96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

History of 96th Infantry Division Up To the Leyte Landing

 
   The 96th Infantry Division of World War I was activated late in World War I at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina under the command of Major General Guy Carleton on October 20, 1918. After the armistice of November 11, i918, the under-manned, untrained 96th Infantry Division was demobilized on January 7, 1919.

   The 96th Infantry Division was reconstituted in the Army Reserve system on June 24, 1921 in Portland, Oregon. During the 1920's and 1930's the Division had summer training of its reservists and aided Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the Pacific Northwest.

   By the start of World War II for the United States, most reserve members of the 96th Division had been called to active duty. The 96th Infantry Division, after arrival of a cadre, mostly from the 7th Infantry Division, was activated at Camp Adair, Oregon on August 15, 1942 under the command of Major General James L. Bradley. Shortly thereafter Brigadier General Claudius Easley became Assistant Division Commander.  Both Generals stressed rifle marksmanship and under the skilled training leadership of General Easley, the 96th Division acquired the nickname,
The Deadeyes.

   The Division was filled with draftees in October 1942 and Basic Training was undertaken, which was completed on February 20, 1943. Shortly thereafter the 96th Infantry Division sent a cadre of men to startup the 69th Infantry Division.

   On May 5, 1943 the Division was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, with Division Artillery going to the Yakima, Washington firing center.  Additional training moves followed, to the central Oregon maneuver area, back to Camp Adair, to IV Corps maneuvers (91st, 96th and 104th Divisions) in central Oregon, and to Camp White, Oregon.

   In Camp White in late March 1944, 2,000 soldiers from the discontinued Army Specialized Training Program, plus a number of Army Air Force aviation cadets joined the Division to fill up the ranks.
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   On April 30, 1944 the Division moved to Camp San Luis Obispo, California for amphibious training. . This instinctively told the Deadeyes that we were destined to fight the Japanese in the Pacific area. Individual Regiments also went to Camp Callan, California for Regimental practice landings.

   With amphibious training completed by early July, the Division went to Camp Beale, California to stage for overseas shipment, and then to Camp Stoneman for final preparations. Starting on July 23, 1944, over 5 days on separate ships, the Division sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

   By the end of July 1944, most of the Division was at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii; except for the 381st Infantry Regiment quartered in the Pali Pass area of eastern Oahu island. While on Oahu members of the Division received jungle warfare training.

   Between September 1 and 5, a 96th Infantry Division convoy, combat loaded, sailed for Maui Island and made practice amphibious landings. The Division then returned to Pearl Harbor and it camps on Oahu.

   On September 11, 1944 the Division Landing Ship Tank (LST) convoy left Pearl Harbor for an undisclosed landing operation and the troop ships departed on September 15th After departing for our objective, it was revealed than Japanese held Yap Island was our objective for an October 5, 1944 landing.

   However, on arrival at Eniwetok Atoll our objective was changed to Leyte Island, Philippines and a new landing date of October 20, 1944, This operation was designated King II, with October 20th being A-Day.

   The Division Convoys proceed to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands.  Then on October 11th the LST force embarked for the landing on the east shore of Leyte Island and the troopships departed on October 14th.  The 96th Division was nearly at full authorized strength of 14,253 men. We had attached the 763rd medium Tank Battalion, the 88th Chemical Mortar Battalion (4.2) and the 593rd Joint Assault Signal Company.