A Brief History of the 6th Infantry Division

6th infantry cloth star

By Thomas E. Price, on behalf of the National Association of the 6th Infantry Division, Inc.
I. World War I: Origins of “The Sightseeing Sixth” Infantry Division
II. The 6th Infantry Division in World War II
A. Overview
B. Reactivation of the Division and Preparations for War
C. Milne Bay, New Guinea and First Encounters with the Japanese Forces
D. The Battle for Lone Tree Hill, Maffin Bay, New Guinea
E. Sansapor and the Vogelkop Peninsula
F. Lingayan Gulf and Luzon, the Philippines
1. The Purple Heart Valley Campaign
2. The Cabaruan Hills
3. Battle for Munoz
4. The Drive to the East Coast to Split Japanese Forces and the Retaking of Bataan
5. Cracking the Shimbu Line
6. Securing Central Luzon
7. Campaign in the Cordellares, the Cagayan Valley and the Stronghold of General Yamashita
III. The End of the War
IV. Very Brief Recent History

Author, Thomas E. Price, Copyright 1996, all rights reserved. Effective October 11, 2008,this is the property of the National Association of the 6th Infantry Division, Inc., use by permission, only. Contact at: admin@6thinfantry.com

I. World War I: Origins of “The Sightseeing Sixth Division.”

The Sixth Division was organized in November of 1917 as a square division consisting of the 51st, 52nd 53rd and the 54th Infantry Regiments, the 16th, 17th and 18th Machine-Gun Battalions and the 3rd, 11th and 78th Field Artillery Regiments. The units of the division gathered in New York and left for France in July of 1918. After marching and training all over western France, the Sixth was assigned on August 31st to the Vosges sector. There, a chain of lofty wooded peaks had stalemated both the French and German armies. Their mission was the defense of a 21-mile. The Division engaged in active patrolled in No Man’s Land and behind the Boche lines. Daily German artillery concentrations of high explosives and gas shells kept the 6th supporting artillery busy with counterbattery fire. In addition infantry platoon strongpoints defended against German raiding parties which launched their attacks using liquid fire and grenades.

The Division developed its reputation for hiking when, prior to the Argonne Offensive, it engaged in extensive fake marches, often under enemy artillery and air bombardment, to deceive the Boche into thinking a major attack was to take place in the Vosges sector. Relieved and reassigned on October 10, 1918, the 6th Division hiked to an assembly area, marching over mountains and broken trails, usually in the dead of night.

After another short period of training, consisting primarily of forced marches, the Division hiked itself into the closing campaign of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In Corps reserve, the 6th was used in place of an unavailable cavalry division to try to maintain contact with the rapidly retreating Germans. Pulling machine-gun carts and ammo carts by hand, the best hiking outfit in the AEF marched from one front to another, usually on muddy bypaths and rain-soaked fields, to establish and incredible record of forty hiking days in a sixteen-day campaign. Finally moved to another part of the front to maintain the brunt of the attack, the 6th reached the assigned area on the scheduled date, November 12, 1918, to find the war at an end, its reputation as the “Sightseeing Sixth” assured.

During its three months at the front, the 6th Division lost 227 men killed in action or died of wounds. It maintained an active defense in one important sector and played a major role in the tactical plan in another. The men of the 6th had distinguished themselves in combat, many earning the Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre. The Division was highly commended by General Pershing for its contribution to the final victory.

After the Armistice, the 6th continued its hikes through France and Germany to spread the fame of the six-point Red Star, adopted as the Division insignia on November 19, 1918. The bulk of the Division returned to the States in June of 1919 aboard the USS Leviathan. The Division continued its service at Camp Grant, Illinois and was deactivated on September 30, 1921.

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II. The 6th Division in World War II


A. Overview

The 6th Infantry Division of World War II holds the unchallenged record for consecutive days of continuous combat in the Pacific Theater, 219 days of continuous combat, set by the Division on the Island of Luzon, the Philippines. At the end of World War II, the Division’s men were the most heavily engaged troops in the United States Army still fighting Yamashita’s men in the Cagayan Valley of Northern Luzon. During the War, the men of the 6th Division fought a total of 306 days of combat. Casualties for the 6th Division totaled 1,174 dead, 3,876 wounded and 9 missing. Japanese casualties fighting the Division totaled 23,000 dead and 1,700 captured.

Before the long battle for Luzon, the Division’s baptism of fire came in a battle at Maffin Bay, New Guinea, known as the battle for “Lone Tree Hill.” It was to prove to be “the bloodiest ten days in the entire New Guinea campaign to take a stubbornly defended hill from a determined and well-entrenched enemy.” The battle took place in a larger campaign better known as the Wakde-Sarmi Operation West of Hollandia, in then, Dutch New Guinea, now Iryan Jaya. The Battle for Lone Tree Hill, which the Division Spear-Headed, included the type of merciless fighting, against an elite and heavily entrenched Japanese Infantry, only encountered elsewhere in New Guinea by the 32nd Infantry Division at Buna and the 41st Infantry Division on the Island of Biak.

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B. Reactivation of the Division and Preparations for War.

On October 12, 1939, in the wake of the German Wehrmacht’s conquest of Poland, the War Department reactivated the 6th Infantry Division in a simple ceremony at Ft. Lewis, Washington under the command of Brigadier General Clement A. Trott. True to its “Sightseeing” reputation, the Division remained at Ft. Lewis less than two months before beginning forty-six months of training and division building that would take the “Sightseers” to nine different army camps and post before its assignment to the Southwest Pacific. First stop for the Sixth was Camp Jackson, South Carolina where the original components of the Sixth Division were assembled: the 1st, 3rd and 20th Infantry Regiments, the 1st and 80th Artillery Regiments, the 8th Medical Battalion and the 6th Engineer Battalion.

After numerous reorganizations and more “sightseeing,” the scattered units of the Division were assembled at Ft. Leonard Wood, Misouri, in the latter part of May 1941. The final unit line-up for the Division was as follows: the 1st, 20th and 63rd Infantry Regiments (the last having been organized from a cadre of the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Infantry Regiment), the 1st, 51st, 53rd and 80th Field Artillery Battalions, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Military Police Platoon, 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, 6th Signal Company, 6th Engineer Combat Battalion, 6th Medical Battalion, 706th Ordnance (LM) Company, 6th Quartermaster Company, Headquarters Special Troops and Division Band. Countless new recruits filled Ft. Leonard Wood during June and July of 1941 as the Division built its forces for the strenuous training that lay ahead.

Most of the men of the Division were enjoying a well-earned 15-day furlough after participating in the Louisiana Maneuvers when the war came on December 7, 1941. Ft. Leonard Wood became a beehive of activity, under the command of Generals Clarence S. Ridley and Julius Ochs Adler, as the members of the 6th became a “training division” assisting in training as more recruits flowed into Ft. Leonard Wood to build newly formed organizations and divisions for the burgeoning war effort.

In September of 1942 the Division took part in the Tennessee Maneuvers as a part of training for troops expected to be sent to Europe. In October 1942 General Franklin C. Sibert, who had served with General Stillwell during the Burma Campaign, who intimately understood Jungle warfare. On November 25, 1942, the Division was ordered to the desert of Arizona and California where they were trained with the expectation that they would be sent to North Africa as a mechanized infantry division. There in the desert, with the expectation that they were to be sent to North Africa, the Division were trained with a new, and then, secret-anti-tank-weapon, the Bazooka. Due to the unexpected success of troops in North Africa combined with General MacArthur’s desperate need for troops in the Southwest Pacific and General Sibert’s background, an abrupt change in plans sent the 6th Division in March of 1943 to Camp Roberts at San Luis Obispo California. The Division was headed for New Guinea. Now assigned to the Sixth Army under the leadership of General Walter S. Krueger, the Division was in for a new round of training, this time in the art of Jungle warfare.

San Luis Obispo was an even more intensive and competitive place to train with emphasis on practicing close, fast combat, rapid movement and synchronized, to-the-minute maneuvers. Perimeter defense and offense would be the rule in every engagement. In the Jungle, the front would be everywhere and the war would be fought on the squad level. In July of 1943 the Division set sail for Oahu, Hawaii for Jungle training. The only thing missing in the Hawaii training would be the mud and the jungle diseases. The men trained hard day and night improving their skills at learning to fight at an instant, in the dark with the enemy a few yards or feet away. They were briefed by the survivors of Buna-Gona and by the Australians who fought so heroically on the Kokoda Trail against the Japanese in 1942. The Jungles of New Guinea were one of the most merciless places on earth, filled with diseases, for many of which, there was no known cure. In 1942 the Jungle had caused more casualties than combat, and the jungle could kill.

