97th Infantry Division (United States)

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97th Infantry Division
97th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 5 September – 20 November 1918
25 February 1943 – 31 March 1946
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) Trident
Engagements World War I

World War II

The 97th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I and World War II. Nicknamed the Trident division because of its shoulder patch, a vertical trident in white on a blue background, it was the division with the highest IQ in World War II. Originally trained in amphibious assaults as preparation for deployment in the Pacific Theater, it was pulled to infantry in 1944 when casualties in Europe needed to be replaced.[1]

World War I

The division was organized at Camp Cody, Deming, New Mexico and activated 5 September 1918; one infantry regiment (303rd) served with the 76th Division.

The division was composed of National Army draftees mainly from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Later recruits came from Oklahoma and Minnesota. The strength of the division at demobilization was 402 officers and 7,889 men.

Neptune's trident was originally adopted as the division's symbol, to represent the coastal states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, from which recruits were drawn in 1918. The three prongs of the trident represent the three states, the blue symbolizes the states' numerous fresh water lakes, and the white of the border and trident represents the snow that covers these states' mountains.


  • Division Headquarters Unit
  • 387th Infantry Regiment
  • 388th Infantry Regiment
  • 622nd Field Signal Battalion
  • 366th Machine Gun Battalion
  • 322nd Headquarters Train and Military Police
  • 322nd Sanitary Train

172nd Field Artillery Brigade

The brigade was organized at Camp Jackson, South Carolina, under the command of Brigadier General Dennis H. Currie.

  • 61st Field Artillery Regiment
  • 62nd Field Artillery Regiment
  • 63rd Field Artillery Regiment
  • 21st Trench Mortar Battery
  • 322nd Ammunition Train


  • Colonel C. A. Martin - 26 September 1918 to 19 October 1918;
  • Brigadier General James R. Lindsay - 19 October 1918 until demobilization on 20 November 1918.

World War II

The 97th Infantry Division was reactivated on 25 February 1943 at Camp Swift, Texas. Most of the initial recruits came from the 95th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In February 1944 the division was moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for additional training. During 1944 approximately 5,000 soldiers were stripped from the division and sent as replacements to other units in Europe. Division strength was eventually restored when the Army Specialized Training Program was terminated and its personnel were reassigned to Army Ground Forces.[1]

In July 1944 the division relocated to Camp San Luis Obispo, California. Under the supervision of the Navy and Marine Corps, the division began amphibious training and exercises at Camp Callan, Coronado Strand, San Clemente Island, San Nicolas Island and Camp Pendleton. In September 1944 the 97th was transferred to Camp Cooke, California for further amphibious training.[2]

Because of the high number of American casualties during the Battle of the Bulge, several American units earmarked for the Pacific, including the 97th Infantry Division, were ordered to the European Theater of Operations for the final assault on Germany. The strength of the division upon deployment in Europe was 600 officers and 14,000 men.[2]

  • Overseas: 19 February 1945 for the ETO;
  • Returned to U.S.: 26 June 1945, from the ETO
  • Overseas: 28 August 1945, for the Pacific Theater, arriving 25 September 1945 in Yokohama[1]
  • Campaigns: Central Europe
  • Days of combat: 41 (ETO)
  • Prisoners of war taken in the ETO: 48,796
  • Inactivated: 31 March 1946 in Japan[3]




97th Division Artillery[8]

Special Troops


  • Major General Louis A. Craig - 4 February 1943 to 19 January 1944
  • Brigadier General Milton B. Halsey - 20 January 1944 – 24 September 1945
  • Major General Herman F. Kramer - 24 September 1945 to inactivation on 31 March 1946.

Combat chronicle

After assembly and training at Camp Cooke in California, the 97th Infantry Division was transported by train to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The division embarked on troopships in New York and landed at Le Havre, France on 2 March 1945, then moved to Camp Lucky Strike. After crossing France by troop train, the division passed through Maastricht and crossed the German border west of Aachen on 28 March, taking up a defensive position along the west bank of the Rhine River opposite Düsseldorf.[2] As all bridges over the Rhine had been destroyed and the city was well-defended, the 97th was ordered to move south along the west bank of the Rhine, crossing over it near Bonn on 3 April and taking up a position on the southern bank of the Sieg River at Hennef.

Ruhr pocket

The division then entered the battle of the Ruhr pocket, crossing the Sieg river on 7 April, battling German Wehrmacht troops defending Schloss Allner.[6] According to the after action report:[10]

"Machine-gun fire was strafing the crossing area from castle near ALLNER where it had a clear field of fire and from a wooded spur at a bend in the river W of the crossing, firing upriver toward the boats. Artillery fire, TD's, heavy MG fire and mortars were all brought to bear on this castle but although it crumbled, the MG fire continued. Fire was also coming from the high ground N of the river."

