The Sixth United States Infantry was born during a story period of American history, nourished on the ideals set forth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and reached maturity on the battlefields of innumerable campaigns in 10 separate wars. It also has the distinction of having been commanded by Colonel Zachary Taylor, who later became the twelfth president of the United States of America. The present Sixth United States Infantry traces its lineage back to 11 January 1812, when the Congress authorized a strengthening of the regular Army in preparation for the threatening conflict that became known as the War of 1812. The unit was first known as the 11th Infantry Regiment and served as such on the Canadian border throughout the War of 1812 under Colonel Henry Atkinson. During this war it earned its first battle streamer - CANADA, in November 1813. On 5 July 1814, against the British at the Battle of Chippewa, British commander Major General Phineas Riall saw the gray coats of the soldiers and happily concluded that he was up against "Buffalo Militia." Suddenly realizing that the Americans were coming through his artillery fire with unflinching precision, he blurted, "Those are regulars, by God!" The Regiment held the center of the American line against a gallant British charge, and so the regiment earned another battle streamer - CHIPPEWA. "Regulars, by God!" continues to this day to identify the soldiers of the Regiment. Later in 1814, the 11th Regiment inflicted heavy casualties on the British yet again, earning them the Campaign Streamer - LUNDY'S LANE. At the end of the war, on 3 March 1815, the 11th Infantry was consolidated with four other Infantry Regiments to form the Sixth United States Infantry Regiment. The new regimental number "6" was based on the fact that the commanding officer, Colonel Atkinson, was the sixth ranking colonel among all the regimental commanders of the United States Army.
As a result of westward expansion of America, the Sixth Regiment was assigned to the western frontier of the Nation. In March 1819, the 6th Regiment left Plattsburgh Barracks and floated down the Hudson to New York City. They sailed by transport to Philadelphia, then marched to Pittsburgh. In May, the expedition keelboated down the Ohio, then up the Mississippi and the Missouri to establish Cantonment Missouri at Council Bluffs on the Missouri River in September 1819. It became Fort Atkinson the next year. Once Cantonment Missouri was established, the expedition's leader, Col. Henry Atkinson, was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General and transferred to St. Louis and district military headquarters. He was replaced by Col. Henry Leavenworth, a popular and much admired veteran of the War of 1812. The post's only important military action began on June 18, 1823, when the keelboat Yellow Stone Packet arrived at the post bearing wounded and fleeing survivors of an Arikara Indian attack on the Fur Trading Company of William Ashley, on the Missouri River, in what is now north-central South Dakota. More than a dozen fur traders had been killed by the Ree, as they were commonly known, in a surprise attack. Ashley and the remainder of his party were holed up on the river and in need of aid. Colonel Leavenworth immediately ordered his 6th infantry troops to prepare for a campaign. Within four days he was headed upriver with 220 soldiers and 30 of Ashley's survivors. Along the way he enlisted the aid of 80 white trappers and several hundred Sioux warriors who were more than happy to fight the Arikara, their traditional enemies. Before departing he sent the following message to General Atkinson at St. Louis: "We go to secure the lives and property of our citizens, and to chastise and correct those who have committed outrages upon them." Leavenworth's forces arrived at the Arikara villages on August 9, and a short, sharp fight ensued, which ended with the Indians abandoning their villages and escaping. Seven of the troopers were never to see Ft. Atkinson again, for they would become the first casualties of the Indian Wars of the west, which were to last until the 1890's. This opening round of the Indian Wars of the west is commemorated by the battle streamer that flies to this day from the regimental colors of the 6th Infantry and reads - SOUTH DAKOTA 1823. On March 7, 1827, the Adjutant General of the Army issued the following orders: "The military post at Fort Atkinson will be abandoned and the 6th Regiment of Infantry will be stationed at Jefferson Barracks…"; and so the Regiment moved from Fort Atkinson to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, where the city of St. Louis is now located. Two years later, four companies of the Regiment were assigned escort duty along the Santa Fe Trail, protecting traders and travelers, and the Regiment earned campaign streamer - KANSAS 1829. In 1831 and 1832, the regiment entered the series of actions to be known as the Black Hawk War, against the Sac and Fox Indians. On 2 August 1832, the 6th Infantry caught the Indians at the junction of the Bad Axe River with the Mississippi (in present day Wisconsin), and killed most of Black Hawk's band (records say that 950 Sac were massacred), earning the Campaign Streamer - BLACK HAWK.
In 1837, the units of the Regiment left Jefferson Barracks for Florida via Louisiana. As part of a force commanded by Colonel Zachary Taylor, the Regiment entered the (Second) Seminole Indian War in eastern Florida in 1837. It was the first "guerrilla-style" war fought by US troops. It was a place that was cold and wet in winter, and hot and wet in summer; where only the Seminoles, alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes knew how to survive; and where dysentery and malaria were the primary rewards for Herculean efforts. There, the regiment won Campaign Streamer - SEMINOLE - for its actions near Lake Okeechobee. The Regiment remained in Florida until restoration of peace and then returned to Jefferson Barracks in 1842.