As for the enemy, the men were briefed that the Japanese did not obey the Geneva Convention. Hard experience in Burma, Guadalcanal, Kokoda and Buna lead the way. No medic would wear a red cross. A red cross was a target. No wounded man would cry out “medic;” instead code names or terms would be used. The Japanese understood English and a cry of “medic” was an invitation to be shot. The Japanese knew that troops without someone to care for the wounded were more likely to panic and make mistakes that would get them killed. The Japanese were tough and merciless fighters. They were experts in night fighting. They would kill or torture you if you surrendered and would view your surrender as a sign of your weakness and inferiority. The Japanese had been trained from youth in the Bushido-Banzai cult of death. They would have no greater glory than to kill themselves with you along with them.

The men of the 6th Division were to learn that these stereotypes, while not always true, were all too frequently what they would encounter. Too often, Japanese attempting to surrender intended to kill you. Stories of Americans being butchered while attempting to surrender were a part of the briefings. The fighting would be without mercy.

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C. Milne Bay, New Guinea and First Encounters with the Japanese Forces.

The 6th Division landed in Milne Bay, New Guinea on February 2, 1944. The Division set up Camp near the Australian Forces in a place that was a palm tree plantation owned by the Palmolive Palm Oil Company. The men were told that they would be fined if they cut down the trees. The first Japanese shot was wearing an American Uniform. He was assumed to have been a scout or a spy. A 6th Division medic shot him. There were problems with Japanese snipers in the trees at Milne Bay. The trees came down, or their crowns were cropped and pruned with machine guns. There was no more talk of fines for trees. The Jungle was cleared and camp was set up with all tents 12 inches above the ground to keep out the rain, the mud and the leeches. More clearing of the undergrowth was undertaken as the first line of defense against the Jungle with the teaming masses of insects that carried the deadly scrub typhus, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever and elephantiasis. Even if supplies of food would run low, as they would, the supplies of cigarettes and atabrine (for malaria) were assured. In the hot dank musty jungles of New Guinea, the sightseers would learn about jungle rot and the exhaustion of battling the environment on a daily basis.

Patrolling and preparing for combat continued. Slogging through mud and Jungle infested with leaches and malaria-carrying mosquitoes, the men of the Sixth learned what it was like to sleep in foxholes filled with mud and water smelling of mold and rotting vegetation. The men learned that Jungle rot and fungus would not be confined to their feet, but would grow anywhere opportunity arose. Patrolling continued as the men waited for orders and for adequate supplies and ammunition. Macarthur ordered General Kruger and General Siebert to prepare the men for their next assignment. General Kruger demanded adequate ammunition and supplies for his men, many of who had already had to endure a period of short supply that included food supplies consisting of three chocolate bars to stretch through a week. Worries about whether supplies would be off loaded mounted. Some men feared there would not be enough ammunition and wrote home for family members to send them a knife in the realization that night fighting could mean hand-to-hand combat when the ammunition ran out . General Krueger demanded supplies or there would not be any movement anywhere. At one point, frustration with ships that were not off-loading supplies and rumors that this was due to strikers in America quickened tempers and threats were issued to have them blow them out of the water if they failed to start off-loading within the hour. The supplies were unloaded. Soon, the Division was ordered aboard LSTs headed for a landing at Finchhaven for more supplies and their first major offensive at Toem at Maffin Bay in Dutch New Guinea.

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D. The Battle for Lone Tree Hill, Maffin Bay, New Guinea.

Relieving the overwhelmed and exhausted troops of the 158th Regimental Combat Team at Toem, the men of the 6th Division entered battle on June 20, 1944 against the full strength of the Imperial Marines of the Japanese 36th Infantry Division which was composed of the 222nd, 223rd and 224th Infantry Regiments under Lieutenant General Hachiro Tagami. Battle hardened and experienced from war in China, these seasoned and well-led Japanese forces, totaled over 8,000 troops which had been underestimated by more than (estimated at 3,000 troops) half when a single regiment, the 158th Regimental Combat Team of the Cyclone Task Force, had been sent in against the Japanese 36th Division while the 41st Infantry Division’s 163rd Infantry Regiment landed to take Wakde Island off the coast of Maffin Bay. The Japanese at Maffin Bay were an experienced fighting force and the fighting that had started with the 158th Regiment taking the offensive soon disintegrated to the point that the Americans had to withdraw in the face of withering fire from the Japanese machine gun emplacements in and around Lone Tree Hill and two other hills. On the night of May 30, 1944, the Japanese attacked the 158th perimeter overrunning gun positions and turning the weapons on to the Americans. Fighting disintegrated into brutal hand-to-hand combat before the Japanese could be driven off. During the battle a wounded and captured soldier of the 158th Regiment was tied to a tree and bayoneted to death. By the time the 6th Division was assigned to relieve the 158th Regiment, the 158th had lost seventy dead and two hundred fifty seven wounded. The Japanese forces had been hurt, but the battle to come would be no less brutal.

The 6th Division by contrast to the Japanese were relatively green troops. This was to change in dramatic fashion. By now the Japanese forces were no longer underestimated. The entire 6th Division would be employed for battle with the two fully supported Regiments of the Japanese 36th Infantry Division. Well entrenched in and around three coral hills that were thick with Jungle, the Japanese were ready for the Americans and were protected by caves and by earthened, well-camouflaged fortifications that honeycombed the area and which were designed to effect ambush as well as protect the Maffin Airdrome. It was a trap, much in the style faced earlier at Buna New Guinea by the 32nd Infantry Division. However if the Maffin Airdrome was to be taken, the Strong Point at Lone Tree and the other hills had to be eliminated. These fortifications (Cave and Tunnel) were similar to the fortifications which would latter be faced by the 41st Infantry Division on the Island of Biak, New Guinea. The Japanese, intended to keep the Americans from the Maffin Airdrome that was still in the process of being built, to seize their weapons and food and to do everything in their power to destroy them. The battle for Lone Tree Hill was to prove to be “as severe as any fought in the Pacific.”

The Sightseers of the 20th Infantry Regiment would spearhead the assault with the 1st Infantry Regiment protecting their right flank at Rocky Point and the 63rd Infantry Regiment protecting their left flank. Before the assault took place, the hill was bombarded with artillery. Air support dropped gasoline belly tanks on the hill and strafed them to set them ablaze. A medic with the 20th Infantry, Thomas W. (“Jack”) Murphy from Kentucky, watched from the beach at Lone Tree Hill and saw that the hill seemed to be honeycombed with caves. Unknown to Murphy and his fellow Sykesmen, the total entrenched defenders of Lone Tree Hill amounted to about 850 troops with seven 75mm Mountain Guns which were supported by another 1,000 troops in the immediate area and another 2,000 just west of Lone Tree Hill. Lone Tree Hill was one of the first encounters by United States forces with Japanese Cave and Tunnel Warfare.

Murphy accompanied the initial patrol into the area to determine the best route of attack. A shot rang out and a soldier crumpled to the ground. Latter he watched, horrified, as a grenade tossed into a cave by GI was tossed back. An American infantryman with no time to think flung it back into the cave in one quick motion before it exploded in a shock wave and debris.

The patrol reached the top of the hill. Murphy noticed that the top was, essentially a big flat chalk-colored coral rock. Except for a big old hardwood on the ocean side of the hill, the bombardment of the hill had cut down the few trees that had been there. Unknown to Murphy and his comrades, the Japanese had built a cleverly camouflaged observation post from that still standing hardwood tree, about one-hundred feet above ground where they could observe the movements of the men below. The patrol moved back to the beach to report and to prepare.

The next morning Murphy watched as eighteen P-47sfirst strafed, bombed, and dropped their belly tanks on the hill below before strafing again to set them ablaze. At 8:30 a.m. the 20th Infantry Regiment embarked, laden with as much ammunition as they could carry. Murphy, a part of the third battalion and loaded with medical supplies, headed up with them. Only scattered rifle fire marked the first part of the ascent. Then Japanese Nambu machine guns opened up and the regiment was pounded with mortar-fire. Men dropped for what cover was available. Fire appeared to come from cave openings and crevices. Fire was returned and the men struggled on. By noon the men of the third battalion had made their way to the top of the flat coral top of the hill. The second battalion arrived shortly before dusk and the men worked frantically to create what defenses and fortifications they could atop the coral rock.

