The Fifth Infantry Division, nicknamed the Red Diamond or Red Devils, was an Army division that fought in both World Wars and Vietnam.
World War I
Organized on December 11, 1917 at Camp Logan, Texas, the Fifth arrived in France in May 1918 and took part in the St. Mihiel
, Alsace and Lorraine campaigns before the war ended in November, after which it was assigned occupation duties in Belgium and Luxembourg until being deactivated in Europe on October 4, 1921.
World War II Through The 1950s
Activated October 16, 1939 at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, the Fifth spent the next two years training and taking part in exercises. The outbreak of war
found the division at Camp Custer, Michigan; over the winter, it was brought up
to strength and prepared for movement. The Fifth's first assignment was to replace the British garrison of Iceland
, which it did in May 1942, reorganizing in May 1943 under the new tables of organization, and landed at Utah Beach
on July 9, 1944.
Throughout July and August, the Fifth drove across northern France, capturing Chartres on August 18 and Reims on August 30. With the rest of Patton
's Third Army, the division prepared for the assault on Metz, where it became bogged down with the rest of the Army for a month starting on September 15. The Fifth's immediate problem was Fort Driant, a French fortress complex originally built in 1902 and periodically improved by both the French and the Germans. The fort delayed the division's crossing of the Moselle river and inflicted heavy casualties before Patton elected to bypass it on October 9. Metz eventually fell on November 22, and the fort surrendered to the Fifth along with the rest of the city's defenders.
The division continued moving east, entering Germany on December 4, capturing Lauterbach the next day, and elements reached the Saar river on the 6th before the division was pulled out of the line for a rest. Unfortunately, the Germans' Ardennes offensive
kicked off on December 16, and the Fifth was thrown into an attack on the southern flank of the Bulge on December 18. Operations in the Ardennes continued through the end of January 1945, after which the Fifth resumed its drive into Germany. In February and March, it crossed the Sauer river and smashed through the Siegfried Line, and became the first American unit to cross the Rhine
on March 22. Nineteen thousand Germans were taken prisoner, and the Fifth moved on to take and clear Frankfurt am Main
from March 27-29. April was spent clearing the Ruhr Pocket
, and May 1 found the Fifth in Czechoslovakia as the war in Europe ended.
The division returned to the United States and was inactivated on September 20, 1946 at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. It was reactivated July 15, 1947 at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina as a training division and inactivated there on April 20, 1950; this cycle would occur again in 1951-53 at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
The division would be reactivated again in May 25, 1954 in Germany as part of our NATO forces there, and inactivated June 1, 1957 at Ft. Ord, California.
Vietnam and the Cold War
Reactivated February 19, 1962 at Ft. Carson, Colorado as a mechanized infantry
division, the Fifth served as a training division, providing both basic and AIT. The division's First Brigade was detached for duty in Vietnam between 1968 and 1971, where it fought in several campaigns including the Tet Offensive
and clearing operations prior to the ARVN
invasion of Laos, Operation Lam Son 719. The 1st Brigade operated throughout the I Corps area and frequently worked in concert with Marine
units there. On 15 August 1971 the brigade left Quang Tri for Ft. Carson, where it was deactivated on 22 August.
The remainder of the 5th had been inactivated December 15, 1970 at Ft. Carson as part of the post-war reduction in forces.
Reactivated September 21, 1975 at Ft. Polk. Louisiana, the Fifth had only two active brigades; the third "roundout" brigade was the 256th Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard
. Elements of the 5th would take part in 1989's Operation Nimrod Dancer and Operation Just Cause in Panama; it would be inactivated for the last time on November 24, 1992 as part of the post-Cold War drawdown, exactly seventy-five years after its first activation.