In 1843, Brevet Brigadier General Zachary Taylor became Colonel of the Sixth United States Infantry. The Regiment was attached to General Winfield Scott's Army during the Mexican War in 1846 and through its gallant actions won five battle streamers - VERA CRUZ, CERRO GORDO, CHURIBUSCO, MOLINO DEL REY, and CHAPULTEPEC. The Sixth Infantry remained a part of the occupation army in Mexico until 1848 when it returned to Jefferson Barracks.
For the next ten years, elements of the Regiment were scattered over the Western Frontier, and saw duty in what are now the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Missouri and the Dakotas, against various Indian tribes. In 1854, elements of the regiment were sent to fight the Sioux Indians in the Battle of Ash Hollow in the eastern portion of the Nebraska territories, earning the regiment another streamer - NEBRASKA 1855. In 1857, the 6th Infantry fought and defeated the Cheyenne Tribe, and was awarded Campaign Streamer - KANSAS 1857. In January 1858, the Regiment made a grand march across the continent from Fort Leavenworth to the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival in California, the Sixth was kept busy for the next several years scouting, marching, and operating by companies and detachments against the Indians in California and Arizona. During this time, the 1st Battalion of the Sixth Regiment was awarded the campaign streamer - NEVADA 1860.
At the outset of the Civil War in April 1861, the Regiment was directed to hurry eastward from California and join the Federal forces. According to one biographer of the time, "Several of the Regiment's best and bravest officers, honest in the mistaken construction of the Constitution and true to their convictions as to their duty, had tendered their resignations and given themselves to the Confederate cause." The Regiment was in California in April 1861. It was then concentrated in Washington, D.C., from October 31, 1861, to January 31, 1862. It was attached to Sykes' Regular Infantry, Reserve Brigade, Army of the Potomac, until May 1862, and then the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army Potomac, until June 1863. From there it was assigned to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Army Corps, until August 1863, to Department of the East until May 1865, and District of Savannah, Ga., Department of the South, until October 1865. The Regiment began duty in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., until March 1862. From there it moved to the Virginia Peninsula, where it participated in the Siege of Yorktown, April 5-May 4, and Chicahominy Creek in Virginia, bringing Campaign Streamer - PENINSULA. From there it moved to Richmond between June 25 and July 1. The Regiment participated in the Battles of Mechanicsburg on June 26; Gaines' Mill on June 27; Turkey Bridge on June 30; and Malvern Hill on July 1. The Regiment was at Harrison's Landing until August 16, followed by movement to Fortress Monroe, and thence to Centerville August 16-28. It participated in Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 28-September 2, with the Battle of Groveton on August 29. The Second Battle of Bull Run followed on August 30, and the 6th was awarded campaign streamer - MANASSAS. Following that was the Maryland Campaign from September 6th to the 22nd. The Battle of Antietam, Md., was September 16-17, and brought Battle Streamer - ANTIETAM. This was followed by Shepherdstown Ford on September 19 and 20, and picket duty at Sharpsburg, Md., until October 29. Between October 29 and November 19, the Regiment moved to Falmouth, VA. Along the way it fought the Battle at Snicker's Gap on November 3. From December 12th to the 15th, the 6th was north of the Rappahannock River overlooking Fredericksburg, Va., participating in a number of important engagements there, and earning campaign streamer - FREDERICKSBURG. That was followed by the "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. The Chancellorsville Campaign followed from April 27-May 6, with the Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5, when the regiment earned campaign streamer - CHANCELLORSVILLE. After Chancellorsville, the Regiment moved north into Pennsylvania, fighting the Gettysburg Campaign from June 11th to July 24th. At the Battle of Gettysburg from 1 to 3 July, the Regiment earned campaign streamer - GETTYSBURG. Pursuit of Lee occurred between July 4-24. Then the Regiment moved to New York City August 16-21, and thence to Fort Hamilton, N. Y. Harbor, with duty there until May 17, 1865. Between May 17th and 21st, the Regiment moved to Savannah, Ga., and had duty in District of Savannah, Ga., until October, 1865. During the American Civil War, the 6th U.S. Infantry Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 29 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and 1 Officer and 43 Enlisted men by disease. Total lost: 75.
For six years after the Civil War, the Regiment served at various stations in Georgia and South Carolina, and moved to Fort Hays, Kansas, in October 1871. For the next several years, the regiment saw duty on the frontier in Kansas, Colorado, the Dakotas, Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. In 1872, the regiment was in the Dakota Indian Territory, fighting many engagements against hostile Indian forces. In 1872 and 1873, the regiment earned Campaign Streamers - NORTH DAKOTA 1872 and NORTH DAKOTA 1873. The next several years saw much action for the regiment during the Indian Wars, and they were awarded Campaign Streamers - MONTANA 1879, LITTLE BIG HORN, CHEYENNES, and UTES. In 1880, the Regiment moved to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, where it remained until called to action again in June 1898, in the Spanish-American War.
The 6th went to Cuba as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps, and took part in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, where it earned campaign streamer - SANTIAGO. Intense heat, terrible humidity, entangling obstructions, and the deadly, ever-present Spanish fire made this war a hell for soldiers accustomed to fighting on the Great Plains. On 1 July 1898, the Sixth Regiment took the brunt of the fighting during the charge up San Juan Hill, but carried its standard high and bravely, and always forward, and won the battle.
