WWII Veterans of "the Old Hickory" - Last Chance for the Presidential Unit Citation
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July 16, 2017
Dear President Trump,
We are running out of time.
At the conclusion of World War II in Europe, General Eisenhower appointed a committee of fifteen military historians to study the participation of all of the American infantry divisions and, based on their performances, to select the top five. (Attached below is the letter written by the head of this committee, Colonel S.L.A. Marshall, GSC to General Hobbs, Commander of the 30th Infantry Division.) My division, the 30th Infantry Division (Old Hickory) was among the top five. The committee then ranked the five. The 30th was ranked number one. Based on this evaluation, the committee recommended that the division be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, an honor that had never been awarded to a division. Unit citations had always been awarded to smaller, individual units. The recommended award was approved through the usual military channels all the way to Chief of Staff General George Marshall, who denied the award. His reasoning was that the 30th Division was originally a National Guard division and not regular army, and granting this citation award to the Old Hickory would have been an embarrassment to the regular Army.
Since 1945 every president has been petitioned by veterans of the 30th to grant the award. With only a few 30th division veterans remaining, the award by President Donald Trump remains our last chance. I therefore humbly ask that you consider this request to honor the remaining “Old Hickorymen”.
George F. Schneider, 3rd Bn., 120th Inf Reg., 30th Inf. Div. (the Old Hickory)
The report from Colonel S.L.A. Marshall, GSC, the Historian of the European Theater of Operation is printed in its entirety as follows:
16 March 1946
Dear General Hobbs:
Now that I am leaving the service, I thought it might be well to give you the following information for whatever satisfaction you might derive therefrom.
I was historian of the ETO. Toward the end of last fall, for the purpose of breaking the log-jam of paper concerning division presidential unit citations, General Eisenhower instructed me to draw up a rating sheet on the divisions. This entailed in the actual processing that we had to go over the total work of all the most experienced divisions, infantry and armor, and report back to him which divisions we considered had performed the most efficient and consistent battle service.
We so did, and we named certain infantry divisions in the first category and the same with armor, and we placed others in a second category and yet others in a third. The 30th was among five divisions in the first category.
However, we picked the 30th Division No. 1 on the list of first category divisions. It was the combined judgment of the approximately 35 historical officers who had worked on records in the field that the 30th had merited this distinction. It was our finding that the 30th had been outstanding in three operations and that we could consistently recommend it for citation in any one of these three occasions. It was further found that it had in no single instance performed discreditably or weakly when considered against the averages of the Theater and that in no single operation had it carried less than its share of the burden or looked bad when compared with the forces on its flanks. We were especially impressed with the fact that it had consistently achieved results without undue wastage of men.
I do not know whether further honors will come to the 30th. I hope they do. For we had to keep looking at the balance of things always and we felt that the 30th was the outstanding infantry division of the ETO.
/s/ S.L.A. Marshall
Colonel S.L.A. Marshall, GCS
Historian of ETO
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