63rd Infantry Division (United States)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=63rd Infantry Division,1943-1945, 1952-1963
63rd Army Reserve Command, 1968-1996
63rd Regional Support Command, 1996-2001
63rd Regional Readiness Command, 2001-2008
63rd Regional Support Command, 2008-present


caption=63rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
dates=15 June 1943-27 Sep. 1945, inf. div. (active)
1952-1963, infantry division (reserve)
1968-1996, army reserve command
1996-2008, regional readiness cmd.
2008-present, regional support cmd.
country=United States
allegiance=
branch=Army, 1943-1945
Army Reserve, 1952-1963 & 1968-
type=Division, 1943-1945 & 1952-1963
reserve command, 1968-2008
reserve support office, 2008-present
role=Infantry, 1943-1945 & 1952-1963
reserve command, 1968-2008
reserve support office, 2008-present
size= * ~15,000 as a division;
* variable as an ARCOM/RRC;
* headquarters only at present
command_structure=
current_commander=
garrison=Camp Blanding, Florida, 1943
Camp Van Dorn, Miss., 1943-1944
deployed to European theatre, 1945
Los Angeles, California, 1952-1956
Patton USAR Center, Bell, CA, 1968
Los Angeles, California, 1968-1982
Los Alamitos AAF, CA, 1982-2008
Moffet Field, California, 2008-present
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname="Blood and Fire"
patron=
motto="Pride - Honor - Service"
colors=
march=
mascot=
battles=World War II
notable_commanders=
anniversaries=
identification_symbol=
identification_symbol_label=distinctive unit insignia
identification_symbol_2=
identification_symbol_2_label=distinguishing flag, 1943-1968
identification_symbol_3=
identification_symbol_3_label=distinguishing flag, 1968-present
identification_symbol_4=
identification_symbol_4_label=
US Infantry
previous=62nd Infantry Division
next=64th Infantry Division

The 63rd Infantry Division was a formation of the United States Army in World War II.

The 63rd Regional Support Command is responsible for the base and administrative support of all United States Army Reserve units throughout the seven-state region of southwestern United States. The United States Army Center of Military History states that, while regional support commands wear the patches of formerly active divisions of the same number, they do not perpetuate the lineages of the old divisions and are not entitled to their battle honors. Likewise, Army Regulation 840-10 dictates that the distinguishing flag of an RSC features a 15-inch (38.1cm) tall rendering of the shoulder sleeve insignia on a plain blue background, rather than on the horizontally divided bi-colour background of red over blue as carried by an infantry division.

World War II

* Activated: 15 June 1943
* Overseas: 25 November 1944
* Campaigns: Rhineland, Central Europe
* Days of combat: 119
* Casualties: 8,019
* Prisoners taken: 21,542
* Awards:
** 6 Presidential Unit Citations
** 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations
** 2 Medals of Honor (First Lieutenant James E. Robinson, Jr. and Staff Sergeant John R. Crews)
** 5 Distinguished Service Crosses
** 1 Distinguished Service Medal
** 435 Silver Stars
** 6 Legions of Merit
** 13 Soldier's Medals
** 4,068 Bronze Stars
** 61 Air Medals
* Commanders:
** Brigadier General/Major General Louis E. Hibbs (June 1943-July 1945)
** Brigadier General Frederick M. Harris (August 1945 to 27 September 1945)
* Returned to U.S.: September 1945
* Inactivated: 27 September 1945

The 63rd Infantry Division was activated on 15 June 1943, at Camp Blanding, Florida. Shortly thereafter, the division removed to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi to prepare for deployment to Europe. On three occasions during the next seventeen months, the division trained up recruits only to have them cross-leveled to other divisions heading for theater. The first elements of the division, anxious to get in the fight, finally arrived in Europe in December 1944 and were joined by the rest of the division in January 1945.

The division was made up of three National Guard infantry regiments: the 253rd Infantry Regiment, the 254th Infantry Regiment and the 255th Infantry Regiment. The Divisional artillery was provided by the 718th Field Artillery Battalion, 861st Field Artillery Battalion, 862d Field Artillery Battalion, and 863d Field Artillery Battalion. Other attached units were the 263d Engineer Battalion and the 363d Medical Battalion.

Combat Chronicle

Three regiments of the 63rd Infantry Division arrived in Marseille, France, 8 December 1944, trained at Haguenau and, under the designation Task Force Harris, protected the east flank of the Seventh Army along the Rhine River. The task force fought defensively from 22 to 31 December 1944. The rest of the division arrived at Marseilles, 14 January 1945, and moved to Willerwald on 2 February, where it was joined by the advance elements on 6 February. On the 7th, the 63d conducted local raids and patrols, then pushed forward, crossing the Saar River on 17 February, and mopping up the enemy in Muhlen Woods. After bitter fighting at Güdingen early in March, the division smashed at the Siegfried Line on the 15th at Saarbrucken, Germany, taking Ormesheim and finally breaching the line at Sankt Ingbert and Hassel on 20 March. Hard still fighting lay ahead, but the Siegfried Line was Germany's last attempt to defend its prewar boundaries along the western front; this was a significant moment in the 63rd Infantry's history. Before resting on 23 March, the 63d took Spiesen-Elversberg, Neunkirchen and Erbach. From then until the end of the war, the 63rd Division carved a path of “blood and fire” from Sarreguemines through Germany. On 28 March, the division crossed the Rhine at Neuschloss, moved to Viernheim and captured Heidelberg on the 30th. Continuing the advance, the 63d crossed the Neckar River near Mosbach and the Jagst River. Heavy resistance slowed the attack on Adelsheim, Mockmuhl, and Bad Wimpfen.

