Tag Archives: 3rd Infantry Division

This Month in NCO History: Aug. 17, 1944 — Taking the knoll near La Londe, France

When the 3rd Infantry Division reached the shores of France on Aug. 15, 1944, the Rock of the Marne had already seen several examples of gallantry from its Soldiers that were worthy of the nation’s highest honor. It took only two days to witness another.

Staff Sgt. Stanley Bender stood tall as a barrage of German gunfire barreled toward him before helping his unit gain a crucial position near La Londe, France. Bender was part of E Company, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. The unit made landfall in southern France after spending the previous 21 months engaged in battles throughout North Africa and Sicily as part of the 3rd ID’s Operation Torch. The men of the 3rd ID would eventually be awarded 15 Medals of Honor for their actions in Italy. Bender would join their ranks when he leapt into action after one of the company’s tanks was disabled.

The division was beginning its push north through France to close the gap on German forces who were scurrying east in a hasty retreat from Allied forces, which had landed two months earlier at Normandy. Bender’s unit encountered heavy German resistance near the town of La Londe. When a volley of machine-gun fire halted an American tank, the company was pinned down. Bender scrambled to the top of the disabled tank and scanned the horizon to find the source of gunfire. He stood bravely in full view of the enemy while a steady stream of bullets careened off the turret below him for more than two minutes, according to his Medal of Honor citation. He eventually saw muzzle flashes flaring from a knoll 200 yards away. From there, Bender leapt off the tank and into history.

According to the citation, Bender ordered two squads to cover him as he took a group of Soldiers through an irrigation ditch toward the enemy gunfire. For the first 50 yards of their advance, they were sprayed with intense fire, resulting in four Soldiers being wounded. Bender ended up alone ahead of the squad and stood his ground while the Germans hurled grenades into the ditch. Once the squad reached his position, Bender set out for the German stronghold. He wound his way to the rear of the enemy emplacement, then started marching toward it — alone. With no cover fire laid down for him, Bender traversed 40 yards as the occasional German and friendly fire whizzed past him. He reached the first machine gun and eliminated it with a short burst.

That caught the attention of another two-man machine-gun crew, which turned the weapon around and trained it on him. But Bender was unfazed. He walked calmly through the hail of fire and nullified the threat before signaling his men to rush the remaining rifle pits. Bender headed back to his squad’s position, killing another German rifleman along the way, and together they charged the remaining eight German soldiers in the machinegun nest. The attack galvanized the rest of the assault company, with Soldiers spring from their positions shouting. The company eventually overpowered an enemy roadblock, knocked out two anti-tank guns, killed 37 Germans and captured 26 others.

The attack also resulted in the capture of three bridges over the Maravenne River and command of key terrain in southern France. Bender’s actions were in keeping with the “conspicuous gallantry and the intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty,” worthy of the nation’s highest honor. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 1, 1945.

After his service, Bender had two bridges named in his honor on the West Virginia Turnpike, one in 1954 and the other in 1987. In addition to his Medal of Honor, Bender, who joined the Army in December 1939, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, as well as the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and seven battle stars. He died June 22, 1994, at age 84 in Oak Hill, W.Va. He was buried in High Lawn Memorial Park in Oak Hill.

Compiled by Pablo Villa

3rd ID Soldiers welcomed home from Afghanistan

Hundreds of excited family members and friends of about 300 3rd Infantry Division soldiers cheered as the warriors marched across Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field Saturday morning, returning from a nine-month tour in eastern Afghanistan. (Savannah (Ga.) Morning News)
Hundreds of excited family members and friends of about 300 3rd Infantry Division soldiers cheered as the warriors marched across Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field Saturday morning, returning from a nine-month tour in eastern Afghanistan. (Savannah (Ga.) Morning News)

From Savannah (Ga.) Morning News:

As Army Spc. Seth Wakeling propelled his wheelchair across Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field Saturday morning he couldn’t help but smile.

The 20-year-old combat engineer from Arizona proudly took his place in the massive formation of about 300 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they returned to the Coastal Georgia installation from eastern Afghanistan where they’ve been entrenched in combat for the last nine months.

Combat that cost Wakeling his left foot, and his chance to return home with his brothers- and sisters-in-arms of the Brigade’s 4-3 Special Troops Battalion.

“This is where I belong,” said Wakeling, who about a month ago stepped on a land mine during a dismounted patrol on the third-to-last mission his squad served during the deployment. “I’ve been waiting for this day since I was laying on the ground at 2 a.m. … I’ve been waiting. I love these guys.”

