A Brief History
The 43d Infantry Division became an active National Guard unit in 1923 in accordance with the National Defense Act of 1916. Originally there were two infantry brigades, the 85th in Connecticut, and the 86th in Vermont. The 85th Brigade consisted of the 102d Infantry and the 169th Infantry Regiments, both in Connecticut. The 86th Brigade was made up of the 172d Infantry Regiment in Vermont, and the 103d Infantry Regiment in Maine. The 68th Field Artillery Brigade located in Providence, Rhode Island consisted of the 103d Field Artillery Regiment in Providence, the 192d Field Artillery Regiment in Connecticut, and the 152d Field Artillery Regiment in Maine. The Division Headquarters was located in Hartford, Connecticut. Special units were throughout those four New England states.
On February 24, 1941 the Division entered Federal service for one year at the call of the President. That year was extended for the duration after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese armed forces. In February 1942, the Division underwent a complete reorganization to a "triangular division" concept. The brigades were abolished, the artillery regiments were reduced to battalions and other reductions took place. The 102d Infantry Regiment was detached from the Division. It became a separate regiment deploying to the Pacific.
Initially assigned to Camp Blanding, Florida, the Division later trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and Fort Ord, California. From Ft. Ord the Division embarked on ships for the South Pacific. The Division less the 172d Regimental Combat Team, consisting of the 172d Infantry Regiment, the 103d Field Artillery Battalion and elements of Ordnance, Engineer, Medical and Signal Units, closed in New Zealand in October, 1942. The 172d Infantry Combat Team met with disaster at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides on October 26, 1942.
The liner President Coolidge on which it was embarked struck two US planted mines in the harbor. The only military casualty was Captain Elwood Euart, 103d Field Artillery, who died while rescuing some of his troops. For his bravery, Captain Euart was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for heroism authorized by the United States Army.
This event delayed the Division's entrance into combat in the South Pacific area. In November the Division, minus the 172d Regimental Combat Team, went on to New Caledonia. After a concentrated training period, the Division deployed to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in February 1943. This served as the staging area for the next move to the Russell Islands, also in the Solomons. The Russells proved to be unoccupied by Japs. Futher jungle and realistic combat training took place. In June and early July 1943, the Division landed on Rendova and New Georgia Islands. The objective here was to take the Munda Airfield on which the Japs had started construction. The Division augmented by elements of the 37th and 25th Infantry Divisions secured the airstrip in early August 1943.
New Zealand - 1944 - Mortor training
In December 1943 / January 1944, the Division returned to New Zealand. After a period of rest and relaxation during which the soldiers of the 43d became fast friends with the Kiwis, a friendship that endures to this day, the 43d absorbed many replacements. Vigorous and intensive training took place for several months. In July 1944 the Division became part of the force driving the Japs from New Guinea. Landing at Aitape, the 43d prevented the Japs from reinforcing their troops along the Drinimour River. This successful campaign evolved into preparation for the invasion of the Philippine Islands.
On January 9, 1945, the 43d Infantry Division participated in the amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. After several months of almost continuous combat, the Division welcomed the explosion of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs. In September 1945, the 43d became one of the first Divisions to occupy Japan. Their stay there was short. however, for in October 1945, the 43d Infantry Division was deactivated at Camp Stoneman, California.
Munda, New Georgia - 1943
The 43d Division is known as the "Winged Victory Division" derived from the name of its long time combat commander, MG Leonard F. Wing. One of the many distinctions achieved by the 43d - it was the only Division to serve in four theaters of the Pacific campaign - South Pacific, Southwest Pacific, Philippines and Japan.
Japanese Supply Dump - Luzon, PI - 1945
During its four years and eight months of active duty the Division suffered the following casualties:
Killed in Action: 1,561 Wounded in Action: 6,049
and was awarded the following decorations:
Congressional Medal of Honor: 2
Distinguished Service Cross: 71
Distinguished Service Medal: 1
Silver Star: 987
Legion of Merit: 90
Bronze Star: 2947
Purple Heart: 7610
Soldier's Medal: 63
Air Medal: 31
Japanese POW's - Luzon, PI - 1945
LTC Bradt's birthday.(169th FA.) New Georgia - 1943
In 1946 the Division was reorganized as a National Guard division. In this reorganization, only the states of Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island were included in the makeup of the Division. The 172d Infantry with the 206th Field Artillery (105H) with elements of other combat support units made up the Vermont allocation. The Division Headquarters, the 102d and 169th Infantry Regiments with the 963d Field Artillery (105H) and the 192d Field Artillery (105H) with detachments of combat support were organized in Connecticut. In addition, the 143d Tank Battalion joined the Division from that state. In Rhode Island, the 43d Division Artillery Headquarters, the 103d Field Artillery (155H), the 118th Engineer Battalion (C) and the 43d Signal Company plus elements of combat support units made up that state's contribution.
Grumman Fighter - Munda - 1943
In September of 1950 the Division once again answered the call of the President when North Korea invaded South Korea. After intensive training at Camp Pickett, Virginia, the 43d deployed to Germany to join the NATO forces containing the Warsaw Pact nations in Western Europe. Training, extensive field maneuvers, and the occupation of blocking positions were the Division's lot for almost three years. In 1953 the 43d was redesignated the 5th Infantry Division. The Colors of the 43d were returned to Hartford, Connecticut with appropriate ceremonies.
In 1953, a reconstituted Division took its place with the other National Guard Divisions on the Army's rolls. in 1963, in one of the many down-sizings of the Armed Forces, the Division left active National Guard service.
Japanese Interpreters - Japan - 1945
The 43d Infantry Division Veterans Association continues today that prestigious heritage with its 1200 plus members.