The 24th Infantry Division in the Pacific

| December 7, 2008

67 years ago today, on another Sunday morning, our forces were attacked at Pearl Harbor, HI. The first Army unit to engage the enemy on that day were units of the 24th Infantry Division stationed there;

Despite the fact that the units were unprepared for the massive air attack, members of the “Victory Division” were still able to shoot down 5 Japanese planes on that fateful day. That moment marked our opening return fire that culminated in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima nearly four years later.

The 24th Division was one of the few Army units to fight across the Pacific – their campaigns included Dutch New Guinea, Leyte and Luzon. On Leyte, one commander, Colonel Aubry S. Newman, gave the Infantry branch their famous “Follow Me” motto when he stood up under withering fire on the naked beach and  shouted to his men “get the hell off the beach. Get up and get moving. Follow Me.”The moment was captured in this official Army painting;

The famous picture of General Douglas MacAurther’s “I have returned” moment showed him wading ashore in Colonel Newman’s sector of Leyte beach.

The 24th Division had three Medal of Honor awardees across the Pacific;

Albuquerque, New Mexico
G. Company, 34th Infantry Regiment
21 October 1944, near Leyte

In a forward position, armed with a sub machine gun, Private Moon met the brunt of a strong, well-supported night attack on his platoons flanks. Although wounded, he maintained his stand pouring deadly fire into the enemy, daringly exposing himself to hostile fire. Private Moon killed a Japanese Officer who was attempting to knock out his position with grenades. When the enemy advanced a machine gun within 20 yards of the shattered perimeter, Moon stood up exposing himself to locate the gun. He remained exposed correcting mortar fire which knocked out the enemy weapon. Later he killed two Japanese soldiers as they charged an aid man. His position became the focal point of the attack for over four hours and was virtually surrounded. An entire Japanese platoon attacked the position with fixed bayonets. From a sitting position, Private Moon emptied his magazine on the advancing enemy, killing 18 and repulsing the attack. In a final display of bravery, he stood up to throw a grenade at a machine gun when he was hit and instantly killed. In the aftermath, nearly 200 dead Japanese were found within 100 yards from his foxhole. His heroism broke up a powerful threat and contributed to our initial successes in the battle for Leyte.

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
A Company, 34th Infantry Regiment
3 November 1944, near Capoocan, Leyte

Sergeant Mower, an assistant squad leader, was participating in an attack against a strongly defended Japanese position which was situated along both sides of a stream that ran through a wooded gulch. As the squad moved forward through intense enemy fire, the squad leader was killed and Sergeant Mower took charge. He led his men across the stream, but was severely wounded before making it all the way. After halting his unit, he realized that his exposed position was the best place from which to direct the attack and he stood fast. Gravely wounded and lying half submerged in the stream, he refused to seek cover or to accept aid of any kind. Shouting and signaling instructions to his squad, he directed them in the destruction of two enemy machineguns and the killing of of numerous enemy rifleman. The remaining Japanese concentrated their fire at Sergeant Mower, who was killed while still directing his men forward.

Private First Class JAMES H. DIAMOND
New Orleans, Louisiana
D Company, 21st Infantry Regiment
8-14 May 1945, Mintal, Mindanao

Just two weeks before the surrender by Japan, a Japanese sniper arose from his foxhole to throw a grenade at Pfc. Diamonds section. Pfc. Diamond charged the enemy soldier, killing him with a burst from his submachine gun. While delivering sustained fire upon the enemy with his submachine gun, he directed artillery and heavy machinegun fire on a group of enemy pillboxes that were pinning down his and other sections. This allowed two U.S. machinegun sections to set up and bring their weapons to bear on the enemy. He later volunteered to assist in evacuating wounded soldiers from a bridgehead, transporting them to safety through a hail of enemy mortar and artillery fire. Days later, while leading a patrol through enemy fire to evacuate wounded, he was mortally wounded as he secured an abandoned machinegun. Though near death, he was able to draw the enemys fire, allowing the remaining patrol members to reach safety.

After the war, the 24th was assigned to occupation duty in Japan which set them up for their inclusion in the Task Force Smith mission to fire our opening shots in the Korean War.

Michelle Malkin has pictures of the attack on Pearl Harbor, The Jawa Report has video.