At dusk the ominous crack of two Japanese sniper shots rang out to, simultaneously, cut a radio antenna as well as a communication wire below. Men were rightly concerned that the Japanese had planned to allow them to reach the top for no good reason. There was no place to dig in on the hard coral surface of the hill that night and most of the trees were, by then, shredded stumps or logs from the artillery barrage.

The 20th Infantry regiment was in for a night in hell. With nightfall came the rain and with the dark came a brutal and furious Japanese counter offensive from all around the two battalions. American Machine Guns and BAR’s opened up to screams of “banzai” as the Japanese charged the perimeter firing as they came. The Japanese emerged from inside the perimeter and some of the fighting disintegrated into hand-to-hand combat. Soon even the supply lines would be cut off as the Japanese fought to work their lines behind the two battalions to cut them off from the rest of the Sixth Division. Their 75mm mountain guns were rolled out to open up on the American forces below. As the rain came down in sheets from the pitch-black sky, Murphy crawled on the hard coral surface to the cries of the wounded, moaning and screaming around him. The battle roared around Murphy as tracer rounds crossed the air. At one point a BAR man, Tony, was hit. Someone shouted, “Tony’s wounded!” The Japanese picked it up and shouted, “Tony’s wounded, hold your fire, Tony’s coming in!” The American’s did not fall for it. Still the Japanese appeared inside the perimeter and the fighting disintegrated into hand-to-hand combat. Some wearing American uniforms and employing American weapons used this as a ploy to get inside the American lines.

Murphy had no rest. He crawled, although blistered and bleeding from a bullet graze to the stomach, all night, bandaging one man and then the next. Some he bandaged, offering what comfort he could, while knowing full well they had no shred of hope. Morning came and the battle stopped. Murphy gazed down to see a green carpet of dead Japanese soldiers covering the hillside below. Some were piled up like feed sacks where an American machine gunner had cut down an oncoming charge. The tropical sun came out and beat down on the weary men who hugged any crevice in the coral rock to avoid becoming the target of a sniper’s bullet.

Murphy, still tending to the wounded, thought that the litter bearers would soon arrive to evacuate them. He was wrong. The two battalions were cut off. Weary and without rest, Murphy continued working on the wounded that day. Water became low and so, too, was the ammunition.

By late afternoon the second battalion had managed to work around the Japanese lines to reform the perimeter between the two battalions. Small patrols of volunteers from below had worked their way between the Japanese strong points to deliver ammunition and supplies from the rest of the Sixth Division.

The night and the rain came again and the men used their helmets to catch it, refilling their canteens. Once again, the Japanese mounted a furious and concentrated attack, this time from the northeast side of the hill. The Japanese kept coming and the Americans, once again were in for a night of unrelenting battle. Murphy had no time to think of his own safety. Beyond exhaustion and fear, Murphy simply kept at it, going from one wounded man to the next throughout the night recalling the screaming, the barrage of weapons fire, and the unrelenting rain punctuated by bolts of lightning that captured the battle scene like macabre snapshots in the blackness.

The battle relented as the tropical day dawned to the scene and smell of rotting bodies. Once again, the soldieries of the 20th Infantry hugged the rock and tried to rest as well as they could in the tropical heat.

Below, the Japanese bunkers would have to fall by way of demolition teams, one by one, to reach the trapped regiments. In retrospect, it appears that the barrage of fire (720 rounds of 105mm and 155mm into an area 400 yards by 600 yards plus bombing from 18 P-47s, not to mention the gasoline) that helped the 20th Infantry to the top of Lone Tree Hill had only stunned the Japanese who had hunkered down inside the caves until the bombardment and shock had relented.

On the morning of June 24th, the 1st Infantry regiment moved in from the West to cut the Japanese off from reinforcements. During the night of June 24th 1944 the bulk of the Japanese defenders of Lone Tree Hill used the darkness to retreat, leaving behind nearly 700 dead above ground.

In the rear, the fighting became so desperate to break through the Japanese fortifications and reach the trapped battalion that no one was spared from combat duty. An MP recalls that even they were enlisted to fight. It had not happened before, and as he recalled, it never happening afterward, but at Lone Tree Hill everyone was enlisted to fight. The fighting for everyone was intense and the casualties came, even from friendly fire as the 6th Division learned, at high cost, the danger and confusion of doing battle in the Jungle at night.

With the assistance of the 1st and 63rd Infantry Regiments, and the full resources of the entire Division, the 20th Infantry took Lone Tree Hill and at a high cost. Finally, the wounded and the dead were evacuated. Comrades watched as a convoy of trucks returned to the beach at Toem with bodies of fallen friends “stacked like cordwood” in the back of those trucks.

The 20th Infantry Regiment, which had spend four desperate days and three hellish nights on Lone Tree Hill was relieved on June 25th by the 63rd Infantry Regiment which, with the assistance of Flamethrowers and artillery, finished the fighting and the securing of Lone Tree Hill.

During the ten days from June 20 to June 30, 1944, in the Battle for Lone Tree Hill, the Sightseeing Sixth had suffered over eight hundred casualties, including over 150 killed in action. An estimated 1,342 Japanese were killed including 400 sealed in caves by demolition teams. More soldiers died in other battles in New Guinea, but the battle for Lone Tree Hill represented the bloodiest 10 days of the New Guinea Campaign.

Fighting in the Maffin Bay area did not end with Lone Tree Hill. While the 20th Infantry Regiment was relieved to nurse its wounds, the combat continued as the 1st and 63rd Infantry Regiments assaulted three remaining strongholds, Hill 225, Hill 265 and Mt. Saksin from June 26 until July 12, 1944. The Maffin Airdrome was taken as well as a large supply of trucks, antiaircraft guns, searchlight and other equipment.

The unwritten code of the men of the 6th Division hardened after Lone Tree Hill. Soldiers who witnessed the death of their close friends, if they did not learn to hate, learned to take no chances with the Japanese and to simply kill all enemy encountered. Orders were to accept surrender, but no surrendering Japanese were encountered at Lone Tree Hill among the hardened Imperial Marines of General Tagami’s Division sworn to defend the Maffin Airdrome at all costs. On the squad-level, the reality was to take no chances, which meant take no prisoners, to never surrender and to kill every Japanese encountered. The battle-experienced survivors of Lone Tree Hill were now unalterably changed. The face of that first battle at Maffin Bay was a harsh teacher.

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E. Sansapor and the Vogelkop Peninsula.

On the extreme western tip of New Guinea lies the Vogelkop Peninsula jutting out like a giant bird’s-head. There, at Cape Sansapor, after a massive bombardment of the coast, the 6th Division landed unopposed on the morning of July 30, 1944. Japanese were encountered. They were retreating. Any displaying any sign of resistance were immediately killed. Others who submitted were captured and taken as prisoners. The Japanese forces here, were not the elite forces of Maffin Bay. The Japanese at Sansapor were poorly organized and most were not looking for a fight. Many were disillusioned and no longer subscribed to the cult of bushido. At Sansapor, the 6th Division set to work, almost immediately, to build a large airstrip for continuing the assault northward to the Philippines and Borneo. Throughout the 6th Division’s stay at Sansapor, it would be involved in intensive Jungle patrolling to root out any Japanese resistance. In the Jungle, the enemy was discovered, usually when the point-man was shot. The fighting which followed was typically short and furious.

The heaviest casualties at Sansapor were from the Jungle. An outbreak of scrub typhus in an area of Kunai Grass brought with it nine dead. In the weeks ahead more than 1800 cases of scrub typhus were treated by Red Star Medics working for 24 hour stretches or longer in treating the stricken men. With scrub typhus, a disease carried by a tiny mite, the afflicted soldier would have malaria-like symptoms which nothing, including atabrine could treat. Many would simply experience fevers and chills until they died. Simple treatment for fever, hope and time were the only remedy. For many of the afflicted who did survive the only hope was evacuation. For them, their war in the Pacific was over. Areas of Kunai Grass were burned and the Jungle was sprayed with DDT. Swamps were drained. All clothing was washed in a soup of DDT. Men dusted themselves with DDT. No one forgot to wear his clothing which was both dusted and soaked in DDT.

