96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

Presidential Unit Citation

    An Army General Order Confirming the Award of a Presidential Unit Citation to the 96th Infantry Division was issued in December 2001." We have received the Presidential Unit Citation Certificate and Citation documents. The 96th Infantry Division is now one of only 4 entire Army Division awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic action during World War II. Pertinent documents are posted below.

    The U.S. Army formally presented The Presidential Unit Citation during an awards ceremony on July 27, 2001 at our Omaha, Nebraska Reunion.

Information on copies of the Presidential Unit Citation Certificate and Citation document is available here.

Don Dencker, Historian, 96th Infantry Division Association

Text of Presidential Unit Citation

    The 96th Infantry Division and attached units distinguished themselves during the period 1 April 1945 to 30 June 1945, by extraordinary heroism and gallantry in action against the enemy in the conquest of Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan. On 1 April 1945 the 96th Infantry Division made an assault landing on the Hagushi beaches of Okinawa and within three days overcame all resistance in the large Sunabe Hill mass which dominated the XXIV Corps' landing beaches. The division then immediately attacked rapidly and skillfully south down the western half of the island, overrunning and destroying or driving in enemy outpost lines and strong points guarding the approaches to the main defense hub at Shuri. By 7 April, the division had penetrated the main outer ring. On 9 April, the division initiated a series of attacks against the powerful Japanese defense position at Kakazu Ridge. It was necessary to dig, blast and burn or bury forever the fanatical enemy defenders. By 15 April, the division had gained control of dominant portions of the ridge. On 16 April, the division became an interior division when a third division entered the line on its right flank. It continued its day after day assaults. Tombstone Hill was seized. Tanabaru and Maeda escarpments were captured. Needle Rock Hill 153 and the Gate were all taken. On 1 May, the division was withdrawn for nine days of rest and for reception and assimilation of replacements totaling over 4,000. On 9 May, the division reentered the lines on the left (east) bank, and began a series of bitter, bloody, hand-to-hand assaults designed to wrest from the Japanese Conical Hill, the vital key to the eastern section of the Shuri battle position. The desperate defenders struck back with all the fire and manpower at their command. Concentrations of artillery and medium and heavy mortar fire were placed upon our lines in durations previously unknown in the Pacific War. By 21 May, the crest and eastern slopes of Conical Hill had been captured, opening an envelopment route to turn Shuri. To the west of Conical Hill, the division captured Sugar Hill and broke through the Shuri Line to within 200 yards of the Nahi-Shuri-Yonabaru Road, the enemy's innermost and essential communication line. Loss of Conical Hill doomed the Shuri position, and the enemy withdrew, shortly after its fall, to final positions along the south tip of the island. The division continued its pursuit of the retreating enemy. On the final enemy positions on the Yuza-Yaeju-Dake escarpments, the two highest hills were in the zone of the 96th Division. The division assaulted heroically and with a fury that could not be stopped, using the same hand-to-hand, digging, blasting burning assaults required in earlier engagements. The 96th Division ended its portion of the organized fighting as it began it, closing to bayonet range with a gallantry, heroism and determination to win which carried its attacks forward despite terrible and crippling casualties and physical discomforts almost beyond human endurance. The division killed a total of 37,763 of the enemy in 73 days of fighting. Its own battle losses totaled 7,294, including 1,504 killed. The brilliant victories achieved by the 96th Division on Okinawa contributed greatly to the defeat of the large enemy garrison. The esprit, heroism, and continued demonstrations of raw courage throughout the battle exemplified the highest traditions of the military service.