34th Infantry Division (United States)

34th Infantry Division

34th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1917–1963
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Rosemount, MN
Nickname(s) "Red Bull"
"The Sandstorm Division"
Motto(s) "Attack, Attack, Attack!"
March "March of the Red Bull Legions"  Play 

World War I
World War II

War in Afghanistan

Iraq War
Maj. Gen. Neal Loidolt[1]
Charles W. Ryder
Charles L. Bolte
Richard C. Nash
Charles D. Rhodes
Distinctive unit insignia

The 34th Infantry Division is an infantry division of the United States Army, part of the National Guard, that participated in World War I, World War II and multiple current conflicts. It was the first American division deployed to Europe in World War II, where it fought with great distinction in the Italian Campaign.[2]

The division was deactivated in 1945, and the 47th "Viking" Infantry Division later created in the division's former area. In 1991 the 47th Division was redesignated the 34th. Since 2001 division soldiers have served on homeland security duties in the continental United States, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. The 34th has also been deployed to support peacekeeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.[3]

The division continues to serve today, with most of the division part of the Minnesota and Iowa National Guard. In 2011, it was staffed by roughly 6,500 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard,[4] 2,900 from the Iowa National Guard, about 300 from the Nebraska National Guard, and about 100 from other states.[5]

World War I

The division was established as the 34th of the National Guard in August 1917, consisting of units from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. On 25 August 1917, it was placed under the command of Maj. Gen. Augustus P. Blocksom,[6] who was succeeded by Brig. Gen. Frank G. Mauldin briefly on 18 September 1917 but was back in command by 10 December 1917.[7]

The division initially included the 67th Infantry Brigade, formed in August 1917 in the Iowa and Nebraska National Guards[8] and the 68th Infantry Brigade. The 67th Brigade comprised the 133rd Infantry Regiment and the 134th Infantry Regiment. The 68th Brigade comprised the 135th Infantry Regiment and the 136th Infantry Regiment.

The division takes its name from the shoulder sleeve insignia designed for a 1917 training camp contest by American regionalist artist Marvin Cone, who was then a soldier enlisted in the unit.[9] Cone's design evoked the desert training grounds of Camp Cody, New Mexico, by superimposing a red steer skull over a black Mexican water jug called an "olla." In World War I, the unit was called the "Sandstorm Division." German troops in World War II, however, called the U.S. division's soldiers "Red Devils" and "Red Bulls," the division later officially adopted the divisional nickname Red Bulls.[10]

34th ID Soldiers at Camp Cody, NM on 18 August 1918.

Brig. Gen. Frank G. Mauldin took command.[11] The 34th Division arrived in France in October 1918 but it was too late for the division to be sent to the front, as the end of hostilities was near, an armistice being signed the following month.

Brig. Gen. John A. Johnston took command 26 October 1918, and some personnel were sent to other units to support their final operations. The 34th returned to the U.S. and was inactivated in December 1918.[12]

The 67th Infantry Brigade was disbanded in February 1919, but formed again in 1921, still as part of the 34th Division.

Between the world wars

On 17 January 1921, the 109th Observation Squadron was federally recognized as the first aviation unit in the Minnesota National Guard. The squadron was assigned as a divisional observation unit for the 34th Division, at that time recruiting from Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota.[13] The 34th was reorganized as the 1st Infantry Regiment, Minnesota National Guard on 31 January 1920.

On 16 May 1934, the truck driver's union initiated a strike (Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934), which quickly degenerated into open violence in the streets of Minneapolis. Minnesota Governor Floyd B. Olson activated the National Guard, and 4,000 Guardsmen to suppress the chaos. Utilizing roving patrols, curfews, and security details, the 34th quickly restored order, thus enabling negotiated settlement of the labor dispute.[14]

On 18 June 1939, a tornado hit Anoka, Minnesota, and Governor Harold E. Stassen called on the Guard again. 300 Guardsmen patrolled the streets and imposed a quasi-martial law while the community was stabilized.[15]

Prelude to World War II

The expanding war in Europe threatened to draw a reluctant United States into the conflict. As the potential of U.S. involvement in World War II became more evident, initial steps were taken to prepare troops what for lay ahead through "precautionary training."[14] The division was deemed one of the most service-ready units, and Ellard A. Walsh was promoted to major general in June 1940, and then succeeded to division commander in August, following month-long command tours intended to honor senior generals Lloyd D. Ross (Iowa), George E. Leach (Minnesota), and David S. Ritchie (North Dakota) before their retirements.[16]

