6th Infantry Division (United States)

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6th Infantry Division
6th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Country United States
Branch United States Army
RoleLight infantry (1986–1994)
Nickname(s)"Red Star"
"Sight Seein' Sixth" (former)[1]
Motto(s)On the Line
EngagementsWorld War I

World War II

Gulf War

Edwin D. Patrick
Orlando Ward
Robert T. Frederick
David Bramlett
Distinctive Unit Insignia

The 6th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the United States Army active in World War I, World War II, and the last years of the Cold War. Known as "Red Star", it was previously called the "Sight Seein' Sixth".[1]

World War I[edit]

Activated: November 1917

Subordinate Units:

The division went overseas in June 1918, and saw 43 days of combat. Casualties totalled 386 (KIA: 38; WIA: 348).

The 6th Division saw combat in the Geradmer sector, Vosges, France, 3 September – 18 October 1918, and during the Meuse-Argonne offensive 1–11 November 1918.[2] Separately the 11th Field Artillery Battalion became engaged earlier in the Meuse-Argonne offensive and fought from 19 October to the Armistice.


Commanding officers (26 November 1917 – 1 June 1919)
Col. Charles E. Tayman 26 November 1917 – 28 December 1917
Brig. Gen. James Brailsford Erwin 29 December 1917 – 27 August 1918
Maj. Gen. Walter H. Gordon 28 August 1918 – 1 June 1919

Interwar period[edit]

The division returned to the U.S. in June 1919, and was demobilized, less the 12th Infantry Brigade and certain supporting units, on 30 September 1921 at Camp Grant, Illinois. During the interwar period, elements of the 6th Division were located within the Sixth Corps Area as part of the VI Army Corps. By mid-1927, most of the other elements of the division had been organized with Organized Reserve personnel as Regular Army Inactive units.[3]

World War II[edit]

Color Guard of the 6th Infantry, 1945
See also:Another image

Activated: 12 October 1939 at Fort Lewis, Washington State

  • Overseas: 21 July 1943
  • Campaigns: Luzon, New Guinea
  • Days of combat: 306
  • Distinguished Unit Citations: 7
  • Awards: MH: 2, DSC: 10, DSM: 3, SS: 697, LM: 18, DFC: 3, SM: 94, BSM: 3,797, AM: 45.
  • Subordinate Units:

Order of battle[edit]

  • Headquarters, 6th Infantry Division
  • 1st Infantry Regiment
  • 20th Infantry Regiment
  • 63rd Infantry Regiment
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Infantry Division Artillery
    • 1st Field Artillery Battalion
    • 51st Field Artillery Battalion
    • 53rd Field Artillery Battalion
    • 80th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 6th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 6th Medical Battalion
  • 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • Headquarters, Special Troops, 6th Infantry Division
    • Headquarters Company, 6th Infantry Division
    • 706th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
    • 6th Quartermaster Company
    • 6th Signal Company
    • Military Police Platoon
    • Band
  • 6th Counterintelligence Corps Detachment
  • Nickname: "Sightseeing Sixth"

Inactivated: 10 January 1949 in Korea

World War II combat chronicle[edit]

The division moved to Hawaii in July and August 1943 to assume defensive positions on Oahu, training meanwhile in jungle warfare. It moved to Milne Bay, New Guinea, 31 January 1944, and trained until early June 1944. The division first saw combat in the Toem-Wakde area of Dutch New Guinea, engaging in active patrolling 14–18 June, after taking up positions 6–14 June. Moving west of Toem, it fought the bloody Battle of Lone Tree Hill, 21–30 June, and secured the Maffin Bay area by 12 July.

After a brief rest, the division made an assault landing at Sansapor, 30 July, on the Vogelkop Peninsula. The 6th secured the coast from Cape Waimak to the Mega River and garrisoned the area until December 1944.

The division landed at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in the Philippines on D-day, 9 January 1945, and pursued the Japanese into the Cabanatuan hills, 17–21 January, capturing Muñoz on 7 February. On 27 January, Special Operations units also attached to the Sixth United States Army took part in the Raid at Cabanatuan. The division then drove northeast to Dingalan Bay and Baler Bay, 13 February, isolating enemy forces in southern Luzon. The U.S. 1st Infantry Regiment operated on Bataan together with the Philippine Commonwealth forces, 14–21 February, cutting the peninsula from Abucay to Bagac.

