The Red Bull - the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota Army National Guard - has a long and illustrious history and is the subject of a special exhibit at the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley.
Here are some historical highlights about this 90-year-old Division with deep Minnesota roots:
The 34th Division was officially formed in 1917 but its traditions go back much farther. In 1856, two years before Minnesota became a state, the first militia company was formed in St. Paul, the St. Paul Guards.
On April 13, 1861, the first day after the start of the Civil War, Minnesota Gov. Alexander Ramsey volunteered a Minnesota regiment of 1,000 men. This was the first unit from any state offered for federal service in the Civil War.
Eventually, Minnesota would send 11 Infantry Regiments along with artillery, cavalry and support troops, a total of nearly 22,000 men, or nearly 10 percent of the state's population. These units participated in 38 major battles and campaigns.
Walter Remiarz, a World War II veteran from the Polish 2nd Corps that fought in Italy, pointed out a picture to his son Andrew Remiarz on Saturday at the new Red Bull exhibit at the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
In 1898 the war with Spain led to the activation of four Minnesota Regiments, but only the 13th Regiment saw service overseas, serving in the Philippines. Altogether 4,348 Minnesotans served in the Minnesota Regiments in 1898 and 1899.
In June 1916 Minnesota's three Infantry and one Artillery Regiment were mobilized during World War II. They were sent to Texas near the Mexican border to assist the regular Army in attempting to stop the cross border raids of Mexican revolutionaries under Poncho Villa.
On July 18, 1917, Minnesota National Guard units, along with units from Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas were ordered to federal service to form the 34th Infantry Division at Camp Cody, near Demming, New Mexico.
Camp Cody is where the 34th Infantry Division designed its distinctly non-Minnesotan culturally-based shoulder patch. The basic patch outline comes from the shape of an "olla," a Mexican water jug. The red bull's head represents the many bovine skulls in the desert around Camp Cody.
Between World Wars, the Minnesota National Guard was called upon over 30 times to assist in dealing with natural disasters and civil unrest.
Red Bull during World War II
Here are some statistics about the 34th Infantry Division during World War II:
The 34th division was the first U.S. division to be sent overseas.
Elements of the division were among the first units engaged in combat.
"B" Battery, 175th Field Artillery fired the first Army artillery shell against the Germans.
The Division seized more enemy-held mountains and hills than any other division in the European Theater.
The 34th is credited with 517 days of front-line combat, more than any other division. (Several of the 34th's subordinate units are credited with 611 days of combat.)
The division suffered 3,737 soldiers killed in action, 14,165 wounded in action and 3,460 missing in action, a total of 21,362 battle casualties. Casualties of the division are considered to be the highest of any division in the theater when daily per capita fighting strengths are considered.
The 34th participated in six major campaigns: Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines and Po Valley.
World War II awards included 10 Medals of Honor, 98 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1,153 Silver Stars, 116 Legions of Merit, one Distinguished Flying Cross, 2,545 Bronze Stars, 54 Soldiers Medals, 34 Air Medals (with 52 oak leaf clusters awarded), 525 Divisional Citations and 20 British, French and Italian awards.
Information provided by the Minnesota Military Museum, Camp Ripley.
Bob Watts, president of the 125th Field Artillery Association from Canyon, peered Saturday into a display case at his own photograph from World War II, part of the new 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division exhibit at the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
By mid-January 1942, elements of the 34th Division were on their way to Northern Ireland, becoming the first American unit to arrive in Europe. Pvt. Melbern Henke, 133 Infantry Division of Hutchinson, was first off the boat and has been officially credited as the first GI to set foot in Europe in WWII.
The division participated in the November 1942 invasion of North Africa and elements of the 3rd Battalion 135th Infantry were involved in the assault on Algiers in North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942, becoming one of the first U.S. units engaged in combat in the European Theater of Operations.
Shortly after landing, "B" Battery of the 175th Field Artillery was credited with firing the first U.S. artillery shell of the North African campaign. For the next seven months, the division participated in battles across North Africa from Algiers to the capture of Hill 609, which precipitated the German collapse in Africa.
In September of 1943 the division landed at Salerno, Italy. Only the 151st Field Artillery participated in the initial landing but the battalion played a critical role in stopping German-armored counterattacks on the beach head. This started what was to be a long hard and bloody 20-month campaign up the Italian boot.
In Italy the 34th Division participated in five campaigns and in bloody battles. In March they were sent to the beach head at Anzio.
The 34th Division led the way into Rome on June 4, 1944. As the end of the war neared, the 34th Division participated in liberation of Bologna and advanced into the Po Valley to the outskirts of Milan.
Ironically, the 34th Division accepted the surrender of the German 34th Infantry Division in May 1945.
The 34th Division did not return to Minnesota after the war. It became an Iowa and Nebraska unit. The Minnesota National Guard was part of a new division, the 47th.
In February 1991, the 34th Infantry Division returned to Minnesota. During the late 1990s, the 34th Division was called upon repeatedly to assist in natural disasters.
Between July 2003 and April 2004, 1,100 soldiers of the 34th Division were mobilized for peace-keeping duty in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of Task Force Eagle. This was the largest Minnesota National Guard overseas deployments since WWII.
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks dramatically changed and increased requirements for the units of the 34th Division. Units were immediately sent on homeland security missions. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq mobilized many units and thousands of soldiers from this division for service in the Middle East.
Today nearly 3,000 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Division are serving in Iraq on what, when completed in late July, will be a nearly two-year deployment. Other units are preparing for deployments, some to the Middle East, others to the former Yugoslavia and others to the Mexican border.
Information provided by the Minnesota Military Museum, Camp Ripley.
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