23rd Infantry Division (United States)

23rd Infantry Division (United States)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 23rd (Americal) (Infantry) Division

caption=23rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
dates= 1942-05-24-1945-12-12
1967-09-25-November 1971
country= United States
branch= Regular Army
type= Infantry
size= Division
colors=Blue and White
battles=World War II
*Southern Philippines,
Vietnam War
*Tet Counteroffensive,
*Sanctuary Counteroffensive
decorations=Presidential Unit Citation
Distinguished Unit Citation
Valorous Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Republic Of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation
notable_commanders= MG Alexander M. Patch, Jr.
(May-December 1942)
BG Edmund B. Sebree
(January-May 1943)
MG John R. Hodge
(May 1943-April 1944),
MG Robert McClure
(April-October 1944)
MG William H. Arnold
(November 1944 to WW II inactivation).
H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Colin Powell
identification_symbol_label=Distinctive Unit Insignia
US Infantry
previous=22nd Infantry Division
next=24th Infantry Division
The 23rd Infantry Division, more commonly known as the Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. In the immediate emergency following Pearl Harbor, the United States had hurriedly sent three individual regiments to defend New Caledonia against a feared Japanese attack. This division was formed as one of only two un-numbered divisions to serve in the Army during World War II. After World War II the Americal Division was officially re-designated as the 23rd Infantry Division. However, it was rarely referred to as such, even on official orders.

At the suggestion of a subordinate, the division's commander, Major General Alexander Patch, requested that the new unit be known as the "Americal Division"—the name being a contraction of "American, New Caledonian Division". This was unusual, as most U.S. divisions are known by a number.

The division used a dark blue shield-shaped patch bearing the four of the main stars making up the constellation Crux or Southern Cross. (There are actually at least five stars - as shown on the Australian flag.)

Operational history

World War II

Combat Chronicle

The 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division went into action on Guadalcanal on 1942-10-13 as the first United States Army unit to conduct an offensive operation against the enemy in any theater. Elements of the Division defended Henderson Field against heavy enemy attacks, 23-25 October, took part in the offensive across the Matanikau River in November, and attacked and took Mount Austen in January 1943. Organized resistance ended and the Division was relieved, 9 February.

The Division moved to the Fiji Islands, beginning 1943-03-05, to assume the defense of the main island of Viti Levu and to engage in extensive training. During the period 1943-12-25 to 1944-01-12 the Americal Division landed on Bougainville, relieving the 3d Marine Division and was given the task of holding and extending the right half of a previously established perimeter. The Division went on the offensive in March 1944, driving the Japanese east of Mavavia River, 7-9 April, and seizing numerous strategic hill bases during the remainder of the month. Training and long-range patrol activity continued until 1944-11-30 when the Division was relieved.

On 1945-01-08, the Division began movement to Leyte and Samar, to take part in cleaning out remaining Japanese forces on those islands, and to invade Biri, Capul, Ticao, and Burias. Relieved, 1945-03-13, on Leyte, the Division landed on Cebu, 26 March, and seized the city and airfield by 28 March. Divisional combat teams made landings on Bohol, Negros, and Mindanao, where they cleared out pockets of resisting Japanese until 17 June when ordered to return to Cebu, arriving on 25 June.

Training continued on Cebu for the proposed invasion of Japan, but The Japanese surrendered on 1945-08-14. On 1945-09-10, the Americal landed in Japan and took part in the occupation of the Yokohama-Kawasaki-Yokosuka area.


As the "square" divisions of the Army National Guard were being transitioned to the triangular division TO&E in 1942, they each "shed" an infantry regiment, leaving several trained and operational "orphan" regiments available for independent service.

For morale purposes, the Army decided to form three of these units into a new infantry division. The "line" regiments selected were the 132d Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, the 164th Infantry Regiment from North Dakota, and the 182d Infantry Regiment from Massachusetts.

Under the command of Patch, the Americal Division was the first US Army unit to be sent to Guadalcanal, where it eventually relieved the exhausted US 1st Marine Division.

Largely because of transport constraints, the Americal arrived piecemeal, and was fed into combat alongside the battle-hardened Marines, and thus, in contrast to several other US Army divisions in the Pacific War, was able to learn the practical art of war against the Japanese without suffering as many casualties as might otherwise have occurred. Despite its ad-hoc formation, the Americal Division fought well at Guadalcanal, the 164th Regiment taking on a key role in the defeat of the major Japanese offensive in October 1942, and historians describe it as the most effective of all the US Army divisions in that conflict. Following the withdrawal of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, Americal continued the fighting on Guadalcanal as part of the U.S. XIV Corps until all of the Japanese resistance had ended.


Later in World War II the Americal Division (alongside the 37th Infantry Division, a Marine defense battalion, and supporting units) took up positions on the newly invaded island of Bougainville, and warned by intelligence of the storm to come, utterly defeated a massive and sustained Japanese counter-attack, which began on 7 March 1944. Despite ample warning and thorough defensive preparations, the battle soon degenerated into a bitter, close-quarters infantry affair, with artillery restricted by the need to avoid friendly troops and tanks unable to reach the scene. The 37th and Americal Divisions stood firm, and by March 25, the Japanese were forced to retreat. It was the last Japanese ground offensive in the South Pacific.

