantry Division, on the southernmost beaches of the attack.[37] Opposing them were elements of the German 29th Panzergrenadier Division and XVI Panzer Corps.[37] Against stiff resistance, the 45th pushed to the Calore River after a week of heavy fighting.[39] The Fifth Army was battered and pushed back by German forces until 20 September, when American forces were finally able to break out and establish a more secure beachhead.[37][40] On 3 November it crossed the Volturno River and took Venafro.[39] The division had great difficulty moving across the rivers and through the mountainous terrain, and the advance was slow. After linking up with the British Eighth Army, which had advanced from the south, the combined force, under the Fifteenth Army Group, was stalled when it reached the Gustav Line.[41] Until 9 January 1944, the division inched forward into the mountains reaching St. Elia, north of Cassino, before moving to a rest area.[39]

Anzio[edit]

A chaplain reads from a bible while a formation of men stand in the background with heads bowed.
Chaplain Lt. Col. William King leads troops of the 45th in Christmas Day services in Italy, 25 December 1943

Allied forces conducted a frontal assault on the Gustav Line stronghold at Monte Cassino, and VI Corps was assigned Operation Shingle, detached from the Army Group to land behind enemy lines at Anzio on 22 January.[42] For this mission, the 45th Infantry Division was given additional armored units.[43] Landing on schedule, VI Corps surprised the German forces, but Major General John P. Lucas's decision to consolidate the beachhead instead of attacking gave the Germans time to bring the LXXVI Panzer Corps forward to oppose the landings.[42][44]

On 30 January 1944, when VI Corps moved out, it encountered heavy resistance from German armored units which inflicted heavy casualties.[42][45] The fight became a war of attrition, and for the next four months the division stood its ground during repeated German counterattacks.[39] The 45th Infantry Division was mostly stuck in place as the Pimlott Line was subjected to bombardment from aircraft and artillery fire. It was May before the Germans, reeling from heavy bombing and repeated attacks from the Fifteenth Army Group, began to withdraw.[46]

On 23 May the division went on the offensive, crossing the Tiber River by 4 June and, in the process, outflanking Rome. VI Corps linked up with the rest of the Fifth Army by 25 May, and as the division crossed the river, the Fifth Army entered and captured Rome.[47] As a result, the 45th Infantry was the first military unit to enter the Vatican. On 16 June, it withdrew for rest in preparation for another assault.[39] During this time, VI Corps was attached to the Seventh United States Army, Sixth United States Army Group,[48] part of a buildup in preparation for an invasion of mainland Europe in southern France, called Operation Anvil, which was originally planned to coincide with Operation Overlord in the north.[49] The 45th, 36th and 3rd Infantry Divisions were pulled from the line in Italy to conduct Operation Anvil, but the attack was delayed until August because of a shortage of landing craft.[49]

France and Germany[edit]

A map of southern France with the 45th Infantry Division landing at the center of a large invasion force.
Tactical map of Operation Dragoon

The 45th Infantry Division participated in its fourth assault landing during Operation Dragoon on 15 August 1944, at St. Maxime, in Southern France.[39] The division landed its 157th and 180th regimental combat teams and captured the heights of the Chaines de Mar before meeting the 1st Special Service Force.[50] The German Army, reeling from the Battle of Normandy, pulled back after a short fight, part of an overall German withdrawal to the east following the landings.[51][52] Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division engaged the dispersed forces of German Army Group G, suffering very few casualties.[47] The Seventh Army, along with Free French forces, were able to advance north quickly. By 12 September, the Seventh Army linked up with the Third United States Army, advancing from Normandy, joining the two forces at Dijon.[49] Against slight opposition, it spearheaded the drive for the Belfort Gap. The 45th Infantry Division took the strongly defended city of Epinal on 24 September.[39] The division was then reassigned to V Corps for its next advance.[48] On 30 September the division crossed the Moselle River and entered the western foothills of the Vosges, taking Rambervillers.[39] It would remain in the area for a month waiting for other units to catch up before crossing the Mortagne River on 23 October.[39] The division remained on the line with the Sixth United States Army Group, the southernmost of three Army Groups advancing through France.[53]