During their time in Sansapor, the 6th Division continued to patrol and train deep into the Jungle, preparing for their next assignment. Enemy bombing raids were few, but one such raid scored a direct hit on the Division Command Post, killing five officers and men and wounding eight others. Nightly movies broke the monotony of constant patrolling and now, ship-loading as the Division prepared for invasion of the Philippines.

American Japanese Interpreters assigned to intelligence with the 6th Division helped save many lives at Sansapor. The language team decoded a captured enemy map and the location of troops converging for a massed attack was located. A barrage of artillery fired started precisely 15 minutes before the decoded attack was scheduled to commence virtually wiped out the enemy forces. Thus an infantry battle that could have cost many lives was spared by the efforts of Japanese Americans serving with the Sixth Division.

In September of 1944, Major General Edwin D. Patrick assumed command of the 6th Infantry Division after General Sibert was promoted to commanding General of X Corps. Capable and respected, General Patrick was destined to lead the Sightseers through the greatest amphibious operation of the Pacific war, at the Gulf of Lingayan only to be killed and buried alongside his men on March 14, 1945 during operations against the Shimbu Line near Bayanbayannan, Luzon.

Then came the constant loading of ships and more ships with supplies and equipment preparing for the Divisions next destination. On December 29, 1944 the men set sail from Cape Sansapor thankful that they were finally leaving the Jungles of New Guinea hoping never to return.

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F. Lingayan Gulf and Luzon, the Philippines.

On New Year’s Day of 1945, the 6th Infantry Division was sailing in the largest landing force to be assembled in the Pacific for its landing at Lingayan Gulf, Luzon. They were facing General Yamashita and 250,000 combat-hardened troops who were well fed and well armed determined to bleed the American’s white on Luzon to prevent the invasion of Japan. While sailing through the China Sea on January 7, 1945 one of the 6th LST’s was struck by a Kamikaze. Some damage was done to the ship and men were wounded but the LST continued to hold its place in the convoy. On the night of January 7 at 2300 hours, a naval bombardment commenced in anticipation of the impending landing. On the morning of the 8th there were more attacks by aircraft and by Kamikazes mostly ineffective, except for a place that hit the quarterdeck of the USS Calloway. Several Navy personnel were killed. On the morning of January 9, 1945 the greatest amphibious landing in the Pacific commenced with the 6th, 43rd and 37th Infantry Divisions landing unopposed. Japanese bombardment soon commenced, however, and the 6th Division’s battle for Luzon would continue unabated for the next 219 days.

The Island of Luzon was a much more civilized experience for the men of the 6th Division. There were still some areas of jungle, but this was not the intense tropical rain forest of New Guinea. There were towns, roads and an environment more like the Mediterranean than the Tropics.

The 6th Division first encounter with organized resistance came on the Santa Barbara-Catablan road where it ran into concentrated artillery, machine gun and small-arms fire. The enemy attacked from well-concealed positions and the 6th were at a disadvantage due to the flat terrain and superior numbers of the enemy. The 6th withdrew and a counter-offensive from the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Infantry moved in to capture the Japanese held strong point.

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1. The Purple Heart Valley Campaign.

The 63rd Infantry Regimental Combat Team (RCT) spearheaded the next battle, known by the men as the “Purple Heart Valley Campaign,”. So named for obvious reasons, this would prove to be the toughest battle of the Lingayan landing. The 63rd Infantry was opposed by a heavy concentration of enemy mortar and artillery fire from the 8,000 of the Japanese known to be occupying strong defensive positions in the hills south of the Damortis-Rosario highway where fortifications included an intricate system of tunnels and caves hiding 60 artillery pieces and reports of 11,000 troops. Throughout the sector the terrain favored the enemy. Advancement from January 10th through the 31st assured heavy casualties on both sides. The 63rd Infantry regiment suffered 489 casualties 103 of which had been killed. The Japanese suffered 971 killed. Only 4 were captured.

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2. The Cabaruan Hills.

While the 63rd RCT was seizing the high ground overlooking Damortis-Rosario, the 20th and 1st Infantry Regiments continued their southward advance toward Manila. In the battle of the Cabaruan Hills which followed, the Japanese had pledged a suicidal defense of the area. The two Regiments, the 1st Infantry with the support of a tank detachment, faced an enemy well entrenched and hidden in ground honeycombed with foxholes, prepared earthworks and pillboxes making observation of the enemy impossible and forcing troops to proceed with the utmost caution, probing weaknesses in Japanese defenses. Casualties suffered included 198 wounded and 81 dead. For the Japanese, 1,432 were killed and 7 were captured. The battle was concluded January 30, 1945.

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3. Battle for Munoz.

In the next engagement, at the town of Munoz, the 1st, 20th and 63rd regiments converged with tank and artillery support where the largest concentration of Japanese armor was to be encountered in the war. On January 30th Company K of the 20th Infantry came under such intense fire that a smoke screen had to be laid down to effect their retreat. The town of Munoz offered excellent defensive positions for the Japanese and their well fortified and entrenched defenses which included 56 tanks. It quickly became obvious that this small town was going to take the entire Division, plus support from American tanks and heavy artillery. Over the next five days, intense fighting continued as the forces of the 1st and 63rd Infantry cut off the Japanese escape route.

The culmination of the battle and the penetration of the town were sparked by the heroic actions of Technical Sgt. Donald E. Rudolph, of the 20th Infantry Regiment, whose destruction of a whole line of enemy fortifications earned him the Medal of Honor. After administering first aid to two wounded men in a forward area and killing three snipers in a near-by culvert, Rudolph crawled 75 years across open terrain, threw a grenade through the embrasure of a machine gun position, then tore a hole with his bare hands in the wood and earth covering of the pillbox to drop a second grenade, killing all occupants. He picked up an enemy pick mattock lying on the ground, stood up in a hail of machine gun and rifle fire to tear a hole in the top of another emplacement, and killed all enemy gunners and riflemen. In quick succession Rudolph disposed of six additional enemy pillboxes using his hands and the pick mattock to open the emplacements, and grenades and rifle fire to kill the occupants, though surrounded at all times by heavy machine gun and rifle fire from enemy covering positions.

During the night of February 5th the enemy engaged in a counter-offensive using their entrenched tanks without success. On the night of the 6th they attempted to escape through what they appeared to believe was the path of least resistance, but which had been heavily fortified with American tanks, tank destroyers and Bazookas. There at 0330 hours they encountered the roadblock set up by the 63rd Regimental Combat Team, which made quick work of two tanks with 37mm cannon and .50-caliber machine gun fire. Further down the road the 53rd and 80th Artillery Battalions lowered their muzzles and fired at point blank range against the advancing armor column. The battle won with losses of 97 dead and 303 wounded of which 54 were from the 20th Infantry Regiment alone, the “Sightseers” moved on to their new assignment. Losses for the Japanese were 1,935 killed. There were no prisoners.

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4. The Drive to the East Coast to Split Japanese Forces and the Retaking of Bataan.

In the next engagement, while the 37th Infantry Division was fighting for Manila, the 20th Infantry with the 63rd Regimental Combat Team was ordered to drive to the East Coast of Luzon to effectively cut the forces of General Yamashita in half. Medic “Jack” Murphy recalled the liberation of the Cabanatuan Prison Camp by the Sixth Army Rangers a few days before, but nothing prepared him for what he saw when the 20th Infantry actually marched in to see the remnants of the shacks of the “death” camp where he knew more than 2,700 young American corpses lay naked and rotting “in a shallow and water soaked mass grave.” Murphy marched on. At the same time, the 1st Infantry Regiment began a Western drive across the Bataan Peninsula to cut off the enemy there. The 1st Infantry Regiment were the first troops to enter the central Bataan Peninsula since the infamous Bataan Death March. These missions accomplished, and Manila taken by the 37th Infantry Division, the Division’s regiments reunited to converge of the high ground of the Shimbu Line East of Manila where 14,000 Japanese troops were, again well fortified, entrenched in caves and earthen-pillboxes and prepared and determined to fight to the death.

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5. Cracking the Shimbu Line.