Category: Historical

Comments (20)

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  1. From a sitting position, Private Moon emptied his magazine on the advancing enemy, killing 18 and repulsing the attack. In a final display of bravery, he stood up to throw a grenade at a machine gun when he was hit and instantly killed. In the aftermath, nearly 200 dead Japanese were found within 100 yards from his foxhole.

    While all three soldiers who received MOH’s from the 24th Division were unselfish heroes, Private Moon’s citation jumped out at me. The bravery and heroism of one man who’s actions took out nearly 200 enemy combatants and turned the tide of that particular battle. I can only imagine how it must have felt to see that Japanese platoon, with fixed bayonets, charging his position! He stood fast probably knowing that he was going to die doing so, but he saved the men in his platoon and turned the course of the battle.

    When I was a little kid, my Uncle gave me an illustrated children’s book about Medal of Honor recipients, something that I feel should be required reading for our kids today.

  2. BarbHardeeWiggins says:

    My father, Ernest Garland Hardee was at Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese. He later went to Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, where he met and married my mother, Dulcie May Newman. He was in the 21st Inf connected with the 24th. I would be interested in hearing from any survivors as I am doing some research. Thank you.

  3. BooRadley says:

    thanks for this.

  4. 509th Bob says:

    What happened to my earlier post?

    24th Infantry Division motto: “First to Fight!”

    Hello, BarbHardeeWiggins! For what its worth (which isn’t much), 30 years ago, I was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry – one of the Infantry battalions that made up the 24th Infantry Division. While the 25th Inf. Div. was the “Electric Raspberry,” the unofficial 24th Inf. Div. nickname was the “Fig Leaf.”

  5. Rita says:

    Hi Barb,

    My uncle, Joseph Crawford, was at Scofield Barracks when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He later went to Leyte, the Philippines and Japan. We are celebrating his birthday July 11th. Would love to hear from any other survivors stories to share with Uncle Joe.

    Rita Williams

  6. Tom J. Thiel says:

    There was a fourth MoH for the 24th Infantry Division in the South Pacific, Francis B. Wai. Tom Thiel, 24th Infantry Division Association. See abstracted citation below.

    Captain FRANCIS B. WAI
    34th Infantry Regiment
    20 October 1944, Leyte Captain Wai landed at Red Beach, Leyte, in the face of accurate, concentrated enemy fire from gun positions advantageously located in a palm grove bounded by submerged rice paddies. Finding the first four waves of American soldiers leaderless, disorganized, and pinned down on the open beach, he immediately assumed command. Issuing clear and concise orders, and disregarding heavy enemy machine gun and rifle fire, he began to move inlandwithout cover through the rice paddies. The men, inspired by his cool demeanor and heroic example, rose from their positions and followed him.
    During the advance, Captain Wai repeatedly determined the locations of enemy strong points by deliberately exposing himself to draw their fire. In leading an assault upon the last remaining Japanese pillbox inthe area, he was killed by its occupants. Captain Wai’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

  7. Drew Fedak says:

    My father, Andy Fedak(Andrew), served with the 19th regiment, not sure about his company, but think it was a service company. He was at Schofield when the Japanese bombed it, Australia, New Guinea, and Leyte.

    I’m trying to locate somone who may have known him.

    Drew Fedak

  8. Tony says:

    If anyone is still reading this, I would be interested in finding more about the 24th Inf. Div. at Pearl Harbor and beyond. My grandpa served with these men and I would like to identify more details to pass on to my children.

  9. Doc Bailey says:

    I was with 25th ID. But up until Korea 24th and 25th were joined at the hip, having once been together as the “Hawaii Division”. however they became more divergent after Vietnam. 24th went into the Germany rotation, (with 3rd ID 1st ID, and one more division I think) they were at Steward and Benning I think when Desert storm happened. After that they reflagged as 3rd ID, and became an AC/RC unit stationed at Riley I think till it was finally deactivated.

  10. Old Trooper says:

    Well, as a former member of the 24th, I can tell you we were required to learn the history of the Victory Division. We learned all about the 24th in WWII and Korea. We had our “special” standards they called the Victory Standards which everyone at Ft. Stewart was supposed to follow, even if they were 18th Airborne Corps and not 24th. There was the motto “First to fight”, which came out of WWII and the Pacific campaign, because in several battles the 24th went in before the Marines. We were RDF back then and I served under 2 different Division Commanders there (Galvin and Schwarzkopf).