After the crossing was complete, the division was relieved from V Corps and assigned to XV Corps.[48] The division was allowed a one-month rest, resuming its advance on 25 November, attacking the forts north of Mutzig. These forts had been designed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1893 to block access to the plain of Alsace. The 45th Division next crossed the Zintzel River before pushing through the Maginot defenses.[39] During this time much of the division's artillery assets were attached to the 44th Infantry Division to provide additional support.[54] The 45th Infantry Division was reassigned to VI Corps on New Year's Day.[48] From 2 January 1945, the division fought defensively along the German border, withdrawing to the Moder River.[39] It sent half of its artillery to support the 70th Infantry Division.[54] On 17 February the division was pulled off the line for rest and training. Once this rest period was complete, the division was assigned to XV Corps for the final push into German territory.[48] The 45th moved north to the Sarreguemines area and smashed through the Siegfried Line, on 17 March taking Homburg on the 21st and crossing the Rhine between Worms and Hamm on the 26th.[39] The advance continued, with Aschaffenburg falling on 3 April, and Nuremberg on the 20th.[39] The division crossed the Danube River on 27 April, and liberated 32,000 captives of the Dachau concentration camp on 29 April 1945.[39] The division captured Munich during the next two days, occupying the city until V-E Day and the surrender of Germany.[55] During the next month, the division remained in Munich and set up collection points and camps for the massive numbers of surrendering troops of the German armies. The number of POWs taken by the 45th Division during its almost two years of fighting totalled 124,840 men.[39] The division was then slated to move to the Pacific theater of operations to participate in the invasion of mainland Japan on the island of Honshu, but these plans were scrubbed before the division could depart after the surrender of Japan, on V-J Day.[56]

Criminal allegations[edit]

After the war, courts-martial were convened to investigate possible war crimes by members of the division. In the first case, dubbed the Biscari massacre, American troops from C Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, were alleged to have shot 74 Italian and two German prisoners in Acate in July 1943 following the capture of an airfield in the area. Patton asked General Omar Bradley to get the case dismissed to prevent bad press, but Bradley refused. A non-commissioned officer later confessed to the crimes and was found guilty, but an officer who claimed he had only been following orders was acquitted.[57][58][59]

Dead German troops near Dachau Concentration Camp, allegedly killed in the Dachau massacre in 1945.

In a second incident, the Army considered court-martialling several officers of the 157th Infantry Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Felix L. Sparks after servicemen were accused of massacring German soldiers who were surrendering at the Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Some of the German troops were camp guards; the others were sick and wounded troops from a nearby hospital. The soldiers of the 45th Division who liberated the camp were outraged at the malnourishment and maltreatment of the 32,000 prisoners they liberated, some barely alive, and all victims of the Holocaust. After entering the camp, the soldiers found boxcars filled with dead bodies of prisoners who had succumbed to starvation or last-minute executions, and in rooms adjacent to gas chambers they found naked bodies piled from the floor to the ceiling.[60] The cremation ovens, which were still in operation when the soldiers arrived, contained bodies and skeletons as well. Some of the victims apparently had died only hours before the 45th Division entered the camp, while many others lay where they had died in states of decomposition that overwhelmed the soldiers' senses.[61] Accounts conflict over what happened and over how many German troops were killed. After investigating the incident, the Army considered court-martialling several officers involved, but Patton successfully intervened. Some veterans of the 45th Infantry Division have said that only 30 to 50 German soldiers were killed and that very few were killed trying to surrender, while others have admitted to killing or refusing to treat wounded German guards.[62]

After the war[edit]

Callsigns of the 45th Division [63] [64]

  • 45TH DIV..............POWER
  • 45TH DIV ARTY...PARASOL
  • 189TH FA BN.......PARK
  • 160TH FA BN.......PATIENCE
  • 158TH FA BN.......POLISH
  • 171ST FA BN.......POST
  • 157TH INF RGT...POISON (WWII)
  • 179TH INF RGT...PAGAN
  • 180TH INF RGT...PASSPORT
  • 279TH INF RGT...POISON (KOREA)

Battalions of the Infantry Regiments

  • 1st INF BN............RED
  • 2nd INF BN...........WHITE
  • 3rd INF BN............BLUE

Regimental Tanks and Mortars

  • TANK CO.............GREEN
  • MORTAR CO........BROWN

During World War II, the 45th Division fought in 511 days of combat.[26] Nine soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during their service with the 45th Infantry Division: Van T. Barfoot,[65] Ernest Childers,[66] Almond E. Fisher,[67] William J. Johnston,[68] Salvador J. Lara, [69] Jack C. Montgomery,[70] James D. Slaton,[66] Jack Treadwell,[71] and Edward G. Wilkin.[72] Soldiers of the division also received 61 Distinguished Service Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, 1,848 Silver Star Medals, 38 Legion of Merit medals, 59 Soldier's Medals, 5,744 Bronze Star Medals, and 52 Air Medals. The division received seven distinguished unit citations and eight campaign streamers during the conflict.[26] The division suffered 3,650 killed in action, 13,729 wounded in action, 3,615 missing in action, 266 captured, and 41,647 non-battle casualties for a total of 62,907 casualties during the war.[73]

