9th Infantry Division Vietnam veteran T-Shirt.
Made with photoshop.
The 9th Infantry Division (“Old Reliables”) was created as the 9th Division during World War I, but never deployed overseas. Later, the division was an important unit of the United States Army in World War II and the Vietnam War. It was also activated as a peacetime readiness unit from 1947 to 1962 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Fort Carson, Colorado, and from 1972 to 1991 as an active-duty infantry division at Fort Lewis, Washington. Nicknamed the “Old Reliables”, the division was eventually inactivated in December 1991.
The 9th Infantry Division was among the first U.S. combat units to engage in offensive ground operations during World War II. (The others were the 32nd and the 41st in the Pacific on New Guinea, Carlson’s Raiders on Makin Island, the 1st Marine and the Americal on the Guadalcanal, and, alongside the 9th in North Africa, were the 3rd Infantry and the 2nd Armored Divisions.) The 9th saw its first combat on 8 November 1942, when its elements landed at Algiers, Safi, and Port Lyautey, with the taking of Safi by the 3rd Battalion of the 47th Infantry Regiment standing as the first liberation of a city from Axis control in World War II.
With the collapse of French resistance on 11 November 1942, the division patrolled the Spanish Moroccan border. The 9th returned to Tunisia in February and engaged in small defensive actions and patrol activity. On 28 March 1943 it launched an attack in southern Tunisia and fought its way north into Bizerte, 7 May. In August, the 9th landed at Palermo, Sicily, and took part in the capture of Randazzo and Messina. After returning to England for further training, the division landed on Utah Beach on 10 June 1944 (D plus 4), cut off the Cotentin Peninsula, drove on to Cherbourg and penetrated the port’s heavy defenses.
After a brief rest in July, the division took part in the St. Lo break-through and in August helped close the Falaise Gap. Turning east, the 9th crossed the Marne, 28 August, swept through Saarlautern, and in November and December held defensive positions from Monschau to Losheim. Moving north to Bergrath, Germany, it launched an attack toward the Roer, 10 December, taking Echtz and Schlich. From mid-December through January 1945, the division held defensive positions from Kalterherberg to Elsenborn. On 30 January the division jumped off from Monschau in a drive across the Roer and to the Rhine, crossing at Remagen, 7 March.
After breaking out of the Remagen bridgehead, the 9th assisted in the sealing and clearing of the Ruhr Pocket, then moved 150 miles (240 km) east to Nordhausen and attacked in the Harz Mountains, 14–20 April. On 21 April the Division relieved the 3d Armored Division along the Mulde River, near Dessau, and held that line until VE-day.
The 9th Division was reactivated on 1 February 1966, and arrived in Vietnam on 16 December 1966 from Fort Riley, Kansas, and its major units departed Vietnam on 27 August 1969 (HHC & 1st BDE) to Hawaii; 27 August 1969 (2nd BDE) to Fort Lewis, Washington; 12 October 1970 (3rd BDE) to Fort Lewis, Washington.
On deployment the division was assigned to the III Corps Tactical Zone of Vietnam where it commenced operations in the Dinh Tuong and Long An provinces (6 January-31 May 1967) in Operation Palm Beach.
During the war the division’s units often served with the Mobile Riverine Force and other US Navy units that made up the Brown Water Navy. Its area of operations was in the rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta from 1967 to 1972. Operation Speedy Express was one significant operation in which the division took part during the war, while the Battle of Ap Bac was one of 22 major combat engagements with North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong main force units as well as thousands of small contacts during this period during division’s presence in Vietnam.
One of the more unique units serving with the division was the experimental Armor Platoon (Air Cushion Vehicle) which used the specially designed hovercraft to patrol marshy terrain like the Plain of Reeds along the south Vietnamese/Cambodian border.
From 1967 on, one of the division’s brigades (the 2nd Brigade) was the Army contingent of the Mobile Riverine Force. This brigade lived on the ships of Navy Task Force 117, and were transported on their infantry missions throughout the Mekong Delta on WW2 landing craft supported by various other armored boats some of which mounted flame-throwers (called zippo after the lighter); had mortars in their holds; and even 105mm cannons on their bows (called monitors). The mobile riverine force was often anchored near the South Vietnamese city of My Tho, or near Dong Tam, the Division base camp, and they conducted operations in coordination with the Navy Seal teams, the South Vietnamese Marines, units of the ARVN 7th Division and River Assault Groups. Following the Tet offensive in 1968, General Westmoreland stated that the 9th Infantry Division and the Mobile Riverine Force saved the Delta region from falling to the North Vietnamese Army forces. In 1969, the division also operated throughout the IV Corps Tactical Zone.
In the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the eponymous main character was a member of the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam, notably: 4th platoon A Company 2/47INF.