The Americal Division is not the American Division.
Americal is not the nickname of a division; it is its name.
And the men who wear the Southern Cross shoulder patch of our Army’s only active unnumbered division would rather you didn’t forget it.
When the war started there was no Americal Division, and none was contemplated. But there were a lot of Japs on the rampage in the Southwest Pacific, and as part of the Allied plan to throttle any hopes they might entertain of invading Australia and the islands immediately off its coast, Task Force 6814 was rushed to Australia and then over to New Caledonia. Troops trained for action on the decks of their ships.
The Japs never dared hit Australia, or New Caledonia, either, but Task Force 6814 wasn’t through. Its defensive mission accomplished, it began to prepare for the attack. Its various units were organized into a regular infantry division, under Major General Alexander M. Patch, who was later promoted to command of the Seventh Army on the other side of the world. Its name—derived from a combination of America and New Caledonia—was invented by a sergeant in its ranks.
Its deeds spoke for themselves.
The story began in October 1942, two months after the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal. Sent in to relieve the Marines, the Americal found that there was still plenty of Jap resistance. Henderson Field was firmly in our hands, but from the nearby heights of Mount Austen, the Japs had excellent observation on the vital airfield. The hill had to be taken, and on December 17 the Americal’s 132nd Infantry set out to do the job. Seven times the Doughboys charged up, and seven times Japs of the crack Oka Regiment counterattacked. But finally the Japs were washed out, and they lost all interest in Henderson Field. For actions like that, some elements of the Americal were rewarded by the Navy with its Presidential Unit Citation—the only Army units to be thus honored.
Fighting on Guadalcanal lasted until February 1943, and the Americal moved to the Fiji Islands for defense of that area and further combat training. Once again no Japs dared come near them, and once again they set off on an offensive mission when, in December 1943, they joined the fight at Bougainville. On Christmas Day, the Americal went into the line. It stayed on Bougainville for nearly a year, battling the Japanese in thick jungle on the edges of an American perimeter beyond which thousands of enemy soldiers waited, suicidally throwing them-selves again and again at our positions. By the time the Americal was relieved there, on December 10, 1944, it had established itself as a veteran, jungle-wise outfit.
Its experience came in handy. It was transported north to the Philippines, where General MacArthur’s forces had landed on Leyte late in October. In less than five months, Americal units saw action on no less than thirteen Philippine islands. After mopping up on Leyte and Samar, the men who wore the Southern Cross landed on the small islands of Ticao, Burias, Biri, Capul, Poro, Mactan, Cauit and Olongapo, and hit the major islands of Bohol, Negros and Cebu. The men who had started out without a name and who ended up without a number had done all right.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 86 soldiers of the Americal Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private Lincoln H. Akerman 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/20/1942|
|Second Lieutenant Elmer E. Atkinson 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/02/1946|
|Private Benjamin Azarva 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/21/1942|
|Private Mauro J. Bautista 182nd Infantry Regiment 07/10/1944|
|Corporal Amelio J. Biondi 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/13/1945|
|Private First Class Casimir T. Black 132nd Infantry Regiment 07/05/1944|
|Private Meyer Blumenthal 132nd Infantry Regiment 10/16/1944|
|First Lieutenant James F. Bowersox 132nd Infantry Regiment 06/10/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Sammie G. Cain 164th Infantry Regiment 01/23/1944|
|Private First Class Bruner A. Carter 182nd Infantry Regiment 02/20/1945|
|Private First Class Boyd C. Chamley 164th Infantry Regiment 02/20/1945|
|Private First Class Edward S. Champagne 101st Medical Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Second Lieutenant Thomas E. Clark 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/07/1944|
|Private First Class Robert F. Collalti 132nd Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private Maurice F. Cote 182nd Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|First Lieutenant Robert S. Crane 182nd Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Second Lieutenant Charles W. Cross Division Artillery 02/29/1944|
|Private First Class Jack C. Davis 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/09/1944|
|Private First Class Juan P. Dimas 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/07/1944|
|Private Clifford C. Dixon 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/27/1942|
|Private First Class Albany A. Doucette 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/20/1942|
|Private First Class Charlie Drost 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/09/1942|
