World War I Exhibit
Illinois Militia and the Civil War
Illinois in the Civil War
Illinois in the Mexican-American War
Photos: 126th Supply and Services Company in Vietnam
George Rogers Clark
Chief Black Hawk
Ulysses S. Grant
1301 N. MacArthur Blvd.,
Springfield, Illinois 62702
World War II
In 1931, the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria, seized land from China in 1937, and occupied the remainder of the French possessions in South East Asia in 1940. These threats hit the home front when Japan threatened United States possessions in Guam, Wake Island and the Philippine Islands.
In Europe, Fascist parties had taken control of both Germany and Italy. Italy, under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia and attempted to start an Italian Empire in Northern Africa. Germany, under Adolph Hitler, defied the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War One. In violation of the treaty, Germany raised an army greater than 100,000, and reestablished its air force and navy. In 1939, Germany invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia.
World War Two officially began in Europe the day after Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939. At the onset, both American politicians and the public hoped that America would remain neutral in what seemed to be an Asian and European conflict. However, when France fell to Germany in June of 1940, Americans were fearful that Great Britain could not prevent Germany from world domination. To make matters worse, Germany’s U-boats were attacking and sinking both unarmed United States merchant vessels and Naval warships.
American politicians hoped that Japanese aggression in the Pacific could be controlled by economic sanctions on oil and scrap iron, necessary for their war effort. As a result, Japan focused its attention on the conquest of United States resources in the South and Central Pacific Ocean.
With the threat of both a European and a Pacific War, President Franklin Roosevelt called the 33rd Division of the Illinois National Guard into active federal service on March 5, 1941. After mustering in Chicago, the 33rd Division spent three months training at Camp Forrest in Tennessee. This included bayonet practice, marksmanship and war exercises. The Division was sent to Camp Lewis, Washington where it received training in mountain combat, followed by desert training in California. The 33rd was then sent to defend the Hawaiian Islands and continue training.
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the American Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to declare war on Japan. Within a week Germany declared war on the United States.
Elements of the 33rd Division took part in various campaigns in the Pacific Theater of War. One element was sent to Guadalcanal to support the United States Marines in expanding the campaign. They played a large role in the first Japanese land battle defeat in history. The Division received credit for participating in New Guinea, Morotai and Luzon.
The first combat action that the 33rd Division took part in as a complete unit was the New Guinea Campaign in late 1943 and early 1944, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. With air and naval superiority over Japan, the United States decided to avoid a costly frontal assault on New Guinea. Instead the Americans cut off Japanese resupply and forced the surrender of the island. With resupply to the island difficult due to inadequate port facilities, the 33rd Division was assigned to perform port duty. Following this, the Division found itself in combat, pursuing the retreating Japanese Army.
After the Japanese surrender at New Guinea, the Division was reassigned to the island of Luzon in the Philippines. While on Luzon, the 33rd captured the town of Naguilian and its runway and helped seize capitol of Bagio. The Division was recognized for its participation in the capture of Bagio, by having its flag hoisted over the capitol.
The Air Reconnaissance Wing of the 33rd Aviation Battalion served in the European Theater of Combat. On March 15, 1944 the Battalion was reorganized as Troop A of the 106th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. The unit participated in campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. On three occasions the unit was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for their service.
In December 1945, following the surrender of Germany and Japan, Illinois Guardsmen returned home. In all, the 33rd Division remained in active service for 1,470 days with losses totaling 513. They fought in three major pacific campaigns and received high praise for their service. While in the Philippines, the Division received the Presidential Unit citation, 497 Silver Stars, 43 Legions of Merit, 39 Distinguished Service Crosses, 39 Air Medals, and 3 Medals of Honor.
George Marshall, the Second World War and the Illinois National Guard
Illinois and the Approach of the Second World War
George Marshall and the Pre-War Years
33rd Division and World War II: Training of the Division
33rd Division and World War II: The Battle of Guadicanal
33rd Division and World War II: The New Guinea Campaign
33rd Division and World War II: Philippine Liberation
33rd Aviation Battalion
Conclusion: Wars End
With the threat of both a European and a Pacific War, President Franklin Roosevelt called the 33rd Division of the Illinois National Guard into active federal service on March 5, 1941 with executive order 8633. The 33rd Division would remain in active service for the next 1,470 days, fight in three major Pacific campaigns, receive a Presidential Unit Citation, and three members of the 33rd Division would receive the Medal of Honor.
