63rd Infantry Division (United States)
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|63rd Regional Support Command (Infantry Division)|
63rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
|Branch||United States Army|
|Garrison/HQ||Moffett Field, California|
|Nickname(s)||"Blood and Fire" (special designation)|
|Motto(s)||Pride – Honor – Service|
|Engagements||World War II|
|Distinctive unit insignia|
|Distinguishing flag, 1943–68|
|Distinguishing flag, 1968–2009|
The 63rd Infantry Division ("Blood and Fire") was an infantry division of the United States Army that fought in Europe during World War II. After the war it was inactivated, but later the division number and shoulder sleeve insignia were authorized for use by the 63d Army Reserve Command (ARCOM).
The 63rd Regional Support Command is responsible for the base and administrative support of all United States Army Reserve units throughout the seven-state region of southwestern United States including California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. Although the 63rd Regional Readiness Command located in Los Alamitos, CA, was not authorized to carry the lineage of the 63rd Infantry Division, the creation of the new 63rd Regional Support Command in Moffett Field, CA, authorizes it to inherit the lineage and the bi-color red and blue background 63rd Infantry Division flag as an exception to policy. The unit was inactivated on 6 December 2009 and replaced by the 79th Sustainment Support Command, and was reactivated as a regional support command.
World War II
- Activated: 15 June 1943
- Overseas: 25 November 1944
- Campaigns: Rhineland, Central Europe
- Days of combat: 119
- Prisoners taken: 21,542
- 7 Presidential Unit Citations
- 1 French Croix de Guerre with Palm – 254th Infantry Regiment
- 16 Meritorious Unit Commendations
- 2 Medals of Honor (First Lieutenant James E. Robinson, Jr., and Staff Sergeant John R. Crews
- 9 Distinguished Service Crosses
- 1 Distinguished Service Medal
- 455 Silver Stars
- 3 Legions of Merit
- 29 Soldier's Medals
- 5,313 Bronze Stars
- 68 Air Medals
- 4,999 Purple Heart Medal
- 1 British Military Cross
- 2 British Military Medal
- 2 French Legion of Honor
- 15 French Croix de Guerre individual awards
The 63rd Infantry Division was activated on 15 June 1943, at Camp Blanding, Florida. Shortly thereafter, the division removed to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi to prepare for deployment to Europe. On three occasions during the next seventeen months, the division trained up recruits only to have them cross-leveled to other divisions heading for theater. The first elements of the division, anxious to get in the fight, finally arrived in Europe in December 1944 and were joined by the rest of the division in January 1945.
Order of Battle
The division consisted of the following units:
- Headquarters, 63rd Infantry Division
- 253rd Infantry Regiment
- 254th Infantry Regiment
- 255th Infantry Regiment
- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 63rd Infantry Division Artillery
- 718th Field Artillery Battalion (155 mm)
- 861st Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
- 862nd Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
- 863rd Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
- 263rd Engineer Combat Battalion
- 363rd Medical Battalion
- 63rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
- Headquarters, Special Troops, 63rd Infantry Division
- Headquarters Company, 63rd Infantry Division
- 763rd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
- 63rd Quartermaster Company
- 563rd Signal Company
- Military Police Platoon
- 63rd Counterintelligence Corps Detachment
Major attached units
- 70th Tank Battalion (attached 12–18 March 1945)
- 740th Tank Battalion (attached 17–28 March 1945)
- 753rd Tank Battalion (attached 31 March-28 May 1945)
- 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 30–31 May 1945)
- 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 16–21 March 1945)
- 822nd Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 21 March-28 May 1945)
- 436th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (attached 11 February-1 May 1945)
More attached and detached units are listed here:
Three regiments of the 63rd Division arrived in Marseille, France, 8 December 1944, trained at Haguenau and, under the designation Task Force Harris, protected the east flank of the Seventh Army along the Rhine River. The task force fought defensively from 22 to 30 December 1944. On 30 December 44, while the 253d Inf Regt was attached to the 44th Inf Div and the 255th Inf Regt was attached to the 100th Inf Div, the 254th Inf Regt was moved to the Colmar area of France where it was attached to the 3d Inf Div which was at the time a part of the First French Army. The infantry regiments remained with their attachments until early February 1945. The rest of the division arrived at Marseilles, 14 January 1945, and moved to Willerwald on 2 February, where it was joined by the advance elements on 6 February. On 7 February, the 63rd conducted local raids and patrols, then pushed forward, crossing the Saar River on 17 February, and mopping up the enemy in Muhlen Woods. After bitter fighting at Güdingen early in March, the division smashed at the Siegfried Line on 15th at Saarbrücken, Germany, taking Ormesheim and finally breaching the line at Sankt Ingbert and Hassel on 20 March. Hard fighting still lay ahead, but the Siegfried Line was Germany's last attempt to defend its prewar boundaries along the western front. Before resting on 23 March, the 63d took Spiesen-Elversberg, Neunkirchen and Erbach. From then until the end of the war, the 63d Division carved a path of "blood and fire" from Sarreguemines through Germany. On 28 March, the division crossed the Rhine at Lampertheim, moved to Viernheim and captured Heidelberg on 30 March. Continuing the advance, the 63rd crossed the Neckar River near Mosbach and the Jagst River The 253rd Infantry Regiment, received the majority of the German resistance during this time at the Battle of Buchhof and Stein am Kocher. Heavy resistance slowed the attack on Adelsheim, Möckmühl, and Bad Wimpfen.
The division switched to the southeast, capturing Lampoldshausen and clearing the Harthäuser Woods on 7 April. A bridgehead was secured over the Kocher River near Weißbach on 8 April, and Schwäbisch Hall fell on 17 April. Advance elements crossed the Rems River and rushed to the Danube. The Danube was crossed on 25 April, and Leipheim fell before the division was withdrawn from the line on 28 April, and assigned security duty from the Rhine to Darmstadt and Würzburg on a line to Stuttgart and Speyer. The 63d began leaving for home on 21 August 1945, and was inactivated on 27 September 1945.
From mid-February 1945 until the end of the war, the 63rd Infantry Division made a path of Blood and Fire from Sarreguemines through the Siegfried Line to Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and ending in Landsberg Germany at the end of April 1945 when the division was pulled from the line for a much needed rest.
- Total battle casualties: 4,502
- Killed in action: 861
- Wounded in action: 3,326
- Missing in action: 98
- Prisoner of war: 219
- Headquarters, 63rd Infantry Division
- Inactivated 27 September 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
- Assigned 1 March 1952 to the Sixth Army.
- Activated 1 March 1952 at Los Angeles, California (reflagged from 13th Armored Division.
- Reorganized and redesignated 31 March 1959 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Infantry Division.
- Location changed 27 March 1960 to Bell, California.
- Inactivated 31 December 1965 at Bell, California.
On 1 May 1959, the division was reorganized as a Pentomic Division. The division's three infantry regiments were inactivated and their elements reorganized into five infantry battle groups:
- 253rd Infantry Regiment
- Inactivated 27–29 September 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, and Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
- Activated 1 March 1952 with Headquarters at Los Angeles, California.
- Inactivated 1 May 1959 at Los Angeles, concurrently, Headquarters and Headquarters Company consolidated with Headquarters and Headquarters Company Headquarters, 3rd Battle Group, 31st Infantry.
- The Battle Group was activated 1 May 1959 with Headquarters at Los Angeles, California. Reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry on 1 October 1963. Location of Headquarters changed 16 March 1964 to Playa del Rey, California, and inactivated at Playa del Rey on 31 December 1965.
- 254th Infantry Regiment
- Inactivated 29 September 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
- Activated 1 March 1952 with Headquarters at Pasadena, California.
- Inactivated 15 May 1959 at Kansas City, concurrently, Headquarters and Headquarters Company consolidated with Headquarters and Headquarters Company Headquarters, 3rd Battle Group, 30th Infantry.