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NCO welder works to prevent casualties along Afghanistan’s most important highway

By SGT. JULIEANNE MORSE
129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

In a hot tent on Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar province, Afghanistan, with an American flag hanging from the ceiling works a U.S. Army welder whose recent project can help save many lives in eastern Afghanistan.

Reggae, soul music and rhythm and blues pours out of Sgt. Patrick Lewis’s stereo as he goes to work welding together rebar to create culvert denial systems.

Sgt. Patrick Lewis, left, levels a piece of rebar that will reinforce a culvert denial system, with the help of Spc. Jonathan Carpenter on June 11, 2013. They are both in B Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. Julieanne Morse)
Sgt. Patrick Lewis, left, levels a piece of rebar that will reinforce a culvert denial system, with the help of Spc. Jonathan Carpenter on June 11, 2013. They are both in B Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. Julieanne Morse)

The systems will help prevent insurgents from placing improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, in culverts along Afghanistan’s Highway 1.

Lewis, who hails from Queens, N.Y., is originally from Jamaica, and moved to the United States in 2001.

He learned to weld at the Apex Technical School in Manhattan, N.Y., and joined the U.S. Army in 2007, as an allied trade specialist. He currently serves in Company B, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Lewis, the primary welder in Company B, has completed many projects since arriving at FOB Shank, such as repairing radio towers and building steel gates, but this project is expanding his reach into Wardak and Logar provinces.

Preventing the emplacement of IEDs is essential to help prevent military and civilian casualties.

“Highway 1 is a main supply route going from [Bagram Airfield] to Ghazni, and a critical point of our mission here is to keep that safe,” said 1st Lt. Shane Hook, Company B executive officer.

The brigade counter-IED office passed a sketch of the system’s design down the chain of command to Lewis. Then, rebar was shipped from Bagram Airfield.

“We do just about anything,” Lewis said. “You name it, if you can come up with a picture and show us that, we can make it. It’s as simple as that.”

Lewis welds rebar to create a culvert denial system at Forward Operating Base Shank, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, June 11, 2013.
Lewis welds rebar to create a culvert denial system at Forward Operating Base Shank, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, June 11, 2013.

The static crackling sound can be heard as Lewis welds the rebar together into a cone-like shape.

Spc. Jonathan Carpenter, a native of Pendleton, S.C., and a wheeled vehicle mechanic in Company B, who helps Lewis when he’s not servicing vehicles, said the culvert denial system will allow water to flow through the culvert, but deny insurgents the ability to plant IEDs inside of them.

Lewis said the system would benefit all U.S. forces as well as Afghans who travel on Highway 1.

Lewis has a good reputation as a hard worker within the brigade.

“He’s a measure-twice, cut-once type of guy, which is good,” said Hook. “That is exactly the type you want.”

First Sgt. Robert Walker, a native of Bryant, Ala., and the Company B first sergeant, said Lewis is one of his better noncommissioned officers.

“He takes every opportunity he can to teach soldiers,” Walker explained.

Lewis’ good reputation stems from his enjoyment of his job.

“I love what I do,” Lewis said. “This is me playing my part. If this is what I can do to prevent the loss of another U.S. service member, then I’m more than willing to contribute in whatever way I can.”

Army to cut brigades at 10 U.S. bases by 2017

The Army announced Tuesday it is cutting the number of brigade combat teams from 45 to 33 during the next four years as part of a major force reduction that shifts thousands of Soldiers throughout the country and moves the Army closer to spending cuts outlined by legislation from 2011.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno announced the cuts, which are part of a reduction of force strength from its current level of 541,000 to 490,000 by 2017 to meet the $487 billion in cuts mandated in the budget control act.

The Army had previously identified two brigades in Germany for elimination. On Tuesday, Odierno identified 10 other s throughout the nation that will be dissolved by 2017. He said selections for the brigade cuts were made based on various factors including geography, cost and local economic impacts. Odierno warned further cutbacks could be in the future if full sequestration continues.

A brigade is normally comprised of about 3,500 Soldiers. Some can be as large as 5,000.

While 10 brigades will be eliminated from the Army, some of the components from those brigades will be put into remaining BCTs. In particular, Odierno said, a third maneuver battalion, and additional engineer and fires capabilities will be added to each armor and infantry brigade combat team.

That, Odierno said, will make those remaining BCTs “more lethal, more flexible, and more agile.”

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell said that the changes to the brigades make the remaining BCTs more capable.

“We had the ability to make the brigades more capable,” he said.

Campbell said that some Soldiers will need to move as part of the changes. But for the most part, moves will be from one unit on an installation to another.