The Regiment then sailed in late July 1898 to the Philippines to help quell the Philippine Insurrection. The Moro tribe was one of the toughest enemies the 6th had ever faced - every one of them fought to the death, and preferred to do it in hand-to-hand style. The regiment fought over fifty engagements, and it left with Campaign Streamers for JOLO, NEGROS in 1899, and PANAY in 1900. In March 1905 the regiment returned to the Philippines to do battle with the Moros again. For three days in 1906, elements of the regiment fought in the Battle of Bud Dago, one of the fiercest conflicts of the entire island campaign. The successful ending to the battle broke the Moro strength and ended the fighting in that part of the island. It was at Bobong, Negros, on 19 July 1899, that a member of the 6th Infantry Regiment first earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. CPT Bernard A. Byrne of Newport Barracks, Virginia, was awarded the medal for most distinguished gallantry in rallying his men on the bridge after the line had been broken and pushed back. Following service in the Philippines, the 6th returned to The Presidio in California.
In May 1914, it entered into service on the Mexican border. In March 1916, it proceeded to San Antonio, Chihuahua, as part of the Punitive Expedition. In February 1917 the Punitive Expedition was withdrawn and the regiment returned to the United States, stationed at Ft. Bliss. Because of their action, the regiment was awarded another campaign streamer - MEXICO 1916-1917.
In December 1917, the 6th Regiment was assigned to the 10th Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, and began training stateside for the Great War. By May 1, 1918, the 6th Infantry Regiment and the rest of the 5th Infantry Division had assembled in France after arriving from the ports in the vicinity of Bar-sur-Aube where intensive training was conducted under the supervision of French instructors. On May 18, the 6th and 11th Infantry Regiments received regimental and national colors as gifts from the granddaughter of the famous Marshal MacMahon, a former president of France. The presentation speech was made by a direct descendant of Count Rochambeau whose French expeditionary force assisted in the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. The poles of these colors bore silver plaques with the inscription, "From the sons of the French champions of American liberty to the American champions for France and Humanity." In the latter part of May 1917, the 6th Infantry Regiment was declared ready for introduction to combat and was placed at the disposal of the French for service at the front. On May 31, Field Order No. 1 was issued moving the unit into the quiet Anould Sector in the Vosges Mountains in Alsace for indoctrination as part of the French Seventh Army. Here, the Regulars occupied trenches along with French troops. The Regiment's first casualties occurred on the night of June 14, when the first elements entered the trenches. During the next month the men of the 6th Regiment did an extensive amount of patrolling and raiding. Numerous attacks by the Germans were successfully repulsed. On July 14, the Regulars were removed from the line and took over the St. Die Sector, relieving the French troops which had been defending the area. The 6th Infantry Regiment immediately initiated aggressive patrolling with the result that "No Man's Land" soon became "Our Land." A small salient extended into the Allied line in the vicinity of the town of Frapelle which was held by the enemy. The 6th Infantry Regiment was directed to attack on August 17 with the mission of seizing Frapelle and reducing the salient. The 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry, with supporting machine guns and engineers, attacked early on the morning of the 17th and quickly gained its objective in spite of determined German resistance to include intense machine gun and artillery fire. For the next three days the Regulars successfully organized and defended the new positions in spite of numerous German counterattacks and heavy shelling. The Frapelle operation was the first one of importance, which the 5th Division engaged in independently and the men went through it splendidly like veteran troops. It was the first Allied advance in this area since 1915. The casualties were rather severe, amounting to approximately sixteen percent of the troops engaged. In July 1918, a strategic offensive plan was agreed upon by the Allied commanders, the immediate purpose of which was to reduce the salients which interfered with further offensive operations. One of these was the St. Mihiel salient. The First U.S. Army was organized on August 10 and directed to launch an offensive on September 12 to reduce this salient. The 6th Regiment was destined to play an important role in this operation. On August 23, the Regulars were relieved in the St. Die Sector and moved to the Arches training area where the troops rested, equipment was refurbished, and replacements were integrated. The 6th had received orders to attack in a sector on the southeast face of the St. Mihiel salient and, commencing on September 4, conducted a series of grueling night marches through mud and cold rain to cover the one hundred kilometers to the assembly areas south of Regnieville. The storm broke before the enemy was prepared. In fact, the Germans had foreseen the operation and had decided to withdraw; however, the attack came about forty-eight hours before it was expected. It was apparent that the American movement