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31st Armored Brigade (Separate)

Currently the 31st Armored Brigade (which continues the lineage of the combat proven "31st Old Dixie" Division) is aligning to a new headquarters, the 149th Armored Brigade in Kentucky, which is part of the 35th Infantry Division.

The 31st Infantry Division served in WWI, WWII and Korea. The Dixie Division, which was made up of various branches of the Army such as Artillery, Infantry, Engineers, Quartermaster and Medical, were trained to work together as combat teams with every unit having an important and integral part of the fighting mission assigned. On 18 July 1917, the War Department directed National Guard troops from Alabama, Florida, Georgia to form the 31st Division. Concentration and training at Camp Wheeler begins 25 August 1917, however, transfers reduce the strength of the division. Draft troops increased the strength of the 31st, although its units were now spread between three camps: Wheeler, Greene and Jackson. Movement overseas commenced on 15 Sep 18 and was completed by 9 November 1918. As units arrived in France they were skeletonized under War Department orders of 17 October 1918.

During World War II, most of the Alabama National Guard was incorporated into the 31st Infantry (Dixie) Division. Initially stationed at Camp Blanding, Florida, the Division conducted some of the best training and had exceptionally high morale. They participated in the Louisiana maneuvers and led all other units of the Third Army in their advance. The 31st "Dixie Division" fought in the Southwest Pacific.

The 31st Infantry Division arrived in Oro Bay, New Guinea, 24 April 1944, and engaged in amphibious training prior to entering combat. Alerted on 25 June 1944 for movement to Aitape, the 124th RCT left Oro Bay and landed at Aitape, New Guinea, 3-6 July 1944. The combat team moved up to advanced positions and took part in the general offensive launched 13 July, running into bloody fighting along the Drinumor River. Meanwhile, the remainder of the Division relieved the 6th Infantry Division in the Sarmi-Wakde Island area, 18 July 1944, built bridges, roads, and docks, patrolled the area, and engaged small units of the enemy, trying not to provoke a large scale counterattack by the enemy. Over 1,000 Japanese were destroyed in these actions.

In mid-August the Division began to stage for the Morotai operation, leaving Aitape and Maffin Bay, 11 September 1944. The Division made an assault landing on Morotai, 15 September 1944, meeting only light opposition. During the occupation of Morotai, elements of the Division seized Mapia, 15-17 September, and waded ashore on the Asia islands, 19-20 September, only to find the Japanese had already evacuated. Other elements reverted to Sansapor, where they maintained and operated the base. On 22 April 1945, the Division landed on Mindanao to take part in the liberation of the Philippines. Moving up the Sayre Highway and driving down the Kibawe-Talomo trail, fighting in knee-deep mud and through torrential rains, the 31st forced the enemy to withdraw into the interior and blocked off other Japanese in the Davao area. With the end of hostilities on 15 August 1945, the 31st accomplished the surrender of all Japanese forces remaining in Mindanao. General Yamashita surrendered all Japanese forces on the Phillipine Island of Mindinao to the 167th Infantry, Alabama National Guard.

When the Communist North Koreans invaded their South Korean neighbors in 1950, the 31st Division, full of veterans from World War II, readied for another national emergency. Small units and individual leaders were sent to Korea as replacements from the activated 31st Dixie Division. No units were deployed, but individuals representing three-fourths of the authorized strength were sent to either Korea or Japan. The 31st (Dixie) Division was transferred to Fort Carson Colorado in February 1954 from Camp Atterbury, but that was only because Atterbury was closed. The 31st was re designated as the 8th Infantry Division on 15 June 1954.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:26:20 ZULU