100th Division – Short History

In July 1918, the Headquarters of the Division originated and activated at Camp Bowie, Texas, at the end of World War I. Inactivation took place on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. The Division was demobilized a year later. In June 1921, the unit was reconstituted with the headquarters at Wheeling W.Va., and the 400th Infantry Regiment in Louisville.

Less than twelve months after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the 100th Infantry Division was activated at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, with an enlisted cadre principally from the 76th Infantry Division and an officer cadre from the Army at large. From activation through V-E Day and beyond, the 100th was commanded by Major General Withers A. Burress, and was thus one of only 11 US Army divisions to be led by the same commanding general throughout the war.

In late 1943, the Division moved from Fort Jackson to winter maneuvers in the Tennessee mountains, before moving to Fort Bragg for further training in early 1944. While at Bragg, the Division received, retrained, and integrated as infantrymen over 3,000 replacements from the disbanded Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) — an organization designed to train Ameri ca’s “best and brightest” young men for service in technical military occupations. Also, while at Bragg, Technical Sergeant Walter L. Bull of Company A, 399th Infantry Regiment earned the Army’s first Expert Infantryman Badge, a badge still earned today only by the most technically competent Infantrymen and certain Special Operations personnel in the Army.

The Division went into combat in early November 1944as part of the U.S. Seventh Army’s VI Corps, with the mission of penetrating the German Winter Line in the High Vosges Mountains on the edge of the oft-disputed province of Alsace.

The Vosges terrain was formidable, and the severe winter weather added hundreds of casualties to those inflicted by the tenacious German defenders. Nevertheless, the 100th led the attack through the Vosges Mountains as, for the first time in history, an army succeeded in penetrating that vaunted terrain barrier to the Rhine Plain and Germany. While falling back toward Germany, the enemy bitterly defended the modern Maginot fortifications around the ancient fortress city of Bitche. Just after reducing these intimidating defenses, in the last hour of 1944 the Division was attacked by elements of three German divisions, including a full-strength SS-Panzer Grenadier division, heavily supported by armor, in Operation NORDWIND, the last German offensive on the western front. As the units on the left and right gave ground, the men of the 100th stood fast, and the Division quickly became the only unit in the Seventh Army to hold its sector in the face of the massive enemy onslaught. In the brutal fighting which ensued, the Division stubbornly resisted all attempts at envelopment, and despite heavy casualties, the 100th completely disrupted the German offensive.

The 100th Infantry Division captured the Citadel of Bitche in March 1945 and passed through the Siegfried Line into Germany.

For an excellent look into the members of the 100th and the “Sons Of Bitche”, see this YouTube video:

The Division’s last major battle was the attack on Heilbronn in April 1945, which required an assault crossing of the Neckar River in small boats, in full view of the crews of dozens of German artillery pieces which laid fierce direct fires over the crossing site. In over a week of savage urban combat, the Division defeated elements of the German Army and Waffen-SS divisions, seized the key industrial city, and pursued the beaten foe through Swabia toward Stuttgart.

For these combat actions, the 100th Infantry Division received streamers for the Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns; its subordinate units garnered a total of eight Distinguished Unit Citations. Among the men of the 100th Infantry Division honored for heroism were three who earned the Medal of Honor: Lieutenant Edward A. Silk, Technical Sergeant Charles F. Carey, and Private First-Class Michael Colalillo. In addition, Centurymen earned 36 Distinguished Service Crosses, over five hundred Silver Stars, and well over 3,500 Purple Hearts.

In all, in 185 days of uninterrupted ground combat, the 100th Infantry Division liberated and captured over four hundred cities, towns, and villages, defeated major elements of eight German divisions, and took 13,351 prisoners. In doing so, it sustained 916 soldiers killed in action, 3,656 wounded in action, and lost 180 men missing in action.

The story of the most recently accounted for of the Division’s MIAs is illustrative of the spirit of the Century Division during WWII. While doggedly defending his position during Operation NORDWIND on 1 January 1945, PFC Maurice Lloyd, Company L/399th Infantry Regiment of Rock Island, Illinois, fired his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) against the onrushing Grenadiers until he was shot through the head. By the time the Americans recovered their lost ground later in the winter, new snow had fallen, concealing PFC Lloyd’s body, and he was listed as Missing in Action until 1976. In that year, a French hiker taking a cross-country route through the woods in the Low Vosges near Lemberg found PFC Lloyd’s remains, still in his foxhole . . . and still clutching the BAR with which he had so defiantly spat death at the attackers over 31 years before. The remains of this soldier of the Century, which remained “face toward the enemy” for over three decades, were finally laid to rest in honored glory amongst his comrades in the US Army’s Ardennes Cemetery.

