038 69th Infantry Division

Nickname: Fighting 69th. . Shoulder Patch: White bordered square with interlocking white bordered numerals, red 6 and blue 9. The original commander of the Division, Maj. Gen. Charles L. Bolte, designed the patch. . Training: The Fighting 69th was activated in May, 1943, and assigned to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The Division served successively under the VII and the IX Corps. It was sent overseas to European Theater of Operations in Nov., 1944, but did not arrive in time to be used against the Germans during the desperate Battle of the Bulge. . Commanding Generals: Maj. Gen. Charles L. Bolte, May, 1943, to Sept., 1944: Maj. Gen. Emil P Reinhardt Sept., 1944, to Aug., 1945; Brig. Gen. Robert V. Maraist, Aug., 1945, to present. . Component Units: (As of Nov., 1944): 271st, 272nd and 273rd Infantry Regiments; 724th (M). 879th, 880th and 881st (L) FA Battalions. Higher Commands: (Overseas) Fifteenth, First, and Ninth Armies. . Combat Highlights: The 69th Division first entered combat in the Morichau Sector, where under the V Corps of the Fifteenth Army, its job was to help crack the Siegfried Line in that area. Two regiments of the division cracked the fortifications on a front stretching more than a mile and took 200 prisoners on their first day of action. Before the momentum of that first attack could be checked they had gone on to capture the towns of Reschoil, Dickeerscheid and Honnigen. In 15 days from their first day of action, Feb. 12 to 27, the Division had completed the job of severing the first belt of the Siegfried Line. On March 1, Hescheld and Hahnenberg fell. The Division swept up the west bank of the Rhine and on Mar. 27, crossed the river in the vicinity of Schmidtheim to a sector near Bad Neuenahr on the east bank. Action of the Fighting 69th in conjunction with the 11th Armored Division in the defense of Leipzig April 19, was the Divisions most famed action. One of the heroes of this action was S/Sgt. John J. Fitzgerald, of Chicago, a member of Task Force Zweibel. His gallantry and leadership at Leipsig won him the Silver Star. He was offered a battlefield commission, but declined. Pfc. Sam Woolf same task force, also won the Silver Star. On 25 April, 1945, the 69th made the war’s first American unit contact with the Russians. A patrol climbed an old tower at Torgau, on the Elbe and sighted Russians across the river. Soon afterward came the link-up. During the following months, the 69th occupied Leipsig.