Illinois and the approach of the Second World War
The 1930’s were a tumultuous time for both the state of Illinois and the United States of America. Both were suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. However, just as threatening to the American national conscious as the Great Depression were signs that the threat of another great war could be in America’s near future. Threats of another great war came from across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the form of aggression from the Imperial Japanese Empire, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
The first hints that a war could be in America’s future came from the Far East. The Japanese Empire was the origin of these hints when it invaded and occupied Manchuria in 1931. Next, in the guise of a border dispute, Japan invaded and seized large portions of land from China in 1937. Finally, after the fall of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Japan occupied the remainder of the French possessions in South East Asia. However, more ominous threats of war came when Japan threatened the United States possessions in Guam, Wake Island and the Philippine Islands.
The military stability of the world looked no better in Europe. Fascist parties had taken control of both Germany and Italy. Italy, under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia (however the invasion was a dismal failure) and attempted to start an Italian Empire in Northern Africa. Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler publicly defied the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I by: establishing an army that well exceeded the 100,000 men allowed by the treaty, reestablishing the Luftwafe (the German air force), exceeding the prescribed naval limitations of the treaty and finally by rearming the German-French border on the west side of the Rhine River. In addition Nazi Germany officially annexed Austria in 1938. By using the threat of war, Germany acquired the Seudatenland from Czechlosovacia in 1939 through the “Peace of Berlin”, and invaded and occupied the remainder of Czechlosovakia shortly there after.
World War II officially began in Europe the day after the German Invasion of the Danzig Corridor of Poland in September of 1939. Originally both American politicians and the American public hoped that America could remain neutral in what seemed to be an Asian and European conflict. However, these hopes were soon lost when France fell to Nazi Germany in June of 1940. The American public was fearful that Great Britain alone could not keep Nazi Germany from world domination. To make matters worse, Germany’s U-boats were attacking and sinking both unarmed United States merchant vessels and warships of the United States Navy.
American politicians had hoped that Japanese aggression in the Pacific could be checked by economic sanctions of the raw materials necessary for the Japanese war effort, such as oil and scrap iron. However, these sanctions produced the opposite effect as Japan decided to focus its plans of military conquest on the possessions of the United States of America in the South and Central Pacific Ocean that contained an abundance of these natural resources. On December 7, 1941, prior to any formal declaration of war Japan bombed the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The following day Congress declared war on the Japanese Empire. Less than a week later, Adolph Hitler, against the advice of his military advisers declared war on America. Regardless of the many political attempts to remain neutral America again found itself at war.
Despite the numerous aggressions by potential enemies, the American military was ill prepared to fight a major war in the mid 1930’s and in the early 1940’s. Due to the massive amounts of casualties encountered in the First World War, the American political mood of the time was strongly dominated by pacifism. Any needed expenditure with the label of “military” had great deal of difficulty passing through a Congress that was strongly conservative.
George Marshall and the Pre-War Years
The Illinois National Guard by the late 1930’s was a rare exception to the vast majority of the United States military in this period. This is because it was a very efficient and well-run organization. In early the 1930’s the various National Guard units of the United States were in poor condition. The Illinois State National Guard was in similar condition to other National Guard units throughout the country before 1933. However, in 1933 the 33rd Division of Illinois would receive an appointment that would change this condition and set it apart from other American National Guard divisions. General Douglas MacArthur, the Army General Chief of Staff, appointed Colonel George Marshall as the Senior Instructor of the 33rd Division of Illinois. This appointment was somewhat of a political move by General MacArthur. General MacArthur despised the fact that, although Colonel Marshall was a promising officer and had a distinguished career in the First World War, he was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute rather than West Point Military Academy. For this reason MacArthur attempted to restrict Colonel Marshall’s career opportunities by placing him in a position that would make promotion all but impossible. Although Colonel Marshall was disappointed with his appointment as Senior Instructor of the 33rd Division, because he saw it as a difficult position to receive promotion to the rank of brigadier general, he pursued it enthusiastically and applied his personal resources of knowledge and energy accordingly.
Upon his appointment Colonel Marshall instantly saw many problems with the organization, financial support, and structure of the 33rd Division. Colonel Marshall saw both a shortcoming of adequate facilities and a lack of contact between basic headquarter units to their service arms, and the services themselves because of their physical separation. This caused each specific group within the 33rd Division to concentrate on their own particular specialty and ignore the required teamwork that is first necessary for the efficient operation of the troops that are actually in the field.
