In my column a few weeks ago, I mentioned the 164th Infantry Regiment of North Dakota. It was the first US Army unit on Guadalcanal during World War II. The 164th is probably North Dakota’s most famous infantry regiment. It began its history on December 8, 1906 in the North Dakota Army National Guard as Company E Infantry Regiment, Williston, ND. He was activated for federal service on June 18, 1916 for duty on the Mexican border. On February 14, 1917, Company E was inactivated at Fort Snelling, MN. From 1917 to 1921, he was activated and reassigned several times. On October 21, 1921, it was reorganized and renamed Company E 164th Infantry, part of the 34th Infantry Division. LR Baird attained the rank of brigadier general and commanded the 164th Infantry from 1931 to 1941. The 164th Infantry, North Dakota Army National Guard, was activated for federal service February 10, 1941, at Williston. Prior to its overseas deployment, the 164th was relieved of its assignment to the 34th Infantry Division on December 8, 1941.
Commanded by Colonel Earle Sarles, the 164th transited the South Pacific ferry route in January 1942 to New Caledonia. There they joined the 182nd Infantry Regiment and the 132nd Infantry Regiment, in addition to artillery, engineers, and other support units to form a new division on May 24, 1942, designated the American Division. The name Americal is derived from a combination of the words America and New Caledonia. The regiment spent almost five months in combat training. In September, Colonel Sarles, an officer of the National Guard, was replaced as regimental commander by Colonel Bryant E. Moore, a West Point graduate. Moore would later be promoted to command an infantry division in Europe, and the regiment would serve under other commanders, nearly all advanced to general’s stars.
Arriving at Guadalcanal on October 13, 1942 ahead of its sister regiments as emergency reinforcements for the 1st Marine Division, the regiment was the first U.S. Army unit to engage in offensive action during World War II during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Between October 24 and 27, elements of the regiment resisted repeated assaults by Japanese battalions and inflicted some 2,000 enemy casualties. The first naval commander, Major General AA Vandegrift, was so impressed with the soldiers’ position that he awarded the regiment a commendation for demonstrating “overwhelming superiority over the enemy”. Additionally, the Marines took the unusual step of awarding Lt. Col. Robert Hall, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 164th, the Navy Cross for his role in these battles.
Until the arrival of the U.S. division commander, Major General Alexander M. Patch, and other units of the division, the 164th fought alongside the Marines in a series of encounters with Japanese units in the Point Cruz area, where they managed to dislodge enemy troops from two hills. strong points. The action earned them the nickname “The 164th Marines”. Members of the 164th were also known as “jungle fighters” in the American media because of the terrain in which they fought.
Later, the 164th participated in extensive jungle patrols as well as organized offensive sweeps of the island to eliminate remaining Japanese resistance. This experience provided the regiment with valuable combat experience in jungle travel and navigation, ambush and counter-ambush, and small unit tactics using small arms and light weapons. After the Battle of Guadalcanal, the regiment returned to Fiji with the rest of the American division to refit and replenish casualties. At this point, many veteran officers and men of the 164th volunteered to join the 5307th Composite Unit, better known as “Merrill’s Marauders”, for service in Burma. Along with the rest of the American, the regiment then took part in the Bougainville campaign and then fought to secure the islands of Leyte, Cebu, Negros and Bohol in the Philippines. The regiment was to be part of the invasion of Japan at the end of the war in August.
Woodrow W. Keeble, the first Sioux Medal of Honor recipient, served with the 164th throughout the war. He was wounded several times and received the Purple Heart and several awards for his bravery during World War II. His Medal of Honor, officially recognized in 2008, came for his actions during the Korean War.
Corporal Kenneth S. Foubert of the 164th Infantry was recognized as the first US Army soldier to die in action following the attack on Pearl Harbor. As he landed on the beach at Guadalcanal, he was hit by shrapnel from a bomb dropped by a Japanese plane.
The 164th was inactivated on November 24, 1945 at Fort Lawton, Washington. On June 10, 1946, the 164th Infantry was relieved of its assignment to the American Division and assigned to the 47th Infantry Division.
On May 1, 1947, the 164th was reorganized and federally recognized on May 1, 1947 as Company E of the 164th Infantry at Williston.
The 164th was ordered into federal service on January 16, 1951 at Williston. Company C of the 164th Infantry (NGUS) was organized and recognized by the federal government on January 16, 1953 at Williston, while the 164th Infantry was in federal service.
The 164th was inactivated from active federal service on 2 December 1954 and returned to state control and redesignated Company C, 164th Infantry; federal reconnaissance was simultaneously withdrawn from Company C, 164th Infantry (NGUS).
As North Dakotans, we should be proud of the freedom and liberties that our own 164th Infantry Regiment helped win for us. They may be our most famous, but let’s not forget all of our state veterans, whether they served in the active, reserve, or National Guard components. Throughout our state’s history, in all wars and in times of peace, they have earned a reputation for excellence. They performed their duty with dignity and honor and represented our State in the best way. As an expression of our gratitude, let us continue to work together so that they receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.