Most of the division returned to New York in September 1945, and from there went to Camp Bowie, Texas. On 7 December 1945, the division was deactivated from the active duty force and its members reassigned to other Army units. The following year, on 10 September 1946, the 45th Infantry Division was reconstituted as a National Guard unit.[74] Instead of comprising units from several states, the post-war 45th was an all-Oklahoma organization.[75] During this time the division was also reorganized and as a part of this process the 157th Infantry was removed from the division's order of battle and replaced with the 279th Infantry Regiment.[76]

During this time, the U.S. Army underwent a drastic reduction in size. At the end of World War II, it contained 89 divisions, but by 1950, there were just 10 active divisions in the force, along with a few reserve divisions such as the 45th Infantry Division which were combat-ineffective.[77] The division retained many of its best officers as senior commanders as the force downsized, and it enjoyed a good relationship with its community. The 45th in this time was regarded as one of the better-trained National Guard divisions.[78] Regardless, by mid-1950 the division had only 8,413 troops, less than 45 percent[n 1] of its full-strength authorization.[79] Only 10 percent of the division's officers and 5 percent of its enlisted men had combat experience with the division from World War II.[80]

Korean War[edit]

At the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the U.S. Army looked to expand its force again to prepare for major conflict. Positioned to oppose the North Korean People's Army alongside the Republic of Korea Army as hostilities began were four understrength U.S. divisions on occupation duty in Japan. These were the 7th Infantry Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the 24th Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division, which were all under the control of the Eighth United States Army. Due to drastic reductions in U.S. military spending following the end of World War II, these divisions were equipped with antiquated weaponry and suffered from a shortage of anti-armor weapons capable of penetrating the hulls of the North Korean T-34 tanks.[81][82]

Reinforcement pool[edit]

Initially, the division was used to provide a pool of reinforcements for the divisions which had been sent to the Korean War theater, and in January 1951 it provided 650 enlisted fillers for overseas service. Later that month, it was given 4,006 new recruits for its three infantry regiments and artillery assets, and each unit created a 14-week training program to prepare these new soldiers for combat.[83] Because of heavy casualties and slow reinforcement rates, the Army looked to the National Guard to provide additional units to relieve the beleaguered Eighth Army. At the time, the 45th Infantry Division was comprised overwhelmingly of high school students or recent graduates and only about 60 percent of its divisional troops had conducted training and drills with the division for a year or more. Additionally, only about 20 percent of its personnel had prior experience of military service from World War II.[84] Nevertheless, the division was one of four National Guard divisions identified as being among the most prepared for combat based on the effectiveness of its equipment, training, and leadership.[85] As a result, in February 1951, the 45th Infantry Division was alerted that it would sail for Japan.[86]

In preparation for the deployment, the division was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana, to begin training and to fill its ranks.[87] After its basic training was complete, the division was sent to Japan in April 1951 for advanced training and to act as a reserve force for the Eighth United States Army, then fighting in Korea.[88] The involvement of the National Guard in the fighting in Korea was further expanded when the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard received warning orders for deployment as well.[89]

Initial struggles[edit]

A man in military uniform constructs a net in a hilly outdoor environment
A soldier of the 120th Engineer Battalion, 45th Infantry Division sets up camouflage net near the front lines in Korea in 1952.