The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was signed into law 16 September, and the first conscription in U.S. history during peacetime commenced.[17]

The 34th was subsequently activated on 10 February 1941, with troops from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The division was transported by rail and truck convoys to the newly constructed Camp Claiborne in Rapides Parish, Louisiana near Alexandria.[18]

The soldiers started rigorous training including maneuvers in Alexandria starting 7 April 1941. The climate during the summer was especially harsh. The division then participated in what became known as the Louisiana Maneuvers, and became a well-disciplined, high spirited, and well prepared unit.[18]

In the early phase of the maneuvers, General Walsh, who suffered from chronic ulcers, became too ill to continue in command, and was replaced by Major General Russell P. Hartle on 5 August 1941.[18]

World War II


34th Infantry Division, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, WWII

In common with other U.S. Army divisions during World War II the 34th was reorganized from a square to a triangular division before seeing combat. The division's three infantry regiments became the 133rd, 135th, and 168th Infantry Regiments, together with supporting units.

On 8 January 1942, the 34th Division was transported by train to Fort Dix, New Jersey to quickly prepare for overseas movement. The first contingent embarked at Brooklyn on 14 January 1942 and sailed from New York the next day. The initial group of 4,508 men stepped ashore at 12:15 hrs on 26 January 1942 at Dufferin Quay, Belfast, Northern Ireland. They were met by a delegation including the Governor (Duke of Abercorn), the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland (John Miller Andrews), the Commander of British Troops Northern Ireland (Lieutenant General Sir Harold Franklyn), and the Secretary of State for Air (Sir Archibald Sinclair).[19]

While in Northern Ireland, Hartle was tasked with organizing an American version of the British Commandos, a group of small "hit and run" forces, and promoted his aide-de-camp, Captain William Orlando Darby to lead the new unit.[19] Darby assembled volunteers, and of the first 500 U.S. Army Rangers, 281 came from the 34th Infantry Division. On 20 May 1942, Hartle was designated commanding general of V Corps and Major General Charles Ryder, a distinguished veteran of World War I, took command of the 34th Division. The division trained in Northern Ireland until it boarded ships to travel to North Africa for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, in November 1942.

The 34th, under command of Major General Ryder, saw its first combat in French Algeria on 8 November 1942. As a member of the Eastern Task Force, which included two brigades of the British 78th Infantry Division, and two British Commando units, they landed at Algiers and seized the port and outlying airfields. Elements of the 34th Division took part in numerous subsequent engagements in Tunisia during the Allied build-up, notably at Sened Station,[20] Sidi Bou Zid and Faid Pass, Sbeitla, and Fondouk Gap.[21] In April 1943 the division assaulted Hill 609, capturing it on 1 May 1943, and then drove through Chouigui Pass to Tebourba and Ferryville.[22] The Battle of Tunisia was won, and the Axis forces surrendered.

The Red Bull in the Winter Line of Pantano, Italy – 29 November to 3 December 1943.

The division skipped the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) and instead trained intensively for the invasion of the Italian mainland, with the main landings being at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) on 9 September 1943, D-Day, to be undertaken by elements of the U.S. Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark. The 151st Field Artillery Battalion went in on D-Day, 9 September, landing at Salerno, while the rest of the division followed on 25 September. Engaging the enemy at the Calore River, 28 September, the 34th, as part of the VI Corps under Major General John Lucas, relentlessly drove north to take Benevento, crossed the winding Volturno three times in October and November, assaulted Monte Patano, and took one of its four peaks before being relieved on 9 December.

In January 1944, the division was back on the front line battering the Bernhardt Line defenses. Persevering through bitter fighting along the Mignano Gap, the 34th used goat herds to clear the minefields.[23] The 34th took Monte Trocchio without resistance as the German defenders withdrew to the main prepared defenses of the Gustav Line. On 24 January 1944, during the First Battle of Monte Cassino they pushed across the Gari River into the hills behind and attacked Monastery Hill which dominated the town of Monte Cassino. While they nearly captured the objective, in the end their attacks on the monastery and the town failed. The performance of the 34th Infantry Division in the mountains has been called one of the finest feats of arms carried out by any soldiers during the war.[24] The unit sustained losses of about 80 per cent in the infantry battalions. They were relieved from their positions 11–13 February 1944. Eventually, it took the combined force of five Allied infantry divisions to finish what the 34th nearly accomplished on its own.