- The Battle Group was activated 1 May 1959 with Headquarters at Pasadena, California. Reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry on 1 April 1963, and inactivated at Pasadena on 31 December 1965.
- 255th Infantry Regiment
- Inactivated 29 September 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
- Activated 1 March 1952 with Headquarters at Los Angeles, California.
- Inactivated 1 May 1959 at Los Angeles, concurrently, Headquarters and Headquarters Company consolidated with Headquarters and Headquarters Company Headquarters, 3rd Battle Group, 27th Infantry.
- The Battle Group was activated 1 May 1959 with Headquarters at Los Angeles, California. Reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 27th Infantry on 1 April 1963, and inactivated at Los Angeles on 31 December 1965.
- Two additional Battle Groups were also formed:
- The 3rd Battle Group, 15th Infantry was activated 1 May 1959 with Headquarters in Santa Ana, California. Reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry on 1 April 1963, and inactivated at Santa Ana 31 December 1965.
- The 3rd Battle Group, 21st Infantry was activated 1 May 1959 with Headquarters at Santa Barbara, California, and inactivated there on 1 April 1963.
- On 1 April 1963, the division was reorganized as a Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD). Three Brigade Headquarters were activated and Infantry units were reorganized into battalions.
- Headquarters, 1st Brigade was activated at Bell, California and inactivated there on 31 December 1965.
- Headquarters, 2nd Brigade at activated at Pasadena, California, and inactivated there on 31 December 1965
- Headquarters, 3rd Brigade at activated at Los Angeles, California, and inactivated there on 31 December 1965.
- The 4th Battalion, 15th Infantry was activated 1 April 1963 with Headquarters in Santa Barbara, California, and inactivated there 31 December 1965.
- The 4th Battalion, 27th Infantry was activated 1 April 1963 with Headquarters in Long Beach, California, and inactivated there 31 December 1965.
The division and subordinate elements were inactivated on 31 December 1965.
The 63rd Infantry Division was reactivated in February 1952 as a unit reflagged from the 13th Armored Division, and assigned to the Army Reserve, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The division was again inactivated in December 1965, and the colors were transferred to the 63rd Reinforcement Training Unit.
On 1 January 1968, the 63rd Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) was activated and, as an exception to policy, allowed to wear the shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia of the 63rd Infantry Division. The 63rd ARCOM did not, however, perpetuate the lineage and honors of the 63rd Infantry Division, as Department of the Army policy does not authorize TDA units, such as ARCOMs, to inherit the lineage and honors of TO&E units, such as divisions.
Based at Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center, the command encompassed Army Reserve units in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. From 1990 through 1991, over 2,500 Army Reserve soldiers from the 63rd ARCOM served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Twenty-two of the command's units were mobilized, with fourteen of them deploying to the Persian Gulf.
In April 1995, the 63rd ARCOM was redesignated as the 63rd Regional Support Command (later revised to Regional Readiness Command), and its geographic boundaries were realigned to coincide with those of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IX. The 63rd maintained command and control of 14,000 soldiers and 140 units in the states of California, Arizona and Nevada, and assumed additional responsibility to support the major functional reserve commands within its area. The 63rd RRC supported both foreign and domestic active Army missions, including participation in NATO operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Since 2001, thousands of soldiers from the 63rd RRC have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In September 2008, the 63rd and 90th Regional Readiness Commands combined into the 63rd which was redesignated the 63rd Regional Support Command again, with its new headquarters at Moffett Field, California. As a key component of the Army Reserve's transition to an operational force, the newly formed 63rd RSC has foregone command and control of units in favor if a greatly expanded area of responsibility. The 63rd RSC provides base support and administrative support to over 40,000 Army Reserve soldiers in the southwest United States.
- Shoulder sleeve insignia:
- Description: On a tear-drop-shaped olive drab background 5.72 cm (2¼ in.) wide and 8.89 cm (3½ in.) long, a scarlet flame of five rays superimposed by an upright gold sword in pale, charged with a scarlet drop of blood.
- Symbolism: The design alludes to the unit's motto, "Blood and Fire" (see below).
- Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was designed by the division's first commander, Brigadier General Louis E. Hibbs. It was originally approved for the 63d Infantry Division on 27 March 1943. It was authorized for the 63d Army Reserve Command on 22 April 1968. It was reassigned and authorized effective 16 April 1996, for the 63d Regional Support Command. The insignia was redesignated effective 16 July 2003, for the 63d Regional Readiness Command. It was redesignated effective 17 September 2008, for the 63d Regional Support Command and amended to add a symbolism.
- Distinctive unit insignia:
- Description: A silver color metal and enamel device, 3.02 cm (1 3/16 in.) in diameter, consisting of a silver chevron on a red background, bearing seven blue wavy vertical bands; in base, a black embattled area with two merlons; encircling all, a continuous silver scroll of four folds inscribed on the upper three folds, "PRIDE" "HONOR" "SERVICE" in black letters. Overall, a yellow vertical sword, the tip charged with a scarlet drop.
- Symbolism: The elements of the design reflect the history of the 63d Infantry Division. The silver chevron simulates a spearhead and is indicative of the aggressiveness displayed by the 63rd Infantry Division during the crossing of seven European rivers—the Saar, Rhine, Neckar, Jagst, Kocker, Rems, and Danube—during World War II. The rivers are represented by the seven blue wavy bands. The breaching of the Siegfried Line at Sankt Ingbert and Hassell is symbolized by the two black merlons of the embattled area, surmounted by the yellow sword with the scarlet drop taken from the shoulder sleeve insignia of the organization.
- Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 63d Army Reserve Command on 8 May 1970. It was reassigned and authorized effective 16 April 1996, for the 63d Regional Support Command. The insignia was redesignated for the 63d Regional Readiness Command effective 16 July 2003. It was redesignated effective 17 September 2008, for the 63d Regional Support Command.
- Motto: "Blood and Fire," inspired by a quote of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. At the Casablanca Conference in 1943, shortly before the activation of the 63d Infantry Division, Churchill promised to make the enemy "bleed and burn in expiation of their crimes." The slogan was adopted by Brigadier General Louis E. Hibbs, the division's first commander, who designed the shoulder sleeve insignia.
- 289th Engineer Combat Battalion (United States)
- SS Sea Owl – 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion
- 549th Engineer Light Ponton Company
- Tony Bennett, who served in the 63rd Infantry Division during World War II
- Allen M. Burdett, Jr., served the in the division's 255th Infantry Regiment during World War II. He would later go on to become a Lieutenant General in the army.
- "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- The designation "63d Infantry Division" is used to describe the infantry unit. The designation "63d Regional Support Command" and similar names is used to describe the reserve unit. The description omits the "r" from the number designation in accordance with US Army unit designation custom.
- United States Army Center of Military History Memorandum for Record dated 15 January 2009
- Wagner, John (23 June 2010). "63rd RRC folds flag in ceremony". US Army. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
The 63rd RRC is the last of 10 such commands around the nation folding their flags. The 63rd lineage is being passed to the 63rd Regional Support Command at Moffett Field, Calif. And a new headquarters, the Army Reserve Sustainment Support Command, has started up here at Los Alamitos. The process is part of an ongoing transformation of the Army Reserve to better fit its mission in deployments overseas.
- "63RD RSC". Army Reserve. United States Army. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946 by Shelby Stanton.
- The Battle of Buchhof and Stein am Kocher: The story of Second Battalion 253rd Infantry Regiment. 2014 Timothy A. Malone
- Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)
- Wilson, John B. Armies, Corps, Divisions and Separate Brigades. USGPO, 1987
- Mahon, John K. and Danysh, Romana Army Lineage Series – Infantry, Part I: Regular Army. USGPO, 1972
- McKenny, Janice E. (1997). "Appendix A: Divisions Reflagged". Reflagging in the Army. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at the United States Army Center of Military History
- 63d Regional Support Command information page 
- The Flaming Blade, vol. 27, no. 2 (May 1991)
- Camp Van Dorn Museum