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31st Infantry Division, "Dixie"

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The 31st "Dixie" Division has seen a lot of action. Some of the Regiments that comprise the Dixie Division date back to 1798. The 155th Infantry Regiment, formed in Mississippi, is the 7th oldest Regiment in the US Army. The 155th Regiment fought in World War I while assigned to the 39th Infantry Division. The 167th Infantry Regiment was formed in Alabama as the 4th Alabama Infantry in 1836. They saw action in World War I while assigned to the 42nd "Rainbow" Division. The third regiment of the Dixie division was the 124th Regiment formed in 1887 in Florida. When the Dixie Division was sent to France during World War I, it was sent as a replacement division and never saw combat as a division. Instead the regiments were sent to augment existing divisions and distinguished themselves in battle.

After returning to the United States, the Dixie Division was demobilized in 1919. In 1923, the division was reorganized as a National Guard Division drawing its personnel from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Because almost all of the men who comprised the division came from the deep south, "Dixie" was a natural nickname.

On November 25, 1940 the Dixie Division was activated into Federal service and assigned to Camp Blanding FL. Over the next three years, the men of the Dixie Division would participate in numerous training exercises and served as a training cadre for other units bound for duty overseas. In late 1943, the Division was activated and prepared to move out themselves to enter the war. In January, 1944, the Dixie Division boarded transport ships at Hampton Roads VA and shipped out. Their destination was the Pacific Theater of Operations.

After a brief training stop in Oro Bay, New Guinea, the Dixie Division was sent into action. The 124th Regiment assisted the 32nd Division in the vicinity of the Driniumor River, New Guinea while the 155th and 167th were sent in on the Wakde-Sarmi camaign. During the course of these battles, the Regiments of the Dixie Division killed over 4,000 Japanese soldiers, wiping out 2 entire Regiments and broke the back of the Japanese 18th Army

In September of 1944, the 31st Division consolidated and invaded the island of Morotai, Southeast of the Phillipine islands. Over the next seven months, the 31st Division fought on Morotai, killing the Japanese defenders 2 or 3 at a time. The difficult fighting only further prepared the men of the Dixie Division for their next mission. The invasion of the island of Mindanao, the souternmost island in the Phillipines.

The 31st Division stored ashore at Mindanao, meeting very little resistance. As the Division pushed north, with the 124th Regiment on point, they met stiff resistance from the head-high cognon grass. While they struggled to continue the advance, the Japanese took the advantage and opened fire on the Americans. For six hours, the battle raged only to be conluded when the Americans had completely routed the Japanese forces. As they neared the Maramag Airtsrip Number 1, the Americans encountered stiff resistance from Japanese forces who had dug in under the roots of trees. For the next 7 days, all 3 battalions of the 124th fought to eliminate the fanatical resistance.

Sortly after the Japanese were driven from the woods, the 155th Regiment took point. After meeting light resistance, they came upon a group of Japanese soldiers sunning themselves next to a stream. The lead company opened fire and killed 96 of the soldiers catching them completely off-guard. No other Japanese came to their aid because the American rifle fire was drowned out by the roaring stream.

After securing Mindanao, the American forces continued on to liberate the rest of the Philippine islands. The men of the Dixie Division had fought in places where the only resupply available was by air drop. Yet they continued to fight and defeated an enemy that was greater in numbers and had more time to prepare for the battles. In December, 1945, the Dixie Division returned home and was deactivated on December 21, 1945 at Camp Stoneman, CA and returned to National Guard duty.

When hostilities broke out in the Korean peninsula and American soldiers were sent to fight, the Army realized they needed a training cadre of men who were experienced and could train its new soldier properly. On January 16, 1951, the Dixie Division was activated to fulfill that mission. Over the next 2 years, the Dixie Division conducted training missions for units slated for deployment to Korea. Many men who served in the Division were sent to Korea as replacements as the need for veteran soldiers increased. In the fall of 1953, the Dixie Division was ordered to prepare for deployment to Korea and the 200th Infantry Regiment was added to its ranks. The cease fire was signed before they could deploy however, and the 31st Division was deactivated and returned to National Guard status in late 1954.

Throughout its history, 1,709 Dixie Division veterans became casualties. 404 of them gave their lives. 4 men earned the Distinguished Service Medal, 177 earned the Silver Star, and 965 earned the Bronze Star. Four units of the Dixie Division have been awarded the Presidential UNit Citations; the 2nd BN 124th Regiment, 2nd BN Medical Detachment 124th Regiment, 3rd BN 124th Regiment, and the 106th Engineer Combat BN.

Today the proud tradition of the Dixie Division is carried on by the men and women of the Mississippi Army National Guard the Alabama Army National Guard and the Florida Army National Guard. The unit designations are different now, but they all still serve with pride knowing they decend from the Dixie Division.

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