to the front had been accomplished with adequate secrecy. Preceded by a four-hour artillery preparation, the 6th and 11th Infantry Regiments went "over the top" at 5 a.m. on September 12. The assault battalions moved so fast through heavy enemy fire and well organized defenses that they outran their own artillery support and the attached French tanks which struggled through the mud to catch up. Less than nine hours after commencing the attack, the division had taken the objectives assigned by First Army while leaving the adjoining divisions far behind. For the next three days, the 6th Infantry Regiment organized defensive positions, repulsed numerous counterattacks, and was subjected to intense enemy artillery fire. Aggressive patrolling northward to the famed Hindenburg Line was accomplished. On September 17, the 5th Division was relieved by the 78th Division and moved to assembly areas south of the front lines. The St. Mihiel operation was over! With the reduction of the St. Mihiel and other salients, it became possible for the Allied powers to undertake the great converging offensives to end the war. These offensives included an American attack to be launched on September 26 between the Argonne Forest and the Meuse River. This attack by the First U.S. Army was made on schedule and by October 11 the Argonne Forest had been cleared and a foothold had never gained in the area to the east toward the Meuse River. Meanwhile, the 6th Infantry Regiment remained behind the lines where replacements were received and equipment was refurbished. On October 5, the Regiment moved north to assembly areas near Montfaucon and on the 11th the Regulars were ordered into the line north of the town. The initial mission of the division was to attack to the north and clear a small woods called the Bois des Rappes. During the next eleven days, the 6th Infantry Regiment was destined to undergo their roughest fighting of the entire war. For more than a week, the Regulars battered themselves against the strongly fortified German positions in the Bois des Rappes which were strongly supported by artillery emplaced on the heights east of the Meuse River. Attack after attack was repulsed with appalling losses being sustained by the assaulting troops. In eleven days of the fiercest fighting the men of the 6th had ever known, eight square kilometers of French soil had been wrested from the enemy. The resistance by the Germans had probably been as determined as any ever encountered by American troops in any war. After four days of rest behind the lines, the 6th Infantry Regiment was thrown back into the conflict on October 26th. This time the mission of the Regiment was to attack to the east from the Bois des Rappes and force a crossing of the Meuse River. The initial attacks were made with only moderate enemy resistance being encountered. By November 3, the Meuse River was reached on a front extending from Brieulles four miles north to Dun-sur-Meuse. The crossing of the Meuse River presented a number of problems for the Regulars. Although the river was only twenty-five yards in width in this sector, there was a canal with high banks paralleling the river on the eastern side. The entire area was dominated by the famed heights of the Meuse which were bristling with German machine guns and artillery. In the early morning hours of November 3, the doughboys of the 6th Infantry crossed the Meuse in boats and the 7th Engineers constructed a footbridge for the passage of additional troops. Pinned down by enemy fire for the entire day on the east bank, the Regulars succeeded in crossing the canal early the next morning and stormed the heights. By the 5th of November a strong bridgehead had been established. The 60th Infantry forced a crossing of the Meuse on November 5th at a point about two miles to the north in the face of heavy enemy resistance. Troops of both the 60th and 61st Infantry Regiments soon crossed the river and canal on footbridges constructed by the 7th Engineers. By the end of the day on the 5th, the two crossing forces had linked up and the bridgehead was secured despite enemy counterattacks aimed at dislodging them. Of the Meuse River crossing, General Pershing later wrote: ". . . The feat of arms. . . which marks especially the division's ability as a fighting unit was the crossing of the Meuse River and the establishment of a bridgehead on the eastern bank. This operation was one of the most brilliant military feats in the history of the American Army in France. . . ." The 6th Infantry Regiment then attacked to the east encountering crumbling enemy resistance, stormed the heights of the Meuse, and drove eighteen kilometers to the Loison River by the time hostilities ceased on November 11. By Armistice Day, the 6th Infantry Regiment had advanced further to the east than any other Allied unit. In World War I, the 6th infantry Regiment received combat participation credit for the following campaigns: ALSACE 1918, LORRAINE 1918, SAINT MIHIEL and the MEUSE-ARGONNE. Since its first introduction into the trenches in June 1918, the 6th Infantry Regiment had been in the line for 103 days. Commencing on November 27, the 6th Infantry Regiment was stationed in Luxembourg and southeastern Belgium where it guarded the line of communications for the occupation troops in Germany. On 1 December 1918, the 6th Regiment conducted a march from Luxembourg to the city of Trier, Germany, becoming the first American troops to enter that ancient city. The Regulars did not come back until it was over "Over There."