Colonel Marshall solved these problems very skillfully. Not being politically ignorant, he knew that due to the pacifist and anti-militaristic attitudes prevalent in American society and politics of the period, Congress would not set aside the necessary funds for the offices and armories required to make the 33rd division more efficient. To accomplish his task, at the suggestion of President Franklin Roosevelt, Colonel Marshall changed the wording of his request for funds from Congress from “armories” to “community centers”. With this change of language the resolution was able to pass and funds were appropriated for the construction of “community centers”. With the convenience of the improved facilities and their effect on the moral of the 33rd Division, Colonel Marshall was able to hold much more effective and productive staff meetings and was able to improve the order and structure of the 33rd Division.
To impress the need for better cooperation and coordination from various units of the 33rd Division, Colonel Marshall held a series of “map exercises” that were commonly referred to as war games. These exercises illustrated to the individual commanders of the 33rd Division of the impossibility of some of the maneuvers that they had commonly ordered. The effect of these “map exercises” produced officers who assigned maneuvers more practically and soldiers that were better able to execute them.
In addition to these two improvements Colonel Marshall made a determined effort to change the mentality that existed in the Illinois National Guard. Before Colonel Marshall took the assignment of Senior Instructor of the Illinois National Guard, there existed a mentality that lacked the seriousness and professionalism commonly found in military organizations. However, due to a deliberate effort to personally associate and communicate with the individuals under his command and his encouragement of subordinate officers, a much more professional and serious mentality began to prevail in the Illinois National Guard.
Despite his success, Colonel Marshall’s assignment as Senior Instructor to the Illinois National Guard would not be long. While serving in this position he was on numerous occasions cited as an example of the army’s inability to promote promising officers. In addition to the support received from his fellow officers, General Douglas MacArthur was removed from his position as the Army General Chief of Staff and was appointed to military governorship of the Philippine Islands; this appointment no longer allowed him the opportunity to keep Colonel Marshall’s career in check. After General MacArthur’s removal, Colonel Marshall was promptly promoted to Brigadier General in 1936 and placed in command of the Washington State Barracks. However, Colonel Marshall would keep a watchful eye on the 33rd Division and would on a number of occasions write official documents complimenting them on their order of drill and their proficiency aiding the residence of Illinois from natural disasters such as the devastating floods that occurred in the late 1930’s.
33rd Division and World War II:
Training of the Division
Colonel Marshall’s work with the 33rd division would not go without notice. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed and disabled the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Less than a week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Adolf Hitler, against the advice of his military advisers, declared war on the United States. America would again require the services of the 33rd Division. Due to the aggressions shown by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt called the 33rd division into federal service March 5, 1941 with executive order 8633.
After mustering in Chicago, the 33rd division spent a three-month training period at Camp Forrest in Tennessee. Camp Forrest had very little to offer in terms of accommodations to further the training of the 33rd Division. Because of this some of the very first tasks assigned to the 33rd Division was to upgrade and make repairs to Camp Forrest. After Camp Forrest started to take shape as a training facility the 33rd Division spent much time perfecting bayonet practice, marksmanship and war exercises. Because the 33rd Division was one of the first to complete this process of training, high-ranking military officers closely observed its progress and skills as a unit.
After training in Camp Forrest Tennessee, the 33rd Division was sent to Camp Lewis in Washington State where it received training in the art of mountain combat. Upon perfecting these skills, the 33rd division was sent to the Southern California desert for desert training. Here the men of the 33rd Division would receive some of the most strenuous military training that they would ever receive in their life. They participated in forty-four mile forced marches with only one quart of water per man in what was often over 130-degree heat.
After receiving desert training the men of the 33rd Division were woken in the middle of the night and marched to the docks. They boarded the transport ships Republic, Henderson, Ainsworth, Brazil, Shanks, Hinds and Tyler and left without ceremony. Only after being out to sea for two days were the men finally told that their destination was the Hawaiian Islands. The primary task assigned to the 33rd Division upon their arrival was the defense of the Hawaiian Islands. Once it became clear that the Hawaiian Islands were in no danger of a Japanese invasion, the 33rd Division made use of the islands’ dense jungle for training and did many practice amphibious assaults.