The Shimbu Line proved to be the harshest campaign yet for the weary soldiers of the 6th Division. Fought from February 20th through April 30th of 1945, the battles waged there proved particularly harsh and pitiless. Fighting was round the clock and every night proved the power of the cult of bushido as the Japanese launched banzai attacks. Main points in the strong Japanese defensive line were Mt. Oro, Mt. Pacawagan , Mt Mataba and Mt. Baytangan, all rising over 1,000 feet, heavily wooded and bristling with concealed weaponry. To many from the 6th Division, the Shimbu Line reminded them of the fighting at Lone Tree Hill. As the men of the 6th were soon to discover, it was “one damn hill after another” as the brutal fighting continued where every offensive was met with a counter offensive and a night attack. Caves were sealed with demolitions and bazooka fire. Flamethrowers and Napalm attacks from P-38s became commonplace as the Japanese were literally burned out of their caves and fortifications or buried alive. Here, over 6,500 were killed. For the 6th Division 107 were killed and 569 wounded. This campaing alone, represented 112 days of uninterrupted combat before success was achieved.

During the operation, Major General Edwin D. Patrick was mortally wounded by an enemy machine-gun burst while watching an attack from a forward battalion observation post. General Patrick was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously. Major General Charles E. Hurdis succeeded Patrick and lead the 6th Division through to the conclusion of the War.

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6. Securing Central Luzon.

During May through June 12 of 1945, the 6th Division was assigned to combat and mopping up enemy in the Central Luzon area, including securing the remainder of Bataan by the 1st and 63rd Regiments. Casualties there were lighter, with 17 killed and 106 wounded. The Japanese lost 1,320 killed. For the first time there were prisoners; 269 were captured.

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7. Campaign in the Cordelleras, the Cagayan Valley and the Stronghold of General Yamashita.

From Central Luzon to the end of the war, until August 15, 1945, the 6th Division was assigned to take the last stronghold of General Yamashita in the Cordellera Mountains and Cagayan Valley of Northern Luzon in an area of deep ravines and thick Jungle along what was known as Highway 4. The Highway was exceedingly poor and cover for the enemy was equally as substantial that found against the Shimbu Line. Here, with great assistance from Philippine guerilla forces, the 6th Division engaged in what would become their last battle of the war against an enemy still determined, in many cases, to fight to the death. As the 6th entered the last stronghold of General Yamashita intense fighting was encountered in the Bolog-Kiangan area near the Ibulao River by the 63rd Infantry Regiment from July 1st through July 12th, on the road to Banaue by the 1st Infantry Regiment and by the 20th Infantry which relieved the 63rd Infantry on July 24 and continued the spearhead of the fighting into August in the Mt. Puloy area of Northern Luzon. A seven-hour armistice was declared on July 24 while leaflet were dropped on the Japanese to attempt to allow surrender. Instead, they used the opportunity to prepare a counter-offensive. The 6th Division then launched their offensive, which included heavy artillery fire totaling on the Hill Objective, 96 tons of 105 mm shells, 53 tons of 155 mm shells, and 30 tons of 8 inch howitzer shells into the enemy hill fortress. When it was over, only seventeen Japanese surrendered.

During the battle for Mt. Puloy, Corporal Melvin Mayfield continued an advance alone while his comrades of a Philippine Army Battalion were pinned down. There he moved by rushes up the steep slope into the converging fire from countless enemy emplacements. There he single handedly attacked an enemy cave position with white phosphorus grenades, destroying the emplacement and killing the occupants. Ignoring the increasingly heavy enemy fire, he continued charging emplacements in the Japanese outer line of defense destroying four cave positions and at least seven additional enemies killed before he ran out of ammunition. Although his left arm was useless from wounds, he returned to the hesitant Filipinos, obtained more grenades, and encouraged a light machine gun squad to accompany him on the return trip. After killing two more enemy and destroying another emplacement, Mayfiled rallied the battalion forward and led them in storming the hill. All enemy positions on the ridge were destroyed. These efforts earned Mayfield the Medal of Honor.

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III. The End of the War

Otto Marinich, of the 63rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, Company C, who won two bronze stars (one for his bravery in the terraced rice paddies of Northern Luzon and another for manning a flame thrower) and two purple hearts, recalled that it was General Yeon of the 63rd Infantry Regiment who volunteered his regiment to go after Yamashita. General Yeon wanted Yamashita himself because he had gone to school in the states with him and wanted to capture him. According to Marinich, a captured P-38 flyer was the person that helped negotiate the surrender of Yamashita when he surrendered from his last remaining stronghold. The 6th Division trucks were the ones that were to be used to transport the Japanese prisoners down the highway. As part of the surrender process soldiers along the highway were ordered to salute the surrendering forces. The 63rd Infantry, refused and so it was ordered 500 feet back off of the highway while the Japanese prisoners were transported into custody.

Casualties in the Cordilleras were 432 wounded and 99 killed. The Japanese lost 7,792 with 925 who surrendered before the war was over. During the Luzon campaign alone the 6th Division had killed 20,480 enemy and captured 1,369 others. The rate of death for the Japanese had been 100 soldiers a day. During the same period the Division lost 853 killed in action or dead of wounds, 3122 wounded and 6 missing. At the War’s end the 6th Division were the most heavily engaged troops in the United States Army still fighting the forces of Japan. Those not returning home were eventually assigned to Inchon Korea where they would remain while policing the process of surrender of the Japanese troops still in Korea.

For most of the men of the 6th Division returning home, it would still be months before they did return. During this time, most, near exhaustion, were fed and nursed back to health while being briefed and essentially deprogrammed. After 306 days of combat, the last 219 being continuous, all including even the medics, had learned to kill automatically. The men of the 6th Division had to gradually get used to the idea of not killing and not killing Japanese. They had to get used to the idea of no longer living with a rifle as a constant companion. In the years to come, many would continue to experience the effects of the war, including bouts of Malaria and flashbacks. Most would overcome these scars, repress memories of the worst horrors of the War and learn to appreciate the simple joys of life. All would be changed the ordeal, their survival and the loss of so many friends who sacrificed their lives at the peak of their youth.

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Very Brief Recent History.

The Division was deactivated shortly before the onset of the Korean War in 1949. It was reactivated during the Korean conflict from 1950 to 1956 and again reactivated in 1967 as part of the Vietnam War buildup, but the Army decided it was not needed in Vietnam and it was deactivated in 1968. Since March 23, 1986, the 6th Division was reactivated as a Light Infantry Division as a part of the Rapid Deployment Force under President Reagan’s Administration and is now stationed at Ft. Richardson, Alaska. In 1989 the Division took part in a joint US-Japan training exercise in the “Orient Shield 89” Maneuvers. It was deactivated again in the 1990s.

Both the 20th Infantry Regiment and the 172nd Stryker Brigade, the last remaining remnants of the 6th Infantry Division, have since had several tours of duty in Iraq.

By
Thomas E. Price,
Son of
Robert E. Price
Who served as a Medic in the 63rd Infantry Regiment of the 6th Division
In World War II
And was awarded the Silver Star and Two Bronze Stars
For Heroism
During the Luzon Campaign.

These words are dedicated to my father,
to
His best friend, Robert L. Proud, who was killed in Luzon, the Philippines
And to
All of his comrades in the 6th Division, many of whom also
Sacrificed their lives in the War.

Message from the Author and Bibliography

To all still living veterans of the 6th Division, of World War II, I am in the process writing a historical perspective from the first-hand experiences of my father, Robert E. Price a medic with the 63rd Infantry Regiment.

If you are a veteran of the 6th Division or have special knowledge about the history of the Division, I would be honored and appreciate hearing from you, I can be reached at admin@6thinfantry.com. I have endeavored to be as accurate as possible in my descriptions. If any information is not accurate please advise me. I welcome feedback.

To all Japanese Americans, many of whom fought bravely to defend the United States, I apologize for any descriptions in my narrative that sound racist. That is not my intent. I know of many Japanese Americans that served bravely and honorably. My only intent is to be accurate. The time period is a particularly racist period in world history and I do not want to soft pedal that reality. The racism in America which created Japanese internment camps was shameful. However, the nature of War in the Pacific was dictated in very large part by Imperial Japan’s approach to the War which demanded a fight to the death and the sacrifice of so many of its young men even in the face of a chance for an honorable surrender. It was this undeniable face of war which soldiers in the Southeastern Pacific encountered. Fault for this lies at the feet of the Historic Military Leaders of Japan and their followers, not the Japanese people today.

In my research I have been continually struck by how many lives of the Japanese were sacrificed for what seems, at first, to be little or no purpose. There is no doubt in my mind that Japan is so changed today precisely because of this terrible episode in their history. To this purpose of Peace may their dead be laid to rest with honor and respect.

