Army National Guard, 36th Infantry Division, Celebrates 100 Years

16406493_10155116963010864_6173179219953167927_nby Travis Normand
April 2017

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Army National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division (Texas), I am working on a short post that contains pieces from this units history.

OPERATION AVALANCHE

Trivia Question: What was the first U.S. Army unit to land on mainland Europe during World War II?

Answer: The 36th Infantry Division (Operation Avalanche – September 9, 1943) as part of the U.S. 5th Army.

The following is a partial and slightly altered quote from the 36th Infantry Division’s Facebook page.

Operation Avalanche – The main invasion at Salerno (Italy, WWII) by the U.S. 5th Army – began on 9 September 1943, and in order to secure surprise, the Army decided to assault without preliminary naval or aerial bombardment. However, as amphibious force commander Hewitt had predicted, tactical surprise was not achieved. As the first wave of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division approached the shore at Paestum, a loudspeaker from the landing area proclaimed in English: “Come on in and give up. We have you covered.” The Allied troops attacked nonetheless. The 141st, 142nd and 143rd Regiments all landed at Paestum, Italy making the 36th Division the first Allied Division to land on mainland Europe in World War II.

Read more here:

TEXAS’ LOST BATTALION

The following is a partial quote from the link listed below and is merely a preview of the entire story.

Texas’ most decorated unit remains the group of 532 brave men we now call the “Texas Lost Battalion,” who were captured by the Japanese 75 years ago, in March 1942.

* * * *

The 36th Infantry Division arrived on the island of Java on January 11, 1942, the very same day the Japanese began their invasion of the Dutch Islands. The 36th Infantry Division supported the 19th Heavy Bombardment Group as they fought off the Japanese. But when that Group left Java for Australia, the 36th was left behind in the increasingly grim Java.

It was then, after most other Allied units had retreated to Australia, that the Japanese completed the demise of the Dutch Islands and took the remaining units prisoner. The Japanese neglected to file the identities of the captured units, so the 36th Infantry Division fell off the United States’ radar. The U.S. Military and the soldiers’ families had lost track of the 36th Infantry Division, and so they earned the fabled name “Texas Lost Battalion.”

For the next three years, the Texas Lost Battalion was forced to endure brutal conditions in Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) camps. The Texas soldiers were dragged through the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Burma, and Thailand, working back-breaking jobs in brutal conditions as their fellow POWs perished around them, including the Railroad of Death connecting Burma and Bangkok and the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.

Read more here:

36TH INFANTRY DIVISION MAKING NATIONAL GUARD HISTORY IN AFGHANISTAN

The following information was taken from the Fox7Austin.com article posted below and is slightly altered.

In May of 2016, the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.  The mission: take over a regional command providing training, advice and assistance for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as well as the Afghan security institutions.

This was the first time a National Guard unit has taken over a regional command in Afghanistan within a combat environment.

Read more here:

 

Read more about the 36th Infantry Division’s rich history at the following links:

 

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