On 1 September 1951, the 45th Infantry Division was activated as the first National Guard division to be deployed to the Far East theater since World War II.[87][90] Nevertheless, it was not deployed to Korea until December 1951, when its advanced training was complete.[88][91] Following its arrival, the division moved to the front line to replace the 1st Cavalry Division, who were then delegated to the Far East reserve, having suffered over 16,000 casualties in less than 18 months of fighting.[92]

Though the 45th remained de facto segregated as an all-white unit in 1950,[93] individual unit commanders went to great lengths to integrate reinforcements from different areas and ethnicity into their units.[94] By 1952, it was fully integrated.[95] Additionally, in an effort to reduce the burden on the National Guard,[n 2] troops from the division were often replaced by enlisted and drafted soldiers from the active duty force. When it arrived in Korea, only half the division's manpower were National Guard troops, and over 4,500 guardsmen left between May and July 1952, continually replaced by more active duty troops, including an increasing number of African Americans.[96] Though the division was no longer an "All-Oklahoma" unit, leaders opted to keep its designation as the 45th Infantry Division.[97][n 3]

By the time the division was in place, the battle lines on both sides had largely solidified, leaving the 45th Infantry Division in a stationary position as it conducted attacks and counterattacks for the same ground.[98] The division was put under the command of Eighth Army's I Corps for most of the conflict.[99] It was deployed around Chorwon and assigned to protect the key routes from that area into Seoul. The terrain was difficult and the weather was poor in the region.[100] The division suffered its first casualty on 11 December 1951.[101]

Initially, the division did not fare well, though it improved quickly.[88] Its anti-aircraft and armor assets were used as mobile artillery, which continuously pounded Chinese positions. The 45th, in turn, was under constant artillery and mortar attack.[102] It also conducted constant small-unit patrols along the border seeking to engage Chinese outposts or patrols. These small-unit actions made up the majority of the division's combat in Korea.[103] Chinese troops were well dug-in and better trained than the troops of the inexperienced 45th, and it suffered casualties and frequently had to disengage when it was attacked.[104]

In the division's first few months on the line, Chinese forces conducted three raids in its sector. In retaliation, the 245th Tank Battalion sent nine tanks to raid Agok.[98] Two companies of Chinese forces ambushed and devastated a patrol from the 179th Infantry a short time later.[98] In the spring, the division launched Operation Counter, which was an effort to establish 11 patrol bases around Old Baldy Hill. The division then defended the hill against a series of Chinese assaults from the Chinese 38th Army.[98]

Final engagements and the end of the war[edit]

A topographic map showing a series of hills surrounded by defensive perimeters.
Map of the area surrounding Old Baldy Hill, which the division defended for much of its tour in Korea.

The 45th Infantry Division, along with the 7th Infantry Division, fought off repeated Chinese attacks all along the front line throughout 1952, and Chinese forces frequently attacked Old Baldy Hill into the fall of that year.[105] Around that time, the 45th Infantry Division relinquished command of Old Baldy Hill to the 2nd Infantry Division. Almost immediately the Chinese launched a concentrated attack on the hill, overrunning the U.S. forces.[106] Heavy rainstorms prevented the divisions from retaking the hill for around a month, and when it was finally retaken it was heavily fortified to prevent further attacks.[107] The 245th Tank Battalion was sent to assault Chinese positions throughout late 1952, but most of the division held a stationary defensive line against the Chinese.[105]

In early 1953, North Korean forces launched a large-scale attack against Hill 812, which was then under the control of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 179th Infantry.[108] The ensuing Battle of Hill Eerie was one of a series of larger attacks by Chinese and North Korean forces which produced heavier fighting than the previous year had seen. These offensives were conducted largely in order to secure a better position during the ongoing truce negotiations.[108] Chinese forces continued to mount concentrated attacks on the lines of the UN forces, including the 45th Infantry Division, but the division managed to hold most of its ground, remaining stationary until the end of the war in the summer of 1953.[109]

During the Korean War the 45th Infantry Division suffered 4,004 casualties, consisting of 834 killed in action and 3,170 wounded in action.[88] The division was awarded four campaign streamers and one Presidential Unit Citation.[110] One soldier from the division, Charles George, was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving in Korea.[111]

After Korea[edit]

A stadium full of soldiers sits behind a podium of commanders in military uniform
Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the successor organization to the 45th Infantry Division, hold a ceremony ahead of a deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom in February 2011.