Between WWI and WWII, the regiment returned to the United States, where they continued to train to become one of the best regiments in the Army. In 1936, they were designated a mechanized unit by the War Department. In February of 1941, the Regiment was stationed at. Ft Knox, Kentucky, conducting routine training and activities under the command of COL Harry B. Crea. In April, the regiment began supplying cadre for the Infantry Regiment of the 4th Armored Division, which was to be stationed at Pine Camp, NY. In May, the regiment continued to get replacements and conduct routine training. The regiment consisted of a regimental HQ, an A/T company, the regimental band, and two battalions - each with a HQ company and four line companies. In August, the regiment moved to Louisiana to conduct maneuvers, then returned to Ft. Knox in November. A few weeks later, on December 7th, war was declared, and soldiers awaiting release were returned to their barracks. On 8 January 1942, three battalions were formed, each consisting of the battalion HQ, a HQ company, and three line companies. The regimental HQ company and service company were retained, but the A/T company and band were disbanded. The new regimental commander was COL John W. Leonard. In March, 1942, half tracks and other armor were loaded on flat rail cars in preparation for movement. On 5 April, truck convoys set out for Washington Court House, OH, then went to Washington, PA on 6 April and Carlyle PA on 7 April. On 8 April, the convoys reached Ft. Dix, NJ. There, extensive training occurred, including range firing and calisthenics. Identification folders were prepared, and troops were immunized. Some older men and officers were relieved, and many new replacements came in. On 30-31 May 1942, the regiment left Ft. Dix and traveled by train to NYPE and boarded the USAT Oriente. On 2 June, the ship reached Halifax harbor. The regiment left again on 3 June enroute to Belfast. Along the way, they were harassed by submarines, but were defended by destroyers dropping depth charges. The regiment arrived at Belfast on 10 June. The subordinate units were scattered around the countryside, and more training was conducted, including several long foot marches. On 6 August 1942, the regiment began conducting maneuvers with British units. They arrived at Bangor, crossed the bay on pontoon bridges, and established a beachhead at Whitehead. On 7 August, during heavy rains, they attacked a town held by the 61st Brittish Infantry Division, then reassembled at Carrick Fergus. On 8 August, they left Carrick Fergus for Downpatrick. Throughout August, the regiment continued to train. In September 1942, 1st and 2nd Battalions left Ireland for England, but the 3rd Battalion remained in Ireland. During October, the battalions were realigned and moved around the countryside. By October, under new regimental commander Robert I. Stack, preparations were made for the invasion of North Africa. On 8 November 1942, the regiment invaded North Africa with Combat Command B. The 1st Battalion was part of a group attacking west of Oran, while the 2nd Battalion attacked east of Oran at Arzew. The 3rd Battalion was on two small boats (Walney and Hartland) to attack Oran Harbor and secure ships and facilities from sabotage. The 1st and 2nd battalions landed with minimal difficulties, but the 3rd battalion received direct fire form French ships and shore batteries. Casualties included 9 officers and 180 enlisted killed, 5 officers and 152 enlisted wounded. The 3rd battalion was later cited for this action, and was awarded the Distinguished Unit Award. The Regiment earned the Campaign Streamer ALGERIA - FRENCH MOROCCO, WITH ARROWHEAD, and the Presidential Unit Citation for Oran, Algeria. LTC George G. Marshall, commander of the 3rd battalion, was killed during this battle. Combat Command A, in England, received movement orders and began moving on 10 December. Despite heavy bombing at the port at Liverpool, and the constant threat of German U-boats, they arrived at Oran, Algeria on 21 December. On 22 December, they linked up with the survivors of the 3rd battalion, and awaited the arrival of armored vehicles from England. During this time, many new replacements were received. In January 1943, the Regiment left Oran and headed for Tunisia to fight the superb Afrika Korps. 1st and 2nd battalions were with Combat Command B, while 3rd battalion and the regimental HQs were with Combat Command A. On 18 January, 3rd battalion moved forward to a pine grove near Gafsa. German Stukas dominated the air, while a few P-38s seemed to be the only support. On 24 January, elements of the regiment participated in a raid on enemy positions at Sened Station. Supported by a column of tanks and artillery, the raid was successful, resulting in a large number of enemy killed, wounded, or dispersed. Some 96 men were captured. Then on 15 February, 3rd battalion began to counter-attack into Sidi-bou Zid. Again supported by tanks and artillery, 3rd battalion attacked in half-tracks. Dive bomber activity shook up the column and created a load of confusion. Pinned down by air strikes and ground fire, the battalion had to withdraw to the north later that evening. During the withdrawal, on the heights above the Kasserine Pass, the battalion was caught in an ambush. Some of the vehicles were captured, and part of one platoon was listed as MIA, although they later turned up on a POW roster. In March, the 3rd battalion returned through the Kasserine Pass and had to re-take Sened Station. Prisoners taken this time numbered 500. On 22 March 1943, the 3rd battalion attacked east to the hill Djebel Naemia, while 1st Battalion attacked Djebel Dribica. 3rd battalion ran into a minefield, and the attack stalled. By 25 March, the attack reached the crest of the hill, but the battalion was beaten back by a counter-attack. The hill was not taken. Following these attacks, the division went into reserve until April. On 19 April, the Regiment began to move north towards the coast and through the Stuka Valley toward Beja. The Regiment started an advance over the foothills and higher peaks which separated the Tine from the Medjerda. The 6th struggled over the demanding terrain, fighting off repeated counter-attacks. Finally the way to Mateur was in sight. Mateur was taken on 3 May 1943. The 1st battalion, under LTC Lyle J. Deffenbaugh, occupied the town that night. The former battalion commander, LTC Kern, had been wounded earlier in the fighting and lost one of his eyes. By 7 May, the Regiment was busy mopping up the heights of the Messeftine ridge, while the tank columns advanced forward. 