History of the 60th Infantry Regiment

From the National Archives

The 60th. Infantry was organized on 10 June, 1917 from elements of the highly decorated 7th. U.S. Infantry.  It was assigned to the 5th. Division on 17 November, 1917 and remained with that division throughout World War I.  The regiment sailed for France on 4 April 1918 and during the war participated in four campaigns, including St. Mihiel, the first American Offensive, Alsace and Lorraine.

It was during the Meuse-Argonne Battle that the 60th. Infantry first demonstrated the tenacity and determination leading to the motto “To The Upmost Extent of Our Power”, when it succeeded , after repeated failures by other units, in seizing the French village of Cuncel.  It was during this epic struggle that Captain Samuel Woodfill earned the Medal of Honor.  Later while conducting the daring Meuse River assault crossing which General “Black Jack” Pershing considered “one of the most brilliant feats in the history of the American Army in France, the regiment was honored by a second Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Edward C. Allsworth.

At the end of World War I the regiment was assigned to Occupation duty until the following summer, when it returned to the United States.  On 21 September 1921 the regiment was de-activated, although it remained on the rolls of the regular Army.  The peaceful years between World War I and II were dormant ones for the 60th. Infantry.  After several paper transfers it was assigned to the 9th. Infantry Division on 10 August, 1940.  This began an association which has lasted to this day.

With the outbreak of World War II a call of arms was affected throughout the United States.  The 60th. Infantry was activated in the summer of 1940.  From then until late in 1942, the regiment was engaged in training for the tasks that lay ahead.  The 9th. Division and the Regiment quickly attained a reputation of excellence, and as a result, the division was earmarked to participate in the first combat operation against the Germans of World War II—the assault landing in North Africa.  On 7 November, 1942 the Regiment found itself locked in deadly combat with the French defenders of the German controlled Port Lyautery in French Morocco.  During this operation the regiment made the 9th. Division’s first river assault of the war by crossing the River Oued.

After a period of time spent in guarding routes of communication and training, the 60th.  Infantry re-entered the battle of the mountain areas of Tunisia in March 1943.  The GO-DEVILS developed the ability to traverse mountains quickly and was repeatedly used by the division to outflank enemy positions by going through terrain considered impassable.  It was during this period that Sergeant William L. Nelson of the 2nd. Battalion won the 9th. Division’s first Medal of Honor.  At the cost of his life he halted a dangerous German counter-attack which threatened to engulf his unit.  The 2nd. Battalion earned the Division’s first Distinguished Unit Citation.

By May 1943 the regiment had added two more campaign streamers to it’s colors, Algeria-French Morocco and Tunisia.  On 1 August, 1943, the GO-DEVILS landed on the Island of Sicily.  Sicily became the seventh campaign streamer to be added to the regiment’s colors, after two weeks of fierce mountain fighting.

The period between November 1943 and June 1944 was spent in England preparing for the invasion of France.  On 7 June the regiment sailed for the assault beaches, and during the next ten days launched a vital attack which resulted in the 2nd Battalion’s second Distinguished Unit Citation.  During the massive offensive, the GO-DEVILS repeatedly demonstrated their mobility and aggressiveness.  The heroic actions of men such as 2LT. John E. Butts of Company E, 2nd. Battalion, did much to aid in the final destruction of the enemy.

On 7 September 1944 the 3rd Battalion was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation after suffering the highest casualties during the crossing of the treacherous River Meuse.  On 14 September the regiment entered the final phase of World War II with its advance into Germany.  During the early part of 1945 Company B was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in the seizure of the town of Haven.  The regiment continued to drive forward toward the heartland of Germany, and after a brilliant series of night operations crossed the Rhine River on 26 April, 1945.  The 60th Infantry had participated in five major campaigns on the continent: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.

The regiment occupied Germany until late 1946.  On 15 July 1947, after a short inactivation, the regiment was re-activated as a training unit at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  In 1954 it was again shipped overseas to Germany.  It remained part of the NATO forces guarding Europe until 1 August, 1956, when it was split up and redistributed.  On 1 February 1966, as a result of the war in Vietnam, the 9th. Division was re-activated and along with her the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. Battalions of the 60th. Infantry.  Once again the GO-DEVILS took their place on the firing line.

Arriving in the Republic of Vietnam in December 1966, with other elements of the 9th. Infantry Division, the 5th. Battalion, 60th. Infantry, pushed its way south from Bearcat to establish its Base Camp in Rach Kien, Long An Province.  The months that followed saw the construction of a well fortified base of operations and concentrated efforts toward the elimination of all insurgent activity within Long An Province.  Minor skirmishes with local guerrillas and hard core Viet Cong constituted the paramount efforts of the unit in its first year in the Republic of Vietnam.

The TET Offensive, 1967-1968, posed new and greater challenges for the GO-DEVIL Brigade.  Such places of battle as Ben Tre, An Nhut Tan, Ben Luc, Rach Kien and Peoples Road stand as important victories for the 5th. Battalion, 60th. Infantry.

In June 1968 the 5th Battalion, 60th. Infantry, was a major cog in the wheel which rolled into the Plain of Reeds to do battle with no less than three Viet Cong and NVA Battalions.  Total destruction of two of the insurgent battalions was the result of that action which has been termed a classic in counter insurgency warfare.

The standard is high, and the history of the 5th. Battalion, 60th. Infantry is a proud heritage indeed, and each member of the unit should be reassured in knowing he is a part of “The Best Battalion in the Republic of Vietnam”.