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Some of my sources of information include the following:

  • Taped interviews with Robert E. Price in 1998 and 1999.
  • The Division Public Relations Section, The 6th Infantry Division in World War II, 1939 to 1945, (Battery Press 1947).
  • Jennifer S. John, The Sixth Infantry Division, (Turner Publishing 1989).
  • John L. Munschauer, World War II Cavalcade, An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse, (Sunflower University Press 1996)(Mr. Munschauer was a Lieutenant in K Company of the 63rd Infantry Regiment and served in Luzon).
  • Albert E. Cowdrey, Fighting for Life, American Military Medicine in World War II (The Free Press, 1994).
  • Michael Green, MacArthur in the Pacific, (Motorbooks, 1996).
  • Nathan Prefer, MacArthur’s New Guinea Campaign March –August 1944, (Combined Books 1995).
  • Eric Bergerud, Touched With Fire, The Land War in the South Pacific (Penguin Books 1996).

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57 Comments

  1. Under “Very Brief Recent History” it reads:

    “Since March 23, 1986, the 6th Division was reactivated as a Light Infantry Division as a part of the Rapid Deployment Force under President Carter’s Administration…” Reagan won the 1980 election and was president at this time.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the correction.

      Reply
  2. My father was in the 63rd Infantry toward the end of the war.
    He rarely spoke of any battles he was in. He passed away in 2006. I am trying to find information about which battles he may have been involved with. I have his war annual and in the inside front cover is a map of the Luzon area. Interestingly enough, he may have provided me with some clues as he or possibly one of his friends drew very light lines of where his division must have been. Also included in the album is a photo of him with his division. On the back is a list of the men’s names in his platoon. Any ideas on how to pursue this further to get more information? I tried contacting the Department of the Army, but unfortunately the records of his division were burned. I basically ran into a dead-end trying to figure out which battles my father might have fought in. I am wondering if you might have any suggestions??
    Thank you,
    Lori Merriman

    Reply
  3. I was stationed @ Camp Sykes, 20th infantry Regiment, 6th
    Division, at Kwangju, South Korea in late ’46,all of ’47 and part of ’48 as a Staff Sargent. It was an interesting
    time. I am anxious to share this with any Veteran who was a
    part of that period and place or anyone who may have interest.

    Clifford E. Richardson
    225 Prague Ct.
    Centerville, OH. 45458
    Phone: 937-433-4365

    Reply
  4. I was stationed @ Camp Sykes, 20th infantry Regiment, 6th
    Division, at Kwangju, South Korea in late ’46,all of ’47 and part of ’48 as a Staff Sargent. It was an interesting
    time. I am anxious to share this with any Veteran who was a
    part of that period and place or anyone who may have interest. Thius is my first and only comment.

    Clifford E. Richardson
    225 Prague Ct.
    Centerville, OH. 45458
    Phone: 937-433-4365

    Reply
  5. James E. Duffy,
    Son of
    Mark B. Duffy
    Who served as a Combat Medic in the 63rd Infantry Regiment of the 6th Division in World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star. I have found more information in what you have posted than anything previous that I have read.

    Jim Duffy

    Reply
  6. Thanks to al the veterans out there.
    My dads name was John j Becker, nickname was jack. Served in the pacific, came out a Sargent, but he never talked about the war much when I was a kid and he died in1979. Just wondering if anybody remembers him? My dad was about 6 foot tall and had black hair and was thin.

    Reply
  7. US ARMY 1952-54.korean war.Basic training,63rd Infantry Regiment,6th DIVISION,6th Army,Fort Ord ,California.After basic assigned to 6th MP Company at Fort ORD,Clifornia for two years.Did not go to Korea.Seperated from service after two years.
    I would like to obtain any 63rd Infantry Patches,badges,etc.
    Also, am I ALLOWED TO JOIN ANY OF THE UNITS above.How do I contact them.

    Reply
    • Dear Mr. Yarrington:

      Good to hear from you. Unfortunately, both the 63rd Infantry Regiment and the 6th Infantry Division are deactivated. The only organization now in existence is our organization, the National Assn of the 6th Infantry Inc. We are a private non-profit organization and membership is open to everyone who might want to support our mission of education and historic preservation. You are welcome to join.

      If you wish to join, the organization please send me an email to admin@6thinfantry.com and I will forward the information that you will need. Membership is $10 per year.

      Sincerely,

      Thomas Price

      Reply
  8. Please note my Dad has passed away he was. 1st. Sgt. John W Mangione Battery B 1st. Field Artillery Thank you he was 95 and fondly recalls all his Band of Brothers from the 6th.

    Reply
    • Jon:

      I am sorry to hear about your father passing away.

      We will include his name in the next Sightseer magazine in Taps.

      Sincerely,

      Thomas Price

      Reply
  9. I am glad to see the history of the 6th id. I am one of the 6 who where in attendance at the reactivaction of the 6 id light at hhc headquarters ft wainwright ak

    Reply
  10. My Uncle Woodrow Long served with this division as a combat medic.I read a book he had “Brothers in blood”.He noted “Hard Battle IN MUNOZ” in the page that shows the map.He has passed away……….but the military respect shown him at his funeral was majestic. GOD BLESS TO ALL OF YOU.

    Reply
  11. My grandmother’s brother – Ralph “Dyke” FOX served in the 6th Infantry Division during World War II. Do you have unit rosters?

    Reply
    • Some, but not all of that information is available if you search the books that have been scanned on the website. The trouble is that most of the actual army records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis in about 1974. We depend on folks like you to share information with us. We try to post as much as we can on the website to help others find information. Look through the scanned PDF book entitled 6th Division Pictorial review 1941. I hope this helps.

      Reply
  12. My father was in the 63rd RCT company k as a scout /sniper
    he trained in Texas and then to Marine base camp Pendelton
    then shipped to the pacfic, I remember him saying something about Siapan phillipines and new gunea and headhuters and lived off of Japanses rations for months and spotting arty in a piper cub and roving islands to snip. he talked about one guy was a really great shot but one leg was shorter than the other one, Missori railrunner. He talked about gambling onboard navy ships and beach landinds and yes move dig move dig and yes dig dig dig and lots of long marches in mountain jungles, Oh and tons of leeches.My dad was counter sniping in a palm tree and got the first sniper and fired at the second sniper as he was hit, The fall out of the tree broke all of his bones the bullet hit his dog tag and knicked his heart and hithis left lung. my dad woke up in hawaii and a nurse was making out with him. but he was in a body cast for too many months and no scratching. he later trained for occupation of Japan in texas but got out on points before his medical discharge came thru
    I realized when I went in to the infantry how they lived off of Japanes rations for months
    I miss him a lot but both myself and my kids scored expert from his training me as a kid

    Reply
  13. I have my uncle’s, Robert Carbery, Co G, 1st Regt, 6th army, letters, some roster into and VA file. Wounded twice, once in Jan ’45 and March 2 1945….latter knocked him out of the war, severe shrapnel wound back of neck.

    Reply
  14. Now 93 years old. Anybody remember him.

    Reply
  15. I am looking for any Information that I can find on My Father. His name was Joe L Garrard he was with the 53rd FA BN Btry B. Don’t know much about the time or anything. My Dad never talked about his experience and i was too young to know to ask. he passed away at the age of 44 in 1966 and I was only 20 at the time, since retiring trying to find info and doing Genealogy on family. Would like any info I can get. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  16. Karl,
    Do you have his military records? I had a few of my dads but by contacting the National Archives, I was able to find out more.
    If you need it, here’s the link to get started.
    http://www.archives.gov/veterans/

    Danny

    Reply
  17. My father, Edgar Kongable, served in the 53rd FA Bat. during WW2. He passed away several years ago, but I have a small box of pictures he brought back with him. They are not labeled so I don’t know what they are pictures of, but I would be glad to scan them in and email to someone, if interested. I also have a book that belonged to him titled “The 6th Infantry Division: 1939 – 1945” published by Infantry Journal Press in 1947. I do not want to lose the book, but would be glad to share information from it.

    Reply
  18. Albert,
    It would be great to have the pictures in file for others to see. I will contact you with email information.
    Danny

    Reply
  19. My father fought in the Second World War, the 38 Guards division of the Soviet Army. On the Elbe River just south of the city of Schwerin in Germany, a meeting with the 6th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. My father was at the meeting, organized by the commander of the 6th Infantry Division and its allies. The father with the 6th Infantry Division had two friends. I would like to find them. Someone can help me with this? I’m from Ukraine. E-mail:bbc1974@mail.ru
    Andrey

    Reply
    • Andrey:

      It has to have been the 6th Armored Division. The 6th Infantry were all in the Philippines at the time. I would look up their history. I would believe that would help you.