In two days the 922nd Field Artillery Battalion fired over three thousand 105mm rounds at the area around the castle.[9] Pfc John Hedrick seized an abandoned assault boat while under heavy enemy fire and used the craft to help ferry troops across the river. He was awarded the Silver Star. After crossing the river, elements of the 387th Infantry Regiment assaulted the castle:

"The 2d Battalion hit very stiff resistance at the ALLNER Castle and on the ridge in the loop of the river. Anti-tank company and the TD's blasted the castle from the S bank of the SIEG River and G Company was able to clear it out."

Entering Siegburg on 10 April, troops encountered a building marked by a red cross which they assumed was a hospital and therefore, did not attack it. In fact it was a factory that made German 88s. The Germans had dug tunnels there and as the division advanced, the Germans came up behind them, shooting at the Americans from both directions in a street-to-street engagement.[3]

On 12 April Pfc Joe R. Hastings of Company C, 386th Infantry Regiment, distinguished himself in action at Drabenderhöhe, Germany while attacking an enemy position. According to his citation:

"[Hastings] rushed forward over 350 yards of open, rolling fields to reach a position from which he could fire on the enemy troops. From this vantage point he killed the crews of a 20mm gun and a machine gun, drove several enemy riflemen from their positions, and so successfully shielded the 1st Platoon that it had time to reorganize and remove its wounded to safety. Observing that the 3d Platoon to his right was being met by very heavy 40mm and machine gun fire, he ran 150 yards with his gun to the leading elements of that unit, where he killed the crew of the 40mm gun...[He then] advanced, firing his gun held at hip height, disregarding the bullets that whipped past him, until the assault had carried 175 yards to the objective...He was killed 4 days later while again supporting the 3d Platoon."

He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions.

On 14 April, intelligence officers from the 97th Division liberated approximately 800 prisoners of war, including 177 Americans, being held at a POW camp in Hoffnungstal, near Much, Germany.[11]

After Siegburg, the division captured Cologne, Germany. Pushing on toward Düsseldorf through difficult terrain and heavy resistance in densely wooded areas, the division captured Solingen on 17 April.[2] The Germans cut down trees to impede the infantry's advance, thus blocking the roads in the woods. Düsseldorf fell the next day and the Ruhr pocket was eliminated. The infantry drove through Düsseldorf, waiting for the Germans to shoot at them so that they could find them and flush them out.[3]

Flossenbürg concentration camp

On 23 April elements of the 97th, together with members of the 90th Infantry Division, liberated Flossenbürg concentration camp near Floß in Bavaria. A military police patrol from the 303rd Infantry Regiment may have been the first U.S. Army unit to reach the camp, although the 2nd Cavalry Group, Mechanized[12] and a colonel from the 90th Infantry Division later took credit for liberating the camp.[11] Members of the 97th Division treated sick and dying prisoners and buried the several hundred corpses discovered in the camp. Brigadier General Milton B. Halsey inspected the camp as did General Sherman V. Hasbrouck, the commanding officer of the division artillery.[13] Members of the Counter Intelligence Corps, which included Robie Macauley,[14] Ib Melchior[15] and Anthony Hecht,[16] interviewed former prisoners and gathered evidence for trials of former camp officers and guards.[1] The 97th also liberated Helmbrechts concentration camp, a sub-camp of Flossenbürg for female prisoners.[17]

The following day a unit of the 97th CIC Detachment led by Captain Oscar M. Grimes captured about two hundred Gestapo officers and men in hiding near Hof, Bavaria. They were in possession of American army uniforms and equipment, but had evidently made the decision to surrender.[11][18][19]


On 25 April the division entered Czechoslovakia, moving to protect the left flank of the Third Army on its southern drive. The 97th took Cheb, Czechoslovakia, on 25 April 1945 and attacked the Czechoslovak pocket near Weiden, Germany on 29 April.[2] It had advanced to Konstantinovy Lázně, Czechoslovakia, when it received the ceasefire order on 7 May.[7] Part of the division was in Teplá where the German 2nd Panzer Division had surrendered. The troops used the monastery there as a POW camp for the Germans.[20]

The 97th Infantry Division was credited with firing the last official shot in the European Theatre of Operations during World War II. This shot was fired by Pfc Domenic Mozzetta of Company B, 387th Infantry Regiment, 97th Division, at a German sniper near Klenovice, Czechoslovakia shortly before midnight, 7 May 1945.[2]

Assignments in the ETO

Command posts in the ETO

Post-war duties

The division left Le Havre on 16 June 1945 aboard the SS Brazil, arriving at Camp Shanks on 24 June.[22] After a 30-day leave, the division reassembled at Fort Bragg, crossed the US by troop train and on 1 September embarked aboard the USS Grundy for redeployment to the Pacific, arriving at Cebu, Philippine Islands, 16 September, and then sailing to Japan for occupation duty. Arriving at Yokohama on 25 September 1945, the division relieved the 43rd Infantry Division[23] and established its headquarters at Mitsugahara Airfield in Kumagaya.[24][25] Much of the division was billeted in Ueda, Nagano during its stay in Japan.

