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Were you with the Indianhead 2nd Infantry Division?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

SHOUT OUT: A search is under way for anyone who ever served in the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, more commonly known as Indianhead, which played a key role in the D-Day invasion of Normandy 71 years ago today.

The Second (Indianhead) Division Association is planning a reunion of the division’s soldiers from Sept. 22-26 in San Antonio, Texas.

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If you served in the Indianhead Division, or know someone who did, please contact SDA Secretary-Treasurer Bob Haynes: 2idahq@comcast.net

OR: (224) 225-1202 .

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The only division organized on foreign soil, the unit was created on Oct. 26, 1971 in Bourmont, France. It has fought in all of America’s major military actions since then, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it made its name in the Korean War, earning the moniker “Second to None.”

In 1940, the 2nd Infantry Division was the first command reorganized under the triangular concept, which provided for three regimental combat teams in each division. Indianhead soldiers pioneered concepts of air mobility and anti-tank warfare, which served the Army for the next two decades on battlefields worldwide.

The division was among those in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. After coming ashore at Omaha Beach, it was the first to liberate a city — Trevieres — two days later.  After a 21-day battle, the soldier liberated the port city of Brest. The Indianhead unit then played a pivotal role in the Battle of the Bulge.

Their last days in the conflict were spent in what was described as “a dash across Czechoslovakia, finally halting in the town of Pilsen.” There, the armies from the East and West met — as 2nd Infantry soldiers “first met Soviets who represented the forces of Communism that they would face so often in the future as adversaries,” according to www.2ida.org.

In July 1950, the 2nd Infantry Division became the first unit to reach Korea directly from the U.S.

Its first big test came more than a month later, with a North Korean strike that ignited a 16-day battle, leading to an Eighth Army drive to the Manchurian border.

Then came the war’s most critical moment: With American casualties rising, Korean President Syngman Rhee enlarged the Indianhead Division with Korean soldiers known as KATUSA, 50 miles from the border. It was a crucial move in advance of a Chinese winter offensive.

The 2nd Infantry Division protected the Eighth Army’s rear and right flanks, keeping the way open and securing the United Nations forces against a spring 1951 offensive by the Communists.

Alternating periods of combat and rest followed, with the Division participating in battles at Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, the outposts and Old Baldy. In August 1954, the unit was brought home, a year after the Armistice was signed.

The 2nd Division was deactivated in November 1957 — but just as quickly was reorganized the following spring at Fort Benning, GA.

The unit was responsible for intensified combat training, tactical training, and field training exercises, in addition to special training designed to improve operational readiness.

The group returned to action in Korea in 1965. A difficult struggle followed in the DMZ until, in 1970, North Korea quit fighting. ROK forces took responsibility for defending the demilitarized zone, while the 2nd Division stood ready.

Then in August 1976, North Korean border guards bludgeoned two American officers, and the 2nd Infantry Division was chosen to participate in the United Nations Command response. A task force comprised of American infantry and engineers swept in and cut down the now-infamous “Panmunjom Tree” — a message to the North Koreans about messing with the U.S.

The Indianhead Division finally left the DMZ in October 1991 with the end of the Cold War.

On April 16, 1995, the 2nd Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington as part of I Corps. In May 2000, it became the Army’s first Stryker Brigade Combat Team — and fought in the series of Middle East conflicts that began with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Its soldiers continue to be deployed in Korea amid tensions there.

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