  11. Beretverde says:

    @#12- OK I’m going to use the correct term- units are INACTIVATED…not deactivated. Kind of like “Base housing.” There is such a thing as Base Housing, but it is not found on an Army Post (Post housing). Army venacular 101.

    This is from memory, so for you “sharpshooters”… I understand. When the 11th Abn Div. rotated to Germany from Campbell, it was inactivated and a brigade was swallowed up by the 24th. Thus the 24th had an airborne unit. Many guys jumped ship from the 11th/24th and went over to SF (10th Group). Vietnam hit, and there was all kind of unit activations and re-flaggings. Post Vietnam…. the 24th ended up at Ft. Stewart (due to Senators Talmage and Nunn) with the newly formed Ranger unit (1st Bn.). They were both at Stewart and the situation was oil and vinager (paratroopers and legs). They don’t mix well! 1st battalion then moves to HAAF for fast reaction for deployment (that was the political excuse). The GA National Guard’s 48th Brigade was the third brigade of the 24th (roundout). The Dollar Ninety Seven (“Bite the big Bullet”) was at Kelly Hill at Benning. When the Gulf War started, the 48th was sent to the desert- the WRONG desert and failed miserably. The Dollar 97th “rounded out” the 24th in place of the 48th, and was sent to the “right” desert. After the Gulf War, and due to the 48th’s miserable performance, they shit-canned the roundout disaster, and the Dollar 97 became the 24th’s 3rd brigade.

    In the 1970s and early 80s there was a lot of “confusement” regarding the 24th. Many confused the 24th Division with the 24th Regiment (in the Korean War the 24th Regiment lost their colors, they were INACTIVATED in combat and known as the “the bug out regiment”). Dogging out the 24th Division was common, but wrong- it was the 24th REGIMENT not Division! I won a lot of beers over that misinformation. Thank you 24th Division! I also “knew” one of the 24th’s Commanding General’s daughter very well- AFTER she graduated from college!

    Army Politics INACTIVATED the 24th Division, and it was reflagged the Audie Murphy Divsion (3rd ID).

  12. Robert says:

    With great sadness we have just found out my Uncle Larry (Lawrence Atkinson, Medic) age 92 has passed away peacefully in Sun City AZ. He spoke highly of the 24th and his fellow soldiers who were with him during his 5 pacific landings. The world has lost another good one.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My wifes Grandfather whom I knew was a Sgt Machine gunner with 2nd Battalion 19th Infantry. HE told me some of the events of their attack at Breakneck ridge where they fought to drive a wedge in the Japanese lines. The Battalion received a Unit Citation Executive Order 9396

  14. Dennis Bastian says:

    My dad was in the 19th. Inf. Reg. 24th. Inf. Div. At Holandia, Dutch New Guinea, leyte, mindoro, mindinao, luzon, and in Japan occupation forces. Any one familiar with him or anyone served with him would be appreciated.

  15. Patricia Nathan says:

    My father, Lawrence Charles Nathan was part of the 24th infantry division in the pacific. I have a copy of the book ‘Children of Yesterday by Jan Valtin. The book chronicles many of the battles and challenges of the era. My fathers name and a short story about him appears on pages 295 and 296. Best to all, P. Nathan

  16. Lbarron says:

    Lawrence J. barron
    My father was awarded the Silver Star for the Battle of Breakneck Ridge, he grabbed a BAR with one other man and advanced the ridge. My father single handedly captured two machine gun pillboxes and held off the Japanese first division in time for reinforcements to arrive. He captured two flags and kept one that was signed by the Japanese. He did not like talking about this but I eventually got it out of him before his death in 2010. He should’ve received the Congressional medal of honor but he would not give up the flag to his CO. I have several newspaper articles explaining his heroism he was also promoted from PFC to Staff Sgt. because of his actions that day. My sister has a letter from one of his platoon comrades stating that there was not a man alive or dead in his platoon that wasn’t grateful to my father for what he did. He saved his whole platoon and countless lives. He was an asset to the 24th infantry and he also received two bronze stars, a Purple Heart. He should’ve received the Congressional Medal of Honor.