33rd Division and World War II:
The Battle of Guadicanal
The service of the 33rd division against the Japanese Empire during the Second World War would be very distinguished. The 33rd as a Division would receive campaign participation credit for the campaigns of New Guinea, Morotai, and Luzon (which is an island in the Philippines). Former elements of the 33rd Division would participate in the campaigns of the Northern Solomons (which included the battle for Guadicanal); and finally the work that the 33rd Division did on New Guinea and Luzon would earn them honors and citations for each respective campaign.
Due to the necessities of force structure to the mission at hand various elements of the 33rd Division were stripped away from it and individually took part in various campaigns in the Pacific Theater of War. Although the 33rd Division itself did not take part in the land phase of the battle of Guadicanal, an element of the 33rd Division was sent to Guadicanal to assist the United States Marines in the expanding Guadicanal Campaign. This proved to be important, because these elements played a large role in what was the first time in history that the Japanese Army was defeated in a major land battle. The actions that the elements of the 33rd Division took part in earned them high praise in the United States Army and even from the Secretary of the United States Navy Frank Knox.
33rd Division and World War II:
The New Guinea Campaign
Ironically the first combat action that the 33rd Division would take part in as a unit would be the New Guinea Campaign in late 1943 and early 1944, which was under the direct control of General Douglas MacArthur. Many of the men of the 33rd Division that participated in the New Guinea Campaign served under and were trained by Colonel George Marshall in the mid 1930’s. Although General MacArthur’s placement of Colonel George Marshall to the position of Senior Instructor to the 33rd Division was entirely a political move, General MacArthur would have the ability to benefit from the excellent training and organization that Colonel Marshall had instilled on the 33rd Division.
Due to the vast superiority that the United States had over the Japanese Empire in sea and air power it was not necessary to take New Guinea in a direct frontal assault that would cost a great deal of American lives. Instead it was possible to harass the Japanese until they were out of food and ammunition, then the starved defenders would be forced to surrender. Because of this strategy one of the most important aspects of the New Guinea Campaign for the American Army was supplying the island; unfortunately this was a major problem for the American Army due to lack of adequate port facilities. For this reason the first task that the 33rd Division encountered on the Island of New Guinea was port duty. Although not as dangerous as actual combat, port duty was no easy task. Weather on the Island of New Guinea was hot and humid, for this reason most of the strenuous dock work was done at night. However, the weather was so uncomfortable, it made sleep in the daytime all but impossible.
Eventually adequate port facilities were brought to the island and the 33rd Division was introduced to combat as a unit for the first time. The primary combat function of the 33rd Division on New Guinea was the pursuit of the retreating Japanese Imperial Army. There can be no more accurate praise than from that of your enemy, and a quote from a captured Japanese prisoner, describing the effects of the artillery under the command of Colonel Ralph MacDonald of 33rd Division speaks well of the tenacity in which the 33rd pursued the retreating Japanese Army.
33rd Division and World War II: Philippine Liberation
After the Japanese forces on New Guinea were forced to surrender the next major operation that the 33rd Division would take part in would be helping General Douglas MacArthur fulfill his promise of “I shall return” to the Philippine people. As with the New Guinea Campaign, the 33rd Division would be fighting under General Douglas MacArthur. The 33rd Division’s combat record in the Philippines would be even more distinguished than the work that they did on New Guinea. Most of the combat undertaken by the 33rd Division took place on the island of Luzon, which is the northernmost major island of the Philippines.
While in combat on Luzon, the 33rd Division captured the town of Naguilian and the runway near it and was part of the force that seized the Filipino summer capitol of Bagio. Because of their importance in seizing Bagio, the flag of the 33rd Division was flown over the capitol building after the town was captured. The 33rd Division received a number of unit citations while in combat in the Philippines; the most important of which was the presidential unit citation, which was displayed by the division form October 7, 1944 to July 4, 1945. Even though General Douglas MacArthur despised the background of Colonel Marshall during the 1930’s, he had nothing but praise for the 33rd Division in which Colonel Marshall had so great an influence.
33rd Aviation Battalion
In addition to the 33rd Division of the Illinois National Guard that served in the Pacific was an Air Reconnaissance air wing of the 33rd Aviation Battalion that served in the European Theater of Combat. On March 15, 1944 the 33rd Aviation Battalion was reorganized as Troop A of the 106th cavalry reconnaissance squadron. Unfortunately, due to the relatively small size of the air wing, there are not many records that document the story of its existence; however what remains is impressive. Troop A of the 106th cavalry reconnaissance squadron of Illinois received campaign participation credit for the Campaigns of: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. During these campaigns the air wing received the French Croix de Guerre (French for “cross of war”) on three separate occasions; one of which was with the oak leaf clusters.