3rd battalion moved south of Bizerte near Lake Bizerte. Another column moved parallel to cut the road between Bizerte and Tunis. By 9 May, 3rd battalion proceeded, after taking Menzel Djemil, to the Bel Negro Naval Base, its progress hindered by hundreds of enemy troops seeking to surrender. The enemy force was being cut up into smaller segments which were then rounded up into POW cages. Over miserable desert and through blinding heat, the 6th earned the TUNISIA Campaign Streamer with blood in the sands of Africa. From May through September, the Regiment continued to move across the desert, training and receiving replacements. On 2 June, COL Paul Steele became commander of the regiment. On 24 October, the Regiment finally began loading on ships, and on 25 October, they left the harbor at Oran enroute to Italy. On 28 October, the soldiers disembarked over the sides of the ship, using Jacob's Ladders, to invasion craft below. They landed at the beaches north of Naples and began to move inland during November. In December, the Regiment participated in patrol activity along the railroad. There were some casualties from anti-personnel mines and artillery fire, and the cold, wet weather led to many cases of trench foot as well. By 1 January, the weather was heavy snow and chilling temperatures. On 4 January, the Regiment started its assault on Mt. Porchia. 1st battalion advanced along the highway, while 3rd battalion was on Mt. Lungo. 2nd battalion, advancing along the railroad tracks, was hit with heave artillery fire and suffered scores of casualties. By 5 January, the enemy counter-attack was driven back by heave artillery fire. That afternoon, 2nd battalion moved to the reserves, 1st battalion shifted to attack along the railroad tracks, and 3rd battalion descended from Mt. Lungo to attack along Highway 6. Heavy enemy artillery fire slowed the movement. On 6 January, the attack on Mt. Porchia began at 0700. The area was saturated with mines. Part of the 1st Battalion reached the crest and captured some prisoners. The enemy counter-attacked, and by dusk retook the crest, but the Regulars took it back again during the night. On the morning of 7 January, 3rd battalion mopped up the lower slopes, and then dug in along the ridge. On 8 January, the enemy mounted yet another counter-attack, but this one failed, and four days later the 6th was relieved by the 141st Infantry and returned to the Bellona area. During this battle, the regiment lost 7 officers and 106 enlisted killed in action. 328 others were wounded and evacuated. 71 were missing in action. Many of the replacements received during this time were casualties. The regiment earned the Presidential Unit Citation for Mt. Porchia and Campaign Streamer - NAPLES-FOGGIA Before the end of January, the 1st Armored Division split in two parts -- Division HQ and Combat Command A were at Anzio -- 1st and 3rd battalions were part of that group. Combat Command B was left in an area south of Cassino -- 2nd battalion was with this group. On the night of 21-22 January 1944, the attack on Anzio began, against minimal resistance. Combat Command A was still in the Naples Staging Area. Units began moving to the assembly area about 4 miles north of Anzio 24-28 January. On 29 January, 1st Battalion attacked, while 3rd battalion remained in reserve. Thick mud bogged down the vehicles, and the 6th Regiment got no further than the ridges near the rail track. On 31 January, another attack was planned, but called off. The enemy there was in too great strength, so 1st and 3rd battalions stood down. During the night of 31 January to 1 February, units moved back to the staging area north of Anzio. All units dug in in the Padiglione woods, including vehicles. The enemy kept up a barrage on the entire beachhead, making extensive use of air-burst artillery shells. On 8 February, 2nd battalion rejoined the regiment on the beachhead, arriving in time for heavy bombing. On or about the night of 18-19 February, a task force including 1st and 3rd battalions conducted a raid toward Carroceto. 3rd battalion was on one side of the road, about half-way to Carroceto, when the attack was halted. Some of the enemy positions were destroyed, and some enemy were taken prisoner. Then enemy conducted a counter-attack the next day, but it was stopped by artillery fire. After this raid, the regiment spent some time in a reserve role. The months of March, April, and May were a stalemate, although soldiers were still killed or wounded during patrol activity, or from artillery fire and bombardment. For two weeks in March, the 6th took over part of the line from the 45th Division. In the middle of March, Mt. Vesuvius erupted south of Naples. Through March and April, replacements continued to arrive, various tank units trained with the regiment, and parts of Combat Command B began to rejoin the regiment at Anzio. By May, mosquitoes from the marches made life miserable. On 23 May 1944, after artillery preparation, Combat Command A and Combat Command B began to attack. 1st and 3rd battalions were with Combat Command B. Tanks, in the lead, continuously hit mines and suffered blown treads. 3rd battalion bypassed the tanks and moved ahead, although after a while, some tanks were able to catch up. Some enemy guns were taken out, but fire from German artillery and tanks began to fall on the Regiment. Friendly counter-fire took out the German tanks and artillery, but the Regiment was unable to cross the railroad tracks before dark. During the night, a defensive perimeter was formed along with the tanks. On 24 May, with less opposition, 3rd battalion led the attack across the railroad tracks to the high ground on the other side. Tanks and infantry combined to knock out infantry and gun positions in the woods. Several enemy prisoners were taken. Again, the 3rd battalion out-posted with the tanks that night until relieved by the 34th Division. On 26 May, 1st battalion, with another task force, advanced in the direction of Velletri. Artillery fire struck the area. One concentration hit the battalion command post, killing the battalion commander, LTC Lyle J. Deffenbaugh. About this time, COL Steele was relieved and replaced by LTC Edgar C. Doleman. On 29 May, Combat Command A and Combat Command B began to attack further west. 2nd battalion was with Combat Command A. Attached tanks bypassed strongpoints, while the infantry, following, caught the brunt of the fire and suffered casualties. 