Soldiers from the 100th Infantry Division earned the first EIB, were the first to ever fight their way through the Vosges Mountains, seized the Citadel at Bitche for the first time in its 250-year history, and were the only unit to hold its ground during
the last German offensive in the west of World War II.

The unit was inactivated in January 1946 at Fort Patrick Henry, Va., and reactivated as the USAR 100th Airborne Division later that fall in Louisville. The unit was redesignated as the 100th Infantry Division in 1952, and the 100th became a replacement training division in 1955.

In 1959 it was redesignated the 100th Division for institutional training, one of only twelve in the nation (now reduced to seven in the year 2000). The mission was to teach basic, advanced individual and common training to new soldiers. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy mobilized 1,500 soldiers to Fort Chaffee, Ark., during the Berlin Crisis. The 100th did the country proud by training 32,000 soldiers after rebuilding long unused and dilapidated rifle ranges, barracks, and other facilities. With the training mission accomplished, the unit was demobilized in August 1962 and returned to reserve status.

In 1971 Staff Sgt. Sherron Cooper became the first female soldier in the 100th. The division played a key role in “Reptrain 76” by relieving a backlog of untrained reservists and guardsmen. Within a 13-week period, 1,000 soldiers were graduated from intensive training supplied by the 100th.

In 1977 the unit’s mission changed from basic combat and advanced individual armor training to one station unit training. The mission was to prepare for mobilization mission by conducting entry level training for enlistees in one station format in armor or armor recon. In 1978 it was selected as the first Army Reserve unit to be equipped with its own M-1 tanks, and the only training division with the mission of conducting training on the M-1 Abrams tank and the M-3 Bradley Cavalry vehicle. By 1986 the Division was considered the largest reserve unit in Kentucky, commanding 58 percent of all reservists in the state with an annual economic impact
of $25 million.

Within 10 days after Operation Desert Storm was launched in January 1991, two brigade task forces (1,147 soldiers) were activated to go to Fort Knox to train 2,000 tank crewmen and armored Cavalry scouts. As a first, in 1992 the 100th Division trainers took total responsibility for three company cycles of Basic Training at Fort Knox; the 100th Division established a 21st Century Division Management System to provide a direct link between commanders’ quantifiable objectives and resource spending. It gave the 100th efforts accountability a bottom line.

In 1995 the Division was reorganized to include USAR Schools by taking over responsibilities for The Army School System; implemented a distance learning systems approach to military career training. In 1996 the 100th Division’s 1st Brigade worked with Readiness Group Knox to pioneer the national training experiment to USAR combat units at crew and platoon levels.

During 1997 the Division played a key role in Operation Future Challenge, a Fort Knox-based Basic Camp for JROTC. Three years later, the 100th Division was solely responsible for the six-week camp.

The 100th Division took the 2000 USAR Communities of Excellence Award; 2nd Bn, 399th Regiment, 7th Brigade began turn-in of M1A1 tanks, ending the training era. The division continued the training mission but leased the equipment. The Division also hosted a reunion of 100th Infantry Division veterans from WW II.

The 100th Division quickly responded to the call for volunteers following the events of September 11th, 2001.

As Army National Guard units from Ohio and Kentucky mobilized at Fort Knox, a need was identified for additional cadre to assist in their in-processing, training, and transportation.

Approximately twenty members of various units within the 100th Division volunteered to perform up to 30 days of Active-Duty Training. Working closely with the 1st Armored Training Battalion cadre, the 100th Division soldiers made sure the newly activated soldiers had the administrative and mission support needed to complete their mobilization training.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, the Department of Defense recommended to relocate the 100th Division headquarters to Fort Knox in support of the re-engineering and streamlining of training missions delivered by Army Reserve. In the Fall of 2017, the 100th Training Division was redesignated as the 100th Training Division Leader Development (LD).

Today the 100th Training Division (LD), with units located across the United States, continues the mission to implement the Army Reserve Leader Development strategy on a continuum of career education, training, and experience for leaders in the Army Reserve.