|Staff Sergeant Robert L. Egler 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/04/1945|
|Private First Class John J. Falardeau 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/20/1943|
|Private Edward H. Foley 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/06/1944|
|Private Woodrow W. Fowler 132nd Infantry Regiment 01/14/1944|
|Private Lucio M. Garcia 164th Infantry Regiment 02/13/1946|
|Private First Class Tommy Garrett 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/26/1946|
|Private Felix M. Gomez 182nd Infantry Regiment 09/28/1944|
|Private First Class Stanley E. Green 132nd Infantry Regiment 10/15/1944|
|Private First Class Ransome M. Hiott 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/07/1944|
|Second Lieutenant John D. Hogan 182nd Infantry Regiment 01/18/1946|
|Sergeant Henry L. Kemp 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/29/1946|
|Sergeant Roy E. Kinzer 132nd Infantry Regiment 01/19/1943|
|Private First Class Stephen Kmosena 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/26/1942|
|Private First Class Stanley M. Kondziolka 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/21/1942|
|Technician Fourth Grade Joe A. Krawczyk 164th Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private Robert E. Laffee 245th Field Artillery Battalion 12/23/1943|
|Private Andrew F. Lepine 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/20/1943|
|Private First Class Stanislaus J. Luboch 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1944|
|Private First Class Lionel J. Lussier 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1944|
|First Lieutenant Gerald B. Lyons 182nd Infantry Regiment 01/31/1944|
|Private First Class Stanley A. Mach 132nd Infantry Regiment 04/07/1944|
|Private First Class Joseph G. Martin 182nd Infantry Regiment 09/28/1944|
|Private Earl McIntosh 132nd Infantry Regiment 01/03/1943|
|Private First Class Charles W. McKenrick 182nd Infantry Regiment 04/04/1945|
|Private Chester J. Menzenski 182nd Infantry Regiment 12/10/1945|
|Private First Class Joseph P. Mercurio 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/11/1944|
|Lieutenant Colonel Everett B. Mersereau 182nd Infantry Regiment 05/19/1945|
|Private First Class Leonard F. Meuse 182nd Infantry Regiment 12/10/1945|
|Private First Class John A. Mora 182nd Infantry Regiment 02/22/1945|
|Private First Class Cecil R. Nichols 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Private Henry H. Nichols 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/19/1945|
|Private First Class Edward J. O'Leary 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/20/1943|
|Staff Sergeant Kenneth R. Olson 164th Infantry Regiment 02/21/1945|
|Sergeant George D. Ortega 164th Infantry Regiment 03/20/1945|
|Private Raymond J. Pallasch 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/12/1945|
|Private First Class Eugene J. Parenteau 164th Infantry Regiment 06/07/1945|
|Private Otis G. Parks 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1944|
|Private First Class William W. Pashon 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/25/1942|
|Second Lieutenant Lester R. Pfaff 164th Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private Max E. Pierce 164th Infantry Regiment 01/03/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Robert E. Ramhorst 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1944|
|Private Randolph C. Rogers 182nd Infantry Regiment 02/22/1945|
|Private Gordon L. Rose 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/26/1946|
|Private First Class Rudolpho C. Ruiz 164th Infantry Regiment 02/21/1945|
|Private First Class Allan Russell 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/19/1942|
|Private Harold C. Ruth 164th Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private First Class John Sandretto 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Private Jose A. Santoy 182nd Infantry Regiment 09/28/1944|
|Sergeant Gerald W. Scully 182nd Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private First Class George H. Selders 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/12/1945|
|Corporal Jack A. Sharrock 164th Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private First Class Adolphus G. Smith 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Private First Class Russell M. Speller 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Second Lieutenant Earl Spiker 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/25/1942|
|Private Walter K. Stanek 132nd Infantry Regiment 08/24/1944|
|Private First Class John J. Stefanek 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/26/1942|
|Private First Class Alex G. Sygulla 164th Infantry Regiment 01/13/1943|
|Private Richard E. Tague 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Private William R. Tomory 132nd Infantry Regiment 12/26/1942|
|Private First Class Theodore R. Townsend 132nd Infantry Regiment 03/12/1944|
|Private First Class Richard E. Veine 182nd Infantry Regiment 03/10/1944|
|Private First Class William T. Watson 182nd Infantry Regiment 09/28/1944|
|Private Lloyd C. Williams 182nd Infantry Regiment 11/19/1942|
|First Lieutenant Raymond S. Wood 182nd Infantry Regiment 12/30/1942|
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