1st battalion reinforced Combat Command B the next morning. For its efforts on the beaches of Italy, the 6th earned Battle Streamer - ANZIO, WITH ARROWHEAD. On 3 June 1944, the 6th Infantry Regiment, less the 2nd battalion which was in reserve, assembled for the drive up Highway 7 in Italy. Anti-tank resistance and blown bridges slowed the advance. Units had to leave the highway to use secondary roads, but entered into Rome from the south at dusk. Combat Command B proceeded north, through Rome, toward Lake Bracciano and beyond. Following relief by the 36th Division on 10 June, the Regiment returned to Lake Bracciano and became the reserve. On 18-20 June, the Regiment assembled near Grosetto. 2nd and 3rd battalions were with Combat Command B, with the 1st battalion now in reserve. On 22 June, the Regiment began an attack which lasted until 10 July. The attack advanced along secondary roads through the hills to Massa Mritima and Pomerance to Ponsaco and Pontedera. At the end of June, the Regiment reached the Cecina River north of Pomerance, and most of the division headed for Bolgheri. For its operations throughout the Rome-Arno Campaign, the 6th was awarded the ROME-ARNO Campaign Streamer. On 20 July 1944, Reorganization of the division brought many changes. 1st battalion became the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion. 2nd battalion became the 11th Armored Infantry Battalion. 3rd Battalion became the 14th Armored Infantry Battalion. Each battalion had a HQ company, three line companies, and service company. The Regimental HQs became the HQ company of the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion, and the Regimental service company became the service company of the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion. 1st battalions HQ company was disbanded. 2nd battalion retained its HQ company and three line companies, and obtained its service company from the 1st Armored Regiment. 3rd battalion retained its HQ company and three line companies, and obtained its service company from the disbanded HQ company of the 1st Armored Regiment. The Regiment was now inactivated. The old men of the three battalions regretted its passing, and envied the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion for having that designation. On 30 July, 1944, the 6th, 11th, and 14th Armored Infantry Battalions moved to the north to continue the attack to the north side of the Arno River, and then through the North Apennines and Po Valley to the War's conclusion in Italy on 2 May 1945. The elements of the Regiment earned 2 more battle streamers in Northern Italy before the end of the war - APENNINES, and PO VALLEY During the Second World War, the Regiment had its second Congressional Medal of Honor winner. Private Nicholas Minue, who was born in Sedden, Poland, and was serving with Company A, 6th Armored Infantry, was awarded the medal for his actions near MedjezelBab, Tunisia, on 28 April 1943. On that day, he distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the loss of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy. When the advance of the assault elements of Company A was held up by flanking fire from an enemy machinegun nest, Pvt. Minue voluntarily, alone, and unhesitatingly, with complete disregard of his own welfare, charged the enemy entrenched position with fixed bayonet. Pvt. Minue assaulted the enemy under a withering machinegun and rifle fire, killing approximately 10 enemy machinegunners and riflemen. After completely destroying this position, Pvt. Minue continued forward, routing enemy riflemen from dugout positions until he was fatally wounded. The courage, fearlessness and aggressiveness displayed by Pvt. Minue in the face of inevitable death was unquestionably the factor that gave his company the offensive spirit that was necessary for advancing and driving the enemy from the entire sector.
From 1945 to 1950 the Regiment was assigned throughout the American zone of Occupation in West Germany. In Berlin, 16 October 1950, the Regiment was reactivated with its original name - the 6th Infantry. On 3 February 1962, the Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 6th Infantry. On May 17, 1967, the 1st Battalion, Sixth Infantry was reorganized as a standard Infantry Battalion and was assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade, in the Americal (23 Infantry) Division. The 2nd, 3rd and now 4th Battalions remained in behind in Berlin and would stay there until 1984.
The 6th Infantry was the division's first element ashore, arriving at Chu Lai in October to participate in its thirty-fifth campaign and ninth war. After a brief initial operation south of Duc Pho, the Battalion was assigned the mission of securing the installation at Chu Lai. The Regulars participated in Task Force Oregon, Task Force Miracle, Operation Wheeler/Wallowa, Operation Burlington Trail, and had the mission of protecting Americal Division Headquarters and Chu Lai Defense Command from enemy ground mortar and rocket attacks. The 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry was awarded the Valorous Unit Citation for its victory at the battle of Lo Giang, 7-11 February 1968. Task Force Miracle was formed in February 1968 during the enemy's Tet offensive when the city of Da Nang was threatened by the 60th Main Force Viet Cong Battalion. The 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry assisted the Marines in the fighting. After four days of fierce fighting, the threat to Da Nang was obliterated and the task force was deactivated and returned to the Americal area of operation. On March 17, 1970, a helicopter carrying the Americal (23rd Infantry) Division Commander, Major General Lloyd B. Ramsey, crashed near Tam Ky. The 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry had been given the mission that day to move to and secure the crash site. Lieutenant Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf (who most people know as General Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm fame) commanded the 1-6 Infantry. A company from 1-6 had been breaking bush since early evening. They would move all night -- one inch, one foot at a time through the thick jungle and bad weather with no food or rest. The Assault Helicopter Company flew LTC Schwarzkopf and his battalion surgeon, Captain (Doctor) Luis A. Oliver to the crash site. It was important to have the commander of the 1st Battalion on board since he owned the troops moving toward the crash site plus those that were to be airlifted. Once the downed helicopter was located, LTC Schwarzkopf and the crew chief secured a rope to the floor of the UH-1H and tied the other end around Captain Oliver. He was gently lowered out of the cargo door, down through the dense canopy to the jungle floor. The crash was only 20 to 30 feet