The Division switched to the southeast, capturing Lampoldshausen and clearing the Hardthauser Woods on 7 April. A bridgehead was secured over the Kocher River near Weissbach on 8 April, and Schwabisch Hall fell on 17 April. Advance elements crossed the Rems River and rused to the Danube. That river was crossed on 25 April, and Leipheim fell before the division was withdrawn from the line on 28 April, and assigned security duty from the Rhine to Darmstadt and Wursburg on a line to Stuttgart and Speyer. The 63d began leaving for home on 21 August 1945, and was deactivated on 27 September 1945.

Army Reserve

The 63rd Infantry Division was reactivated in February 1952 and assigned to the Army Reserve, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The division was again deactivated in December 1965, and the colors were transferred to the 63rd Reinforcement Training Unit.

On 1 January 1968, the division was reactivated and redesignated as the 63rd Army Reserve Command (or "ARCOM"). Based at Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center, the command encompassed Army Reserve units in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. From 1990 through 1991, over 2,500 Army Reserve soldiers from the 63rd ARCOM served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Twenty-two of the command's units were mobilized, with fourteen of them deploying to the Persian Gulf.

In April 1995, the 63rd was redesignated the 63rd Regional Support Command (later revised to Regional Readiness Command), and its geographic boundaries were realigned to coincide with those of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IX. The 63rd maintained command and control of 14,000 soldiers and 140 units in the states of California, Arizona and Nevada, and assumed additional responsibility to support the major functional reserve commands within its area. The 63rd RRC supported both foreign and domestic active Army missions, including participation in NATO operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Since 2001, thousands of soldiers from the 63rd RRC have served in Afghanistan and.Iraq.

In September 2008, the 63rd and 90th Regional Readiness Commands combined into the 63rd which was redesignated the 63rd Regional Support Command again, with its new headquarters at Moffett Field, California. As a key component of the Army Reserve's transition to an operational force, the newly formed 63rd RSC has foregone command and control of units in favor if a greatly expanded area of responsibility. The 63rd RSC provides base support and administrative support to over 40,000 Army Reserve soldiers in the southwest United States.

Insignia

* Shoulder Sleeve Insignia:
** Description: On a pear-shaped olive drab background 5.72 cm (2 1/4 in.) in width and 8.89 cm (3 1/2 in.) in length, a scarlet flame of five rays superimposed by an upright gold sword in pale, charged with a scarlet drop of blood.
** Symbolism: The design aludes to the unit's motto, "Blood and Fire" (see below).
*** Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was designed by the division's first commander, Brigadier General Louis E. Hibbs. It was originally approved for the 63rd Infantry Division on 27 March 1943. It was authorized for the 63rd Army Reserve Command on 22 April 1968. It was reassigned and authorized effective 16 April 1996, for the 63rd Regional Support Command. The insignia was redesignated effective 16 July 2003, for the 63rd Regional Readiness Command. It was redesignated effective 17 September 2008] , for the 63rd Regional Support Command and amended to add a symbolism.
* Distinctive Unit Insignia:
** Description: A silver color metal and enamel device, 3.02 cm (1 3/16 in.) in diameter, consisting of a silver chevron on a red background, bearing seven blue wavy vertical bands; in base, a black embattled area with two merlons; encircling all, a continuous silver scroll of four folds inscribed on the upper three folds, "PRIDE" "HONOR" "SERVICE" in black letters. Overall, a yellow vertical sword, the tip charged with a scarlet drop.
** Symbolism: The elements of the design reflect the history of the 63rd Infantry Division. The silver chevron simulates a spearhead and is indicative of the aggressiveness displayed by the 63rd Infantry Division during the crossing of seven European rivers -- the Saar, Rhine, Neckar, Jagst, Kocker, Rems, and Danube -- during World War II. The rivers are represented by the seven blue wavy bands. The breaching of the Siegfried Line at Sankt Ingbert and Hassell is symbolized by the two black merlons of the embattled area, surmounted by the yellow sword with the scarlet drop taken from the shoulder sleeve insignia of the organization.
** Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 63rd Army Reserve Command on 8 May 1970. It was reassigned and authorized effective 16 April 1996, for the 63rd Regional Support Command. The insignia was redesignated for the 63rd Regional Readiness Command effective 16 July 2003. It was redesignated effective 17 September 2008, for the 63rd Regional Support Command.
* Motto: "Blood and Fire", inspired by a quote of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. At the Casablanca Conference in 1943, shortly before the activation of the 63rd Infantry Division, Churchill promised to make the enemy "bleed and burn in expiation of their crimes." The slogan was adopted by Brigadier General Louis E. Hibbs, the divison's first commander, who designed the shoulder sleeve insignia.

General

*Anthony Benedetto, who later became a professional singer under the psuedonym Tony Bennett, served in the 63rd Infantry Division during 1944 and 1945.

References

*"The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States" U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/lineage/cc/cc.htm CMH] .
*63rd Regional Support Command information page [http://www.armyreserve.army.mil/USARC/SUPPORT/63rd+Regional+Support+Command/overview.htm]
* "The Flaming Blade", vol. 27, no. 2 (May 1991)
*Camp Van Dorn Museum [http://www.vandornmuseum.org/] .


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