The Division Returned to U. S. on 1945-11-21, and was Inactivated on 1945-12-12. It was reactivated on 1954-12-01 as the 23rd Infantry Division, retaining the name "Americal" as part of its official designation, and served in the Panama Canal Zone until 1956-04-10, when it was again inactivated.


The Division was reactivated in 1967 in Vietnam. A division-sized task force known as TASK FORCE OREGON was created in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin provinces with brigades from the 25th Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division, as well as the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, an independent brigade that deployed to Vietnam in 1966, to operate in close cooperation with the 1st Marine Division. As new U.S. brigades arrived in Vietnam, they were assigned to Task Force Oregon, which was re-designated the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal). The Division was composed of the 11th, 196th, and 198th Light Infantry Brigades and divisional support units. The Division acquired a negative reputation in Vietnam, in part because two of its brigades, the 11th and 198th, arrived as the division was formed in 1967 without prior combat experience and inadequate unit training.

My Lai Massacre

One of the companies of the 11th LIB (C Company, 1st Battalion 20th Infantry), with 2nd Lieutenant William Calley as a platoon leader, was responsible for the My Lai Massacre. Another company, part of the 196th LIB, suffered severe casualties when overrun by Vietnamese sapper units at the Battle of FSB Mary Ann in March 1971, further embarrassing the division. The aftermath of the attack resulted in the relief of the brigade and division commanders.

The 198th and 11th Brigades were withdrawn from Vietnam in November, 1971, and the Division was inactivated. The 196th Brigade was reconstituted as a separate brigade and remained in Vietnam until June 29, 1972, the last major combat unit to be withdrawn. Its 3rd Battalion 21st infantry was the last battalion to leave Vietnam, on August 23, 1972.

Notable soldiers

Both Generals H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell served in the Americal Division in Vietnam, in 1969-70 and 1968-70 respectively, as did the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge (Bravo Company, 1st of the 20th, 1969-70). American authors Tracy Kidder (1968-1969) and Tim O'Brien (1969-1970) also served in the Americal in Vietnam.


Further reading

* Eric Bergerud, "Touched with Fire: the Land War in the South Pacific", Penguin, 1996. ISBN 0-14-024696-7
*cite book
last = Capt Cronin
first = Francis D.
authorlink =
year = 1951
title = Under the Southern Cross - The Saga of the Americal Division
publisher = Combat Forces Press
location = Washington D.C.
id = ISBN 0-394-58875-4

External links

*cite web
last = U.S. Army Center of Military History
first = Force Structure and Unit History Branch
authorlink =
coauthors =
date =
year = May 29, 2008
month =
url = http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/cc/americal.html
title = Americal (Infantry) Division
format =
work = Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States
pages =
publisher = U.S. Government Printing Office
language =
accessmonthday = August 5
accessyear = 2008

* [http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Regt/164th%20Regiment.htm The 164th Regiment]
* http://www.americal.org/

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 23rd Infantry Regiment (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 23rd Infantry Regiment caption= 23rd Infantry coat of arms dates= 1861 {redesignated 23rd Regiment in 1866} country= United States allegiance= branch= U.S. Army type= role= size= command structure= garrison=… …   Wikipedia

  • 24th Infantry Division (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name=24th Infantry Division caption=24th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia dates=25 February 1921 1970 1975 1996 1999 2006 country=USA allegiance= branch=United States Army type=Division role= size= command… …   Wikipedia

  • 2nd Infantry Division (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name=2nd Infantry Division caption=2nd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia country=United States of America allegiance= type=Division branch=Regular Army dates=October 26, 1917 – present specialization= Infantry… …   Wikipedia

  • 25th Infantry Division (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name=25th Infantry Division caption=US 25th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia nickname= Tropic Lightning motto= colors= march= ceremonial chief= type=Light Infantry branch=Regular Army dates=October, 1941 –… …   Wikipedia

  • 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (United States) — In June 2006, as part of the U.S. Army s transformation plan, the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division came into being at Fort Lewis, Washington. It is the fourth of the Army s six planned Active Component Stryker brigade combat …   Wikipedia

  • 23rd Marine Regiment (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 23rd Marine Regiment caption= 23rd Marines Insignia dates= *July 20 1942 November 19, 1945 *February 1, 1966 present country=United States allegiance= branch=USMC type= Infantry regiment role= Locate, close with… …   Wikipedia

  • 5th Infantry Regiment (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 5th Infantry Regiment caption=5th Infantry Regiment coat of arms dates= 1808 country= United States allegiance= branch= U.S. Army type= role= size= command structure= garrison= garrison label= equipment= equipment …   Wikipedia

  • 14th Infantry Regiment (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name=14th Infantry Regiment caption=14th Infantry Regiment coat of arms nickname= Golden Dragons motto= Right of the Line Refers to place of Honor in Pass in Review type= Infantry branch= United States Army dates=Formed …   Wikipedia

  • 24th Infantry Regiment (United States) — 24th Infantry Regiment 24th Infantry Regiment badge Active November 1, 1869 – October 1, 1951; August 24, 1995 – present Country …   Wikipedia

  • 196th Infantry Brigade (United States) — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 196th Infantry Brigade caption=196th Infantry Brigade shoulder sleeve insignia dates= 1921 1946 1966 1972 1998 present country= United States allegiance= branch= U.S. Army type= role= Training Support Brigade size …   Wikipedia

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.