“A majority of that will stay on that post,” Campbell said. “But we will have to add some, (in) some places. Some will have to move.”

With the expected cuts in BCTs, the Army will be left with a mix of 12 armored BCTs, 14 infantry BCTs, and seven Stryker BCTs. Those numbers could change in the future. Campbell said he feels confident that the brigades identified already would be the ones to be “reorganized.” But if the Army finds, in the future, that it needs a different mix of brigades than what has already been identified — some existing brigades might instead be changed to meet the new requirements.

Brigades marked for reorganization include:

• The 4th Stryker BCT, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

• The 3rd Armored BCT, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

• The 4th Infantry BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

• The 4th Infantry BCT, 101st Air Assault, Fort Campbell, Ky.

• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.

• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

• The 4th Infantry BCT (Airborne), 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

• The 2nd Armored BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

• The 4th Armored BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

C. Todd Lopez of the Army News Service contributed to this report.

A closer look at the bases affected by brigade cuts announced Tuesday by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.
A closer look at the bases affected by brigade cuts announced Tuesday by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.

This Month in NCO History: June 10, 1953

Compiled by PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Sgt. Ola Lee Mize wasn’t the most imposing figure. At 120 pounds, he was initially rejected by the Army for being too light before ultimately being allowed to enlist in 1950. His actions the evening of June 10, 1953, near Surang-ni, Korea, during the Korean War proved he had ample heart.

Ola L. Mize, United States Army, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.
Ola L. Mize, United States Army, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.

Mize was part of K Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, while it defended a position known as Outpost Harry. Chinese soldiers had swarmed the company’s stronghold, killing or wounding all of its officers. The hail of gunfire was deafening and rattled the encampment with a menacing clatter. The situation was bleak.

But Mize wasn’t shaken. Upon learning that a comrade at a nearby listening post was wounded, Mize made his way through heavy fire to rescue him. He returned to the main position and began moving from bunker to bunker at a furious pace, firing through apertures and tossing grenades to stave off the enemy. At one point, Mize shot a Chinese soldier whose weapon was aimed squarely at a fellow American. Later, Mize charged a machine gun position that had been overrun, killing 10 of the enemy and forcing the rest to flee. During the fight, the concussive blast of grenades and artillery fire knocked Mize down three times. But he kept fighting and managed to escape serious injury.

Around midnight, Mize worked his way to his command post, which had also been overrun. He directed friendly artillery fire along the enemy’s routes of approach. The next morning, he joined American counterattack forces to help take back the outpost.

For his actions, Mize was promoted to master sergeant and was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Sept. 7, 1954.

After the Korean War, Mize joined the Special Forces and did three tours of duty in the Vietnam War. He retired as a colonel in 1981. Mize died March 12, 2014, in Gadsden, Ala. He was 82.

 

Citation

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
to

MIZE, OLA L.

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sgt.), U.S. Army, Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Surang-ni, Korea, 10 to 11 June 1953. Entered service at: Gadsden, Ala. Born: 28 August 1931, Marshall County, Ala. G.O. No.: 70, 24 September 1954.

Citation:
M/Sgt. Mize, a member of Company K, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Company K was committed to the defense of “Outpost Harry”, a strategically valuable position, when the enemy launched a heavy attack. Learning that a comrade on a friendly listening post had been wounded he moved through the intense barrage, accompanied by a medical aid man, and rescued the wounded soldier. On returning to the main position he established an effective defense system and inflicted heavy casualties against attacks from determined enemy assault forces which had penetrated into trenches within the outpost area. During his fearless actions he was blown down by artillery and grenade blasts 3 times but each time he dauntlessly returned to his position, tenaciously fighting and successfully repelling hostile attacks. When enemy onslaughts ceased he took his few men and moved from bunker to bunker, firing through apertures and throwing grenades at the foe, neutralizing their positions. When an enemy soldier stepped out behind a comrade, prepared to fire, M/Sgt. Mize killed him, saving the life of his fellow soldier. After rejoining the platoon, moving from man to man, distributing ammunition, and shouting words of encouragement he observed a friendly machinegun position overrun. He immediately fought his way to the position, killing 10 of the enemy and dispersing the remainder. Fighting back to the command post, and finding several friendly wounded there, he took a position to protect them. Later, securing a radio, he directed friendly artillery fire upon the attacking enemy’s routes of approach. At dawn he helped regroup for a counterattack which successfully drove the enemy from the outpost. M/Sgt. Mize’s valorous conduct and unflinching courage reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.