The division then took part in the Battle of Manila, shifting to the Shimbu Line northeast of Manila, on 24 February to take part in the longest continuous combat operation of the division in the Battle of Wawa Dam. The 6th Division faced a tough seesaw battle versus the Shimbu Group as the Japanese Shimbu Group created network of tunnels, artillery positions, and machine gun nests in the hill country of Antipolo, San Mateo, and Montalban in Rizal Province. The terrain is formed by sharp hills and deep valleys, where direct assaults could be made in a day, and the next day units would be forced to retreat. The 6th Division took Mount Mataba on 17 April, Mount Pacawagan on 29 April,Bolog on 29 June, Lane's Ridge of Mount Santo Domingo on 10 July, and Kiangan, 12 July. The 6th remained with the Philippine Military forces in the Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Mountains until VJ-day.[4]

After the war, the division moved to Korea and controlled the southern half of the United States zone of occupation until inactivated. [5]


  • Total battle casualties: 2,370[6]
  • Killed in action: 410[6]
  • Wounded in action: 1,957[6]
  • Missing in action: 3[6]

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

Medal of Honor recipients for the 6th Infantry Division during World War II:

  • Corporal Melvin Mayfield of Company D, 20th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division—Cordillera Mountains, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 29 July 1945
  • Second Lieutenant (then T/Sgt.) Donald E. Rudolph of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division—Munoz, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 5 February 1945


Commanding officers (October 1939 – January 1949)
Brig. Gen. Clement Augustus Trott October 1939 – October 1940
Brig. Gen. Frederick E. Uhl October 1940 – December 1940
Maj. Gen. Clarence S. Ridley January 1941 – August 1942
Maj. Gen. Durward S. Wilson September 1942 – October 1942
Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert October 1942 – August 1944
Maj. Gen. Edwin Davies Patrick  August 1944 – March 1945
Maj. Gen. Charles E. Hurdis March 1945 – April 1946
Col. George M. Williamson Jr. April 1946 – June 1946
Maj. Gen. Albert E. Brown June 1946 – September 1946
Brig. Gen. John T. Pierce September 1946 – October 1946
Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward October 1946 – 1 January 1949

Post World War[edit]

Cold War era[edit]

The 6th Division was reactivated 4 October 1950 at Fort Ord, California. There the division remained throughout the Korean War, training troops and providing personnel for combat, but was never deployed overseas as an entity itself and was again inactivated on 3 April 1956.

In the American build-up during the Vietnam War the Division was reactivated in 1967 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and later a forward brigade was located in Hawaii.[7] There was sentiment against sending the Division to Vietnam because its shoulder sleeve insignia (a red six-pointed star) invited a derisive nickname ("Commie Jew Division") that General Westmoreland, cognizant of troop morale problems, considered too offensive, and the decision was made instead to form the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division), with less offensive insignia, in Vietnam itself. During June 1968 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff also declared the Division unsuitable for combatant deployment because it failed its readiness report and shortly thereafter the Division was inactivated on 25 July 1968.[8]

The Division never received its full TO&E equipment and most of its personnel were Vietnam returnees. The purpose for activating the division was to obtain military hardware which would eventually be turned over to the South Vietnamese.

The last incarnation of the Division came on 16 April 1986 under the command of Major General Johnnie H. Corns at Fort Richardson, Alaska when the assets of the 172nd Infantry Brigade were used to reactivate the 6th Infantry Division (Light). Over the next seven years the 6th was the U.S. Army's primary Arctic warfare division.

Organization 1989[edit]

The planned activation of two additional light infantry battalions for the division, one at Fort Richardson in October 1988, and one at Fort Wainwright in May 1989, was cancelled with the Fiscal Year 1988 budget.[9] To round-out the division the 6th Battalion, 297th Infantry, of the Alaska Army National Guard was activated on 1 September 1989.[10]

At the end of the Cold War parts of the division were organized as follows:

In 1988 the airborne companies (Charlie Airborne) of 1-17 Infantry, 2-17 Infantry and 4-9 Infantry were consolidated in 2-17 Infantry, giving the 6th ID an airborne battalion. Notable operational deployments included an eight-month deployment to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt by 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, in 1990 as part of the Multinational Force and Observers. The deployment began as a six-month rotation but was extended in August 1990 due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait which precipitated Operation Desert Shield and delayed the arrival of their relieving unit. The division headquarters was moved from Fort Richardson to Fort Wainwright (near Fairbanks) in 1990.[31] Commanders during the Arctic activation included Maj. Gen. Johnnie H. Corns (1986–1988), Maj. Gen. Samuel E. Ebbesen (1990–1992)[32] and Maj. Gen. David A. Bramlett (1992–1994).[33] The division had two active maneuver brigades and the Army Reserve's 205th Infantry Brigade (Light) was assigned as the division's roundout force. The 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery of the North Dakota Army National Guard served as the division's roundout Air Defense Artillery. They were the only National Guard Air Defense battalion to ever roundout an active duty division.[34]