After rest and rehabilitation, the 34th Division landed at the Anzio beachhead 25 March 1944. The division maintained defensive positions until the offensive of 23 May, when it broke out of the beachhead, took Cisterna, and raced to Civitavecchia and the Italian capital of Rome. After a short rest, the division, now commanded by Major General Charles Bolte, drove across the Cecina River to liberate Livorno, 19 July 1944, and continued on to take Monte Belmonte in October during the fighting on the Gothic Line. Digging in south of Bologna for the winter, the 34th jumped off the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy, 15 April 1945, and captured Bologna on 21 April. Pursuit of the routed enemy to the French border was halted on 2 May upon the German surrender in Italy and the end of World War II in Europe.[12]

On 27 June 1944 the 16th SS-Panzer Grenadiers command post in San Vincenzo, Italy was overrun by the 1st Battalion of the 133rd Infantry Regiment. The command post was a town center apartment which had been commandeered, when the owners returned to their apartment they found a signed large leather bound Stieler's Hand Atlas which had been left behind; more on this story here http://generalheinrichvonvietinghoff.wordpress.com/

The division participated in six major Army campaigns in North Africa and Italy. The division is credited with amassing 517 days of front-line combat,[25] more than any other division in the U.S. Army. One or more 34th Division units were engaged in actual combat for 611 days. The 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry and the Ironman Battalion still holds the record over the rest of the U.S. Army for days in combat. The division was credited with more combat days than any other division in the war. The 34th Division suffered 2,866 killed in action, 11,545 wounded in action, 622 missing in action, and 1,368 men taken prisoner by the enemy, for a total of 16,401 battle casualties. Casualties of the division are considered to be the highest of any division in the theatre when daily per capita fighting strengths are considered. The division's soldiers were awarded ten Medals of Honor, ninety-eight Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 1,153 Silver Stars, 116 Legion of Merit medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross, 2,545 Bronze Star Medals, fifty-four Soldier's Medals, thirty-four Air Medals, with duplicate awards of fifty-two oak leaf clusters, and 15,000 Purple Hearts.

Cold War to 2001

A Red Bull soldier in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

The 34th was inactivated on 3 November 1945. The Division was reformed within the Iowa and Nebraska National Guards in 1946–7, but it disbanded again in 1963, being replaced in part by the 67th Infantry Brigade. It also retained its Division HQ as a Command HQ to supervise training of combat and support units in the former division area for some years. The 47th Infantry Division (which had never seen combat) was active at St Paul, Minn., by 1963, as the National Guard combat division covering the former 34th's area.

The division was reactivated as a National Guard division (renaming the 47th Division) for Minnesota and Iowa on 10 February 1991 upon the fiftieth anniversary of its federal activation for World War II. At that point the division transitioned into a medium division, with a required strength of 18,062 soldiers.

In 2000 the Minnesota Legislature renamed all of Interstate 35 in Minnesota the "34th Division (Red Bull) Highway," in honor of the division and its service in the World Wars.[27]

Twenty-first century

The Minnesota National Guard now maintains an "optimal force structure," preparing and organizing the right people with the right training and the right equipment to accomplish the job.[28] The 34th was the first National Guard Division to transform to the Army's modular and expeditionary Brigade Combat Team Structure. The division's units have grown and are now spread across Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Missouri. The Minnesota National Guard provides the division headquarters and is located in Rosemount (Main Command Post), and Inver Grove Heights (Tactical Command Post); both are southern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Today, the division has undergone much change due to transformation. The entire division is projected to have transformed by Training Year 2010.

Since October 2001, division personnel served in Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo. Other deployments during the same time period have included Operation Vigilant Hammer in Europe, the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, and Egypt, and Joint Task Force Bravo – Honduras.[25]

The 34th Infantry Division has deployed approximately 11,000 soldiers on operations since October 2001. At home this has included troops deployed for Operation Noble Eagle; abroad units and individual soldiers have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq.



A Red Bull soldier in Iraq

2009-2010. The 34ID Redbulls deploy to Basra, Iraq

Current structure

Structure of the 34th Infantry Division
Soldiers of the division in Kosovo.
A soldier of the division receiving the Silver Star Medal.

34th Infantry Division exercises training and readiness oversight of the following elements, they are not organic:[32]

Attached units


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