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33rd Infantry Division, "Golden Cross"

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World War One
The 33rd Infantry Division was activated for service in World War One on July 17, 1917 at Camp Logan Texas. After training and filling its ranks, the Division embarked for Europe and arrived in France in June of 1918. THe were immediately sent to a training are to familiarize themselves with trench warfare. That training was cut short as the Germans launched their Spring offensive. The 33rd was rushed forward and placed in Reserve to guard against a German breakthrough.

They were not needed as the French and British had establish their defensive lines in depth and the Germans were halted. The 33rd Division was then transferred to the relative quiet of the Amiens and Verdsun sectors of the Allied front. The men of the Golden Cross conducted almost daily patrols and engaged the enemy in sporadic firefights. Most of the actions occurred as one side or the other probed the others lines. Finally, in September 1918, the 33rd was called upon for a major action; the Allied Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

The objective was to drive the Germans out of the Argonne forest and secure the Allied flank on the Meuse River. After a three hour artillery bombardment, the Allied attack was launched. The Germans were caught unprepared and had only 4 Divisions to defend against 9 American Divisions. Within hours the Americans had pushed 5 miles beyond the German's first and second defensive lines. The advance was soon slowed and the finally halted by rain and deep mud. Throughout this offensive, the Regiments of the 33rd Division were sent forward from the Reserves to support other Divisions at the front.

While the Meuse-Argonne offensive was not a complete success, it did bring about the end of the war. Seeing that they could not stop the advancing American and Allied forces, the German High Command finally suggested a truce be negotiated. The Chancellor of Germany contacted President Wilson in October of 1918 and on November 11, 1918 the Armistice went into effect, ending the war. In May of 1919, the 33rd Division returned to the United States and was deactivated the following month.

Between the Wars
In 1923, the 33rd Division was reorganized as a National Guard Division for the State of Illinois. The units that made up the Division shared a long, distinguished history. Units from Illinois served with honor in the Civil War at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Later in the Spanish American War, elements of the Illinois Guard were activated and trained for service but were not sent overseas. In the early 1900's, the Illinois Guard was sent to Texas during the border disputes with Mexico. In the 20s and 30s, the 33rd Division served the State of Illinois and assisted in helping Illinois residents during the Great Depression.

World War Two
On March 5, 1941 the 33rd Infantry Division was mobilized in response to the state of emergency declared by President Roosevelt. The Division was transferred to Camp Forrest Tennessee for training and to accept new recruits and in early 1942, the Division was transferred to California for desert training until their mission was changed and the Division set sail for Hawaii to prepare for operations in the Pacific.

The first action for the 33rd Division was on the island of Morotai between New Guinea and Mindanao in the Philippines in September of 1944. 2 Regiments of the 33rd were attached to the 31st Infantry Division for the assault on Morotai. The island was secured after several days of hard fighting and the Allied forces un the command of General Douglas MacAurthur had several new airfileds from which they could send bombers and fighters to cover the eventual invasion of the Philippines. The next mission for the 33rd Division was the invasion of Luzon, Philippines.

On January 9, 1945, 5 Army Divisions, including the 33rd, stormed ashore at Luzon against light resistance. For the next three days, the invading Americans drove south through the plains of Luzon towards Manila. The going was relatively easy as the Japanese commander had decided not to mount a major defense of the central plains south of Luzon, opting instead to small raids and sniper attacks designed to slow the American Army. By June of 1945, most Japanese resistance had been eliminated on the island and Luzon was declared secure. The 33rd Division was then ordered to prepare for OPERATION OLYMPIC, the invasion of the Japanese home islands. The 33rd was scheduled to be in the first wave of the invasion forces and planners estimated that the 33rd Division would suffer 80 to 90% casualties. Fortunately, the Japanese surrendered after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed with atomic weapons.

Post-World War Two
The 33rd Division did invade the Japanese home islands, as an occupation force where they remained until April of 1946 when they were deactivated and returned home to Illinois and National Guard status.

After World War Two, the 33rd Division remained in National Guard status. The Division did assist in training some units for service in Korea but was not activated for service there or in Vietnam. In the 1970's the Division was reorganized into the 33rd Separate Infantry Brigade. In the early 90's the Brigade was reorganized as the 33rd Area Support Group, Illinois National GUard. The 33rd ASG supports all of the Guard units in Illinois and surrounding States. The men and women of the 33rd ASG carry on the proud traditions of the Men of the Golden Cross.

Military History
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