504th PIR WW II
of Honor Recipient
The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Presidential Unit Citation
Co A for crossing Rhine River at town of Hitdorf Germany on 6 April 1945.
Company "A" 504th Parachute Infantry, is cited for outstanding
performance of duty in the armed conflict against the enemy in Germany on 6-7 April 1945.
This company crossed the Rhine River at 02-30 hours 6 April 1945, and seized the mile-long
town of Hitdorf on the east shore with the mission of providing a base for further
patrolling and to cause the German High Command to commit disproportionate forces against
them in the belief that it was to be a major river crossing. The enemy immediately
counter-attacked, but the assault groups were met with great vigor and virtually destroyed
to a man. Apparently under the impression that a strong American bridgehead had been
established overnight, the Germans assembled and directed a considerable portion of two
divisions to the mission of containing and annihilating the formidable thrust. In
mid-afternoon the entire area was subjected to a withering and devastating artillery
barrage for two hours after which counter-attacking forces in overwhelming strength with
tank support assaulted the defending troopers from every direction and penetrated to the
heart of the town. The troopers of Company A doggedly stood their ground, fought at close
quarters, and at point blank range and inflicted terrible casualties on the masses of the
enemy. Fighting with relentless ferocity throughout the afternoon and night, this gallant
company held its ground and carried out its mission until it was finally ordered to
withdraw to the west bank of the Rhine on the night of 6-7 April. Fighting was bitter and
at close quarters. The German armor committed was destroyed with hand weapons, most of the
troopers using captured German panserfausts. The company fought its way back step by step
during the hours of darkness to their boats. The courageous and skillful efforts of the
officers and men of this brave group, although outnumbered numerically at least eight to
one, is reflected in the total number of casualties inflicted on the German forces during
the day's fighting . Eighty prisoners were taken and evacuated and conservative estimates
indicate that 150 of the enemy were killed and 250 wounded. The conduct of Company A
reflects great credit on the Airborne Forces of the United States Army.
Presidential Unit Citation
As authorized by Executive Order 9396 (sec. I, WD Bul. 22, 1943), superseding Executive Order 9075 (sec. III, WD Bul, 11, 1942), the following units are cited by the War Department in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction.
The citation reads as follows:
" The 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions, with the
2nd Platoon, Company A, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion;
319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion;
Company H, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment;
Headquarters Battery, 80th Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion;
Battery D,E,F, 80th Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion;
Medical Detachment, 80th Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion.
Are cited for outstanding performance of duty in action during the period 10
to 18th of September 1943.
These Units, comprising a single Ranger force, landed at Maori, Italy,
with the mission of seizing the high ground controlling Chiunzi Pass and securing the left flank of the Fifth
Army in its push northward into the plain of Naples.
The position held by this force was vital not only for flank security, but also
for observation of the plain and of the German supply routes and communications lines to the Salerno battlefront.
During this period, the Ranger force was subjected to almost continuous mortar
and artillery fire and was repeatedly attacked by a determined enemy. Hostile forces were estimated to outnumber
the Rangers and attached units by approximately eight to one, but despite superior enemy numbers, the Ranger force
heroically fought off every attempt to dislodge it.
Because of its limited strength and the large area assigned to it for
defense, the force held the line thinly, marked by strong points with gaps covered by fire.
Seven major counterattacks were repelled during the period and numerous
enemy patrols were stopped, often in bitter, close-in fighting, with the Ranger Force using its mortars,
artillery, automatic weapons, and grenades with devastating effect.
The officers and men of these units fought without rest or relief and with
limited food and water supplies. The continuous nature of the enemy fire and activity was such as to try the men to
the limit of their endurance.
Although overwhelming enemy forces drove almost constantly at the sparsely
held positions, the determination and courage of the members of the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions and their attached
units offset the enemy superiority in numbers and made possible the successful accomplishment of a vital
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Chief of Staff
EDWARD F. WITSELL
The Adjutant General
HEADQUARTERS 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION
Office of the Division Commander
APO 469 US Army
12 October 1945
NETHERLANDS DECREE, DATED 8 October 1945, AWARD OF THE "MILITAIRE WILLEMS ORDE" I MINISTERIAL DECREE, NETHERLANDS GOVERNMENT, 8 October 1945, WEARING OF THE ORANGE LANYARD, ROYAL NETHERLANDS ARMY II
I - NETHERLANDS DECREE:
Announcement is made of the Netherlands award of the "Militaire Willems Orde", degree of Knight of the fourth class, to the 82nd Airborne Division. The Netherlands Decree, dated 8 October 1945, is hereby quoted:
"WE WILHELMINA, by the Grace of God, Queen of Netherlands, Princess of Orange Nassau, etc., etc., etc. On the recommendation of Our Ministers of War and for Foreign Affairs, dated 3 October 1945, Secret Nr.Y.22; In accordance with the provisions of the amended Act of April 30, 1815 Nr.5 (Statue-Book Nr.33); In view of the clause 18 of the Regulations of administration and discipline for the "Militaire Willems Orde", as laid down in the Royal Decree of June 25, 1815, Nr. 10;
Considering that the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army during the airborne operations and the ensuing fighting action in the central part of the Netherlands in the period from September 17 to October 4, 1944, excelled in performing the tasks allotted to it, with tact, coupled with superior gallantry, self-sacrifice and loyalty;
Considering also that the actions fought by the aforesaid Division took place in the area of NIJMEGEN: HAVE APPROVED AND ORDERED:
1. To decree that the Divisional Colours of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States army shall be decorated with the "MILITAIRE WILLEMS ORDE", degree of Knight of the fourth class;
2. To authorize the Division to carry in its Divisional Colours the name of the town of NIJMEGEN 1944.
Our Ministers of War and for Foreign Affairs are each for his own part in charge of the execution of this Decree, copy of which shall be sent to the Chancellor of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood.
THE HAGUE, October 8, 1945
THE MINISTER OF WAR
(sgd.) J. MELJNEN
THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
II - MINISTERIAL DECREE, NETHERLANDS GOVERNMENT:
Ministerial Decree of the Netherlands Minister of War, dated 8 October 1945, granting the personnel of the 82nd Airborne Division who participated in operations during the period of 17 September to 4 October 1944, authority to wear the ORANGE LANYARD of the oyal Netherlands Army is quoted:
"MINISTERIAL DECREE OF THE NETHERLANDS MINISTER OF WAR, dated October 8, 1945, Section IIIA, Secret No-X25.
The Minister of War considering that the outstanding performance of duty of the 82nd Airborne Division, United States Army during the airborne operations and the ensuing fighting action in the central part of the NETHERLANDS in the period from September 17 to October 4, 1944, have induced HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN to decorate its Divisional Colours with the "MILITAIRE WILLEMS ORDE" degree of Knight of the fourth class; CONSIDERING also, that it is desirable for each member of the Division, who took part in the aforesaid operations, to possess a lasting memento of this glorious struggle:
DECREES: That each member of the personnel of the 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION , UNITED STATES ARMY, who took part in the operationsin the area of NIJMEGEN in the period from September 17 to October 4, 1944, is allowed to wear the ORANGE LANYARD as laid down in article 123g of the Clothing Regulations/1944, of the Royal Netherlands Army.
THE HAGUE, October 8, 1945
THE MINISTER OF WAR
(Minister van Oorlog)
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