97th Infantry Division (United States)
|97th Infantry Division|
97th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
|Country||United States of America|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|US infantry divisions (1939–present)|
|96th Infantry Division||98th Infantry Division|
World War I
The division was activated 5 September 1918 and inactivated 20 November 1918 ; one infantry regiment (303d) served with the 76th Division.
World War II
- Activated: 25 February 1943
- Overseas: 19 February 1945, for the ETO; 28 August 1945, for the Pacific Theater
- Campaigns: Central Europe
- Days of combat: 41 (ETO)
- Awards: Medal of Honor-1 (Joe R. Hastings); Distinguished Service Cross (United States)-1 ; Distinguished Service Medal (Army)-1 ; Silver Star-61; Legion of Merit-2; Soldier's Medal-3 ; Bronze Star −206
- Commanders: Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig (4 February 1943 – 19 January 1944), Brig. Gen. Milton B. Halsey (20 January 1944 – 24 September 1945), Maj. Gen. Herman F. Kramer (24 September 1945 to inactivation). Returned to U.S.: 26 June 1945, from the ETO
- Overseas: 16 September 1945, to the Philippine Islands
- Inactivated: 31 March 1946 in Japan
The 97th Infantry Division landed at Le Havre, France, 2 March 1945, and moved to Camp Lucky Strike. On 28 March, the division crossed the German border west of Aachen and took up a defensive position along the west bank of the Rhine River opposite Düsseldorf, engaging in patrolling. The 97th entered the battle of the Ruhr pocket, crossing the Rhine near Bonn, 3 April, and taking up a position on the southern bank of the Sieg River. It crossed that river, 7 April, with the troops suffering 80% casualties in wounded and dead. However, many of the survivors credit their lives to Pfc. John Hedrick, who took control of an abandoned boat and made sure the survivors crossed the river safely. He received the Silver Star for his valiant efforts. There was a building marked by a red cross which the 97th assumed was a hospital and therefore, did not attack it. In fact, it was a factory that made German 88's. The Germans had tunnels dug there and after the troops got up on land, past the river, the Germans came up behind them. They then shot at the Americans from both directions. It fought a street-to-street engagement in Siegburg on 10 April.
After Siegburg, they captured Cologne (Koeln) Germany. Pushing on toward Düsseldorf through difficult terrain and heavy resistance in densely wooded areas, the division captured Solingen on 17 April. The Germans cut down trees to impede the infantry's advance, thus blocking the roads in the woods. Düsseldorf fell on the next day and the Ruhr pocket was eliminated. The infantry drove through Düsseldorf, waiting for the Germans to shoot at them; then they would find the pockets of Germans and shoot at them to flush them out.
On 23 April elements of the 97th, together with members of the 90th Infantry Division, liberated Flossenbürg concentration camp near Floß in Bavaria. A Military Police patrol from the 303rd Infantry Regiment may have been the first U.S. Army unit to reach the camp, although the 2nd Cavalry Group, Mechanized as well as a colonel from the 90th later took credit for liberating the camp. Members of the 97th Division treated sick and dying prisoners and buried the several hundred corpses discovered in the camp. Brigadier General Halsey inspected the camp as did General Sherman V. Hasbrouck, the commanding officer of the division artillery. Members of the Counter Intelligence Corps, which included Robie Macauley, Ib Melchior and Anthony Hecht, interviewed former prisoners and gathered evidence for trials of former camp officers and guards. The 97th also liberated Helmbrechts concentration camp, a sub-camp of Flossenbürg for female prisoners.
On 25 April the division entered Ash, Czechoslovakia. Moving to protect the left flank of the Third Army on its southern drive, the 97th took Cheb, Czechoslovakia, on 25 April 1945 and attacked the Czechoslovak pocket near Weiden, Germany, on 29 April. It had advanced to Konstantinovy Lázně, Czechoslovakia, when it received the cease-fire order on 7 May. Part of the division was in Teplá where the German 2nd Panzer Division had surrendered. The troops used the monastery there as a POW camp for the Germans.
The division left for Le Havre, 16 June 1945, for redeployment to the Pacific, arriving at Cebu, Philippine Islands, 16 September, and then sailed to Japan for occupation duty, arriving at Yokohama on 23 September 1945.
97th Infantry Division was credited with firing the last official shot in the European Theatre of Operations during World War II. This shot was fired by PFC Domenic Mozzetta of Company B, 387th Infantry Regiment, 97th Division, at a German sniper near Klenovice, Czechoslovakia shortly before midnight, 7 May 1945.
Assignments in the ETO
- 30 January 1945: Fifteenth Army, 12th Army Group
- 28 March 1945: XXII Corps
- 1 April 1945: First Army, 12th Army Group
- 10 April 1945: XVIII (Abn) Corps
- 19 April 1945: Third Army, 12th Army Group
- 22 April 1945: XII Corps
- 28 April 1945: First Army, 12th Army Group
- 30 April 1945: V Corps
- 6 May 1945: Third Army, 12th Army Group
- Nickname: Trident.
- Shoulder patch: A vertical trident in white on a blue background.
- Division with the highest IQ in World War II – started out as Air Corps and ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) – but they were pulled to Infantry when casualties in Europe needed to be replaced.
- The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950.
- The Story of the 97th Infantry Division Original document with photos
- Robert W. Hacker, "Knocking the Lock Off the Gate at the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp; 23 April 1945," excerpted from Robert W. Hacker: Flossenbürg Concentration Camp, Phoenix 2000, unpublished manuscript. Flossenbürg memorial archive.
- Macauley R. "Who Should Mourn?" The New York Times, Letters to the Editor, 8 August 1976.
- Ib Melchior, Case by Case: A U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent in World War II, IUniverse (14 June 2000) ISBN 0-595-00393-1
- "Anthony Hecht: Poet who expressed the horrors of the 20th century in verse of formal rigour and cultured gravity."
- Helmbrechts Concentration Camp