On 26 October counter-intelligence officers from the 97th Division located $2.5 million worth of stolen radium in the German consulate in Osaka, and another $3 million in silver bullion in a warehouse in Iida, Nagano.[26] On 31 October, Special Agent Robie Macauley of the division's counter-intelligence unit arrested 26 prominent Nazis who were in hiding in Karuizawa.[27]

The division was inactivated on 31 March 1946 in Yokohama.[2]

Command posts in Japan

Cold War to present

Reconnaissance units from the 97th were reactivated on 8 August 1962 in the Panama Canal Zone.[29]

The 97th Division was designated the 97th Army Reserve Command on 22 December 1967, at Fort Meade, Maryland. Three 97th medical units were activated and deployed to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

In U.S. military Operations in Panama to oust dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989, the 97th deployed troops to neutralize key Panamanian Defense Forces positions on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone; civil affairs soldiers from the 97th later assisted in rebuilding the new Government of Panama.[30][31]

During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, more than 3,000 division troops deployed to missions in the Persian Gulf.

In 1996, the 97th Army Reserve Command was reorganized and became part of the 99th Regional Readiness Command.[32]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Geoffrey Lindsay, "Anthony Hecht, Private First Class." Yale Review. 2008, Vol. 96. Issue 3. pp. 1-26
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 The 97th Infantry Division During World War II
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Story of the 97th Infantry Division, Orientation Branch. Information and Education Division, HQ, USFET
  4. "Veterans' Day Commemoration Honors Military Service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam," 30 October 2006
  5. Susan Hobson, "New Creative Writers: 17 Novelists Whose First Work Appears This Season," Library Journal, 1 October 1952, p. 1642.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Elimination of the Ruhr Pocket; XVIII Airborne Corps (First U. S. Army) 387th Infantry Regt, 97th Infantry Division." Interview with Capt. Milton Ponitz and First Lt. Robert McCaffrey.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Captain Eugene A. Buckley Jr., "After Battle Report, Participation of the 387th Inf Regt in the Battle of Germany, 21 April - 8 May, 1945."
  8. 97th Field Artillery Website
  9. 9.0 9.1 'B' Battery, 922nd F.A., 97th Infantry Division, WWII History.
  10. "Elimination of the Ruhr Pocket; XVIII Airborne Corps (First U. S. Army) 387th Infantry Regt, 97th Infantry Division." Interview with Capt. Milton Ponitz and First Lt. Robert McCaffrey.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Kurt Frank Korf, quoted in Patricia Kollander, I Must be a Part of this War: A German American's Fight against Hitler and Nazism, Fordham University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8232-2528-3
  12. Flossenburg
  13. Robert W. Hacker, "Knocking the Lock Off the Gate at the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp; 23 April 1945," excerpted from Robert W. Hacker: Flossenbürg Concentration Camp, Phoenix 2000, unpublished manuscript. Flossenbürg memorial archive.
  14. Macauley R. "Who Should Mourn?" The New York Times, Letters to the Editor, 8 August 1976.
  15. Ib Melchior, Case by Case: A U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent in World War II, IUniverse (14 June 2000) ISBN 0-595-00393-1
  16. "Anthony Hecht: Poet who expressed the horrors of the 20th century in verse of formal rigour and cultured gravity."
  17. Helmbrechts Concentration Camp
  18. Obituary: Oscar M. "Mel" Grimes Jr., 80, Catonsville Times, 14 May 2001.
  19. "Bemedaled Ex-Nazi Youth Home from Europe Wars," The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 July 1945, p. 6.
  20. Bryan J. Dickerson, "The Liberation of Western Czechoslovakia 1945," Military History Online, 3 June 2006.
  21. George Dyer, XII Corps: Spearhead of Patton's Third Army, XII Corps History Association, 1947; Chapter 16, section 4.
  22. 1,463 of the 97th Steam Up Hudson: First Units of Second Combat Division Land Four Miles from Camp Shanks," New York Times,; Jun 24, 1945; p. 5.
  23. "European Veterans Arrive: U.S. 97th Division Landing at Yokohama--43d Coming Home," The New York Times; Sep 26, 1945; p. 13.
  24. Geoffrey Lindsay, "Anthony Hecht in Occupied Japan." Sewanee Review, 2011, 119 (4). pp 641-655.
  25. "Job in Japan Irks GIs, But It Could Be Worse," The Washington Post, 4 November 1945; pg. B2.
  26. Ralph Teatsworth, "Nazis Looted Czech Hospital of Radium, Stored It in Osaka," United Press International; printed in the Tonawanda Evening News, 26 Oct 1945, p. 1.
  27. "Nazi Agents in Japan Rounded Up," The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), Thursday 1 November 1945, page 2
  28. "Job in Japan Irks GIs, But It Could Be Worse," The Washington Post, 4 November 1945; p. B2.
  29. The 193rd Infantry Brigade
  30. The Brigade: A History, Its Organization and Employment in the US Army
  31. Ronald H. Cole, Operation Just Cause: The Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Panama, February 1988-January 1990, DIANE Publishing, 1996. ISBN 0788135570
  32. Ninety-Seventh Infantry Division, US Militaria Forum.