The capture, intact of the Remagen Bridge, was one of the major turning points in the Allied victory over the Nazi war machine.
The men who achieved it have been praised in all languages except the German and Japanese, and rightfully so.
But the men who held the Remagen bridgehead, against the most savage counterattacks, have been slightly neglected, and wrongfully so.
The men of the 99th Infantry Division, who wear the blue and white squares, taken from the coat of arms of William Pitt, on their shoulder patch, were among those who denied the Nazis’ efforts to re-take the vital bridgehead.
They went into this battle without much combat hardening, but they held their ground. The black background of their patch, representing the steel of Pennsylvania, was rightfully chosen.
After fighting out of the Remagen bridgehead, the GIs of the “Checkerboard” Division captured scores of German cities and towns. The Germans were in full rout, and the 99th exploited this advantage with a drive of blitz proportions. They never gave the Nazis a chance to take a breather, to reorganize. One prisoner told the Division’s G-2 that he hadn’t seen an officer in a week, and had no idea of where the main body of his unit had gone. The 99th moved so fast in this drive that it was not unusual for the division headquarters to move forward each day.
It was the 99th which, after crossing the Wied River, sped in double columns down the super highway to capture Limburg, communications center on the Lahn River. The Lahn, with Limburg as its hub, was the last natural water barrier between the First and Third Armies, east of the Rhine.
Joining the Third Army’s push toward Austria, the 99th bore down on Ingolstadt and captured a Panzer Lehr (training) division, whose strength had been cut from 10,000 to 3,000.
The Checkerboards were on the offensive for 24 days in March, capturing 200 German towns and overrunning 495 square miles of enemy territory.
At the war’s end the 99th was deep in Germany at Warzburg. Its record showed that it crossed not only the Rhine, but the Erft Canal, Wied and Dill Rivers, and many minor tributaries as well.
The Checkerboards got their first combat in Belgium in November 1944, when they relieved the 9th Infantry Division and 102nd Cavalry Group, and engaged in a rousing artillery battle with the Nazis near Wirtzfeld. A month later they aided in the defense of the V Corps sector north of the Roer River. The Checkerboards were in the midst of a fierce armored fight during the push on Elsenbom at the start of the year. After taking Elsenbom, the 99th drove on to capture Berg, and then prepared itself for the push into Germany. In March, the Division started a surge that drove it into the Reich at Aachen. It then swept past Diiren and Jiilich, turned north at Düsseldorf, back down to the southeast to Remagen, and from there across the Rhine.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 36 soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private First Class Jack C. Beckwith 395th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private Francis A. Brennan 370th Field Artillery Battalion 12/17/1944|
|Private Earnest E. Brown 394th Infantry Regiment 01/15/1945|
|Master Sergeant Edwin C. Brown 324th Engineer Combat Battalion 12/18/1945|
|Technician Third Grade Herbert N. Carmichael 394th Infantry Regiment 03/10/1945|
|Private Leland W. Clark 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/18/1944|
|Private First Class William D. Cooper 394th Infantry Regiment 01/03/1945|
|Private Harold E. Dechon 394th Infantry Regiment 01/23/1945|
|Private First Class Ewing E. Fidler 394th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private First Class Richard G. Gastelum 395th Infantry Regiment 12/13/1944|
|Private First Class Lloyd E. Harbaugh 394th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Second Lieutenant Lonnie O. Holloway 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private First Class Robert L. Keith 371st Field Artllery Battalion 03/03/1945|
|Private First Class Saul Kokotovich 395th Infantry Regiment 12/15/1944|
|Private First Class Stanley E. Larson 394th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Sergeant John M. Lindholm 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Technician Fifth Grade Floyd B. Morgan 394th Infantry Regiment 03/31/1945|
|Private First Class Charles B. Nickel 393rd Infantry Regiment 01/14/1945|
|Private First Class Ormond W. Paus 395th Infantry Regiment 01/11/1945|
|Sergeant John T. Puckett 394th Infantry Regiment 01/16/1946|
|Private First Class David A. Read 395th Infantry Regiment 12/15/1944|
|Private First Class Andrew Schuerger 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/19/1944|
|Private First Class Leonard G. Sharbaugh 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/21/1944|
|Private Odell Sharpe 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/25/1944|
|Private First Class Alphonse M. Sito 394th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
|Private First Class Johnnie B. Slayton 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/19/1944|
|Technician Fifth Grade Wilmer A. Smith 394th Infantry Regiment 12/19/1945|
|Private Ervin C. Snyder 394th Infantry Regiment 01/17/1946|
|Private First Class James R. Tolle 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/18/1945|
|Private Charles W. Vaughn 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/21/1944|
|Private First Class Philip F. Volturo 924th Field Artillery Battalion 05/12/1945|
|Private First Class Floyd L. Wallace 394th Infantry Regiment 12/21/1944|
|Private First Class Charles G. Wallis 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Private Raymond F. Williams 395th Infantry Regiment 01/11/1945|
|Sergeant Manuel B. Wince 393rd Infantry Regiment 12/17/1944|
|Sergeant Frederick F. Zimmerman 394th Infantry Regiment 12/16/1944|
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