      Sincerely,

      Thomas Price

      Reply
  20. My Grandfather, Sgt Norman Honold, was a heavy machine gunner in D company, 63rd Regiment. He had shrapnel in his ankle and came home to Michigan with malaria. As his grandson, he told me a few things about the war, but could tell he chose his words and stories carefully. He died in 1990 and miss him so. He is my hero!

    Reply
  21. My Dad served with the 6th during ’46 and 47 over in Korea. I have his scrapbook on the inside of the front cover of which he wrote “Camp Sykes (Korea) and he listed the following: Kwangju, Chingu, Pusan, Yungdungpo, Sunjunni, Wausan, Yorku. He also listed names and towns in the USA on the back cover of some of the men he must have served with. He rarely spoke of this time except to say that guard duty at midnight at a bunker with it so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, and then to hear the minor key music and not know whether it was friend or foe was not fun. In one of his letters back to the States, he writes that he had just finished washing the dishes and was about ready to start on the pots and pans when the cook came out and told him that he needed the water to make tea and that what the men didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

    Reply
  22. April 10, 2014
    My Dad James Leroy Owen was a medic who served in the 63rd Infantry during WWII in the New Guinea & Philippines. He has just celebrated his 91st birthday with his sons, grandsons, granddaughter and great grandson.

    Reply
    • James,

      Please pass on to your Dad a Happy Belated Birthday. It took a long time for medics to be recognized for the crucial role they had to do. Ask anyone that was carried by a litter squad or had a wound attended to. The medic was a prayer that was answered.

      If you have any photos or documents that your Dad would like to share, please send them to;
      for pictures
      for pictures & documents

      Danny

      Reply
  23. This was a really comprehensive written narrative of the US Sixth Army and the battalions with whom they served. My father Irving J Menkin was with the US 6th Rangers and was a Company Sniper, trained at Ft Lewis Washington. I think he was in company B because he told me he did not go on the Battaan Camp liberation. Many of his somewhat sketchy stories make a lot of sense when I read your narrative, and his recounting of the hand to hand combat, flame throwing, grenades tossed in caves, and hand to hand combat nightmares come through clearly He was also assigned to the Japanese Occupation and had some interesting stories about that and the rebuilding of the Geisha Theater at Takarazaka (spelling?) by American soldiers and being there for the premiere re-opening.

    I do have a number of photos he saved and my step mother gave me when he died in 2007. If you know of any more articles of other photos which were shared it would greatly be appreciated. Harlan Menkin 619301-4850

    Reply
  24. My father (same name) was with the 289th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, which I understand was attached to the 6th Division for the Luzon Campaign. I was wondering if anyone could give me any information on what it did there, or better yet, if anyone knew my father. He went by “Mac,” and was the same name, Maurice McLaughlin. He passed in 1988.

    Thanks, Maurice McLaughlin

    Reply
    • Mr. Mclaughlin:

      That could be rather difficult. Most soldiers knew folks in their own Company, but beyond that, might not even know many individuals in their own regiment. Bear in mind that the 6th Division was about 16,000 men and a regiment about 5,500 soldiers.

      Reply
  25. Served in the 6th at the Fort Ord Army Hospital.
    At least I think this is correct.
    SPC4 James Diffey (Medic)

    Reply
  26. My father Edwin Miller served in the 63rd infantry Company F during the war. Anyone remember him. He died in 1979 without saying much about the war. He also served with Jim Moppin. Both from Missouri

    Reply
  27. My father, Frank V. Morris, served in Co. G, 20th Inf. Regt. 6th ID., was baptized by fire at Lone Tree Hill and later wounded by machine gun fire March 1945 on Luzon during Shimbu Line operations. He went on to obtain a BS in Forestry at West Virginia University and subsequent career with the US Forest Service. He retired to his boyhood home in Clothier WV and died April 15 2002 just shy of his 81st birthday. Although asked, he never spoke much about his wartime experiences. I do hold the Western Union telegrams to his mother informing the family of his wounding and return to the states. It is my understanding that my uncle, Frank’s brother Styish R. Morris visited my dad at a field hospital after getting word of his wounding. Styish served with Co. F, 145th Inf. Regt., 37th ID and was awarded the Silver Star during operations at Mount Pacawagan on 30 April 1945. Styish died in the late 1980’s. Dad also had 3 other brothers who served during WW2; Joe Morris, USN; Mike Morris, GM3, USS Washington BB-56, and Edmund Morris, T/Sgt. 4th Armored Div, Europe. All are now deceased. Fairwinds and Godspeed to my Father and Uncles–May they Rest in God’s Peace.

    Reply
  28. I was div.soldier-of-the-year in 1989 (first female !!)and was deployed to Persian gulf in early 91 (?)…any more info out there?

    Reply
  29. My father,my hero Scott F. Bennett 63rd batt. Company F. He told he was a scout. How brave. He did not talk about his battles. He was listed MIA in New Guinea. I remember seeing pictures he had from the Philippines. He passed @ 84 years old with full military honor.

    Reply
  30. Hello,
    Do you have an organization chart for WW1? I’m trying to determine which regiment/battalion the 6th Military Police Company was attached to. I have a family member who was with the unit until he was gassed.
    Thanks in advance.
    Have a good 6ID “Sight-Seeing” day.

    Sincerely,
    Rolfe L Hillman III
    9th U.S. Infantry Regiment Association – MANCHUs “Keep up the Fire!”

    Reply
  31. My Dad, Albert Bonuchi, was a member of the 20th Infantry and was deployed in the Lone Tree Hill (Maffin Bay), Cape Sansapor, and Luzon campaigns in 1944/45. He was wounded at BayanBayanan, Luzon on Aug 15th 1945. The Army told his Mom that he had lost his arm, which wasn’t true. He never spoke much about his service other than to tell me that he was in these places and that he was on a squad that fired a mortar and a Bazooka. He was a typical farm hand in Moberly, MO when he joined in 1941 at Fort Leonard Wood. He was a good shot with a rifle and passed that on to me. I have a copy of his records that were luckily not destroyed by fire in the 70’s in St Louis. I can match his movements with the historical account here and elsewhere, for which I am grateful for. Thank you. Roger Bonuchi, Plainfield, IL

    Reply
    • Mr. Bonuchi:

      Thanks for sharing the story of your father.

      Reply
  32. By the way, I just found a photo of my Dad (Albert Bonuchi) in the 6th Division book published here. He was in Company E. I am so grateful for having this opportunity to see Dad at that age in 1941. Since I now know that he was in Company E, I have more to go on for my reading. If anyone has Company E photos, please contact me at mrbonuchi@yahoo.com Thank you very much. Roger Bonuchi

    Reply
  33. A little known fact is that Col James Edward Rees,the regemental commander of The 1st Infantry Regiment 6th Division; was killed by the same burst of machine gun fire that killed Maj General Patrick!

    Reply
  34. Cadre Company A 20th 1951 two training cycles
    Departed to OCS Fort Monmouth NJ Sig C

    Reply
  35. I found this website while preparing a commentary on the 70th anniversary of the atom bomb. I was interested to read the history of the 6th Division and a few references to my unit, 20th Infantry Regiment, Sykes Regulars. I was in Korea from February 1946 to December 1946 posted at Kwangju. the buddies that I can recall are Paul Landfreid, Ben Minerva, Stan Badner, Cliff Chalfant, Larry Kehler, Bill Pullar, Dick Parks and Harry Mamales. The officer in charge of the regimental communications and our weekly newspaper was Lieut. Harris. I hope these names might reach someone who knew them in Korea. Pat Ford

    Reply
  36. My grandpa is Tech Sergeant Earl “Jim” Moppin, served during WWII in Company F, 63rd Infantry, 6th Division. I found out what company he served in through the yearbook under documents. Thanks for all of the info here, it is very interesting! If anyone has any info or good stories about my grandpa, please contact me. He died when I was young and I never heard much about the war…which is understandable. I’m very proud of his service and the rest of his comrades! May they rest in peace! And those who are still around, may you have peace in life. God bless!

