|Country United States|
|Branch United States Army|
|Active 15 November 1942 – 15 October 1945|
Nickname(s) Battle Babies, Checkerboard Division
The 99th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War II. It played a strategic role in the Battle of the Bulge when its inexperienced troops held fast on the northern shoulder of the German advance, refusing them access to the vital northern road network that led into Belgium.
- World War II
- Combat chronicle
- Arrival in Europe
- Battle of the Bulge
- Stand at Lanzerath
- Advance into Germany
- Assignments in European Theatre of Operations
- Commendations and honors
- Order of battle 194445
- Commanding officers
- Unit insignia
- Additional reading
The 99th Regional Support Command, which is the successor unit of the 99th Infantry Division, is a Major General command under the US Army Reserve Command (USARC). The command provides base operations support to all Army Reserve Soldiers, units, facilities and equipment for the entire Northeast Region of the Army Reserve, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Base operations includes personnel administration, finance, facilities management, logistics management, maintenance, public affairs and legal support. The 99th Regional Support Command is headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. The current commander is Major General Margaret W. Boor, who assumed command Oct. 1, 2013, replacing MG William D. Razz Waff, who was then reassigned as the Headquarters, Department of the Army Deputy G-1, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1.
World War II
In the 1930s the 99th Reconnaissance Troop was organized by consolidating infantry brigade headquarters and headquarters companies of the 99th Infantry Division.
Arrival in Europe
The 99th Infantry Division, comprising the 393rd, 394th, and the 395th Infantry Regiments, arrived in England on 10 October 1944. Put under operational control of V Corps, First Army, it moved to Le Havre, France on 3 November and proceeded to Aubel, Belgium, to prepare to enter the front lines.
Battle of the Bulge
The division first saw action on the 9 November, taking over the defense of the sector north of the Roer River between Schmidt and Monschau, a distance of nearly 19 miles. After defensive patrolling, the 99th probed the Siegfried Line against heavy resistance on 13 December. Formerly known as the Checkerboard Division, which referred to its shoulder patch, in late 1944 having not yet seen battle, it was nicknamed the Battle Babies.
The inexperienced troops of the division were lodged on the northern shoulder of the Ardennes Offensive on 16 December. Although cut up and surrounded in part, the 99th was one of the only divisions that did not yield to the German attack, and held their positions until reinforcements arrived. The lines were then moved back to form defensive positions east of Elsenborn Ridge on the 19th. Here it held firmly against violent enemy attacks. From 21 December 1944 to 30 January 1945, the unit was engaged in aggressive patrolling and reequipping. It attacked toward the Monschau Forest, 1 February, mopping up and patrolling until it was relieved for training and rehabilitation, 13 February.
Stand at Lanzerath
The Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Division was the most decorated platoon for a single action of World War II. During the first morning of the Battle of the Bulge, they defended a key road in the vicinity of the Losheim Gap. Led by 20-year-old Lieutenant Lyle Bouck Jr., they delayed the advance of the 1st SS Panzer Division, spearhead of the entire German 6th Panzer Army, for nearly 20 hours. In a long fight with about 500 men of the 1st Battalion, 9th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division, the 18 men of the platoon along with four artillery observers inflicted between 60 to more than 100 casualties on the Germans. The platoon seriously disrupted the entire German Sixth Panzer Army's schedule of attack along the northern edge of the offensive. At dusk on 16 December, after virtually no sleep during the preceding night and a full day of almost non-stop combat, with only a few rounds of ammunition remaining, about 50 German paratroopers finally flanked and captured the remaining 19 soldiers. Two who had been sent on foot to regimental headquarters to seek reinforcements were later captured. Fourteen of the 18 platoon members were wounded, while only one soldier, a member of the artillery observation team, was killed.
Because the unit's radios had been destroyed, the soldiers captured, and the rapid subsequent German advance, U.S. Army commanders did not know about the unit's success at slowing the German advance, or even if they had been captured or killed. The platoon members were not recognized for their courageous deeds for thirty-seven years. On 25 October 1981, the entire platoon was recognized with a Presidential Unit Citation, and every member of the platoon was decorated, including four Distinguished Service Crosses, five Silver Stars, and ten Bronze Stars with V for Valor.
Advance into Germany
On 2 March 1945, the division took the offensive, moving toward Cologne and crossing the Erft Canal near Glesch. After clearing towns west of the Rhine, it crossed the river at Remagen on the 11th and continued to Linz and to the Wied. Crossing on the 23d, it pushed east on the Koln-Frankfurt highway to Giessen. Against light resistance it crossed the Dill River and pushed on to Krofdorf-Gleiberg, taking Giessen 29 March. The 99th then moved to Schwarzenau, 3 April, and attacked the southeast sector of the Ruhr Pocket on the 5th. Although the enemy resisted fiercely, the Ruhr pocket collapsed with the fall of Iserlohn, 16 April.
The last drive began on 23 April. The 99th crossed the Ludwig Canal against stiff resistance and established a bridgehead over the Altmuhl River, 25 April. The Danube was crossed near Eining on the 27th and the Isar at Landshut, 1 May, after a stubborn fight. The attack continued without opposition to the Inn River and Giesenhausen when VE-day came.
Assignments in European Theatre of Operations
Commendations and honors
The Medal of Honor was awarded T/Sgt Vernon McGarity, Company L, 393rd Infantry, 99th Infantry Division, for actions taken near Krinkelt, Belgium, on 16 December 1944 during the opening phases of the Ardennes Offensive.
When the Ardennes Offensive ended, Gen. Lauer received verbal commendations from Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, 21st Army Group Commander, and Gen. Courtney Hodges, First Army Commander, on the vigorous and effective defense contributed by the 99th.
A written commendation was received from Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, V Corps Commander:
Order of battle (1944–45)
The unit's distinctive shoulder patch consisted of a five-sided shield of black on which is superimposed a horizontal band of white and blue squares. The black represents the iron from the mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where many of the troops were from. The blue and white are taken from the coat of arms for William Pitt for whom Pittsburgh was named. There are nine white squares and nine blue ones, signifying the number 99.
The division's insignia is continued by the 99th Regional Support Command of the United States Army Reserve, headquartered at Fort Dix, New Jersey, having moved from Pittsburgh, PA, in accordance with the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The U.S. Army Center of Military History notes, however, that the 99th RSC does not perpetuate the lineage and honors of the 99th Infantry Division. This is because Army policy does not allow for the lineage and honors of a TO&E organization, such as an infantry division, to be perpetuated by a TDA organization, such as an RSC. While an RSC is allowed to wear the insignia and use the same number of a previous infantry division, it is not entitled to its lineage and honors. The 99th RSC was awarded The Army Superior Unit Award on 9 May 2016 by the US Army Human Resources Command for it role in the relief support after Hurricane Sandy, from 29 October 2012 thru 31 March 2013. Soldiers who were in direct support of the relief efforts were also awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal as a personal award.