The division briefly patrolled the Korean Demilitarized Zone following the signing of the armistice ending the war, but most of its men returned home and reverted to National Guard status on 30 April 1954.[74] Its colors were returned to Oklahoma on 25 September of that year, formally ending the division's presence in Korea.[97]

The division remained as a unit of the Oklahoma National Guard, and participated in no major actions throughout the rest of the 1950s save regular weekend and summer training exercises. In 1963, the formation was reorganized in accordance with the Reorganization Objective Army Divisions plan, which saw the establishment of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigade within the division. These brigades would see no major deployments or events, and were deactivated five years later in 1968.[112] That same year, due to the perceived lack of need for so many large formations in the Army National Guard, the 45th Infantry Division was deactivated, as part of a larger move to reduce the number of Army National Guard divisions from 15 to eight, while increasing the number of separate brigades from seven to 18.[113] In its place, the independent 45th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was established.[74][114] The 45th Infantry Brigade received all of the 45th Division's lineage and heraldry, including its shoulder sleeve insignia.[2] Also activated from division assets were the 45th Field Artillery Group, later redesignated the 45th Fires Brigade, and the 90th Troop Command.[115][116]

Honors[edit]

The 45th Infantry Division was awarded eight campaign streamers and one unit award in World War II and four campaign streamers and one unit decoration in the Korean War, for a total of twelve campaign streamers and two unit decorations in its operational history.[7]

Conflict Streamer Inscription Year(s)
A red ribbon with four vertical dark green stripes in the center. French Croix de Guerre, World War II (With Palm) Embroidered "Acquafondata" 1943–1944
Streamer EAMEC.PNG European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer Sicily (with Arrowhead) 1943
NaplesFoggia (with Arrowhead) 1943
Anzio (wirth Arrowhead) 1943
Rome–Arno 1944
Southern France (with Arrowhead) 1944
Rhineland 1944–1945
Ardennes–Alsace 1944–1945
Central Europe 1945
A white ribbon with vertical green and red stripes on its edges and a red and blue circle in the middle Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation For service in Korea 1952–1953
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png Korean Service Campaign Streamer Second Korean Winter 1951–1952
Korea, Summer–Fall 1952 1952
Third Korean Winter 1952–1953
Korea, Summer 1953 1953

Commanding Generals[edit]

MG Baird H. Markham 15 Feb 1923 6 Apr 1931
MG Roy V. Hoffman 13 Jun 1931 13 Jun 1933
MG Alexander M. Tuthill 14 Jun 1933 21 Oct 1935
MG Charles E. McPherren 25 Nov 1935 29 Jul 1936
MG William S. Key 29 Jul 1936 13 Oct 1942
MG Troy H. Middleton 14 Oct 1942 21 Nov 1943
MG William W. Eagles 22 Nov 1943 30 Nov 1944
MG Robert T. Frederick 1 Dec 1944 10 Sep 1945
BG H.J.D. Meyer 11 Sep 1945 7 Dec 1945
MG James C. Styron 5 Sep 1946 20 May 1952
MG David Ruffner 21 May 1952 15 Mar 1953
MG Philip De Witt Ginder 16 Mar 1953 30 Nov 1953
MG Paul D. Harkins 1 Dec 1953 15 Mar 1954
BG Harvey H. Fischer 18 Mar 1954 27 Apr 1954
MG Hal L. Muldrow, Jr 10 Sep 1952 31 Aug 1960
MG Frederick Alvin Daugherty 1 Sep 1960 20 Nov 1964
MG Jasper N. Baker 21 Nov 1964 31 Jan 1968

Note: Similarity of dates for General Muldrow and commanders beginning with General Ruffner is because 45th Infantry Division, AUS, was retained in Korea while twin unit, 45th Infantry Division, NGUS, was activated in Oklahoma.[117]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As of 1 August 1950, the division consisted of 698 commissioned officers, 64 warrant officers, and 7,651 enlisted men. Army doctrine dictated a fully manned infantry division at 910 officers, 132 warrant officers, and 17,460 enlisted men. The National Guard at the time was operating at a reduced authorization of 851 officers, 130 enlisted men, and 12,777 enlisted men. See Donnelly 2001, p. 92.
  2. ^ Fearing political ramifications, Army leaders sought to prevent large numbers of casualties from any one state, and the 45th Infantry Division was an all-Oklahoma organization at the beginning of the war. See: Donnelly 2001, p. 122
  3. ^ As a result of this effort, two 45th Infantry Division units existed between 1952 and 1953; the mostly Active-duty 45th Infantry Division (AUS) in Korea, and the National Guard 45th Infantry Division (NGUS) in Oklahoma. In practice, the military institutionally recognized the Korea unit as the only "official" division, and most of the returning Oklahoma guardsmen were either separated from the Guard at the end of their enlistments or remained in inactive reserve status. See: Donnelly 2001, p. 122

Citations[edit]

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Sources[edit]

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