Conclusion: Wars End
After the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Empire (they were allowed to keep their emperor as the only condition of the surrender), the men serving as part of the 33rd Division and Troop A of the 106th cavalry reconnaissance squadron were rapidly sent home and both were inactivated in December of 1945. The statistics of casualties and medals received testify to the amount of service the men of the Illinois National Guard gave to their country. Of the men of the Illinois National Guard who went to fight in the European and Pacific Theaters of War, 513 members of the 33rd Division and Troop A of the 106th cavalry reconnaissance squadron paid the ultimate sacrifice. Three men of the 33rd Division received the Medal of Honor. In addition 39 Distinguished Service Crosses (1 with oak leaf clusters), 497 Silver Stars, 43 legions of merit and 39 air medals were awarded to the 33rd Division and Troop A of the 106th cavalry reconnaissance squadron.
 As commented by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox “I was never prouder in my life when I met those Illinois men on that island (Guadicanal). You have reason to be proud those are among the first men to defeat the Japanese on land."
 The quote reads “your artillery followed us like flies"
 Quote from General Douglas MacArthur on the performance of the 33rd Division “No finer division has ever fought than the 33rd, its record is long and honorable and fills all America with pride and gratification. My confidence in it during the vicissitudes of was complete and never failed me”
 The Three men who received the Medal of Honor were Private First Class Dexter J. Kerstetter, Sergeant John R. McKinney, and Staff Sergeant Howard E. Woodford
Illinois Army National Guard Units
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Click on the highlighted units for more information
|202nd Coast Artillery (AA)||16 Sep 40||768 AAA (Gun)
396 AAA (MG)
242 AAA (Searchlight)
||American||3 Feb 45
9 Jan 45
23 Jun 44
|106th Cavalry (Horse-Mech)||25 Nov 40||HHT, 106 Squad
|27 Mar 04||Europe||24 Oct 45|
|33rd Tank Company||25 Nov 40||B/192nd Tank Battalion||27 Oct 41||Phillipines||2 Apr 46|
|1st Battalion (BN) / 8th Infantry||6 Jan 41||1/184th Field Artillery
930 Field Artillery (FA)
1699 Engineer (EN)
|30 Oct 44||Europe||19 Jun 45|
|2nd BN / 8th Infantry||6 Jan 41||2/184th FA
|30 Oct 44||Europe||25 Sep 45|
|108th Observation Squadron||3 Feb 41||Jan 42||Canal Zone||Sep 43|
|33rd Infantry Division||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|33rd Headquarters (HQ) Detachment||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|33rd Military Police (MP) Company||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|33rd Signal Company||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|65th Infantry Division||5 Mar 41||Brigade HQ Inactivated||N/A||Pacific||Feb 42|
|129th Infantry||5 Mar 41||Assigned to 37th Division||24 Aug 42||Pacific||13 Dec 45|
|130th Infantry||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|66th Infantry Brigade||5 Mar 41||Brigade HQ Inactivated||N/A||Feb 42|
|131st Infantry||5 Mar 41||Jan 42||Michigan||26 Feb 44|
|132nd Infantry||5 Mar 41||Assigned to Americal Division||Jan 42||Pacific||15 Nov 45|
|136th Infantry||1 Apr 42||Regular Army Draftees||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|123rd Infantry||28 Sep 42||Regular Army Draftees||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|58th FA Brigade||Brigade HQ Inactivated||N/A||Feb 42|
|122nd FA Battalion (BN)||5 Mar 41||1/122nd FA
210 FA BN
|Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|123rd FA BN||5 Mar 41||1/123rd FA
223rd FA BN
|Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46
24 Dec 45
24 Dec 45
|124th FA BN||5 Mar 41||2/124th FA
|5 Feb 46
9 Apr 46
|108th EN Regiment||5 Mar 41||108th EN BN
181st EN BN (Heavy Pontoon)
|5 Feb 46
5 Aug 45
|108th Quartermaster||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|108th Ordnance Company||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
|108th Medical Regiment||5 Mar 41||Jul 43||Pacific||5 Feb 46|
Units Consisting of Soldiers from Illinois and Other States During World War II
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