The division was inactivated most recently on 6 July 1994, and reduced to a single brigade, the 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division. In reality, the 6th no longer existed as a division and command of the brigade fell under the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Fort Drum, NY. In April 1998, 1st Brigade was reflagged back to the separate 172nd Infantry Brigade from which the division had been reestablished in 1986. The 172nd Brigade was then reflagged as the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division on 16 December 2006.[35]

On 16 October 2008 the division's HHC 6th Engineer Battalion[36] was reactivated as a non-divisional unit in Alaska.[37] In this new role it is configured as an Airborne unit with two subordinate engineer companies: the 23d Engineer Company[38] and the 84th Engineer Company.[39]


  1. ^ a b "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.
  2. ^ George B. Clark, The American Expeditionary Force in World War I: A Statistical History 1917–1919, McFarland, 2012, ISBN 0786472235, ISBN 9780786472239, p. 106
  3. ^ Clay, Steven E. (2010). U.S. Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 Volume 1. The Arms: Major Commands and Infantry Organizations. Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press. pp. 213–214.
  4. ^ "A Brief History of the 6th Infantry Division". 6th Infantry Division. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  5. ^ Gugeler, Russell A. (2008). Major General Orlando Ward: Life of a Leader. Red Anvil Press. p. 404. ISBN 978-1-932762-89-1.
  6. ^ a b c d Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths in World War II, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)
  7. ^ Stanton, Shelby, Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to the U.S. Army and Allied Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1961–1973, Stackpole Books, 2006, pp. 340–341 where a divisional order of battle at Fort Campbell and Hawaii can be found.
  8. ^ Stanton, Shelby, The Rise and Fall of an American Army, Random House 2003, p. 367
  9. ^ "Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1989". United States Congress. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Subcommittee on Defense. 1988. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Historical Summary: FY 1989". Department of the Army. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Lineages and Honors Information". Archived from the original on 9 November 2010.
  12. ^ "National Guard Given New Command, Duties". Daily Sitka Sentinel. 30 August 1989. p. 1 – via newspapers.com.
  13. ^ a b Captain Dick Gilliam (1985). "Arctic Fighters". Army Reserve Magazine. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d "The 205th Infantry Brigade". Infantry May–June 1986. 1986. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  15. ^ "3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)". Charlie Company COMPANY 4th Bn. 3rd Infantry Reg. "The Old Guard". Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  16. ^ "1st Battalion 409th Infantry Lineage". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  17. ^ "1st Battalion 410th Infantry Lineage". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e McKenney, Janice E. "Field Artillery - Army Lineage Series - Part 1" (PDF). US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Field Artillery - February 1987". US Army Field Artillery School. 1987. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Field Artillery - December 1989". US Army Field Artillery School. 1988. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Field Artillery - February 1990". US Army Field Artillery School. 1990. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  22. ^ a b c "All about the Army Reserve". Army Reserve Magazine Winter 1985. 1985. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  23. ^ "From cold-weather tests to Strykers and helicopters - 70 years of history". www.army.mil. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  24. ^ a b Sgt. Gloria F., Burmeister (1991). "North Central Aviators find Alaska warmer than home". Army Reserve Magazine, Volumes 37-38. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  25. ^ Captain William C., Quistorf (1989). "Activation of the 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation". United States Army Aviation Digest, Issue 9. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  26. ^ "1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Lineage". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  27. ^ "1-188th ADA trains at McGregor". Air Defense Artillery, Issue 5. 1989. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  28. ^ "6th Engineer Battalion Lineage". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  29. ^ Robbins Raines, Rebecca. "Signal Corps" (PDF). US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  30. ^ John Patrick Finnegan; Romana Danysh. "Military Intelligence" (PDF). US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  31. ^ "The Army in Alaska". www.usarak.army.mil. Archived from the original on 18 August 2006.
  32. ^ "Lieutenant General Samuel e. Ebbesen, United States Army | Capitol Wo…". Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  33. ^ "Northern Edge". www.army.mil. Archived from the original on 14 April 2006.
  34. ^ "1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery (HVY) (MSCS)".
  35. ^ "25th Infantry Division Association: The Units". 25thida.org. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  36. ^ "6th Engineer Battalion". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  37. ^ "6th Engineer Battalion". Archived from the original on 2 August 2009.
  38. ^ "23d Engineer Company". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  39. ^ "84th Engineer Company". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  • The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at CMH Archived 21 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine.
  • The Army in Alaska.
  • Northern Edge.

External links[edit]