away from his location, but the crew chief and gunner had to direct his every step using hand and arm signals because of the heavy undergrowth. Even this short distance took the doctor 10 minutes to navigate. Oliver called for stretchers to be dropped shortly after reaching the wreckage. Through the hard work of CPT Oliver and with the assistance of the Air Force, the rescue of MG Ramsey (a.k.a. Saber 6) was completed successfully. During the Vietnam Conflict, the Sixth was awarded streamers - COUNTEROFFENSIVE PHASE III, TET COUNTEROFFENSIVE, COUNTEROFFENSIVE PHASE IV, COUNTEROFFENSIVE PHASE V, COUNTEROFFENSIVE PHASE VI, TET 69 / COUNTEROFFENSIVE, SUMMER-FALL 1969, WINTER-SPRING 1970, SANCTUARY COUNTEROFFENSIVE, COUNTEROFFENSIVE PHASE VII, and CONSOLIDATION I. On 14 May 1968, at Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry platoon sergeant Finnis D. McCleery of Stephenville, TX, earned the Regiment's third Congressional Medal of Honor, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. P/Sgt. McCleery, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as platoon leader of the 1st platoon of Company A. A combined force was assigned the mission of assaulting a reinforced company of North Vietnamese Army regulars, well entrenched on Hill 352, 17 miles west of Tam Ky. As p/Sgt. McCleery led his men up the hill and across an open area to close with the enemy, his platoon and other friendly elements were pinned down by tremendously heavy fire coming from the fortified enemy positions. Realizing the severe damage that the enemy could inflict on the combined force in the event that their attack was completely halted, p/Sgt. McCleery rose from his sheltered position and began a l-man assault on the bunker complex. With extraordinary courage, he moved across 60 meters of open ground as bullets struck all around him and rockets and grenades literally exploded at his feet. As he came within 30 meters of the key enemy bunker, p/Sgt. McCleery began firing furiously from the hip and throwing hand grenades. At this point in his assault, he was painfully wounded by shrapnel, but, with complete disregard for his wound, he continued his advance on the key bunker and killed all of its occupants. Having successfully and single-handedly breached the enemy perimeter, he climbed to the top of the bunker he had just captured and, in full view of the enemy, shouted encouragement to his men to follow his assault. As the friendly forces moved forward, p/Sgt. McCleery began a lateral assault on the enemy bunker line. He continued to expose himself to the intense enemy fire as he moved from bunker to bunker, destroying each in turn. He was wounded a second time by shrapnel as he destroyed and routed the enemy from the hill. p/Sgt. McCleery is personally credited with eliminating several key enemy positions and inspiring the assault that resulted in gaining control of Hill 352. His extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, was in keeping with the highest standards of the military service, and reflects great credit on him, the Americal Division, and the U.S. Army. On 15 February 1969, the battalion was released from the 198th Infantry Brigade and assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division.
On 12 September 1972, the battalion was relieved from the 23rd Infantry Division and assigned to the 1st Armored Division. In 1972, the Regiment was reconstituted and assigned to West Germany. The 1st Battalion was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division in Illesheim, Germany. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions remained in Berlin until 1984. They were then re-flagged as the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the 502d.
The 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry remained in Germany while the 3rd and 4th Battalions were assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 5th Infantry Division at Ft. Polk, LA, where elements participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, earning campaign streamer - PANAMA, and the Valorous Unit Award for Panama. In 1989, the unit also received the Army Superior Unit Award.
The 6th Battalion was assigned to 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division in Bamberg, Germany, while the 7th Battalion was assigned to 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, also in Bamberg. In 1990, the sixth and seventh battalions were called on to participate in the regiment's tenth war, Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. During that war in the Persian Gulf, the regiment earned Campaign Streamers - DEFENSE OF SAUDI ARABIA, LIBERATION AND DEFENSE OF KUWAIT, and CEASE-FIRE, as well as Valorous Unit Citations for Iraq and Iraq-Kuwait. In 1993, the 5th Infantry Division was inactivated, and the 3rd and 4th Battalions were re-flagged under the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood; the 1st Battalion moved from Illesheim to Vilseck, Germany, and came under the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division; and the 6th and 7th Battalions were inactivated.
On 5 January 1994, Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry was assigned to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as part of Operation Able Sentry. In 1996, divisions in Europe were again reorganized, and the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry was re-flagged in Vilseck under the 1st Infantry Division. In Baumholder, the 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry and 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry were re-flagged as the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, and 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. On August 18, 1997, TF 1-6 Infantry was again assigned to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) to assume the mission of Able Sentry. Once the mission concluded in March of 1998, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment returned home to Baumholder, Germany. In May of 1998, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry and Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, were deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovia as part of Operation Joint Endeavor / Operation Joint Forge (OJE / OJF). They were relieved in October, 1998, and returned home to Baumholder. Today, soldiers of the Regiment stand on guard and prepared to conduct future operations whenever and wherever they are called. "REGULARS, BY GOD!"
--Reprinted from the 1st Bn, 6th Inf (Baumholder) web site.
You may contact the Association at: RegularsByGod@hvc.rr.com
Updated August 15, 2007