    Reply
    • Fold3.com only shows one Earl Moppin; born October 1, 1918 and died December 30, 1988. He enlisted in the Army June 19, 1941 and discharged March 3, 1945.

      Reply
  37. Anyone in the 6th Div. At Ft Campbell in 1968. ?

    Reply
  38. Hi, my father and uncle both served at Fort Ord in the early 1950’s. My uncle was, in fact, first Sgt in 1954, with the 6th. He was highly decorated from WWII and his name was George Jurado. He has since passed away, and I have been looking for any historical information regarding his army service. I contacted the Dept of the Army and was told that those records have been destroyed in a fire. Is there a chance that you would have any records or photographic evidence of Fort Ord and his service from those days?
    Thanks for your time and assistance,
    Michael Gomez

    Reply
    • Michael,

      The contents here are a result of research from NARA, personal documentation and donations submitted to the site.
      When you contacted the Dept of Army, was it a request for personal records http://www.archives.gov/veterans/
      I submitted my request on my dad and found a good bit of information. But, understandably, it took a very long time to get results. However it was obvious some were damaged from the fire. I also contacted Geoff Gentilini at http://www.goldenarrowresearch.com/
      There was a lot of duplication but he did find more, including some morning after reports.

      Good luck in your research.

      Reply
  39. My father, Harley F. Leonard, Sr. served with the 6th in 44 and 45 as a replacement. Dad was exempted from the draft because he was a pipe fitter building ships and worked on Red Stone Arsenal construction. By 1944, he was called up. His training was in the 4.2 inch chemical mortars. He went through chemical warfare training twice. He said that when they graduated they were sent directly back through the same training again. Someone had decided they were going to use chemical weapons after the Germans surrendered and in the invasion of Japan.

    I do not know what units he served in. He was a sergeant of some sort. He said that when he arrived in Luzon, a duce and a half full of M1 rifles, caked in mud, drove up. A sergeant in charge said “I hope you bastards do better than the last bunch to have these rifles because they are dead”.

    That was his introduction to the Division and to war. His first day was to clean one of these rifle for inspection.
    My father was from Columbus, Georgia and has passed away.

    I have lots of stories if anyone is interested.

    Reply
  40. Lewis,

    That statement by the sergeant had to have left an uneasy feeling.

    Stories, pictures, etc are always welcome.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  41. I was born in 1948. I grew up playing with a knee mortar and a sergeant’s sword with a pig skin and wood scabbard. I really loved that sword. I would sneak it out of the house to go play war with my friends. My friends and I are pretty lucky to have all our appendages. I heard stories that after my father returned from Korea that he was still scary at night. He nearly injured my mother when he woke from a dream about the Japs sneaking up on his fox hole. He had both hands around her neck.

    When he returned home, dad was a sick man. He was admitted to Walter Reed hospital in Washington. He was placed in the terminal cancer ward. Every day the doctors would visit the ward, look at his chart, shake their heads, and move to another patient.

    One day, a new doctor looked at his chart and said to the nurse, “he is yellow like he has jaundice, so let us treat him for that”. Soon, the yellow went away. Then the Doctor, said “he has malaria symptoms, so let’s treat him for that”. Soon the malaria was abated. Next the Doctor treated him for hepatitis and on and on through several more tropical diseases until he was discharged.

    My mother and grandmother received telegrams indicating that they should visit my father at Walter Reed because his time was near. It sure scared my Dad.

    My father, I am sure, had emotional problems due to the combat he experienced. Sometimes when he would tell a story, he would tear up and his lip would quiver. Once he told me that his unit had captured a Japanese field hospital. They tommy gunned the wounded and then shot the doctors and nurses. No one was alive when the moved out. That really got Dad going.

    More later….

    Reply
  42. My Dad, Harley F. Leonard, was born in 1912 so he was 32 when drafted. Though he was a replacement, he was the “old man” literally among all the 18 year olds. He described many events during combat. The first rule, he said, was to dig a slit trench each evening. No matter how tired, or how you felt, or how hard the ground, you dug a trench so you could lie down on your left side so your heart was below ground. Japanese mortar attacks killed many who did not dig in.

    There were many banzai attacks after dark. It became SOP to prepare for these attacks each night. Though trained on the 4.2 inch mortar, he was assigned to use the 81MM mortar. During the attacks the mortars would fire furiously and the .30 cal. machine guns would fire continuously. Steam was coming from the water jackets. The Japs would begin an attack by drinking sake, then lining up in ranks and calling roll. After roll call, they would blow bugles, yell and scream and then the “Banzai”. That was the signal for hell to break loose.

    At least one attack reached the defense line. A machine gunner was killed with a sword and the sword severed the water jacket on the gun. There is not a lot of sleep to be had when this stuff is going on as tensions are pretty high. Each morning after the attack, men would go among the corpses to collect souvenirs and gold teeth. One day a souvenir hunter had a close call. A supposedly dead Japanese with a sword in his hand swung the blade at the legs of the American. Fortunately, the tip of the sword his a bush allowing the GI to jump away. After that, souvenir hunters would take a .45 pistol and shoot the “dead” Japs before searching them.

    A odd thing about the attacks was many of the Jap rifles had the bolt mechanism wired shut. We could never figure why they did this. If they were short of ammo, you don’t need to lock the bolts. Just don’t issue ammo.

    As a child, I played with many of the souvenirs, such as, a shaving kit, military rank insignias, document seals etc.

    Dad said that the Japanese were easy to figure out as they were always to do the unexpected. By always doing the unexpected, it was easy to figure what to expect. If there was a sheer cliff and an open plain, the Japs would scale the cliff because that would be unexpected. American defenses were set up accordingly. Large numbers of Japs were killed doing the unexpected.

    More later….

    Reply
  43. As a youngster, I saw TV shows that said the Japanese would not surrender. I asked my dad about that and he said that many wanted to surrender as the Japanese army was cut off in the Philippines. They were short of everything. It seemed to him that the U.S. Army did not want prisoners. Also, the more experienced men had witnessed or heard about Japs faking surrender to kill GIs. The Army made no provision for the men to turn in prisoners. If you brought one in, you would have to march him 6 to 8 miles to the rear. Everyone you encountered would laugh at you. Your buddies would harass you so you shot the Japs trying to give up. No GI was willing to walk 10 to 12 miles to turn in a prisoner. The Army made no transport available for prisoner movement.

    My dad said that all the combat units in the Division carried a hangman’s noose to be used on Gen. Yamashita when encountered. Yamashita was well aware of the nooses and my Father believed that was the reason the Air Corps flyer was sent out to ask that the Division be replaced for receiving the surrender.

    More later…

    Reply
  44. Assigned to 20th infantry regiment, 6th infantry div. in liberation of South Korea 1946-1948.
    Went over in Nov 1946 on the SS Marine Swallow right next to the keel on that ship’s bottom and returned to Camp Stoneman in March 1948 in a stateroom with seven other first three graders on a larger troopship, the name of which I cannot recall.

    Reply
  45. Supply Sgt. Med. detachment, 20th inf. Regiment, 6th inf. Division late 46 to early 48. Bunked in a home in Kwangju Korea in 1946 and moved out to Camp Sykes in 1947. My rank was T3.

    Reply
  46. After basic training and AIT at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in the summer-fall of 1967, I received orders for Fort Campbell, Kentucky and found myself among the first recruits to reactivate the 6th Infantry Division. We got our red pointed stars and formed the Sixth Administration Company. We processed in hundreds of soldiers and watched trainloads of equipment come in to the base to replace the 101 airborne which had just deployed to Vietnam. A few months later, everything changed. The sixth was deactivated and we were sent to other posts. I ended up at Fort Riley , Kansas as clerk for the S-3 battalion headquarters, 24th Mechanized Division which had replaced the Big Red One there. I thought the whole experience was very odd. I never did understand the reasons for the deactivation until I read about it in your website. Thanks for this.

    Reply
  47. I returned from Vietnam on Feb 10, 1968 and was ordered to Ft Campbell KY to A-6-3. As one of the first NCO’s, I was acting 1st Sgt until relieved by a SGT1Class and then assumed 1st platoon leader. What we did not know at the time was that we were forming to go to Vietnam. In July the division was ordered to Ft Indian Town Gap, PA for training. However a large number of us were close to our ETS date of August 31st and were held back. We were then transferred to the 1st of the 3rd. We were in a state of limbo until about the middle of August when we were discharged early.

    Reply

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